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20 March 2020

Government announces a coronavirus job retention scheme and other measures to protect jobs and incomes

Introduced by

HM Treasury

Targeted at

Employers, employees, public


Announced on 20 March 2020. Job retention scheme introduced on 4 April, initially for 3 months (later extended). Increase to Universal Credit and tax credits is for 1 year up to 6 April 2021. VAT payments deferred between 20 March and 30 June, to be paid in full on or before 31 March 2021. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme extended for 12 months

Stated aims

To protect jobs and incomes affected as a result of the COVID-19 response


The government announces a coronavirus job retention scheme and other measures to protect jobs and incomes. The new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme aims to help pay people’s wages during the COVID-19 response. The government pays up to 80% of a worker’s wages up to a total of £2,500 per worker per month, backdated to 1 March 2020. The scheme is initially open for 3 months 'to be extended if necessary'. Grants will be available to cover wages for workers who remain on the payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country will be eligible for the scheme. The first grants are expected to be paid within weeks.

The government increases the standard rate in Universal Credit and tax credits by £20 a week for 1 year from 6 April 2020. It also provides additional support for renters and Housing Benefit: 'nearly £1bn of additional support for renters (increases in Housing Benefit and Universal Credit). Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

VAT payments to June will be deferred until the end of the tax year. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, initially launched at the Budget on 11 March, will be extended interest free for 12 months.


Gov.uk news story – workers' support package announced

Gov.uk news story – launch of job retention scheme

Gov.uk news story – VAT deferred due to COVID-19