New financial support revealed ahead of possible lockdowns

As Covid infection rates increase and new lockdowns come into force locally, fresh financial plans are in place to help any business forced to close

The government will cover two-thirds of employees’ wages at businesses forced to close during new coronavirus lockdowns. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has stated that the government will subsidise pay by providing grants to companies forced to close due to new controls being put in place. While pubs, bars and restaurants will likely be the first to close, press reports have suggested salons could be included in further lockdown restrictions.

Under the plan, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for a period of time over winter as part of local or national restrictions can receive grants to pay up to 67% of employees’ salaries.

It comes just two weeks after the chancellor announced a replacement for furlough – the Job Support Scheme – as part of his Winter Economy Plan.

The government will support eligible businesses by paying two-thirds of each employees’ salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. This is a higher rate than the furlough scheme is running at currently.

It is also a higher level of taxpayer support than the Job Support Scheme, which was designed to provide firms with money to cover 22% of workers’ pay, covering staff in “viable” jobs working reduced hours.

Rishi Sunak said: “The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

The Treasury said businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. The new UK-wide scheme will run from 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review in January.