Government Will Cover 22% of Worker Pay for Six Months
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined plans for the government to cover 22% of pay for ‘viable’ workers for six months when the current furlough scheme comes to a close at the end of October.
Sunak said he understood that it was challenging to live with limitations on everyday freedoms, but now it was time for people to live with some element of risk.
“It is on all of us, we must learn to live with it and live without fear,” Sunak said.
The new Job Support Scheme (JSS) will require workers to work at least a third of their normal hours in order to qualify. The government will then cover 33% of the remaining two-thirds of a worker’s usual pay, with their employer covering another 33%.
In total, the government will pay 22% of a worker’s usual wage up to a monthly cap of £697.72.
Sunak also defended his ‘eat out to help out’ initiative, saying that the public should not face criticism for ‘striving towards normality’ by seeing loved ones and friends in recent months.
“People were not wrong for wanting that … and nor was the government wrong to want this for them,” Sunak said. “I said in the summer that we must endure and live with the uncertainty of the moment. This means learning our new limits as we go.”
MPs were also warned by the chancellor that it was “not sustainable or affordable to continue to provide the level of support that we did at the beginning of this crisis”.
“It can’t be that we borrow at this level forever; we must get our borrowing back under control and get our debt falling again,” said Sunak.
The JSS will cover small and medium-sized businesses with employers needing to cover a third of the cost to maintain their employees’ pay. Larger businesses will not be covered unless their turnover has suffered as a result of the pandemic.
All employers are eligible for the new scheme, even if they did not make use of the initial furlough scheme.
Sunak also announced that the self-employed grant scheme would be extended in order to support those who are unable to find work in coming months.
Boris Johnson was absent from the Commons for Sunak’s statement, but called the chancellor’s proposals ‘creative and imaginative’ and expressed his full support for ‘the package of measures that we’ve jointly drawn up’.