Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to make an announcement today regarding further financial support for businesses that may close in the coming weeks.
A new scheme is set to come in place which will subsidise the wages of those who work in businesses, including pubs and restaurants, which may be forced to close due to tougher restrictions expected to be announced next week for parts of England.
What is Rishi Sunak expected to announce today?
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The Chancellor is expected to announce the next stage of the Job Support Scheme, aimed at helping businesses that may be forced to close in the coming weeks.
Pubs and restaurants in the north of England are expected to be told they must close by law, as part of a potential three-tier local lockdown system which is expected to be confirmed on Monday 12 October.
The new financial support scheme could see the state subsidise part of workers’ wages in the industries which are directly affected by local lockdowns.
It’s expected to be a six-month plan, which will be reviewed after three months.
What is the Job Support Scheme?
The Job Support Scheme comes into place on 1 November to replace the original Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which ends on 31 October.
It offers eligible workers three quarters of their normal salaries for six months.
In order to be eligible for the Job Support Scheme, workers need to be in a “viable job”, where they can still work for at least one-third of their usual working hours.
The government and the employer will then each pay one-third of the remaining hours, which would mean employees would receive at least 77 per cent of their normal pay.
Figures show the economy grew by only 2.1 per cent in August, which is far below what was expected, especially with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out Scheme’ running throughout the month for the whole of the UK.
When will Rishi Sunak speak?
The Chancellor is expected to make his announcement on the afternoon of Friday 9 October, although the time has not yet been specified.
On Friday morning a Treasury spokesperson said: “The chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the Job Support Scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months.”
What is the three-tier lockdown system?
Stricter measures are expected to be put in place next week to slow the spread of the virus, including the possible closure of pubs and bars.
A three-tier system for local lockdowns is expected to be announced by the government.
It would see different parts of the country placed in different categories of restrictions based on case rate per 100,000 in each region.
The new rules, which are expected to be announced by Monday 12 October, could see large parts of England in the highest tier, with pubs, restaurants and cafes closing.
The tiers expected to be announced:
Tier 1: Areas listed as ‘tier one’ would continue to adhere to restrictions currently in place, such as the rule of six and a maximum of 15 guests at weddings and civil partnership ceremonies
Tier 2: The second tier would ask members of the public not to meet anyone outside their household in private dwellings, including gardens, and would also restrict care home visits to exceptional circumstances only
Tier 3: The third tier would require no social contact outside your own household in any setting, and restrictions on overnight stays away from home. Hospitality and leisure businesses would also have to close.
It has been suggested that the three tier lockdown system in England could make it easier for the government to get additional resources to those areas where lockdown rules are most restrictive, which is where Sunak’s new scheme would come into place.
This comes after Scotland recently announced stricter measures, which include all pubs and restaurants across five health board areas in central Scotland closing from Friday 9 October.
What are the new restrictions in Scotland?
In Scotland, all licenced premises in the areas of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley will have to close from Friday evening, at 6pm, for a period of 16 days.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to open throughout the rest of the country, but only between the hours of 6am and 6pm.
Alcohol will only be able to be served outdoors “up to the existing curfew time of 10pm, and subject to the 6/2 rule on group size.”
Other businesses including snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, bingos and casinos will be forced to close in the affected areas from Saturday 10 October for two weeks.
Contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks, with an exception for professional sports, and indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed. However, gyms can remain open for individual exercise.
Outdoor live events will also not be permitted in these five areas for the next two weeks.