Government will not ‘pull the rug out’ on support schemes

by Marc Shoffman from interactive investor |

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Prime minister’s roadmap meant to ease concerns that consumers will be left stranded.

Support for consumers and employees will continue throughout the pandemic even as restrictions ease, according to prime minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson revealed his long-awaited roadmap to lifting coronavirus restrictions yesterday.

It set out plans that start with reopening schools for all pupils from 8 March and end with all legal limits on social contact being lifted on 21 June. This is subject to coronavirus cases remaining low and the success of the vaccine rollout.

Johnson told MPs yesterday that the government will not “pull the rug out” when it comes to economic support.

Most businesses, employees and the self-employed have been able to access support throughout the pandemic.

This includes the job retention, or furlough scheme, and the self-employed income support grant.

Businesses can also apply for coronavirus business interruption loans or for bounce back loans.

The emergency loan schemes are due to end in March and the job and income support is scheduled to close in April.

But Johnson told MPs: “For the duration of the pandemic, the government will continue to do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK.”

This could mean chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his Budget on 3 March to extend the support schemes.

The job retention scheme could run beyond April.

Businesses may be able to apply for emergency loans after March and there could be a fourth self-employed income support grant.

The roadmap plans provide reassurance for business owners and the self-employed who have faced almost a year of disruption as well as for employees who have faced job uncertainty.

All shops will be able to open from 12 April, including hairdressers and beauty salons. Pubs and restaurants can provide outdoor drinks and meals.

The next stage of the reopening will be on 17 May, with pubs, restaurants and hospitality such as hotels allowing people indoors. Inside entertainment including theatres and cinemas will be able to reopen.

Nightclubs will reopen from 21 June, when all legal limits on social contact and household mixing will be lifted.

Johnson added that a global travel taskforce would report by 12 April on how to return to international travel, with restrictions on holidays remaining until 17 May.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says the roadmap provides “much needed clarity” for firms.

He adds: “On one side of the coin we have continued restrictions – on the other, we need corresponding business support.

“Whatever it takes means bringing those overlooked by current support measures into the fold, including suppliers, directors and the newly self-employed. Upwards of a million small business owners and sole traders are currently receiving no direct help whatsoever.”

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