Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

"The extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April is welcome, but Government should set out early in the new year its plans for job support beyond this to provide employers with the confidence to continue to protect jobs through early summer 2021.

"Setting out a clear plan to extend the CJRS to the end of June would boost business confidence and mitigate the numerous uncertainties firms are facing as a result of the pandemic, as well as any challenges they may face arising from the end of the Brexit transition and over the timing of economic recovery.

"We also believe there is a strong case for the next phase of the CJRS to be linked to support to enable firms to train staff who are fully furloughed or working reduced hours - and to provide funded outplacement skills development support to any worker made redundant."

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