Yesterday the Government announced that the most vulnerable could be offered booster COVID-19 vaccines from September, giving them vital protection ahead of winter that will allow us to protect our hard-won freedoms.
Our vaccine rollout has already saved thousands of lives and prevented millions of infections – but we must now future-proof this progress and protect our most vulnerable from variants and flu ahead of the winter. That is why, subject to final advice from the JCVI, from September we will offer everyone over 50 and the most vulnerable a booster vaccine that will prolong the protection they have received from the first two vaccine doses, and protect them from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 over the winter period.
The final JCVI advice will be published before September and will take into account the latest epidemiological situation, additional scientific data from trials such as Cov-Boost, real-time surveillance of the effectiveness of the vaccines over time and emerging variants. The final advice could change from the interim advice as further data is analysed.
The Government is working closely with the NHS to ensure that if a booster programme happens it can be deployed rapidly from September. Further details will be set out in due course.
Our first COVID-19 vaccination programme is restoring freedom in this country, and this booster programme will protect this freedom – allowing us to return to normal as soon as possible.
For more information on the JCVI’s interim advice is to plan to offer COVID-19 booster vaccines from September 2021, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/most-vulnerable-could-be-offered-booster-covid-19-vaccines-from-september.
Flexible furlough scheme starts today
From today, the next phase of our economic support schemes begins – giving businesses and workers the support they need as we continue to ease restrictions and return to normality.
At the start of the pandemic, the Government promised that we would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods – and now as we continue to ease restrictions and see our economy recovering strongly, it is right our support changes as well. That is why, as laid out in the March 2021 Budget, from today the Government is beginning to taper down our furlough scheme – asking employers to contribute just 10% of wages for hours not worked – as well as a number of our business support schemes.
Most of these schemes still do not end until September or after, giving continuity and certainty for businesses and families – this was welcomed by businesses and sector leaders at the time, who praised the reassurance provided for the ‘long term’. This will help to smooth the transition back to normality – supporting businesses and people as we get them back in to work and continue on the road to recovery.
The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has so far helped protect more than 9.3 million jobs through the pandemic, with employers claiming more than £25.5 billion to support wages. The scheme will remain open until the end of October and will continue to support jobs and business in a measured way as people return to work, our economy reopens and the country moves to the next stage of its recovery.
From today, a month earlier than previously announced, employers will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.
The Government has also announced that businesses who no longer need the CJRS grants they previously claimed have the option to voluntarily return them. This is in direct response to employers asking how they can return grants voluntarily – and businesses are under no obligation to do this, but should contact HMRC if they want to pay the grant back.
For more information on the latest changes to the CJRS and comments from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/flexible-furlough-scheme-starts-today.