Chancellor to reveal emergency job protection plan amid new Covid restrictions



Chancellor Rishi Sunak will outline his plans to protect jobs today as the opposition insisted more needed to be done to bolster the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Chancellor will address the Commons after cancelling this year’s Budget.

With the furlough work scheme due to finish at the end of October, he will announce measures aimed at protecting millions of jobs in sectors hit by the latest government guidance on Covid-19.

As the number of new cases rose, new restrictions have been imposed by the Scottish Government in Scotland including pubs early closing and an October holiday travell ban.

Sunak’s intervention comes after increasing pressure from business groups, MPs and unions to extend the furlough scheme amid fears the new restrictions will damage the economy.

Number 11 said work on the scheme had been taking place in parallel with Budget preparations with a focus on jobs to avoid the expected three million unemployed.

The Treasury said: “We will always be honest with people about the difficult trade-offs that are involved here.

“Not between health and the economy, but between keeping people in jobs and helping them find new ones. And between help in the here and now and rebuilding in the future. That’s what people deserve.”

The Chancellor initially announced his move via Twitter, with a graphic titled “Winter Economy Plan”.

His initiative will include VAT cuts, loans for hard hit businesses and wage subsidies, according to reports.

It could see the UK Government and firms share the cost of topping up wages for employees only able to work part-time due to the pandemic.

READ  Kuwait's Jazeera unhappy with Airbus delays, no plans for aircraft order this week

Sunak’s emergency plan comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country could have to cope with up to another six months of coronavirus restrictions. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was less definite about the duration of new restrictions.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said she had called for the Chancellor “to U-turn on his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough” 40 times.

Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, said the new Covid restrictions were the result of Government failures.

Ministers are desperate to avoid a second lockdown and the associated economic damage, with early indicators suggesting the recovery has slowed.

One option reportedly being considered to replace the furlough scheme is Germany’s Kurzarbeit, or shorter work-time policy, under which firms can cut working hours in economic downturns with the state replacing part of their lost income.

Another proposal put forward by the CBI business group would see subsidies for firms that can offer staff at least 50% of their normal hours, with the cost for non-working hours shared equally by the company, the Treasury and the employee.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson was repeatedly challenged about the looming prospect of support being withdrawn from firms and workers despite the prospect of the latest restrictions being in place for six months.

The furlough scheme has cost the UK Government £39.3bn to date, with £3.9bn between 16 August and 20 September alone, according to the latest figures released.

There were a further 6,178 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, the highest 24-hour total since May taking the overall number to 409,729.

READ  Equifax: US charges four Chinese military 'hackers'

Westminster Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the coronavirus contact tracing app launched across England and Wales on Thursday came at a “tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus” and he urged everyone who could to download and use it.



READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here