The government has unveiled its new plan to save jobs amid the ongoing pandemic.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Rishi Sunak laid out his plans to replace the furlough scheme, which involves a new job support scheme.
“The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving business who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours rather than making them redundant,” explained Sunak.
The chancellor explained the support would only be given to ‘viable jobs’, i.e. jobs where employees are working at least a third of their normal hours and are being paid for that work by their employer as normal.
“The government, together with employers, would then increase those people’s wages covering two thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours, and the employee will keep their job.”
Sunak went on to say that the government will “target support at those that need it the most”, adding that “all small and medium sized business” are eligible to apply for the scheme and larger business “only when their turnover has fallen through the criris”.
The job support scheme will be open to all employers across the UK, even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme.
The scheme – which will run for six months starting in November – is designed to save the jobs of the more than 2 million Brits who are still on furlough, which officially closes at the end of October.
For the self employed, the chancellor said he would be extending the existing Self Employed Grant on similar terms and conditions as the new job support scheme.
Since August, the government has been encouraging people to go back to work, however, a recent rise in cases has seen new restrictions put in place, which are likely to affect jobs once more.
According to ONS figures, around 2.2 million working were still on furlough at the beginning of September – that’s a tenth of the entire UK workforce.
By the end of October, employers must reinstate these employees on their payroll or make them redundant.
On Tuesday 22nd September, Boris Johnson announced new Covid restrictions which he said could be in place for six months.
This included urging office workers to work from home, increasing penalties for not wearing a mask or gathering in groups of more than six to £200 for first time offenders, instating a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and reducing the number of people allowed to attend weddings to 15.
This follows the government revealing an estimated 70,000 people currently have Covid-19 in the UK.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday morning, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance gave a stark warning about the impact of current rates of infection.
“It’s now estimated that 70,000 people in the UK have the Covid infection,” said Sir Vallance.
“At the moment we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days. If that continues unabated, and this continues doubling every seven days, then what you see […] is that by mid-October you would end up with 49,000 new cases per day.”
He said this could lead to around 200 deaths per day if the spread of the virus is not slowed.
As of Wednesday 23rd, another 6,178 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were announced, while deaths had risen to total of 41,862.
Currently, the R rate stands at between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 14 other people.