Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has broadened the scope of the Government’s COVID-19 fiscal support to businesses in the face of more wide-spread regional lockdowns.
In a speech delivered to the Houses of Parliament this lunch time (October 22) Sunak said that Government was lowering the threshold of the Job Support Scheme to make employees eligible by working 20% of their normal hours – compared to the previous 30%.
In Tier 3 areas Government will also now cover the full cost of paying two-thirds of people’s salaries where they cannot work for a week or more.
And funding will be provided to local authorities which would provide businesses – particularly those in the hard-hit hospitality sector – with a monthly grant of £2,100 each, which could be back-dated to August.
On Saturday (October 24) businesses in South Yorkshire will join those in Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire in the Tier 3 lockdown.
Sunak began this lunch time’s speech by acknowledging the “frustration” of people living in those areas.
He said that “even businesses that remain open are facing profound economic uncertainty”, adding that, for businesses in the hospitality sectors, especially, “The impact of the health restrictions on their businesses is worse than they had hoped”.
Sunak said that businesses in with more stringent lockdown measures in place had seen “a significant fall in consumer demand”.
However, he denied that there was a need for a return to a full national lockdown.
Responding to shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, Sunak said: “The support I’ve announced today is as generous as it is to give as many businesses and employers as possible the opportunity to keep working and keep trading.
“All of this progress, all of this hope is being put at risk by repeated calls for a damaging blunt national lockdown.”