Rishi Sunak’s ‘vital lifeline’ for Britons in the run up to Christmas

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The Chancellor said funding for firms hit by the coronavirus crisis will cover most of the employment costs for workers that move between the schemes. Business leaders said the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will provide a “lifeline” as furlough, which covered 9.6 million jobs, comes to an end today. Treasury analysis shows that when it is combined with the bonus scheme that rewards employers with £1,000 for every member of staff they keep on past Christmas, at least 95 percent of the total employment costs for the average furloughed employee will be covered until February.

The research also showed nine out of ten employees who were furloughed returned to the same job.

Mr Sunak said: “It’s right that as we move towards a more targeted approach to tackle the virus, our support becomes more targeted too.

“The Job Support Scheme will continue to protect jobs throughout the difficult months ahead and is part of our comprehensive plan for jobs.”

At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the Government provided employees with 80 per cent of their wages while they were unable to work as a result of the pandemic.

By October 18, 7.5 per cent of the UK workforce was still on furlough.

Companies forced to close as a result of Tier 3 restrictions and those facing a slump in demand in other areas will be given support to cover most of the wages of their staff.

Workers on reduced hours should get at least 73 percent of their salaries, paid largely by the government.

Employees in shutdown businesses will have two thirds of their pay covered with employers responsible only for NICs and pension contributions.

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Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The furlough scheme has been a resounding success since March, and has inevitably saved hundreds of thousands of jobs from being lost.

“The new Job Support Scheme will be yet another vital lifeline to saving jobs and keeping businesses afloat, many of which remain hopeful for some relief in the run up to Christmas.

“But with new restrictions being imposed in every part of the country, many of which are set to get tighter in the weeks to come, small businesses face huge difficulties over the winter months ahead.

“It’s important that we make it more affordable to employ people by reducing the ‘jobs tax’, Employer’s National Insurance.

“The Government’s business rate review must address and reduce the upfront costs of this regressive tax, which threatens business survival altogether.”

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