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UK PM Johnson briefing: New measures announced

Boris Johnson's update from 20.3.2020


  • The Government have announced they will be paying 80% of your staff's wages, up to the monthly figure of £2,500 (per person), in an effort to stop employers from laying off their staff.
  • These will be backdated to 1st March 2020, and can be claimed directly from HMRC, aimed to be fully functioning by the END OF APRIL 2020.
  • HMRC are building this process from scratch and so time is needed to provide this support effectively and to make sure all are protected.

Boris Johnson:

  • "These steps are intended to be temporary, I am certain that the UK economy is going to bounce back"
  • "We are telling cafes, bars, pubs to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow. To be clear, they can continue to provide takeout services"
  • "We're also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas... to close on the same timescale"
  • "These are places where people come together and indeed, the whole purposes of these businesses is to bring people together. The sad thing is, at least today, for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart"
  • "We will review the situation each month to see if we can relax any of these measures"
  • "I understand how much businesses and workers need the financial assurance that we are giving them"

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor:

  • "Our planned economic response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world... I know that some people in the last few days have already lost their jobs"
  • "I am today announcing a combination of measures unprecendented for this nation"
  • "Our plan for peoples' jobs and incomes will protect peoples' jobs, offer more support to those who are without employment, strengthen the safety net for those who work for themselves, and help people stay in their homes"
  • Protecting peoples' jobs: "Today I can announce that for the first time in our history, the Government is going to step in and help to pay peoples' wages. We're setting up a new Coronavirus job retention scheme."
  • "Any employer in the country, small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme. Employers will be able to contact HMRC to pay the wages of the people who are not working, but are kept on payroll, rather than being laid-off"
  • "Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 per month. That's just above the median income. Of course, employers can top up salaries further, if they choose to."
  • "That means workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary"
  • "The Coronavirus retention scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st 2020, and will be open initially for at least three months. I will extend the scheme for longer if necessary. I am placing no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme."
  • "We will pay grants to support as many jobs as necessary"
  • "We have never had a scheme like this before, and we are having to build our systems from scratch, I can assure you that HMRC are working night and day to get the scheme up and running. We expect the first grants to be paid within weeks, aiming to get it done before the end of April, but I know that many businesses are hurting now."
  • "I've already taken extraordinary measures to make cash available to businesses through loans, grants and guarantees. I can announce today that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will not be interest free as previously planned for 6 months, it will now be interest free for 12 months... those loans will now be available, starting on Monday [23rd March 2020]"
  • "To help businesses pay people and keep them in work, I am deferring the next quarter of VAT payments. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and you will have until the end of the financial year to pay those bills"
  • "Let me speak directly to businesses: I know it's incredibly difficult out there. We in Government are doing everything we can to support you. We're paying 80% of peoples' wages so someone can be furloughed instead of laid off. We're deferring over £30 billion worth of taxes until the end of the financial year, we're lending sums of money interest-free for 10 months, we're abolishing business rates altogether this year - if you're in hospitality, retail and leisure, we're providing cash grants up to £25,000... the Government is doing its best to stand by you, and I'm encouraging you to do your best to stand by your workers"
  • "We're launching an advertising campaign to communicate the business support... please look very carefully at that support, before making any decisions to lay people off"
  • "I cannot promise you no one will face hardship in the coming months. So we will do our best to protect you."