Coronavirus: Key announcements from chancellor’s COVID-19 support plan

The chancellor has unveiled his “Winter Economy Plan” to protect jobs as the UK continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

With Britons warned the latest COVID-19 restrictions could last as long as six months – and the looming end of the furlough scheme – Rishi Sunak has set out a raft of new measures.

These are the key coronavirus announcements from his Commons address:

  • A new jobs support scheme – which will replace furlough – will see the government “directly support” the wages of people in “viable” jobs working at least a third of their normal hours
  • The government will top up the remaining two-thirds of the worker’s salary that would have otherwise been lost as a result of working reduced hours
  • It will start in November and run for six months – with all small and medium-sized businesses eligible for the scheme
  • Larger firms will have to prove their profits have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to utilise it
  • Businesses will not be able to issue redundancy notices to employees while taking part in this scheme
  • The self-employed grant will be extended on similar terms as this new support scheme
  • A “pay as you grow” scheme to allow companies more time to repay bounce back loans over a period of up to 10 years rather than six
  • Those struggling to pay them back will now be able to choose to make interest-only repayments and “anyone in real trouble” can suspend repayments altogether for up to six months
  • VAT will remain at 5% for hospitality and tourism until 31 March 2021 – rather than reverting back to 20% in January
  • The deadline for taking out a coronavirus business interruption loan will be extended until 30 November, with the government guarantee on them extended for up to 10 years

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