Sunak extends Covid scheme to pay up to half of wages

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced increases to the Job Support Scheme, which will now see the government pay up to half of employees wages.

As part of the updated scheme, employers will pay less and employees will work fewer hours to qualify, with the taxpayer subsidy now doubled.

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The increase will see employers having to pay for a minimum of 20% of usual hours worked, and just 5% of hours not worked.

The new £3.1bn scheme will support businesses until January 2021, with a further grant extension allowed to cover February through till April.

The chancellor said: “I’ve always said that we must be ready to adapt our financial support as the situation evolves, and that is what we are doing today. These changes mean that our support will reach many more people and protect many more jobs.

“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”

The chancellor also approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 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. 

The government said these grants could benefit around 150,000 businesses in England, including hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and many more who aren’t legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.

In addition, self-employed grants will be increased from 20% to 40%, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.

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