U.K. Job Bonus and Eating Out Schemes Announced to Boost Economy

The British government unveiled a raft of measures yesterday that it hopes will limit an anticipated spike in unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported. Most noteworthy were a new bonus plan aimed at getting firms to retain workers that have been idle for months, as well as tax cuts for hard-pressed firms in the tourism and hospitality sectors and a new “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said that his latest major intervention is aimed at weaning the U.K. economy off emergency measures announced when the country was put into lockdown in March, while at the same time protecting and generating as many jobs as possible during the recession. So far, Britain has been spared the sharp rises in unemployment seen in the U.S., for example, because of the Job Retention Scheme, whereby the government has been paying the majority of the salaries of workers who were not fired. Some 1.1 million employers have taken advantage of the program to furlough 9.4 million people at a cost to the government of 27.4 billion pounds ($35 billion). While confirming that it will end in October, Sunak said the government is introducing a new program that could cost a further 9.4 billion pounds if everyone who has been furloughed is given his or her job back. Under this plan, the government will pay companies a 1,000-pound bonus for each employee they take back. Read more.