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UK govt to pay wages as on-trade ordered to close

The UK government will pay 80% of wages for employees who are not working, up to £2,500 (US$2,900) a month, as on-trade venues nationwide are ordered to close from tonight (20 March).

Bars, pubs and clubs in the UK will close after 20 March

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed “unprecedented measures” to help those whose jobs are at risk through the coronavirus job retention scheme.

The scheme will offer grants to any employer in the UK and will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March, and will be open before the end of April for at least three months.

There’s no limit on the funding available for the scheme. Sunak said the government would “pay to support as many jobs as needed”.

Furthermore, the previously announced coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will be interest-free for 12 months, not six as initially planned. The loans will be available from Monday, and for more information visit

Sunak added: “To help businesses keep people in work, I’m deferring the next quarter of VAT payments. No business will pay VAT from now to mid-June.

“You’ll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills. That’s an over £30 billion [US$35bn] injection to business equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.”

Help for self-employed

The standard allowance for Universal Credit is also being increased by £1,000 [US$1,150] a year for the next 12 months, and the Working Tax Credit basic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced “unprecedented” measures to help UK businesses

element will be increased by the same amount. It is expected to help more than four million households.

Sunak also revealed more help for self-employed people by suspending the “minimum floor income”.

He added: “That means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.

“Taken together, I’m announcing over £6bn [US$7bn] of extra support through the welfare system. And to further support the self-employed through the tax system, I’m announcing today that the next self-assessment payments will be deferred until Jan 2021.”

On-trade ordered to close

Pubs, bars, clubs and gyms will be closed in the UK after tonight, as ordered by the UK prime minister, as efforts are ramped up to slow the spread of coronavirus.

However, takeaway services will be allowed to continue.

In his daily televised update today, Johnson said: “As far as possible we want you to stay home. That’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.”

On Monday, Johnson warned the British public to avoid pubs, clubs and social venues in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus as the number of cases in the UK was on the rise.

The advice hit the hospitality industry hard, with many venues forced to temporarily shut and make staff redundant.

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