The Government has announced a package of measures to support employment across the UK in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delivering his summer statement in Parliament this week (July 8), the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled a £30 billion plan to protect jobs, including a bonus scheme for companies that rehire furloughed workers.
Under the Job Retention Bonus scheme, the Government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021.
Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021. Further details about the scheme will be announced by the end of July.
The Government also announced the introduction of a new Kickstart Scheme. The £2 billion fund will create hundreds of thousands of six-month work placements and is intended for people aged 16-24, who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.
Funding available for each job will cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
As part of the emergency package to prevent mass unemployment as coronavirus hits the UK economy, the Government said it would provide an additional £111 million this year for traineeships for young people in England, to fund work placements and training for 16-24-year olds. The Government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
It will also introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from August 1 2020 to January 31 2021. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices.
Mr Sunak said: “Throughout this crisis I have never been the prisoner of ideology. For me, this has never just been a question of economics, but of values. We believe in the nobility of work. We believe in the inspiring power of opportunity. We believe in the British people’s fortitude and endurance.
“Our plan has a clear goal – to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire. To create jobs in every part of our country. To give young people a better start. To give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start.”
The plan to support jobs is the second part of a three-phase strategy to secure the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus.
The first stage was a £160 billion support package, which included £49 billion of extra funding for the country’s vital services, including the NHS, paying the wages of nearly 12 million people and supporting over a million businesses through grants, loans and rates cuts.
The Chancellor said that following this second phase focusing on jobs, there will be a third phase focusing on rebuilding, with a Budget and Spending Review in the autumn.
Responding to the Chancellor’s economic update, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s huge support for employment and training in the UK as the economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any interventions that aim to protect jobs and incomes are vital to households around the country. Time will tell if such measures can also bolster consumer demand, which remains well below pre-crisis levels, and the Chancellor must be ready to take further actions if necessary.”
She added: “The new Job Retention Bonus will provide welcome support for bringing back hundreds of thousands of staff who have been on furlough in recent months. Furthermore, the measures put in place to support businesses to hire more young people, will be vital to boost the opportunities for them around the UK.”
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