Home Depression Pound depressed ahead of UK chancellor unveiling jobs protection plan

Pound depressed ahead of UK chancellor unveiling jobs protection plan

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The pound sank against the US dollar (GBPUSD=X), continuing a negative trend early on Thursday, ahead of the UK chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiling his plan to protect jobs this winter.

Sterling against the US dollar was mildly down, after tumbling to a near-two month low the previous day, as the UK implemented new measures to try and stop the spread of coronavirus.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sunak tweeted that he would update parliament with the cabinet’s plans to protect jobs in the last few months of the year.

He said: “As our response to coronavirus adapts, tomorrow afternoon I will update the House of Commons on our plans to continue protecting jobs through the winter.”

He is expected to announce new measures to replace the furlough scheme.

The government launched its furlough scheme earlier this year which was intended to help keep employers from sacking staff by subsidising up to 80% of their wages. It was optional for the employer on whether they wanted to top up the remaining 20% of wages.

However, the scheme comes to an end in October and many employers have warned that it needs to be extended to save jobs. On 15 September, Sunak declared the furlough scheme has “done what it was designed to” and resisted mounting pressure to extend support for hard-hit sectors.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that employers have axed 695,000 staff since March, and Britain’s unemployment rate ticked higher to 4.1% between May and July.

The claimant count, which includes unemployed and low-paid workers receiving work-related benefits, stood at 2.7 million last month, up 120.8% since March.

Around five million workers were still receiving some or all of their income through the scheme. Many of those who were or are still on the furlough scheme have been employed in the hospitality sector.

Among the range of new measures announced by the government this week:

  • Working from home: After telling people to get back to the office, the government now says that if you can work from home, you should avoid going into the workplace. It said that for jobs where it’s not possible, like construction and retail, then people should go into work but employers should adhere to health and safety protocols to make it as safe as possible.

  • New closing time and rules for pubs, bars and restaurants: There is now a strict closure time of 10pm local time. These establishments will also be restricted to table service only and bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters will be obligated to wear face masks.

These two measures are set to impact the hospitality sector further.

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