Rishi Sunak says it is “a plan to support the British people”, but Labour say people have already lost jobs due to government “inaction”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has vowed that the government will “go further” as he has announced three new measures that are supposed to help workers and businesses to get through the winter months, as well as the ongoing second spike of COVID-19.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Mr Sunak said that cash grants of as much as £2,100 a month are to be given to businesses in Tier 2 areas of the country, enough for all firms affected within the hospitality and accommodation sectors, as well as leisure premises.
The changes will be retrospective, so any region that has been under enhanced restrictions can backdate their claim for financial aid to August.
For those people who are self-employed, the size of the grant that they can have access to will also be doubled to £3,750, with the amount of average profits that they can claim for increasing from 20% to 40%.
And there will also be changes to the current Job Support Scheme, which is for those companies that have been experiencing a lower demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This comes after Dr Tristan Cope, the medical director at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal, Aintree and Broadgreen hospitals, said a “huge strain” had been placed on hospital staff in Liverpool and added that numbers were still rising.
“The scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all alert levels,” Rishi Sunak confirmed.
“So businesses that are not closed but face higher restrictions – in places like Liverpool, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester as well as the devolved nations – will be able to access greater support.”
Rishi Sunak explained he was making the changes because: “It is clear that even businesses that can stay open are facing profound uncertainty.”
“This is our plan. A plan for jobs, for businesses, for the regions, for the economy, for the country. A plan to support the British people.”
But Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said she had been calling for the government to “get ahead of the looming unemployment crisis and act to save jobs” for months.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said he could “barely believe what I’m reading”.
“Why on earth was this not put on the table on Tuesday to reach an agreement with us?” he asked, referencing the breakdown in talks between local leaders and the government earlier this week.
“I said directly to the PM that a deal was there to be done if it took into account the effects on GM businesses of three months in Tier 2.”
This comes after London is dealing with Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions since Saturday, with the capital’s mayor warning that the coronavirus is “spreading rapidly in every corner of our city”. It means millions in the capital will be banned from meeting people from other households indoors, whether that’s in their home or in a pub.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, tweeted: “Looks like Rishi Sunak is agreeing with Greater Manchester Leaders. Pity he couldn’t have done it two weeks ago.”
And Liverpool City Region mayor said: “It’s a shame that it took London coming under further measures for the chancellor to take action to support jobs and businesses.”