Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced details of new support schemes designed to help workers in parts of England under any tier restrictions.
Speaking in the Commons today, the chancellor outlined three steps he is taking to protect these businesses as he says the ‘clear impact of restrictions’ on those particularly in the hospitality sector was ‘worse than they planned for’.
First, he will extend the grant system for businesses in any tier, including those not forced to close.
They will be eligible for cash grants of up to £2,100 a month, a move which will benefit the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector.
These grants will be retrospective, with businesses in any area that has been under enhanced restrictions able to backdate claims to August.
Sunak then announced updates to the Job Support Scheme.
In tier 3 areas, the government will cover the full cost of employers paying two-thirds of people’s salaries where they are unable to work for a week or more. This will include businesses in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Sheffield.
Sunak will also reduce the number of hours an employee needs to work to be eligible for the JSS, from 33% to 20% of their normal house.
The employer contribution to the hours not worked will also reduce from 33% to 5%.
These support schemes will be available to businesses in all Covid alert level tiers.
The self-employed will also benefit from extra help. Sunak said he is to increase government support for these people, doubling income support from 20% to 40% of people’s income. It increases the maximum grant to £3,750, he says.
Areas in tier 2 – the second-highest risk level – include London, Essex, much of the West Midlands, Leicester, Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, West Yorkshire and north-east England.
Businesses in these regions have seen demand collapse amid the new restrictions – including no households mixing indoors and the rule of six applying outdoors – without being formally required to shut.
Earlier this morning UKHospitality’s chief executive Kate Nicholls was on her way to meet with the chancellor about changes to the JSS, and tweeted that ‘the best way to help the supply chain is to help support hospitality to remain open even with shorter hours and less trade rather than incentivised to close for 4-8 weeks’.