THE Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended today until March, as the UK moves into its second national lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the House of Commons that the scheme, which gives furloughed workers 80 per cent of their income, would continue into 2021.

It had initially been extended until December 2, when the Government hopes the second lockdown will be over, but will now last for an extra four months.

Mr Sunak said this is "significant extra support to protect jobs", while Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds labelled the support "last minute" and accused the Government of ignoring advice on lockdown.

The Chancellor said: “Our highest priority remains the same: to protect jobs and livelihoods.

“The Government will continue to help pay people’s wages up to 80% of the normal amount. All employers will have to pay for hours not worked is the cost of employer NICs and pension contributions.

“We will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.

“For self-employed people, I can confirm the next income support grant which covers the period November to January will now increase to 80% of average profits up to £7,500.”

Ms Dodds said the Government had "ignored calls from businesses for certainty until the last moment".

She said: "The national lockdown was announced weeks after Labour and SAGE called for a circuit breaker which was ridiculed by the Chancellor as a 'blunt instrument'.

"The Chancellor keeps ignoring pleas for certainty until the last possible moment after jobs have been lost and businesses have gone bust.

“We need a Chancellor who is in front of the problems we face, not one who is always a step behind.”