The UK government will pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a radical move aimed at protecting people’s jobs. It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively signed a blank cheque last night as he unveiled a huge new coronavirus bailout to cover the wages of millions of people and stop firms going bankrupt.
He said the government will cover 80 per cent of salaries up to a ceiling £2,500 a month – equivalent to the UK average wage of £30,000 a year – as long as employers keep workers on their books, and there will be no limit on the total cost.
The scheme will be up and running by the end of April and be backdated. Grants to cover people’s pay can be backdated to March 1 and any employer regardless of their size will be eligible for the scheme which they can apply for through HMRC.
The “unprecedented” measures will stop workers being laid off due to the crisis, chancellor Rishi Sunak said. ‘For the first time in our history the government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages,’ Mr Sunak said.
At a Downing Street conference today Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pubs, bars, cafes restaurants and many other venues are being told to close tonight across the UK
Previously the Government had asked people to avoid all non-necessary social contact and had stopped short of asking businesses to shut-up-shop. Already jobs have been lost, particularly in the UK hospitality industry which depends on footfall to survive.
Mr Sunak said closing pubs and restaurants would have a “significant impact” on businesses. Standing alongside Boris Johnson at a press conference in Downing Street, Mr Sunak made a direct appeal to businesses not to sack people.
It comes on top of a £350billion package announced just earlier this week, including £330billion of loan guarantees and £20billion of rate reliefs and grants. And at the Budget last week Mr Sunak pumped £30billion into stimulating the economy.