With more parts of the country facing tougher coronavirus restrictions, the government has updated it's package of financial support.
Announcing the updated measures in the House of Commons, Chancellor Rishi Sunak reiterated the goal to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected during the difficult months ahead.
The measures include extra help for businesses that remain open but experience considerable difficulties. The government is increasing its contributions to the Job Support Scheme, reducing employer contributions for unpaid hours to 5%.
There are also new business grants designed to cover businesses in those parts of country subject to the high-alert level (Tier 2).
The self-employed will see their grants double from 20% to 40% of previous earnings.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak 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 new Job Support Scheme, which comes into effect on 1st November, was updated to make the terms more generous.
When originally announced as part of Sunak’s Winter Economic Plan, the scheme saw employers paying a third of employees’ wages for hours not worked, requiring employees to work 33% of their normal working hours.
The update to this scheme reduces the employer contribution for unworked hours to 5% and reduces the minimum hours that need to be worked to qualify to just 20%, or one day a week.
If someone was being paid £587 for their unworked hours, the government would be contributing £543 and their employer only £44.
There was no change to the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus, and the Job Support Scheme Closed (for businesses legally required to close in certain parts of the country) remains unchanged too.
For the self-employed, the grants covering November to January and February to April will be increased from 20% to 40% of previous profits. The maximum grant each time becomes £3,750, for each three month period.
There was also additional funding for businesses in Tier 2 regions in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sectors.
These businesses can claim cash grants of between £1,400 and £2,100 a month, depending on rateable value, and the grants will be payable retrospectively in areas already subject to restrictions.
The grants are in addition to the additional business support for local authorities in Tier 3 areas.
Mike Cherry OBE, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, 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. These measures will help make that happen.”