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UK government to cover 67% of employees’ wages in businesses shut by COVID-19 restrictions

The scheme begins on the 1st November for six months

The UK government is set to cover 67% of employees’ wages in businesses shut by COVID-19 restrictions, as part of the UK's winter economy scheme.

As businesses face another long period of uncertainty with the nationwide three-tier lockdown, the government has launched a new scheme to cover the wages of employees who cannot work, aimed at the leisure and hospitality industries.

Announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the scheme will begin on the 1st November, as the current furlough scheme ends, and will only apply to businesses told to close - rather than those who choose to shut because of the broader impact of COVID-19. 

There is a cap on the government support of £2,100 per employee, with the government also offering temporarily closed business up to £3,000 a month in grants, every two weeks.

The latest announcement follows the news that the UK’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which commenced in March, would be extended until 30th April 2021. However, there have been significant reductions to the grants being made available to self-employed people. Self-employed workers will be able to apply for support in the form of two taxable grants, covering the periods of November - January and February - April respectively. The first grant will cover 20% of self-employed workers’ average monthly earnings, capped at £1850. It is a significant reduction to both of the three-month grants presented in March, which offered 80% and 70% of average monthly earnings, capped at £7500 and £6,570. 

The majority of those working in the music industry are freelance or self-employed, and the industry is expected to take yet another hit as a result of these measures amid the ongoing pandemic. 

Yesterday, as part of the Government’s £1.57billion support package for the arts and culture industries, which was announced in July, Arts Council England revealed the selected theatres, museums, orchestras, music venues and other cultural organisations that will receive funding to help them survive over the next six months. 

Among the organisations and venues set to receive funding as part of the grant are a number of clubs and venues, including London’s Corsica Studios, Ministry of Sound, Village Underground, Electrowerkz, Keep Hush, The Glove That Fits, and The Jazz Café. Elsewhere in the UK, Leeds’ Mint Warehouse, Manchester’s Warehouse Project, Soup Kitchen, Liverpool’s Chibuku and Birmingham’s Leftfoot. London’s Reprezent Radio will also receive a grant.