Source: China State Council Information Office
British Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday announced the British government will increase its financial support schemes to protect livelihoods and jobs in the difficult months to come.
In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes, and expanding business grants to help companies in high-alert areas.
Under the original Job Support Scheme (JJS) announced in last month, employers and government each paying a third of employees’ usual wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33 percent of their normal hours.
While under the reformed scheme announced on Thursday, Sunak reduces the employer contribution to those unworked hours to 5 percent, and reduces the minimum hours requirements to 20 percent, saying that the government will pay the reduced share.
The newly-announced self-employed schemes also increases the number of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20 percent to 40 percent.
In addition, the chancellor has announced support cash grants of up to 2,100 pounds (about 2749 U.S. dollars) per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas.
“I know that the introduction of further restrictions has left many people worried for themselves, their families and communities. I hope the government’s stepped-up support can be part of the country pulling together in the coming months,” Sunak said.
The new three-tier COVID-19 alert system set out by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came into force last week across England as the country struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The alert system comprises three levels: ”Medium”, “High” and “Very High” with the level being decided according to local infection rates.
In Tier three, social mixing is banned both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars must close unless they can operate as a restaurant.
For businesses in this band that are unable to legally operate due to Covid-19 restrictions, the government will pay employees 66 per cent of their wage, with the employer still contributing to pensions and National Insurance.
Meanwhile, companies in Tier two can only claim on a scheme where employers have to pay around 55 percent of staff wages with a smaller subsidy from the government, while still being subject to bans on household mixing indoors.
UK businesses groups welcomed the new measures announced by Sunak. Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry said, “This is a welcome intervention which will help protect more jobs and small businesses, as well as self-employed traders, through the difficult winter months.”
“Measures to combat COVID-19 make this a tough time for many small businesses, but we are determined to make it through,” he said. “These measures will help make that happen.”
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, said changes to the Job Support Scheme have greatly improved the incentives for employers to keep on staff and will keep a lid on Britain’s unemployment.
The updated support plan was announced at a time when coronavirus cases soared and countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.