The Chancellor has today announced an extension to the Job Support Scheme, to help workers whose employer has been forced to close.
It will potentially see hundreds of thousands of workers have 67% of their wages paid by the government.
Rishi Sunak was forced to expand the current coronavirus support scheme, which is due to finish at the end of the month.
From November 1st, the government will pay two-thirds of your wage if your workplace has been forced to shut, and staff stuck at home will continue to qualify for the money for at least six months.
Unlike now where employers pay 55% of wages and the government only covers 22%, the Treasury will cover the whole amount.
However, it will only help workers at places which are ordered to shut by the government, for example if there were further lockdown restrictions in Greater Manchester and pubs and restaurants were forced to close.
This means nightclubs have been thrown a lifeline, alongside pubs and restaurants if they have to shut in the North next week.
The bad news is there isn’t any extra help for pubs which have been hit hard by the 10pm curfew.
The scheme will be available throughout the UK, but firms that do qualify for it will only be able to reclaim the wage cash for their employees from December.
In another blow for the self-employed, there was nothing new announced for them, and they must now wait until January to claim a three-month grant which is worth only 20% of their average profits (up to £1,875).
Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn
The next six months look tough.
The next six months are set to be ‘very, very difficult’, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Professor Jeremy Farrar has said the next three to six months will be a ‘very, very difficult’ period but the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is effective Covid-19 treatment which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
Speaking on Sky News, Prof Farrar said that a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed. He explained that there could currently be 50,000 cases a day.
He said: “The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.
“Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.
“It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.”
When asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prof Farrar added that a short national lockdown will be best to reduce transmission rates. he added that the best time to put this in place would have been September 20th but that ‘it was never too late’.
He said: “The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.
“So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.”
Last chance to claim £6,750 government grant for self-employed workers
Everything you need to know…
Self-employed Income Support Scheme pays up to £6,750 to the tens of thousands of self-employed people – but the scheme ends today.
Tens of thousands of self-employed people have until midnight tonight to apply for a support grant from the government of up to £6,750.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to businesses that earn less than £50,000 a year.
The taxable payout is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits and will be paid to those qualified in a single instalment.
The grant is capped at £2,190 a month meaning the maximum you can claim is £6,750 in total.
You will need to apply before midnight tonight (October 19th, 2020) with confirmation your business has been impacted since July 14th by the pandemic.
To be eligible you must have been self-employed before April 6th 2019 and filed a tax return for 2018/19 to HMRC.
More than half of your total income must come from self-employment and your profits must not exceed £50,000.
The new Wythenshawe Community Grocery that lets people do a weekly shop for just £3
The Community Grocery store in Wythenshawe lets shoppers stock up their fridge for just £3.
The shop is from the people behind The Mess Cafe which employs and trains ex-offenders and aims to bridge the gap between expensive supermarkets and food banks.
The store is stocked full of food donated from local suppliers and supermarkets with a drastically reduced priced.
Local businesses such as R Noone & Son, FareShare and local branches of Tesco and The Mess Cafe’s regular suppliers have all also been donating food to the new grocery store.
The local community has celebrated the new shop that allows people who are left in vulnerable positions due to the pandemic shop with independence and dignity.
The Mess Cafe provides training and employment to ex-offenders but due to the pandemic was forced to close.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s efforts, The Message Trust began to prepare healthy meals for children who were missing out on school lunches – sending out a total of 60,000 meals.
The affordable grocery store idea was born after the team realised more and more families and individuals were being pushed closer to the poverty line due to the pandemic.
Ellie Dickinson from The Message Trust spoke to the MEN: “Initially it was just for children who weren’t in school any more but would have qualified for free school meals, and then we realised there were vulnerable families who weren’t at work, or isolating, or just couldn’t afford to go shopping.
“It made us realise that there was a real need for more than just hot meals – often people couldn’t afford their weekly shop.
“The Community Grocery is touching on two points – it’s a low-cost food shop that still gives people that agency, and no one feels like they’re going to a food bank.
“I think that is quite hard for a lot of people, if they get to that stage.
“Because it’s a shop, each week they can actually choose what they want. They’re not just given a box without knowing what’s in it.
“It’s actually a really aesthetically pleasing shop too – it looks like Ancoats General Store which just adds to the experience!”
The Community Grocery project has a £5 annual membership fee which allows members to receive job workshops, career advice, mental wellbeing courses plus help on writing CV and working on computers.
Following that it’s just £3 per food shop and members are able to visit twice a week.
Depending on supplies each week, the amount of food available to each member changes. The most recent week’s shopping list included; five pieces of fresh fruit or veg, two bread items, five canned or boxed items, two freezer items, two fridge items, four different ‘best before’ items (close to the best before date but still safe to eat), one ‘non-food item’, and two potted plants.
Ellie added: “There have been so many people in the local community who have said ‘Look, I don’t need this, but I’d like to cover someone else’s membership’. It’s been lovely.
“There’s been a real outpouring of support that we didn’t expect.
“We initially did a soft launch for the people we were delivering meals to during lockdown – they were our priority.
“But they spread the word and now we’ve got over 200 members and queues down the street! It’s been wonderful.”