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Coronavirus: Government announces it will pay 80 per cent of salaries of employees unable to work, extra for Universal Credit and help for self-employed

The Government has announced it will pay 80 per cent of salaries of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the decision on Friday as the Government called on all pubs, restaurants, cafes, theatres, leisure centres and gyms to close for the foreseeable future.

Mr Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will cover up to £2,500 a month, was an unprecedented move and would support workers unable to work but kept on the payroll.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (32101678)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (32101678)

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1 and will be open initially for at least three months — and I will extend the scheme for longer if necessary," said Mr Sunak.

“I am placing no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme. We will pay grants to support as many jobs as necessary.”

“We expect the first grants to be paid within weeks — and we’re aiming to get it done before the end of April.”

In addition to assisting retained workers, the Government said it would increase the Universal Credit standard allowance for the next 12 months, by £1,000.

The Chancellor said he would also up the Working Tax Credit basic element by £1,000 across the same period.

Mr Sunak said these measures would benefit over 4 million of the country's most vulnerable households.

And to help self-employed people, the Government said it would suspend the minimum income floor for everyone affected, meaning these people will be able to access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay.

To also help the self-employed through the tax system, Mr Sunak announced that the next self-assessment payments would be deferred until January 2021.

The series of decisions announced on Friday means an extra £7bn will be available to support the welfare system and strengthen the safety net of people's incomes.

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