‘We go further’: Chancellor unveils three extra support measures for businesses

Politics

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed to “go further” as he announced three new measures to help workers and businesses get through the winter and a coronavirus second spike.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said cash grants of up to £2,100 a month will be given to firms in Tier 2 areas – enough for all affected hospitality, accommodation and leisure premises.

They will be retrospective, so any region which has been under enhanced restrictions can backdate their claim to August.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Customers sit outside a restaurant/cafe bar in Soho on October 13, 2020 in London, England. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said today that the city would move into Tier 2 of the government's new Covid-19 risk classification once it hits 100 new daily cases per 100,000 people, which could happen this week. The second or "high" tier of the three-tier system triggers a ban on household mixing, although pubs would remain open. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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More help is being pledged for hospitality, accommodation and leisure firms

For self-employed people, the size of the grant they can access will also be doubled to £3,750 – with the amount of average profits they can claim for rising from 20% to 40%.

And there will be changes to the Job Support Scheme, which is for companies experiencing lower demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Employees will only need to work 20% of their normal hours – instead of the original 33% – to be eligible.

And the government will significantly reduce the amount employers have to contribute – from 33% to 5%.

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YORK, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Visitors to York walk through a pedestrianised area of the city on October 18, 2020 in York, England. York city has become another of England’s high risk areas placed under 'Tier 2' coronavirus lockdown measures as Government data indicates the R number range for the whole of the UK had increased slightly from between 1.2 and 1.5 last week to 1.3 and 1.5. Most notably the change will introduce a ban on people from different households from mixing anywhere indoors, prompting particular concern within the already badly-affected hospitality industry. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
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How much employers have to pay to the Job Support Scheme has been cut

“The scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all alert levels,” Mr Sunak confirmed.

“So businesses that are not closed but face higher restrictions – in places like Liverpool, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester as well as the devolved nations – will be able to access greater support.”

Mr Sunak explained he was making the changes because: “It is clear that even businesses that can stay open are facing profound uncertainty.”

He continued: “This is our plan. A plan for jobs, for businesses, for the regions, for the economy, for the country. A plan to support the British people.”

A woman wearing a face mask passes a coronavirus advice sign in Sheffield, as South Yorkshire is the latest region to be placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, which will come into effect on Saturday.
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The chancellor said he wanted to help firms in Tier 2 overcome ‘profound uncertainty’

But Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said she had been calling for the government to “get ahead of the looming unemployment crisis and act to save jobs” for months.

“Instead, we’ve had a patchwork of poor ideas rushed out at the last minute,” she added, suggesting some people had already lost their jobs because of the chancellor’s “inaction”.

And Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, also said he could “barely believe what I’m reading here”.

“Why on earth was this not put on the table on Tuesday to reach an agreement with us?” he asked, referencing the breakdown in talks between local leaders and the government earlier this week.

“I said directly to the PM that a deal was there to be done if it took into account the effects on GM businesses of three months in Tier 2.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, added: “Looks like Rishi Sunak is agreeing with Greater Manchester Leaders. Pity he couldn’t have done it two weeks ago.”

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