Good morning

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced, last week, a new “Jobs Support Scheme” (JSS) as a replacement to the current Job Retention scheme (JRS), introduced in March 2020, which is due to end on 31st October. He also confirmed the extension of the Self-employed Income Support Scheme until April 2021.

He explained:

“The Government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses that face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant.

The job support scheme is built on three principles. First, it will support viable jobs. To make sure of that, employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work as normal by their employer. The Government, together with employers, will then increase those people’s wages, covering two thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours. The employee will keep their job.

Secondly, we will target support at firms that need it most. All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, but larger businesses only when their turnover has fallen through the crisis.

Thirdly, it will be open to employers across the United Kingdom, even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. The scheme will run for six months, starting in November. Employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the job support scheme and the jobs retention bonus”.

Critics of the Government’s revised package suggest, it does not go far enough; will cost around 1/10th of its predecessor; will inevitably result in large redundancies and force the liquidation of many healthy & viable businesses.

As part of its response to the continuing crisis, DWP anticipates a 2nd large surge in claim numbers, causing further pressure and disruption to its everyday practices. Not surprsingly, it’s planning to employ more staff, in addition to its previous announcement of doubling the number of Work Coaches. Since July, it’s been encouraging staff to return to Jobcentres as it re-introduced, for new claims, the need for telephone based “claimant commitment” interviews and planned to, on a phased basis, introduce this process to all COVID related claims made between March-July. But given the surge in COVID infections; various restrictions on travel, in many local authority areas, it’s likely, some of its recent plans will need to be put on hold or reversed.

The HOC library has produced a helpful briefing note, with a table of event, setting out all previous temporary changes; their expected withdrawal date; and further explanation of the new measures. I have attached the report and would recommend you sharing this with your colleagues.

Given the degree of uncertainty that surrounds us, I’m expecting more Government & DWP announcements and maybe u-turns, in the forthcoming weeks & months ahead. From your perspective, anticipate an even greater demand for advice & assistance from tenants forced to turn to Universal Credit as their financial lifeline with no prior knowledge or experience of claiming.

I will endeavour to keep you updated. Meantime, I can be contacted on 07733 080 389 or

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd