The UK government will pay 80 per cent of wages for employees not working - up to £2,500 a month - due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The "unprecedented" measures are part of government plans to protect people's jobs during the outbreak.
The state will pay grants if companies keep workers on the payroll, rather than axe jobs, as the economic fallout escalates.
Financial experts hope the bold measure will save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) March 20, 2020
Unemployment is still expected to rise to six per cent, with about 700,000 becoming unemployed.
However, there are fears that without this support, unemployment could double its current rate, leaving 1.5 million without a job.
Now more than at any time in our history we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.
The chancellor said: "We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs.
"We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.
"It is on all of us."
Appealing to the public to support one another, Rishi Sunak continued: "Now more than at any time in our history we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.
"Our ability to come through this won't just be down to what Government or businesses do, but the individual acts of kindness that we show each other."
Vowing there would no limit on funding available to pay wages, he said payments will be backdated to the start of March.
It is hoped they will be operational within weeks.
The next quarter of VAT payments will be also be deferred by the government.
There are around 33 million British workers - with just over a tenth of them self-employed.
Self-employed workers will be able to claim Universal Credit, providing they meet the eligibility criteria.
The chancellor also announced that there will be an increase in the value of universal credit and tax credits by £1,000 a year to help more than 4million vulnerable households.
£1billion worth of extra support will also be made available for renters, increasing housing benefit and universal credit so the local housing allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in a local area.For more details about the UK government paying 80 per cent of wages, read the guidance given to employees here.
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