FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, leaves a television studio in London, Britain, October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) – British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will announce a local furlough scheme on Friday in which the government will subsidise two thirds of the wages of workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses that are forced to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus, The Times newspaper reported bit.ly/33FH8yg.

“Employers will be able to access the scheme for as long as pubs, restaurants and other businesses are closed,” the newspaper’s deputy political editor, Steven Swinford, said on Twitter.

The Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying there was frustration in government at the failure of the Treasury to bring forward the measures sooner.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier that Sunak was putting together a new support package for jobs in a furlough-style bailout for coronavirus hotspots plunged into local lockdowns next week.

Britain has already suffered the highest death toll in Europe and the worst economic contraction of any leading nation from the coronavirus outbreak.

Its parliament will vote on Tuesday on the imposition of a 10 p.m. closing time for English pubs, bars and restaurants, a measure the government says is necessary to tackle COVID-19, but which the hospitality industry says is destroying businesses.

More restrictions are being considered for parts of northern England, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Thursday.

Local media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon launch a simplified three-tier local lockdown code.

Areas in Tier 1 will continue with the current social distancing measures while areas in Tier 2 will have a ban on households mixing. The worst-affected areas in Tier 3 will have to close hospitality.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Chris Reese

Adds COVID-19 background, remarks from minister cited by The Times

Oct 9 (Reuters)British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will announce a local furlough scheme on Friday in which the government will subsidise two thirds of the wages of workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses that are forced to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus, The Times newspaper reported.

“Employers will be able to access the scheme for as long as pubs, restaurants and other businesses are closed,” the newspaper’s deputy political editor, Steven Swinford, said on Twitter.

The Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying there was frustration in government at the failure of the Treasury to bring forward the measures sooner.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier that Sunak was putting together a new support package for jobs in a furlough-style bailout for coronavirus hotspots plunged into local lockdowns next week.

Britain has already suffered the highest death toll in Europe and the worst economic contraction of any leading nation from the coronavirus outbreak.

Its parliament will vote on Tuesday on the imposition of a 10 p.m. closing time for English pubs, bars and restaurants, a measure the government says is necessary to tackle COVID-19, but which the hospitality industry says is destroying businesses.

More restrictions are being considered for parts of northern England, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Thursday.

Local media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon launch a simplified three-tier local lockdown code.

Areas in Tier 1 will continue with the current social distancing measures while areas in Tier 2 will have a ban on households mixing. The worst-affected areas in Tier 3 will have to close hospitality.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Chris Reese and Richard Pullin)

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The views

By Guy Faulconbridge and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will prioritise trying to save jobs over tax rises while the COVID-19 pandemic batters the economy, though record borrowing and a $2.6 trillion debt pile cannot be sustained for ever, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is grappling with one of the worst economic hits to Britain in three centuries and Sunak has repeatedly warned that relying on such vast borrowing from the bond markets could trigger a financing crunch in the long term.

But with companies from airlines to pubs shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs and government spending soaring, Sunak is looking at ways to boost state revenue.

“The priority right now is on jobs,” Sunak told Sky News when asked about possible tax rises. “My overwhelming focus at the moment is trying to protect and support as many jobs as possible.”

Asked about tax rises in a flurry of interviews, Sunak repeatedly stressed that jobs were the short-term focus but made it clear that he would have to tackle Britain’s debt mountain in the medium term.

“Obviously this can’t carry on forever. This level of borrowing, which will be record levels, pretty much, this year, is not sustainable in the long run,” he told BBC TV.

“Once we get through this I think people should rightly expect us to make sure we have a strong set of public finances.”

Sunak’s emergency spending measures, including subsidies to slow a jump in unemployment, will cost about 200 billion pounds this year and have already pushed public debt over 2 trillion pounds ($2.60 trillion), or 100% of gross domestic product.

Sunak on Monday warned of the damage higher interest rates could do given the huge size of Britain’s debt.

The government’s flagship wage support programme

(Bloomberg) — Britain faces a surge in insolvencies unless the government extends measures designed to shield firms struggling amid the coronavirus crisis, a business lobby warned Wednesday.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Rishi Sunak, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, departs number 11 Downing Street on his way to present his 'Winter Economy Plan' at Parliament in London, U.K., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Sunak will set out a new crisis plan to protect jobs and rescue businesses as the coronavirus outbreak forces the U.K. to return to emergency measures.


© Bloomberg
Rishi Sunak, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, departs number 11 Downing Street on his way to present his ‘Winter Economy Plan’ at Parliament in London, U.K., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Sunak will set out a new crisis plan to protect jobs and rescue businesses as the coronavirus outbreak forces the U.K. to return to emergency measures.

The Institute of Directors made its plea on the day that the suspension of wrongful trading rules is due to come to an end. It means directors of companies facing certain liquidation will be committing an offense if they continue to operate, including paying staff and suppliers.

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“The suspension of these rules has given business leaders greater confidence to press on and seek a way through the uncertainty for their organization and staff,” said Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD. “Now, the message to businesses against the wall appears to simply be to shut up shop.”

The warning highlights the pressure on Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as Britain enters a difficult winter.

Local lockdowns are being reimposed in response to a surge in coranavirus cases; trade talks with the European Union are deadlocked; and critics say his wage-subsidy replacement announced last week will do little to prevent mass job losses in the coming months, with the ax falling hardest on young people.

U.K. Introduces Insolvency Bill to Help Covid-Hit Companies

Two separate reports Tuesday demonstrated the strains in the labor market.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation found private-sector confidence subdued and many firms reducing pay. But there were some glimmers of hope, with short-term demand for permanent staff