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Protecting jobs and closing time for pubs

By Gareth Jones
20 March 2020

By Gareth Jones

In today’s Downing Street Press Conference, the Government made two major and unprecedented announcements to tackle the spread and economic impact of Coronavirus.

Firstly, the Prime Minister, announced the decision to ‘collectively tell’ all cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight, not to open tomorrow and remain closed until further notice (although they can continue to offer ‘take out’ food to customers). All nightclubs, gyms, theatres and leisure centres are also to close from tomorrow. The Prime Minister said this action was necessary in order to ‘push down further the curve of transmission’ of the virus in order to save lives.

Secondly, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announced measures to protect jobs and workers – actions which he described as “unprecedented in the British state” as part of a great national effort to protect jobs and ensure people had enough for rents, mortgages, food and bills.

In terms of protecting people’s jobs, Sunak announced that the government going to step and pay up to 80% of people’s wages for an initial three-month period. Any employer will be eligible for the scheme and they are to contact HMRC for a grant in order to keep employees on the payroll. He also announced extensions of the Business Interruption Scheme for loans to SMEs (which he announced earlier this week) – these will now be interest free for 12 months. £30 billion worth of tax on businesses will be deferred, with no businesses will be required to pay VAT until the end of June. These measures would be communicated to businesses through a major national advertising campaign.

The Chancellor outlined more generous support to those without employment, with an increase of £1,000 on Universal Credit over next 12 months and an additional increase of £1,000 on working tax credits. There would also be an increase in housing benefit. He also announced support for the self-employed – which included access to Universal Credit payments and deferrals on self-assessment tax payments.

Photo by Naseem Buras on Unsplash