Today, Rishi Sunak has announced further support for people and businesses impacted by local lockdowns. Speaking to the House of Commons today, the Chancellor said he would help "open but struggling businesses" operating in areas under tier 1 and 2 coronavirus restrictions, and pledged to increase the government's financial support to employers forced to close in tier 3 areas.
He extended the Jobs Support Scheme to include businesses which can open but have witnessed a fall in demand, by lowering the required hours employees have to work to qualify for the support down from 33 per cent of normal hours to 20 per cent. He also revealed a dramatic cut in the level of employer contributions under the scheme. Businesses are now expected to cover just 5 per cent of employee hours not worked, rather than the 33 per cent initially announced last month. The support scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all tier levels. Luke Davis, CEO and Founder of SME investment specialists, IW Capital, has commented on the announcement: "This package announced today could be the lifeline that many small businesses have been calling out for, helping them keep on staff and keep operating during the new restrictions. Businesses have been incredibly resilient and small business owners, in particular, should be praised for the work they have done over the course of the year. Small businesses represent 99% of the UK economy and employ over 60% of the working population, so this support is crucial to the continued success and the overall health of the UK economy. For those that are not only looking to stay afloat but grow, private investment into SMEs remains strong, at IW Capital, have seen a marked increase in the amount invested into high-growth SMEs during the Coronavirus pandemic."