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Further 189 Covid cases in NI as government announce new Job Support Scheme

kitchen restaurant

There have been a further 189 Covid-19 cases reported in Northern Ireland over the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It brings the seven day average up again to 1,128.

There have been no further deaths reported, meaning that remains at 577.

However, the seven day total in Newry, Mourne and Down has surpassed that of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, with 157 cases compared to 134.

They remain the third and fourth highest areas in Northern Ireland behind Belfast City and Derry & Strabane.

To date, there has been almost 10,000 positive cases (9,950) reported in Northern Ireland.

The number of patients admitted to hospital has also risen to 41, with five currently battling the virus in hospital ICUs.

Meanwhile, the UK government has announced a new Jobs Support Scheme, which will replace the furlough scheme, and will see workers get three quarters of their normal salaries for six months.

Businesses will continue to top up wages of workers who have not been able to return to the workplace full time due to the coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant.

He added that the new scheme would “support only viable jobs”.

What is the new scheme?

– The government will subsidise the pay of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to lower demand
– It will apply to staff who can work at least a third of their usual hours
– Employers will pay staff for the hours they do work
– For the hours employees can’t work, the government and the employer will each cover one third of the lost pay
– The grant will be capped at £697.92 per month
– All small and medium sized businesses will be eligible for the scheme
– Larger business will be eligible if their turnover has fallen during the crisis
– It will be open to employers across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme
– The scheme will run for six months starting in November

Providing his initial reaction to the statement, the NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “I welcome the fact that a job support scheme has been introduced to replace furlough.

“However, I still have concerns and will seek clarity in relation to the scheme when I speak to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury later today.

“Many businesses have taken on substantial debt during the COVID pandemic. I have been calling for reasonable repayment arrangements and welcome the additional time provided to repay these loans.

“The extension of the 5% VAT rate for hospitality and tourism is also welcome given how badly impacted these sectors continue to be.”

The Finance Minister will later today speak with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and will raise the cancellation of the Autumn Budget.

He added: “I intend to raise with Steve Barclay my significant concern about the decision to cancel the Autumn Budget.  This will make it more difficult for the Executive to develop its spending plans.”

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