UK’s Sunak to unveil more job support as COVID cases mount

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaves from 11 Downing Street in London on October 20, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 22 October 2020

UK’s Sunak to unveil more job support as COVID cases mount

  • Firms that are required to close entirely will be able to furlough staff on two thirds of their pay
  • British government borrowing is on course to reach its highest since World War Two this financial year

LONDON: British finance minister Rishi Sunak looks set to unveil more support for businesses and workers hit by rising COVID cases later on Thursday, when he updates parliament on the outlook for the economy.
Sunak is due to address parliament around 1030 GMT, in a hastily arranged briefing at a time when there has been growing political anger that economic support is falling away while coronavirus restrictions tighten for many firms.
“Hopefully this afternoon we’ll see the chancellor tack a little bit, trim the sails, to make sure we’re getting the right balance to support the economy properly,” Malthouse told the BBC, adding that lawmakers had received lots of complaints.
Britain has suffered Europe’s highest death toll from coronavirus, as well as the severest economic hit of any major advanced economy. Cases are now climbing again rapidly, with a record 26,688 new cases reported on Wednesday.
However, the country’s main furlough scheme — which supported 9 million jobs at its peak, and is still heavily used in the hospitality industry — will end on Oct. 31.
Firms that are required to close entirely will be able to furlough staff on two thirds of their pay — less than the previous 80 percent — but others get much less support.
Unlike short-time working schemes elsewhere in Europe, from next month businesses which bring staff back part-time must pay staff for some of the hours they do not work, in order for workers to be eligible for a government top-up payment.
“Making the Job Support Scheme work better for firms by reducing employer contributions ... would be a significant — and very welcome — change,” the Resolution Foundation think tank said.
Many lockdown measures in Britain do not require businesses to close outright but significantly restrict trade, for example by barring pubs and restaurants from serving groups of people who do not live in the same household, or opening after 10 p.m.
Thursday’s statement was announced late on Wednesday, after the government canceled a planned review of public spending over the next three years, and looks set to be the third time in under a month that Sunak has adjusted job support plans.
Sunak said on Wednesday that supporting jobs remained the government’s priority, but he would need to take steps to ensure the public finances remained sustainable once economic recovery was under way.
British government borrowing is on course to reach its highest since World War Two this financial year.


British woman charged with terror offences for sharing Daesh propaganda

Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London heard how the 28-year-old shared extremist videos on messaging service Telegram with an undercover officer. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 01 December 2020

British woman charged with terror offences for sharing Daesh propaganda

Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London heard how the 28-year-old shared extremist videos on messaging service Telegram with an undercover officer. (Reuters/File Photo)

LONDON: A British woman who sent Daesh propaganda to an undercover investigator, on Tuesday appeared in a UK court charged with terror offences.

Muslim convert Aaminah Amatullah, formerly Alison Claire Beech, denied two counts of disseminating terrorist publications, the Independent reported.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London heard how the 28-year-old shared extremist videos on messaging service Telegram with an undercover officer, who she believed was a terrorist contact, in September 2019.

The hearing was told that the first video was an official Daesh propaganda clip, which contained footage of severed heads, battle footage, and messages calling for Daesh sympathizers to carry out terror attacks.

The second showed images of airstrikes and more battle footage in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the group’s last stronghold in the country, and militants waving the Daesh flag.

Amatullah was arrested on Nov. 24 at her apartment in Birmingham, the UK’s second-most populated city, as part of an ongoing investigation by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.

Judge Nina Tempia remanded Amatullah, who will now appear for a secondary hearing at the Old Bailey in London on Dec. 18.