Furlough Scheme Extension through to September 2021

The furlough scheme – which pays 80 per cent of employees’s wages – will be extended until the end of September. However government’s contribution will be reduced from July 2021 – with employers asked to contribute alongside the taxpayer for the cost of furloughed employees. In July, employers will be expected to contribute 10%, which will rise to 20% in August and September as the economy hopefully reopens.

‘Help to grow’ Initiative

The new Help to Grow scheme will see the government pay UK business schools to provide 50 hours of free tuition to SMEs over twelve weeks, with one-to-one support also offered from a “business mentor”.

Its digital offer will create a new online platform to offer free advice on technology that will help businesses to save time, reduce costs, and reach more customers. Eligible SMEs will also be given vouchers to get up to 50% off the purchase of new productivity-enhancing software, up to £5,000 each.

The Treasury said studies had shown that improving the performance of SMEs to match that of competitor countries such as Germany could add £100bn to the UK economy.

‘Plan for jobs’ to drive traineeships

In addition to the ‘Help to grow’ scheme, the Chancellor also announced his ‘plan for jobs’. Mr. Sunak announced that the government will commit £136 million to create 40,000 additional traineeships in England and offer cash incentives worth up to £3,000 for employers who take on apprenticeships.

At a time when unemployment has reached 5.1 per cent (1.17 million people) – the highest figure for five years – the ‘plan for jobs’ scheme alongside rapid roll-out of the vaccine, should help to reverse the decline in employment.

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