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BCC welcomes additional support for businesses hit by COVID-19 restrictions

The Chancellor has unveiled increased support for jobs and workers hit by COVID-19 restrictions for all businesses and the self-employed who can show their revenue has been adversely affected.

Under the revised scheme, employers will pay less and staff can work fewer hours before they qualify.

  • Open businesses which are experiencing considerable difficulty will be given extra help to keep staff on as government significantly increases contribution to wage costs under the Job Support Scheme, and business contributions drop to 5%
  • Business grants are expanded to cover businesses in particularly affected sectors in high-alert level areas, helping them stay afloat and protecting jobs
  • Grants for the self-employed doubled to 40% of previous earnings

Instead of a minimum requirement of paying 55% of wages for a third of hours, as announced last month at the launch of the Winter Economic Plan, employers will now have to pay for a minimum of 20% of usual hours worked and 5% of hours not worked.

The Government will now fund 62% of the wages for hours not worked. This more than doubles the maximum payment to £1,541.75 a month. In the most generous case, the taxpayer will now go from funding 22% of wages to just under half.

The scheme will, as before, be open to all small businesses and larger businesses that can show an impact on revenues.

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is a very significant improvement in the support available to businesses struggling with the impact of increasing restrictions across the UK.

“Chambers have been campaigning for greater support for businesses experiencing big falls in demand as a result of new restrictions, and a number of the steps announced today, including the lowering of employer contributions and the number of hours worked needed to qualify for the scheme, respond directly to our calls. 

“Backdated grants for hospitality firms in tier two and enhanced grants for the self-employed will go some way to alleviating pressure on many of those who have been particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Chambers have called for support to be truly commensurate with the restrictions imposed on businesses as part of our five tests for Coronavirus measures. The true test of these reforms will be whether they help businesses on the ground get through the difficult months ahead. Chambers of Commerce will continue to work with the Treasury to ensure that support is responsive and preserves businesses and livelihoods.” 

More information about the changes to the grants and schemes is available online here. A Government factsheet about the updated Job Support Scheme can be found here.

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