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UK Government Launches New Jobs Support Scheme
Christian Eede , October 9th, 2020 18:11

Music and events industry figures have said that the new scheme, which applies to businesses legally required to close due to local lockdowns, will likely leave out many

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an update to his Winter Economy Plan, the Jobs Support Scheme, which is aimed at helping businesses that may be forced to close temporarily in the coming months due to local COVID-19 lockdowns.

It's expected that the scheme will be able to support pubs, bars and restaurants by paying out cash grants of up to £3,000 per month depending on rateable value to eligible businesses. Employees of those businesses will also receive 66% of their salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month, from the government in what is being dubbed by some as an update on the government's soon to be scrapped furlough scheme. The scheme will only apply to businesses told to close, rather than those who choose to shut because of the impact of local restrictions.

While the new scheme, which launches on November 1, will be welcomed by many businesses in the hospitality and events industries that may have to shut over the winter months, this new scheme yet again offers nothing for the venue owners, events workers and more that are unable to open their businesses or work altogether due to current COVID-19 restrictions.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association said: "We will need further clarity on the details of the scheme and which businesses are eligible, given thousands of night-time economy businesses have been unable to open or operate for seven months now due to government restrictions. Most businesses and workers in the sector remain in desperation and despair, with no sector-specific or government understanding of the underlying issues the industry is facing or the financial implications of closures.

"The introduction of the £3,000 monthly grant for businesses under local lockdown is insufficient and, for many, too little too late. This is in no way reflective of the costs that are being incurred by businesses in our sector and will do nothing to alleviate the significant financial burdens they are under."

This further lack of sector-specific support adds to a bleak week for those in the creative sector following Rishi Sunak's suggestion in an ITV interview earlier this week that many people in that sector may have to give up their current careers to retrain. No constructive advice on how the government was working to create jobs or support those looking to retrain was offered.

Sunak's Winter Economy Plan also came under heavy criticism from across the UK music industry when it was announced last month with many viewing it as the potential death knell for the UK's live music and culture sector, with jobs at music venues effectively being termed 'unviable' and self-employment financial support being heavily decreased.

Large swathes of Scotland have gone into local lockdown, while further restrictions are expected to come into place in parts of England starting from Monday (October 12).