Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme until the end of March.
It will continue under the current rules, with the scheme paying up to 80 per cent of an employee’s wages up to £2,500 a month. The government will next review the scheme in January - no details were given by Sunak as to whether that might be an opportunity to change the payments or extend the scheme further.
Sunak told the House of Commons yesterday that his intention was "to give businesses security through the winter” and extend “the security we are providing will protect millions of jobs.”
So far £40 billion has been spent on furlough - formally called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - since March this year.
It was originally intended to end in May and then October.
Many estate agencies and industry suppliers - including relatively well-funded portals - have taken advantage of the scheme, although Rightmove and some agencies, including Knight Frank, say they are returning some or all of the funds.
HM Revenue and Customs, which administers the scheme, says it believes as much as 10 per cent of the money delivered up to August may have been claimed by companies fraudulently or in error.