Thriving firms get lockdown lifeline thanks to extended UK Government schemes – The Sun11/19/2020
PROTECTING lives and safeguarding jobs has been at the heart of the UK Government’s Covid-19 response and it has provided the largest package of emergency support in post-war history, worth more than £200 million.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a new raft of support for workers and businesses after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced new restrictions to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until March and a third grant for the self employed upped to 80 per cent of trading profits.
’It’s peace of mind’
The measures have been a lifesaver for small businesses such as Calla Shoes. CEO Jennifer Bailey, 42, has used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to keep her valued staff members employed.
Baile, who lives in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, says: “The extension of the scheme means peace of mind for me and my team that we can survive this period of uncertainty.”
Before the pandemic Calla Shoes was growing. But because Bailey specialises in the kind of smart footwear customers usually wear for work or special occasions, such as weddings and parties, it was hit hard. Bailey was able to furlough three members of her staff and also decided to take out a Bounce Back Loan.
She says: “My business is my baby and these are the first staff I’d taken on. I would have hated to tell them they’d lost their jobs.” But thanks to the UK Government’s package of financial support, she’s looking forward to a brighter future. “I had my best ever September sales-wise, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m grateful for the support and I’ll do what I can with it.”
Andrew Farthing, the chief executive of GSM Automotive, agrees. He has been able to minimise job losses thanks to the various UK Government support schemes, despite seeing demand fall to as little as 25 per cent of normal levels at times during the pandemic. He says: “Ultimately, one of the best things you do is give people employment. The majority of people we furloughed have returned to work.”
Having those skilled staff ready and available is vital to GSM, which makes components for most of the world’s leading car makers at plants in Brecon, South Wales, and Oxfordshire. Andrew points to the Economic Resilience Fund, which offers support to businesses with development projects as they recover from the pandemic. Farthing says: “We are looking to utilise the scheme for our site in Wales.”
How the UK Government is supporting jobs
The Chancellor has announced a range of measures for both businesses and workers to put them on a firmer footing during the current period of uncertainty. Can they help you?
- The extended Job Retention Scheme runs until March 31, 2021. The UK Government will cover the cost of 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed employees up to a maximum of £2,500 a month until the end of January, when the scheme will be reviewed.
- The extended Self Employment Income Support Scheme provides two further grants to help qualifying self-employed workers across the UK. Applications open on November 30, 2020, and grants will be paid in time for Christmas.
- Extended UK Government-backed loan schemes – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), offering advances of up to £5million, and the Bounce Back Loan scheme, letting businesses borrow up to £50,000 or 25 per cent of turnover – will stay open until January 31, 2021.
- In regional support, businesses in England that have to close for national or local restrictions will get £3,000 a month. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK Government has provided extra funding of £8.2billion, £5billion and £2.8billion respectively.
‘The future’s definitely bright’
Belfast-based tailors Suitor Brothers, run by siblings Chris and William, say the furlough scheme has saved jobs.
Chris, 37, says: “We kept all our guys – myself and my brother, who are partners, have three staff and we’re retaining them all. I welcome the extension of the furlough scheme as it will help keep my staff employed through what is guaranteed to be the hardest winter period retail has faced since wartime.
“If we didn’t have the furlough scheme in place we would have to let people go. Basing it on current trade, we don’t have any need for staff – so we’re thankful. If business does take a spike around December or springtime we can bring the guys back in as we need them.
“When the government came out and said they were going to help us pay the wages, that was great. We didn’t want to let anybody go and we were struggling to get as much money in as possible and then the UK Government introduced the scheme and all our staff have been furloughed. We made up their wages to 100 per cent.”
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