U.K. Government Expands Wage Subsidies to Help Businesses Hit by COVID

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks with members of staff as he visits the headquarters of Octopus Energy GETTY IMAGES/LEON NEAL

British Chancellor Rishi Sunak has provided for an extension of the wage subsidies for employees of companies that have been forced to close under the new COVID-19 restrictions.

The government will cover two-thirds of workers ' wages for companies legally obliged to shut down for a period of time during the winter as part of local or national restrictions on COVID-19.

The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for a period of six months and will be limited to a maximum of£2,100 ($2,726) per month.

Sunak said, "Throughout the crisis, the driving force of our economic policy has not changed. I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation develops.

"The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the U.K. that are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time."

The government's furlough scheme, which saw companies pay cash grants of 80 percent of the wages of furloughed workers, up to a maximum of £25,500 ($3,247) per month, will end on October 31. It was credited with preventing a sharp rise in unemployment as businesses were ordered to shut down during the nationwide lockdown.

COVID-19 continues to rise in the north of England, with Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool, and Middlesbrough being placed under greater restrictions.

There are fears that the government might consider tougher restrictions in an attempt to stop the speed of the virus, leading to condemnation by city mayors who criticized the government for failing to consult with them.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham tweeted, "No discussion, no consultation.

"Millions of lives affected by the Whitehall dictatorship.

"It proves impossible to deal with this Government."

The City Council of Birmingham wrote to Sunak warning that further restrictions on bars and restaurants, without evidence of the spread of COVID-19 taking place in those settings, risked costing jobs and livelihoods without making anyone safer.

Recent figures show that the British economy grew by only 2.1% in August, well below expectations, despite the Sunak Eat Out to Help Out initiative, which hoped would give the economy a much-needed boost.

For the fourth consecutive month, however, the economy grew by a record of 20.4% in the three months leading up to June following the imposition of a national lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 in March.

The latest figures also showed a significant slowdown from the month of July, when the economy grew by 6.4%.



Publish : 2020-10-12 21:44:00

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