Australia extends its furlough scheme until next March
AUSTRALIA will extend its furlough subsidy scheme until March next year, in sharp contrast to the Chancellor’s decision to stop helping UK employers pay wages at the end of October.
The JobKeeper programme has paid A$1,500 (£825) a fortnight – less generous than Britain worth up to £2,500 a month – but will fall to A$1,200 a month from the end of September.
The JobSeeker scheme that tops up unemployment benefits will fall from A$550 to A$250 a fortnight, leaving recipients on A$815 a fortnight after September. Australia now has double-digit unemployment and is set for its first recession in almost three decades.
Extending the two income support schemes, which have helped save the jobs of about 3.5m workers, will cost the government about A$86bn. The huge sum is on top of the A$30bn given to almost 1m companies.
The reimposition of lockdown in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, was the trigger to extend the schemes as it meant unemployment was unlikely to fall before September.