The government is to pay 80% of wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.
The “unprecedented” measures are part of government plans to protect people’s jobs, he says.
Many firms have been warning of collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is largely put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that the closure of pubs and restaurants would have a “significant impact” on businesses.
“Today I can announce that for the first time in our history the government is going to step in and pay people’s wages,” he said.
The Chancellor made an appeal to employers to stand by their workers during the coronavirus crisis.
“Let me speak directly to businesses: I know it’s incredibly difficult out there – we in government are doing everything we can to support you,” he said.
“The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I’m asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers.”
This is a colossal intervention from the government – as the chancellor said, unprecedented in the UK.
It reflects how concerned the government is about the economic impact this crisis could have – and is having already.
It’s worth remembering this is the third big intervention from government in recent days. This crisis has changed all the rules completely.