New Job Support Scheme to Pay up to Half of Wages

In recently announced measures, set to replace the furlough scheme, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced added support for workers affected by Covid restrictions. The move comes after considerable protestation from business owners affected by Tier 2 lockdowns. Under the rules of the new Job Support Scheme, which will replace furlough measures in November, employers will be required to pay less and workers will be required to work less hours to qualify for the scheme. Updated plans came about as a result of complaints from business owners in Tier 2 lockdown areas. Complaining that they would be better off under Tier 3 lockdowns, business owners convinced the chancellor to double the taxpayer subsidy.

Originally, according to the Winter Economic plan announced just last month, employers were required to pay a minimum of fifty five per cent of wages, in return for one third of the hours completed. However, with the new changes, employers will now be required to pay for at least twenty per cent of usual hours and five per cent of hours not worked. Furthermore, the chancellor has pledged to fund sixty two per cent of hours not worked, which means the taxpayer subsidy will rise to almost half. In monthly terms, the government will be paying up to a maximum of £1,541.75, to those qualifying for the Job Support Scheme.

As part of his statement announcing the new Job Support Scheme, the chancellor insisted, “I’ve always said that we must be ready to adapt our financial support as the situation evolves, and that is what we are doing today. These changes mean that our support will reach many more people and protect many more jobs, I know that the introduction of further restrictions has left many people worried for themselves, their families and communities. I hope the government’s stepped-up support can be part of the country pulling together in the coming months.”

Coronavirus Energy Bailout

New rules from energy regulator Ofgem mean that vulnerable customers struggling to pay their energy bills this winter will be receiving help. To be enforced from the 15th of December, the new rules mean that suppliers will be required to provide struggling customers with emergency credit. This means that customers who are unable to top up prepayment meters must be offered the energy bailout. Furthermore, customers who face being in debt from the credit support must be put on “realistic and sustainable” repayment plans. The coronavirus energy bailout moves come after suppliers voluntarily pledged to support the most vulnerable, left further exposed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest move enshrines the suppliers’ will to support vulnerable people in the form of Ofgem’s newly updated licensing rules, which now obliges energy suppliers to support customers in financial difficulty. In recent months, Ofgem slashed the price cap on default tariffs and prepayment meters, as wholesale gas prices and energy costs dropped significantly. Essentially, the regulator has passed on the savings made by suppliers on to the people, in a move which will benefit millions of households across the United Kingdom.

Director of retail at Ofgem, Phillipa Pickford stated that “Suppliers have stepped up to the challenge of supporting their customers during the Covid-19 crisis, especially those in vulnerable situations. Customers who are struggling to pay their bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible. The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter.”

The move has been welcomed by support organisation such as Citizens Advice. In September, research by Citizens Advice showed that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, six million people have fallen behind on at least one bill. Chief executive of Citizens Advice Dame Gillian Guy stated, “This raft of new protections from Ofgem should help more people who are struggling to stay afloat. Energy is an essential service and everyone should be confident they can adequately heat their home and protect their health – especially during a global pandemic. We’ve been pressing for the measures agreed between government and energy suppliers to help people through the coronavirus pandemic to be extended and widened, so we’re very pleased to see this announcement from the regulator.”