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Sunak extends job support scheme for firms forced to shut

Sunak extends job support scheme for firms forced to shut

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the government's jobs support scheme for businesses legally forced to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions over the next six months. 

In a statement today (October 9) the chancellor said the its Job Support Scheme, announced last month to replace the furlough scheme, will see the government pay grants to cover two thirds of the salary of each employee off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. 

Eligible businesses will receive a grant of up to £2,100 a month per employee, with employers only required to cover the cost of NICS and pension contributions with no obligation to contribute towards wages. The extended scheme will begin on November 1.

Employers will only be eligible for the support grant whilst they are subject to restrictions forcing them to close their doors and payments will stop once these are lifted, however.

Mr 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 evolves.

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

Mr Sunak also today announced an increase in the value of cash grants paid to businesses in England required to close in local lockdowns, increasing the maximum amount from £1,500 every three weeks to £3,000 per month. 

The extended jobs support scheme will be available throughout the UK and will run for six months from November, with the chancellor specifying a review point in January. 

The government's original furlough support, in the form of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, has been extended on a nationwide scale several times throughout the crisis, but is set to expire at the end of October, to be replaced by the jobs support scheme.

This scheme was announced as part of the government’s 'Winter Economy Plan' last month and will see the government contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.

It will be only open to employees who work at least a third of their normal hours. These hours will be paid for by their employer, while the government and the employer will each pay a third of the remaining hours not worked.

That would mean an employee working 33 per cent of their usual hours would receive 77 per cent of their normal wages. It would mean businesses pay 55 per cent of those workers' regular salaries.

The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 a month, and firms will not be allowed to make staff redundant while they are on the scheme.

In line with the rest of the scheme, support payments will be made to businesses in arrears and a HM Revenue & Customs service will be available from early December.