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  • Union body outlines plans to help workers, employers and businesses through further local lockdowns 

The TUC has today (Thursday) called on government to prevent layoffs by offering increased support for jobs in areas facing renewed lockdowns where businesses are forced to close, alongside more help across the country to stop further redundancies.  

The union body says the government must bolster the financial assistance available in the event of more stringent restrictions in local areas, which require businesses to close.  

The TUC proposes a local furlough approach: 

  • Businesses that are required to close should be able to put workers on a new local furlough scheme. This new scheme should be allowed to run on for the duration of additional restrictions in that area, and be withdrawn gradually as restrictions ease. The scheme should be run nationally, and should mirror the original job retention scheme, reimbursing employers for 80% of the wages of their workers.   

  • Businesses based in local lockdown areas that are affected by low demand but not required to close should be eligible for an enhanced local Job Support Scheme, giving financial assistance over and above the national scheme. There should be no requirement to work a minimum number of hours. And the government should cover 60% of wages for non-working time, with the employer covering 20%. 

  • The government should also consider how to ensure self-employed workers do not miss out on necessary support, for example, by increasing the payments rate of the self-employment income support scheme round 3 from 20% to 60% of taxable monthly profits for those who can demonstrate renewed reductions in demand as a result of additional local restrictions.   

The call comes as reports suggest the government is considering introducing further restrictions, including business closures, for some parts of the country experiencing an uptick in coronavirus infections.  

The TUC says more support for jobs is needed to prevent unnecessary hardship and stop family firms failing after the crisis – both in local lockdown areas and across the UK.  

The union body says the government should convene a national recovery council, involving businesses and unions, to rescue jobs in industries that are hardest-hit, such as retail, hospitality, aviation and the arts, and to create millions of good new jobs in the green tech of the future.  

The TUC today repeats its call for the government to make all working people eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), and to raise it to the equivalent of the real Living Wage (£320 pw). This would avoid people required to self-isolate being plunged into poverty.   

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:                                                                         

“We all hoped the economy would be starting to reopen and recover this autumn. But with further restrictions imminent in some areas, we need the chancellor to adopt a fresh approach to protect jobs and livelihoods. 

“In areas facing high infection rates and further business closures, the government must act to preserve jobs and stop family firms going to the wall through a new local furlough scheme – building on the existing national job retention and job support schemes, with help for the self-employed too. That’s the right response to this renewed public health emergency in parts of the UK.    

“Local lockdowns put jobs in peril, but across the country families are worried for their livelihoods. Ministers need to get round the table with businesses and unions and hammer out a plan to save jobs and protect whole industries from going to the wall.  

“The government must sort out its chaotic test and trace system and pay decent sick pay to everyone self-isolating. That’s how we control the virus and avoid the devastation of mass unemployment.” 

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