Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak set out in a statement to MPs in the UK Parliament’s House of Commons on Thursday how the government is to provide further support for businesses hit by the coronavirus. The support includes grants for companies in the hospitality, accommodation, and leisure sectors in high-level alert areas as well as changes to the existing Job Support Scheme for all areas.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, a trade association representing more than 700 companies in the hospitality and leisure sector, said in a press release: “The changes to the Job Support Scheme will help to safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the grant support will provide a crucial lifeline for businesses struggling with low footfall and ongoing costs.”
She added: “It is excellent that the grant has been backdated to the date when the restrictions began to bite. … It is important now that grants are processed as quickly as possible, as businesses are on the brink after weeks of curfew and severe restrictions.
The UK’s HM Treasury has set out information on these measures, which are:
Job Support Scheme
For companies hit by the coronavirus, Sunak said the revised Job Support Scheme reduces the contribution an employer will need to make to their employees’ unworked hours from 33% to 5%. It also reduces the minimum hours requirement from 33% to 20% so that those working just one day a week will be eligible for the scheme.
Enhanced aid for self-employed workers
Sunak also told MPs that aid for self-employed workers whose businesses have been hit by the coronavirus would increase beyond what was announced in September. The two forthcoming grants are for the periods November to January and February to April.
The change means:
- The self-employed grants increase from 20% to 40% of three months’ average monthly profits.
- The maximum grant increases from £1,875 to £3,750.
Business grants determined by local authorities
The chancellor announced additional funding for local government authorities to support businesses not legally forced to close in high-level alert areas — primarily in the hospitality, accommodation, and leisure sectors. The scheme will initially run until April, with a review point in January.
It will be up to the local authorities to determine which businesses are eligible for grants in their local areas, and what precise funding to allocate to each business. This government factsheet provides further details.
Businesses in very high alert level areas will qualify for greater support whether closed (up to £3,000 per month) or open.
The UK government confirmed that employers will continue to receive the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus announced in July and that the Job Support Scheme for businesses legally required to close remains unchanged.
— Oliver Rowe (Oliver.Rowe@aicpa-cima.com) is an FM magazine senior editor.