October 9, 2020 4.01 pm

Government to pay two-thirds of staff wages at businesses closed by lockdown

New lockdowns expected next week

Employees can get two thirds of their wages paid for by the government if their workplace is forced to close because of coronavirus restrictions, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

It comes ahead of an update expected on Monday about how restrictions and local lockdowns will work going forward.

It is understood restrictions from Wednesday will fall under three alert levels, with the highest being the worst case scenario when hospitality venues in COVID-19 hotspots are closed in a bid to stop the spread.

Lincolnshire neighbours in Nottinghamshire are expected to come under one of the tighter restriction tiers from next Wednesday after a surge in cases saw it shoot to the highest infection rate in England.

Mr Sunak confirmed that businesses legally told to close because of stricter lockdown would receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work, with the government paying two-thirds of each employee’s salary (67%) up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

He said the latest move was an “expansion” of the Job Support Scheme and would provide a “safety net in advance of what may be a difficult winter”.

“Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed,” he said.

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

The Job Support Scheme, which also includes new measures to entice employers to bring staff back in to work will begin on November 1 and run for six months, to be reviewed in January.

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