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Four more Covid-related deaths as Chancellor extends furlough until September

Meanwhile Corporation Tax is to increase from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in two years time

Rishi Sunak

There have been four further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today (Wednesday).

According to the official dashboard, two of the four occurred in the past 24 hours.

The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 2,063

Of those overall deaths, the ABC Borough accounts for 279; Newry, Mourne and Down District at 162; and Mid-Ulster with 194.

There were a further 226 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 42 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the joint highest in NI. There was a further 14 in both Newry, Mourne and Down and in Mid-Ulster.

A total of 1,983 individuals were tested.

There are 307 people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 31 of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently 31 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.

A total of 85 Covid patients are currently in hospitals in the Southern Trust area – with 39 in Craigavon; eight in Daisy Hill, 33 in Lurgan, five in St Luke’s, Armagh and none in South Tyrone.

Today’s figures come as the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered his budget.

It brought confirmation of an extension of furlough – the Job Retention Scheme – until September.

The programme has allowed employers to retain their staff while Government pays 80 per cent of their wages.

As previously the amount will be tapered with employers to make 10 per cent contributions of the furlough in July and 20 per cent in August and September.

The Universal Credit increase of £20 a month will be extended for a further six months too.

Meanwhile, Corporation Tax is to increase from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in two years time. Companies with profits under £50,000 will remain at 19 per cent.

Reductions to VAT will be extended until the end of September. It will then step up on a phased basis, firstly to 12.5 per cent for a further six months before returning to the original pre-Covid level by next April.

Stamp duty and business rates cuts will be extended until the end of June.

Personal tax thresholds are to be frozen, the Chancellor has confirmed.

And for the second year running there will no increase in duties on alcohol or fuel.

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