Chancellor Rishi Sunak says that even businesses that can stay open and trade face "profound" economic uncertainty and that representatives of the hospitality industry have said the impact has been worse than they planned for and as a result the Government are taking three further steps today.
Outlining the first, he says he will extend the grant system for businesses in any tier - even if they are not forced to close by law. They will be eligible for cash grants of up to £2,100 a month, a move which will primarily benefit the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector. These grants will be retrospective, with businesses in any area that has been under enhanced rules able to backdate claims to August
Mr Sunak also announces he is making the Job Support Scheme "more generous for employers". He says that in tier three areas - those under very high alert - the government will cover the full cost of employers paying two-thirds of people's salaries where they cannot work for a week or more. He adds that for businesses that can open "it is now clear the impact of restrictions on them - particularly in the hospitality sector" is worse than they planned for. He also outlined a reduction in the number of hours an employee needs to work to be eligible to enter the Job Support Scheme from 33% to 20% of their hours. He says the employer contribution to the hours not worked will reduce from 33% as originally planned to five percent. It will be available to businesses in all covid alert levels.
Mr Sunak announces that he is increasing government contributions for the self-employed, with a doubling of income support from 20% to 40% of people's income. It increases the maximum grant to £3,750, he says. He describes sole traders as the "dynamic entrepreneurial heart" of the UK economy.
"This is our plan: a plan for jobs, for businesses, for the regions, for the economy, for the country - a plan to support the British people," he says.