Business owners and bookkeepers who advise them have been wondering what the Chancellor would do when the furlough scheme finished at the end of October. Today the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that employees who work for UK firms forced to close by law due to coronavirus restrictions will get two-thirds of their wages paid for by the government. Businesses that are told to close can continue to use the current furlough scheme until November.
According to the latest figures there has been a rapid rise in the number of cases of Corona virus in recent days. The announcement comes ahead of further restrictions which are likely to be brought in on Monday, which could result in pubs and restaurants in the most badly-hit areas being forced to close. Stricter measures are already in place in Scotland. The Chancellor described it as an expansion job the Job Support Scheme, which starts on November 1st and will be in place for six months. It will be reviewed in January.
The grants will be paid up to a maximum of £2,100 per employee a month and the Treasury said they will protect jobs and enable businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.
Mr Sunak also announced an increase in business grants for those businesses forced to shut because of the pandemic – with up to £3,000 a month paid every fortnight. Under the new scheme the smallest businesses can claim £1,300 a month. Medium sized businesses (with properties worth between £15000 and £51000) can claim £2000 a month and larger businesses can claim £3000 a month. All grants whatever their size will be paid in two fortnightly instalments.
The Treasury says the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive increased funding allowing them to bring in similar measures if they choose to. The Chancellor says the new measures are designed to protect businesses and jobs – it may also be a signal that more strict lockdown measures are on their way.