Sunak extends job support scheme for six months

Rishi Sunak

UK finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday afternoon the UK Government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded “to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions.”

Under the scheme expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.

The UK Government said it will support eligible businesses by paying 67% of each employees’ salary up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Sunak said: “I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.

Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.

The scheme will begin on November 1 and will be available for six months, with a review in January. 

In line with the rest of the JSS, payments to businesses will be made in arrears, via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December.  

Employees of firms that have been legally closed in the period before November 1 are eligible for the CJRS.

The scheme is UK wide and the UK Government said it will work with the devolved Governments to ensure the scheme operates effectively across all four nations.

In addition to expansion of the JSS, the government is increasing the cash grants to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. 

These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was available previously. 

This could benefit hundreds of thousands of businesses, including restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, bowling alleys and many more.

The devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a £1.3 billion increase to their guaranteed funding for 2020-21.

These measures will sit alongside the original JSS — which is designed to support businesses that are facing low demand over the winter months — and the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus (JRB) which encourages employers to keep staff on payroll.