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New Job Support Scheme announced

By Rachel Lawler

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the launch of a new scheme that will replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is coming to a close at the end of October 2020.

The new Job Retention Scheme aims to protect “viable jobs” in businesses that are still facing lower demand in the winter months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The scheme tops up the wages of employees who are still working fewer hours than normal.

Employees on the new scheme will be paid for two-thirds of any hours that they are not able to work, with the cost of this split between the government and their employer.

Under the new scheme, employees will receive at least 77% of their usual pay.

Employees must be earning at least 33% of their normal hours to qualify for the scheme and the level of government support will be capped at £697.92 a month.

All small and medium-sized businesses will be eligible for the scheme but large businesses will need to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by Covid-19 in order to access it.

The scheme will start on 1 November and will last for six months.

Self-employment support
The Chancellor also announced that its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant will be available. Eligible workers will be able to claim 20% of their average monthly profits – up to a total of £1,875. This will be available as one lump sum payment to cover November, December and January.

A second grant, which “may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances” will cover the period from February 2020 to April 2021.

Early entitlement funding
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "While we welcome the news that the government will be continuing to provide financial support to protect jobs once the Job Retention Scheme ends, it remains unclear how exactly this latest announcement will benefit the early years sector – Eand in particular, providers who currently receive early entitlement funding.

"With many providers still feeling the impact of the last-minute government U-turn on the furlough scheme, it is absolutely vital that the Department for Education provides clarity on exactly how nurseries, pre-schools and childminders employing assistants are able to access this scheme now, and not weeks down the line.

"With so many in the sector struggling to remain afloat as a result of low parental demand for places, the increased costs of operating safely during a pandemic, constant staff shortages as a result of a lack of testing availability, and of course, inadequate government funding rates, the next few months are going to be incredibly difficult for many providers.

"As such, it is vital that the government steps up its support for the sector and ensures that providers can operate sustainably, both now and in the long term."