Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the government will help businesses pay wages up to £2,500, which it hopes will prevent coronavirus redundancies.
During a conference at Number 10, the Chancellor said “for the first time in our history” the Government will step in and help pay people’s wages through a coronavirus job retention scheme.
The scheme will cover wages up to Mach 1st, and will be available for three months, but the Chancellor said the government will extend accordingly.
The Chancellor told Brits they will "not face this alone" and strengthened the safety net for people who have lost their jobs.
He announced "unlimited funds" to give grants to people and businesses to help the public.
Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Sunak said: "I have a responsibility to make sure that we protect, as far as possible, people's jobs and incomes.
"Today I can announce that in the first time of our history, the Government is going to step in and help pay people's 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 for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and 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 a month – that's just above the median income."
Mr Sunak said he would also defer the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June, in a £30 billion injection into the economy.
He had previously announced £330billion to help businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs and restaurants to close from midnight tonight.
The government had avoided ordering establishments to close even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK climbed to 3,269.
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