RISHI Sunak has revealed a fresh bumper furlough package today which will pay even more wages to save the nation’s boozers and restaurants.
The Chancellor told MPs this morning he would make the new Job Support Scheme far more generous for firms that are staying open, paying significant chunks of cash to struggling business across the nation.
At the moment only businesses in Tier 3 which are ordered to shut – such as pubs which do not serve food – are allowed to claim two thirds of their staff’s wages.
But now any business across the country which is still open will be able to get a similar amount – and they only need to work 20 per cent of their hours.
And he revealed huge new grants of up to £2,100 businesses in Tier 2 and 3 which face the toughest restrictions – which can be backdated for firms which have been facing them for months.
Hospitality firms in Tier 2 areas have seen their trade fall off a cliff due to the ban on people meeting different households in all indoor venues – as well as the 10pm curfew.
They have been crying out for extra help and support from the Government to help them deal with the loss of income.
And with more and more areas falling in to the ‘High’ alert level such as London last week, the Chancellor has concluded more financial support is needed.
But he will keep in place the requirement for staff to work for at least a third of their normal hours.
That will ensure the scheme only supports “viable” jobs that are likely to outlast the pandemic.
The Chancellor does not want to prop up the wages of workers who are likely to be made redundant because he wants them to be able to retrain and find other lines of work.
Mr Sunak was also said to be considering expanding the eligibility criteria for business grants, which are currently only on offer to businesses forced to close altogether.
The grants are worth £1,500 every three weeks for larger firms and £1,000 for smaller entities.
Last night posh restaurants including The Ivy and the Wolsey told customers they could still make bookings with them if they were in Tier 2 – but only if it was for a working meeting.
The eatery, a favourite with celebrities like David Beckham, Kate Moss and Madonna, said they are accepting work bookings but admitted Tier 2 rules are confusing.
The restaurant tweeted: “We are all finding the Tier Two rules bewildering and whilst social occasions need to be from a single household, BUSINESS MEETINGS ARE ACCEPTABLE within the rules.
“So, we wanted to let you know, we are proceeding with business bookings from different households.”