The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of April 2021.

The UK government will continue to pay 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April  — employers are only required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pension for the hours worked, and NICS and pension for hours not worked.

The eligibility criteria for the UK-wide scheme remains unchanged, and this extension continues to apply to all devolved administrations.

Chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, also confirmed that the government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes would be extended until the end of March 2021 — this includes the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which had been due to close at the end of January.

Rishi commented: “Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world— helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.

“We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable businesses to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we’re providing certainty and clarity by extending this support, as well as implementing our Plan for Jobs.”

Business secretary, Alok Sharma, added: “While our loan schemes have provided a vital lifeline to millions of firms across the country, we know that business owners need additional certainty as we head into the New Year.

“Extending government-backed loan schemes will give companies right across the UK the finance they need to support, protect and create jobs, as we build back better from the pandemic.”

The UK government will review the employer contribution element of the CJRS in January.