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Everything you need to know about the new furlough extension until March 2021

All the info you need…

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Rishi Sunak today announced an extension to the furlough scheme, as well as more support for self-employed workers.

The five-month extension of the furlough scheme will see it continue into Spring 2021, the Chancellor announced today, Thursday November 5th.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

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Mr Sunak also said there will be support for millions of self-employed workers, through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which is set to be increased.

The third available grant will cover from November to January, and will be calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

Mr Sunak said: ”I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK – and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed.

“It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

“Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.”

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As it stands, there are currently no employer contributions to wages for hours which are not worked, with employers only asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions for any hours not worked.

This means that for an average claim, that will account for 5% of total employment costs – or roughly £70 per employee per month.

The government says the CJRS extension will be reviewed again in January, to see whether the economic situation has improved enough for employers to be asked to increase their contribution to wages.

The government also announced:

  • cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for businesses which are closed worth more than £1 billion every month
  • £1.1 billion is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly
  • plans to extend existing government-backed loan schemes and the Future Fund to the end of January, and an ability to top-up Bounce Back Loans
  • an extension to the mortgage payment holiday for homeowners
  • up to £500 million of funding for councils to support the local public health response.

You can find additional info and keep up to date on the Government website here.

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Manchester’s George Floyd mural has been defaced with racist graffiti once again

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The mural of George Floyd in the Northern Quarter has been defaced with racist graffiti once again.

A local councillor took to social media to share the news, slamming the ‘racist cowards’ who vandalised the artwork overnight.

The tribute was created by graffiti artist Akse P19 in Stevenson Square after Mr Floyd’s death sparked protests across the world.

Akse recently had to repaint the mural after it was defaced earlier this month. Around the same time two men were also arrested after filming themselves urinating on the artwork.

Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons, representing Piccadilly ward on Manchester city council, took to Twitter to share the news that once again the mural has been hit by a ‘racist vandal’.

The incident occurred at around 5.30am this morning, with a suspect spotted by CCTV operators before being chased and caught by police.

Mr Lyons took to Twitter to share the news, writing: “Earlier this morning, police officers gave chase to another racist vandal who decided to come in the dead of night to attack the George Floyd memorial.

“The man was spotted on CCTV & was chased by police through the city centre & was caught. Thank you to GMP for their vigilance!”

He added in a later tweet: “These racist vandals all come in the dead of night – they are cowards.

“They know themselves how shameful it is what they are doing, attacking a memorial of a man killed by police brutality, but obviously have to do it in the dead of night. Racist cowards the lot of them.”

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Face masks and Covid tests for school kids won’t be ‘compulsory’

The guidance on masks and tests won’t be enforceable

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News broke earlier in the week that secondary school students would have to wear face masks and take twice-weekly Covid tests when they return to classrooms from March 8th.

It’s now been confirmed that neither of these measures will be enforceable, with schools told they won’t actually be able to make students wear a mask.

This is despite the government saying that secondary school pupils would need to wear them, both in classrooms and in the corridor.

However, according to the finer details of the ‘operational guidance’ for schools, ‘no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.’



While before Christmas a lot of secondary school and college students were wearing masks in corridors and communal areas, the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ revealed this was being expanded so kids would have to wear them in classrooms too.

The official document states: “The government also recommends that the use of face coverings in Higher Education, Further Education and secondary schools is extended for a limited period to all indoor environments – including classrooms – unless 2m social distancing can be maintained.

“Face coverings are now also recommended in early years and primary schools for staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

“All children will once again be expected to attend school, as they were in the autumn term.”

The move had divided opinion among parents, with some saying they might keep their kids off school if they’re forced to wear masks, while others said they were in favour of it.



As well as face masks, it’s now been revealed that the twice-weekly Covid tests secondary students were meant to be taking are also ‘not compulsory’.

Education minister Nick Gibb confirmed that testing will be voluntary for pupils, saying that it remains ‘highly recommended’ to do so, however.

Mr Gibb added that it will not be a case of ‘no test, no school’, also clarifying that face masks will not be compulsory in schools, even though the government strongly advises pupils to use them.

He told Good Morning Britain: “No, they’re not compulsory but we highly recommend it, it’s everybody doing everything we can to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid, helping to reduce the transmission.

“The first three tests will be taken in the school that will show the students how to do it most effectively and it’s the students themselves that will do it at home with supervision by their parents.”

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The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been downgraded

‘It is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines’

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Evelyn Simak / Geograph

Following the threat of the NHS being overwhelmed receding, the Covid alert level in the UK has been downgraded.

According to the UK’s chief medical officers, the alert level should move from 5 to 4, Sky News reports.

This is because the numbers of patients in hospital are ‘consistently declining and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded’.

Under Level 5, there was ‘a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed’, while under Level 4 transmission of coronavirus is now ‘high or rising exponentially’ – so there’s still a way to go.

The four UK chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director said in a joint statement that they agreed the alert level should be downgraded.

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This follows advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, but is also ‘in light of the most recent data’.

They added: “The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.

“However, for the time being, it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

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