'New furlough scheme': Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to give press conference this afternoon

BORIS Johnson and Rishi Sunak will address the nation at a press conference at 4pm today following the launch of the "new furlough scheme".

It comes as the Chancellor warned of "difficult days and weeks ahead" and rolled out even more financial aid packages.

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It is the second press conference Mr Johnson has delivered this week, ahead of Tier 3 lockdown measures in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire coming into force over the next few days.

And it's only 10 day since Mr Sunak last addressed the nation with the PM in Downing Street.

The pair will be joined by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Mr Sunak delivered another financial statement in the Commons today after local authorities lashed out at ministers for plunging them into further lockdown measures without extra financial aid.

More parts of the UK, including London, were given Tier 2 restrictions last week, and pubs and restaurants have seen their sales fall off a cliff now people are no longer allowed to meet with people in other households indoors.

And the Chancellor today extended the replacement furlough scheme available to those in Tier 3 lockdown areas.

He bridged the major gulf in financial support between Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas by extending the Job Support Scheme, which pays out two third of staff's wages, to those in the "high" Covid alert level.

And businesses in Tier 2 will also be able to access massive grants of up to £2,100, alongside grants for the self-employed up to £3,750.

Mr Sunak said this lunchtime: "There are difficult days and weeks ahead, but we will get through this, together. People are not on their own.

"We have an economic plan that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people wherever they live and whatever their situation.

"A significant fall in consumer demand is causing profound economic harm to (businesses).

"It is clear that they, and other open-but-struggling businesses, require further support."

Head of research at the think tank the Adam Smith Institute Matthew Lesh said the extra funding was necessary because the "failure of the Government's test, trace and isolate regime has led to renewed restrictions."

And he warned: "This is, of course, hugely costly and will add mountains to the debt."

But he said it mean less businesses would sink and jobs in crucial parts of the economy could be saved.

Mr Sunak has previously warned taxes could be hiked to pay for the extra coronavirus measures.

In response to fresh data from the ONS laying bare the £2trillion national debt, the Chancellor said: "Over time and as the economy recovers, the government will take the necessary steps to ensure the long-term health of the public finances.”

 

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