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UK extends 80% wage subsidies as England goes back into lockdown

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street in central London on September 9, 2020 following an announcement of further restrictions on social gatherings in England due to an uptick in cases of the novel coronavirus. – The UK government on on September 9 sets out tighter rules on social gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with concern mounting at rising infection rates among the young. The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)

Britain’s government will extend by a month its costly coronavirus wage subsidies to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off receive 80% of their pay, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday as he announced a new England-wide lockdown.

Britain introduced the 80% wage subsidy scheme in March and it had been due to expire on Saturday to be replaced with a more targeted and less generous support.

The scheme supported 8.9 million jobs at its peak, and had been forecast to cost around 52 billion pounds ($67.28 billion) over its eight-month lifespan.

Firms will have to contribute 5% of the employment costs for workers covered by the extension, the finance ministry said.

It also said a mortgage payment holiday scheme would be extended for households and business premises which are required to close because of coronavirus restrictions would get grants of up to 3,000 pounds ($3,881) a month.

Mortgage borrowers impacted by the pandemic and who have not yet had a payment break will be entitled to a six-month holiday, while those that have already started a payment holiday will be able to top up to six months, the ministry said.

“I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said.

“These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.”

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