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What job support are tier 2 workers getting?

Coronavirus continues to have a major impact on jobs and businesses in the UK. Thankfully, there is some good news for workers in tier 2 lockdown areas after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a more generous job support scheme on Thursday.

What are the restrictions for tier 2 areas?

Tier 2 is the ‘high’ alert level in England’s new Covid Alert Levels system. The aim of this three-tiered system is to simplify local lockdown restrictions.

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Key cities currently under tier 2 restrictions include London, Leeds, Bradford, Doncaster, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham.

Under this tier:

  • Most businesses except those that remain closed by law, such as nightclubs and adult entertainment centres, can continue operating as long as they do it in a Covid-secure manner.
  • Certain businesses that sell food and drink on their premises must observe a 10pm curfew. Those that sell food for consumption off the premises can continue to operate after the curfew as long as this is via a delivery, click-and-collect or drive-thru service.
  • There should be no mixing of households in any indoor settings, both at home and in public spaces.
  • There should be no socialising of more than six people in outdoor settings, including private gardens.
  • People should work from home if possible and only travel if it’s essential. 

New financial help for tier 2 workers

Business grants

One of the biggest complaints about the tiered system has been the disparity in the level of financial support offered to firms in different tiers.

For example, previously, only businesses shut down due to tier 3 restrictions could access the government’s Job Support Scheme. This despite the fact that many businesses that have not shut are facing economic problems.

Now, tier 2 businesses hurt by coronavirus restrictions, including bars, restaurants and cafes, can access grants of up to £2,100 per month. The grants should cover expenses like rent and salary bills.

This is good news for workers in tier 2 as it means more businesses will be able to stay afloat and more jobs will be protected.

Restrictions such as the ban on households mixing indoors have massively reduced trade in tier 2 businesses. Without this new job support, many could be forced to shut or make staff redundant.

Job Support Scheme

New changes to the Job Support Scheme will see tier 2 workers benefit more from it.

Under the original scheme, employees had to work at least 33% of their normal hours to be eligible. Now, they only have to work 20% of those hours to benefit from the scheme. That means that even those who work one day a week will be eligible.

In addition, the amount that employers are required to pay to top up staff wages for unworked hours has been reduced to just 5% from 33%. 

As an example, if you were earning £587 for your unworked hours, the government will now be contributing £543 with your employer only contributing £44.

 This scheme will be open to eligible businesses in all alert levels.

What about the self-employed?

The government will provide two taxable SEISS grants to support those continuing to trade but experiencing lower demand due and those who temporarily cannot trade.

The grants will be available to those who were previously eligible for SEISS grant one and grant two, and who meet eligibility criteria. The amount covered by the two grants increases from 20% to 40% of average profits. This means that the maximum payout is now £3,750 (up from £1,875).

Grants are available as two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

You can find out more about who can claim and how to claim these grants on the HMRC website.

Where can I get more help?

On top of the financial schemes explained above, you might be eligible for even more help. For example, there’s Universal Credit that’s available for people on a low income, out of work or who cannot work.

To find out more, head over to the website, where a new service has been created to help you find out what support you can get if you have been affected by the coronavirus.

And for more useful tips on how to protect your finances during this crisis, check out our Coronavirus Money Guide.

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