New targeted furlough scheme will pay two thirds of worker wages

The government has launched a targeted furlough scheme for businesses that need to close during winter – paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%) up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the announcement on Friday afternoon.

The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January.

Sunak stated: “Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed.

“I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

“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.”

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An official government statement reads: “Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.”

It continues: “It is estimated that around half of potential claims are likely not to incur employer NICs or auto-enrolment pension contributions and so face no employer contribution.”

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 Chancellor had previously said that continuing the national furlough scheme was unviable, but has been coming under pressure from leaders in the north to introduce localised support.

Earlier this week, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham vowed to fight back against any restrictions imposed without promises of financial security, claiming the north had been “treated with contempt” throughout the pandemic.

Over 561,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK so far.

Thursday saw the highest ever official figures for cases per day – with more than 17,000 recorded in a 24-hour period 7-8 October.

Read more about the expanded Job Support Scheme on the government website.

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