An emergency package of measures has been announced to help deal with the economic impact of coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that “hardship lies ahead”, but insisted that no-one will be left “without hope”.

In what amounts to a mini-budget, Mr Sunak told MPs that the Government will do “all we can” to keep people in work.

He said his “plan for jobs” would help protect livelihoods after the economy contracted by 25% in just two months.

What was announced? 

The raft of wide-ranging measures includes: 

  • An 'Eat Out to Help Out' discount scheme or 'Dosh for Nosh' as some are describing it.
  • A £2 billion scheme of taxpayer-funded work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
  • A £3 billion green package, with grants for home-owners and public buildings to improve energy efficiency.
  • A £111 million programme of unpaid traineeships combining work experience with training.
  • A VAT cut to encourage people to return to the hospitality sector with VAT cut from 20% to 5% from next Wednesday until January 12. This will have an impact on eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs; accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.
  • No stamp duty on homes under £500,000. It takes effect today until March 31st 2021.

What about the furlough scheme?

The Chancellor stuck firm to the October deadline for the job retention furlough scheme to end but said it would be replaced with a new Jobs Retention Bonus.

Explaining the new bonus scheme, Rishi Sunak said: “If you’re an employer and you bring back someone who was furloughed – and continuously employ them through to January – we’ll pay you a £1,000 bonus per employee.

“Its vital people aren’t just returning for the sake of it – they need to be doing decent work. So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in national insurance.”

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Rishi Sunak - pic. PA Wire

The Chancellor said if employers bring back all nine million people who have been on furlough then it would be a £9 billion policy.

He added: “Our message to business is clear: if you stand by your workers, we will stand by you.”

What is the economic situation we're in?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have warned that the UK’s unemployment rate could soar to 14.8%, with job losses comparable to the 1930s.

Thousands of jobs have been cut as businesses struggled through lockdown, with Royal Mail, Centrica, easyJet and British Airways among those affected.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the speech, the Unite union said 2,200 DHL workers involved in the production of Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicles are being told that they could lose their jobs.

The 2,200 proposed redundancies comprise just under 40% of the entire DHL workforce on the contract, it added.

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