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Government to pay up to 80% of workers' wages under 'unprecedented' support measures

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an unprecedented list of measures to help employees and employers amid the challenging economic circumstances during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

The measures set out in the government's 'Plan for People's Jobs and Incomes' are largely unprecedented and will see the British government step in to help pay people's wages 'for the first time in our history', according to Mr Sunak.

Under the plans, government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to any employer in the country and will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st 2020.

There is no funding limit on the scheme and it will be available before the end of April for at least 3 months.

The government is also offering support to struggling businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The loans will be available to eligible businesses from Monday.

Other key measures include;

  • Businesses will not have to pay any VAT from now until mid-June.
  • Those who are self-employed will have self-assessment payments deferred until January 2021.
  • The Universal Credit Standard Allowance and Working Tax Credit Basic Element will both increase for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year.

In a tweet on Friday evening, Mr Sunak said

"We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort - and stood together.

"It’s on all of us."

The measures came as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, theatres and cinemas to close in the UK from Friday evening.

The announcement of new support for businesses and their employees is one of multiple significant interventions by the government in recent days. The government had originally received some criticism for not providing enough support, however, the new measures appear to have gone down well with many members of the British public, with 'Rishi Sunak for PM' trending on Twitter.

 

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Photo Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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