‘We will win the fight against COVID-19’ Boris and Rishi’s road map to seeing off virus
BORIS JOHNSON and Rishi Sunak showed a united front as they set out a winter blueprint for protecting Britain’s economy and saving lives.
Rishi Sunak announces grant scheme for businesses in Tier 2
The Prime Minister hailed the “bravery” and “patience” of people living under extended localised lockdowns and insisted the sacrifices are paying off. Mr Johnson has faced tensions inside and outside government over whether his coronavirus restrictions are too tough or do not go far enough. But the PM and Chancellor showed their joint resolve in an address to the nation last night to unveil a new £13billion coronavirus jobs rescue package to cover this winter. It means extensive Government measures to try to save Britain’s economy could now reach £200billion.
Mr Johnson insisted the only way to tackle the crisis was with a “balanced approach” that protects lives and the economy .
He appealed to the country to unite to follow the rules and stop the spread of the virus saying: “We will win this fight against Covid.”
The Prime Minister dismissed critics who want restrictions lifted to protect the economy, warning it would lead to “many thousands more deaths”, be unworkable and swamp the NHS.
But he said demands to “turn the lights out, shut up shop” with a national lockdown would cause psychological and economic harm and “that’s why we are going for a balanced approach”.
He told the nation: “I want to repeat my thanks for your bravery, for your patience and your public spiritedness. There are clear signs that our collective actions are working.”
Struggling businesses will be given cash to keep them afloat and workers whose hours are cut will have most of their income covered.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
It comes as the Government faces growing pressures in the virus fight, with chief scientific officer Sir Sir Patrick Vallance saying up to 90,000 people are being infected with Covid each day.
The reproduction or R-rate of the virus is between 1.2 and 1.5, with the number of cases doubling every 14 to 18 days. A further 180 deaths were recorded yesterday.
Sir Patrick told a Downing Street press conference that he has not ruled out a “digital Christmas” in England due to social restrictions that “will need to be in place for a while” and said it still looks like there will be no vaccine until the spring.
Mr Johnson also conceded England’s NHS Test and Trace system needed to improve’ to provide faster results.
He said he shared “people’s frustrations” at turnaround times for results but said treatments and testing technologies were improving.
Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough are the latest areas to move into the Tier 2, with restrictions beginning at midnight tonight.
Warrington, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire face moving to the toughest Tier 3 restrictions.
Mr Sunak announced significant changes to the support on offer for workers and employers yesterday after MPs warned of a looming crisis without extra help.
Although pubs, restaurants and other hospitality firms are allowed to trade under Tier 2, restrictions on socialising have left many struggling to survive.
The Chancellor said he was making the changes because hospitality chiefs had given a clear message that “the impact of the health restrictions on their businesses is worse than they hoped”.
The Job Support Scheme, which replaces furlough, has been changed before it comes into force next month. Bosses will pay less towards covering the income of staff on reduced hours and staff can work the equivalent of one day a week to qualify. It could cost the Exchequer £6billion if two million people take up the offer for the entire six months of the scheme.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
Cash grants of up to £2,100 a month will be available for firms that are allowed to stay open in high alert areas but have been hit by the ban on households mixing.
Around 150,000 businesses in England could be eligible at a potential cost of more than £1billion and help for the selfemployed has been doubled, with a maximum grant now of £3,750 over a three-month period.
It amounts to a potential further £3.1billion of support by January, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.
The total cost of the package will depend on take-up but could cost the Exchequer at least £13billion over six months.
Mr Sunak said it was right to act “with scale” during a crisis but added: “It is clearly not sustainable to carry on acting in this way forever, so as we continue intervening in the economy it is right that it is targeted and effective.”
Business leaders backed the changes to the bailout measures.
Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce said it was a “very significant improvement” and Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses said the interventions would help protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods.
Rishi Sunak announces self-employment grant will double
Comment by CBI President Lord Bilimoria
With millions of people and many thousands of businesses now in Tier 2 and 3 areas, the latest support measures by the Chancellor will bring a huge sigh of relief to many, especially in the hospitality sector.
While firms support the three-tier system for Covid restrictions in England, the business community has been calling for any such restrictions which mandate closures or impact demand, to go hand-in-hand with financial support.
Yesterday was a big step in the right direction towards a more standardised approach of support for areas in the two highest tiers and those businesses that face tough times who operate within them.
It will be critical to get the buy-in of all regions in England, rather than negotiation on a case-by-case basis. With a tough winter ahead, significantly increased Government contributions as part of the new Job Support Scheme starting on November 1 will help protect more people’s livelihoods.
Restaurants, pubs, cafes and theatres in Tier 2 along with other businesses across the UK who are seeing demand fall away, but with little extra support, will be relieved to see that anomaly come to an end.
That, alongside an expansion in grants and support for the self-employed are welcome.
With my experience at Cobra Beer, I know only too well the stresses and strains the hospitality industry has faced and just what the Government’s support has done to help.
But as well as the immediate firefighting, business and Government must continue to look at ways of stimulating business investment and innovation, which will be key to how the economy thrives in the longer term.
A robust and rapid affordable mass testing regime is crucial to rebuild our economy. It is perhaps the single biggest factor in opening up the UK and getting life back to normal.
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