Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister set out why we are introducing new measures to tackle coronavirus. This decision is not one we would wish to take, but it responds to the soaring infection rate.
Just as we have a responsibility to protect lives, we must also safeguard livelihoods. That is why the Government have provided unprecedented levels of financial support throughout this crisis, in a package described by the International Monetary Fund as
“one of the best examples of co-ordinated action globally”.
This package includes an extension to the coronavirus job retention scheme, where employees will receive 80% of their usual salary up to a maximum of £2,500, while employers need only pay national insurance and pension contributions. We will provide more support to the self-employed. We are increasing the self-employed income support scheme grant from 40% to 80% in November. This boosts the total grant from 40% to 55% of trading profits from November to January, up to a total of £5,160, aligning it with the furlough scheme. In addition, homeowners hit by the pandemic can continue to claim a six-month mortgage holiday, and businesses that are required to close can receive non-repayable grants worth up to £3,000 a month. In total, these grants are worth over £1 billion a month.
We are also planning to extend the existing business loan schemes and the future fund to the end of January, as well as making it possible to top up bounce back loans. Local authorities will also receive £1.1 billion to support businesses more broadly, and up to £500 million to support the local public health message through the contain outbreak management fund. We will also uplift the Barnett guarantee this week to give Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland further certainty over their up-front funding.
These measures build on the Government’s economic package that now totals over £200 billion. They will provide security to millions of people while giving businesses the flexibility to adapt and plan, and they underline our unrelenting focus on listening and responding to the damaging path of this virus.