Rishi Sunak will make an announcement later today as the Government seeks to further its support for businesses and workers hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Chancellor was due to unveil his autumn budget – but instead will launch what is being called a “Winter Economy Plan”. Mr Sunak made the unusual move because he believes “now is not the right time to outline long-term plans and people want to see us focused on the here and now”.
A Treasury source said: “No-one wanted to be in this situation but we need to respond to it. The chancellor has shown he has been creative in the past and we hope that people will trust us to continue in that vein.
“Giving people reassurance and businesses the help they need to get through this is uppermost in his mind.”
The package to be launched today is expected to contain a wages subsidy scheme in the style of Germany to plump up the wages of people returning to work on a part time basis after furlough.
The plan will also likely see loans for businesses extended, and may also include a VAT cut.
What time is Rishi Sunak announcement today?
Rishi Sunak is expected to give an announcement today to unveil a multibillion-pound package of support for the economy this winter.
The announcement is due to be made in the House of Commons at 12.30pm.
You can watch all the action on Sky News, BBC News and Parliament TV.
The announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnsons came under pressure from MPs this week to act quickly to help businesses hit hardest by the lockdown restrictions.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the threat to employment was “not theoretical” after a host of major firms have announced job cuts in recent weeks and months – most recently Whitbrea unveiling job losses of up to 6,000 in the UK.
The Labour leader said: “The CBI, the TUC, the Federation of Small Business, the British Chamber of Commerce and the Governor of the Bank of England are all calling on the PM to stop and rethink and don’t withdraw furlough.
“We have been saying it for months. When is thePrime Minister finally going to act?”
What can we expect in Rishi Sunak’s announcement?
Mr Johnson said the Chancellor was working on “creative and imaginative” solutions for the Winter Economy plan to be unveiled today.
The Treasury has declined to comment on what may feature in today’s annoucnement, but possible ideas are thought to include a wage sibsidiy scheme to get furloughed staff back to work part time.
Germany’s Kurzarbeit scheme could be the inspiration for such a plan. This sees an employer cut workers’ hours while the government pays them a percentage of the money they would have lost as a result.
The scheme has been running in Germany for a while but has been revised during the pandemic and now runs for up to 21 months, with the Governmnet paying up to 80 percent of a worker’s wages.
France, too, has a similar scheme called “chômage partiel” – or in English, “partial unemployment” or “partial activity”.
This scheme sees firms cut employees’ hours by up to 40 percent for a period of up to three years.
However, employees still receive nearly all their normal salary as the Government tops up the wages.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the economic support being unveiled today as a replacement to the furlough scheme had been in the workings since the summer.
He told Sky News: “The Chancellor is going to set out the details in the House of Commons later and I’ll let him do that.
“What you’ve seen over the past nine months since this crisis started, you’ve seen an unprecedented amount of economic support to keep jobs going, to support businesses that have been terribly hit by this, and we’re determined that that should continue.”
Asked why the Chancellor has waited until nearly October to announce the measures, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve said throughout that sadly we’re not able to protect every job and every business.
“But I think in terms of the timing of this, we’ve been working on the winter plan for the economy and options in case cases started to go up again since the summer and with the Prime Minister having set out the next steps in terms of the health side on Tuesday, now the Chancellor is coming to the House today – two days later – to set out the economic package for the winter plan that goes with that.”
Further measures the Chancelor couldannounce today could include VAT cuts, extending loands for businesses, and many have called for the extension of the Self Imployed Income Support Scheme – asking the Chancellor to include a third installment in his plans.
The announcement this afternoon comes after the shop workers’ union warned of “a tsunami of job losses”.
General secretary Paddy Lillis said: “If we are going to save the high street, there needs to be radical and bold action to level the playing field between online retail and ‘bricks and mortar’ shops.
“The time is long overdue for the government to look seriously at introducing some form of online sales tax.
“As a society we have a choice, do we want to see the high street go to the wall or do we want to save it.
“Retail is the cornerstone of our towns, cities and communities. It employs around three million people and needs urgent assistance to get the industry back on its feet.”
Speaking in Parliament earlier this week, Sir Keir Starmer also urged the government to come up with a “plan B” for the economy as he warned of a “wave of job losses this winter”.
Published at Thu, 24 Sep 2020 07:50:00 +0000