Anne Marie's Weekly Column - Covid-19 Business Update

Last Wednesday, the Chancellor unveiled a Plan for Jobs in order to support the UK’s economic recovery, whilst continuing to prioritise the health of individuals.   

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has said it will do whatever it takes to protect people and businesses from the immediate economic crisis. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the South West, as well as right across the country, have been supported through a range of government backed schemes.

For context on the sheer scale of the Job Retention Scheme, almost 11,500 people have been furloughed in the Newton Abbot constituency which accounts for 21 percent of the working age population. Linked to this, 4,000 claims have been made for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme at a total value of £11,500,000.

The Chancellor has now set out the second phase of the government’s response, focusing on jobs – supporting people to find the jobs that are out there, creating new jobs through investing in infrastructure and protecting jobs by revitalising the hard-hit sectors upon which many jobs depend.

Jobs Retention Bonus Scheme

It is great to see the government rewarding and incentivising employers who successfully bring furloughed staff back through a new Jobs Retention Bonus Scheme. To encourage employers to keep their employees on, the scheme is a one-off payment of £1,000 to the business for every employee who was furloughed previously and who is successfully kept on continuously until January.

Hospitality and Tourism

I very much welcome the fact that the Chancellor has announced a much-needed boost for tourism and hospitality businesses as we begin to exit lockdown and get the economy back on track. From 15 July 2020, the government will cut the rate of VAT applied across the UK to hospitality, accommodation and attractions from 20 per cent to 5 per cent until 12 January 2021. The move is designed to support the sectors that have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, helping businesses to recover and boosting the number of jobs across the country. This move could benefit almost 500 businesses in Teignbridge and 332,000 businesses across the UK.

Eating out

The government have also urged local people to eat out to help out, following the announcement that the government will pay for up to 50% of people’s meals out at restaurants, pubs and cafes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme will entitle everyone to a discount of up to 50% on their meal, up to a maximum of £10 per person. Businesses can claim the money back from the government, which will be paid in five working days. Up to 270 businesses in the constituency could and should benefit from the announcement.

Taken together, these measures will provide a timely and much-needed boost to the tourism and hospitality industries across Teignbridge and the wider South West, forming a key part of the government’s plan for jobs – supporting people to find jobs, creating new jobs and protecting jobs in hard-hit sectors.

Kickstart – youth employment scheme

It is great to see potentially hundreds of thousands of new jobs for young people being created through a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, to give young people the best possible chance of getting a job. The scheme will directly pay businesses to create new, decent and high-quality jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each job will cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, for six months in total, plus an admin fee – for a grant of around £6,500 per placement. There will be no cap on the number of places available, and the announced £2 billion will initially fund hundreds of thousands of new placements.

My next phone-in surgery will be on Friday 24th July at 2-3pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.