DAILY BUSINESS BRIEFING FROM GOVERNMENT'S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE
(courtesy of White Label)
On a day when it was revealed that more than nine million workers are expected to be furloughed under the government's job retention scheme, the Chancellor admitted that there was no doubt COVID-19 would have a significant impact on the economy, despite the government’s unprecedented financial interventions.
Asked whether UK unemployment will become as bad as places like Norway, where the jobless rate is above 10% because of the coronavirus outbreak, he replied: "I will be absolutely honest, this will have a significant impact on the economy and not in an abstract way - on people's jobs and livelihoods."
He said the job retention scheme - that sees people being furloughed from work and paid 80% of their wages by the government - combined with other government measures would "significantly help mitigate some of the impact".
Responding to further questions, he added the schemes had been designed to prevent fraud and that the government would be cracking down on any abuse.
He said the schemes, despite being designed ‘at pace’ had been a balance between ensuring they were simple and accessible while protecting the taxpayer. Mr Sunak said this had influenced some of the decisions made, such as the 28 February
‘cut-off’ date for payroll, and this had unfortunately meant some people have 'fallen through the cracks'.
And he added while he was confident the schemes had been designed to minimise the risk of fraud or surplus claims, there would be robust scrutiny and auditing.
Chancellor reveals £750m funding to support charities’ ‘unsung heroes’ in the front line against COVID-19
Mr Sunak also announced unprecedented financial support for the hard-hit charity sector at today’s Downing Street press conference.
He pledged £750million funding for charities, of which £370m will be ring-fenced for small local charities supporting vulnerable people. £360m would go to charities providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people; this included up to £200m to hospices with the rest going to organisations such as Citizens Advice, St John Ambulance and those supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse and disabled people among others.
The government will also match ‘pound for pound’ donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month, with a minimum pledge of £20m.
New £1.3m emergency fund to support tourism industry
Earlier today, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston launched a
new emergency fund
to support Destination Management Organisations (DMO) in England at risk of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding, which is available to any at-risk DMO in England which usually receives at least 50% of its income from commercial sources, will be used to cover operating costs and the cost of employees that cannot be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme because they provide crucial business support services.
Under the scheme, DMOs will be able to receive up to £2,500 per month for two members of non-furloughed staff who provide crucial business support services and up to £5,000 to cover operating costs.
ADDITIONAL NEW GUIDANCE ON SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE WORKPLACE
To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published
guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). For specific settings please refer to
sector specific guidance
. Guidance has been published for:
These guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or to represent every business’s situation, but are illustrative examples. Businesses should also look at the advice being published by trade associations and similar groups on how to apply government guidance in their sector. Read the
general guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus
ADDITIONAL NEW GUIDANCE RELEASED TODAY
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. These
two temporary relaxations
will run until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020.
Apprenticeship programme response
sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of Coronavirus. The guidance has been updated with new information on continuing training and end point assessment for furloughed apprentices, and pausing new funding audits.