CONCERNS have been raised after the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was extended until March earlier today.

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.

The move was welcomed locally, but questions were raised about how the economy will re-open, particularly in the hospitality industry.

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

Ronnie Hogg, landlord of the Malt Kiln in Undercliffe, said he was “very pleased” about furlough but had concerns about the long-term impact of lockdown.

He said: “I’m as pleased as anyone it has been extended, but the worry for me is when us landlords will be able to access the grants on offer to us.

“I think a lot of pubs sadly won’t open again. Admiral Taverns, my brewery, have been brilliant so I should be ok but some others landlords are getting into so much debt.

“A friend of mine has just walked away and shut his pub, he doesn’t want to go through it all again.

“I will look after my staff but I have to make sure I’m ready to re-open, and when we do it should be when it is safe, the tiered system is a waste of time.

“I can’t see us reopening in December it would be nice if we could but I think in all likelihood it’s going to be January at the earliest.”

Mr Sunak said the extension to furlough “significant extra support to protect jobs”, but 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.

“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 problems, not one who is always a step behind.”