THE leader of Wiltshire Council says he is ‘pleased’ with chancellor’s plans to help businesses during winter.

Cllr Philip Whitehead praised Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan to ‘extend help for businesses’ beyond the furlough scheme – which closes at the end of October.

Under the new job support scheme, which replaces furlough, the government has pledged to pay up to £697.92 for employees working fewer than their normal hours.

Employers will continue to pay staff for the hours they work, which will then be topped up for those hours not worked.

The government and the employer will each pay a third of their equivalent salary and employees must be working at least 33 per cent of their usual hours.

Cllr Whitehead said: “We are pleased the government has listened to calls to extend help for businesses affected by coronavirus over the winter months.

“These new measures will go some way to reassure businesses that support will be available to help them and their staff through these challenging times.

“We will consider the full guidance of these schemes when available and will feedback any issues or concerns we have direct with government to ensure we can protect Wiltshire’s jobs, businesses and economy.

“We are committed to doing all we can to support businesses in the county and would encourage any business concerned about the impact Covid-19 is having on their livelihood to contact us as soon as possible for help and advice.”

But leader of the opposition Cllr Ian Thorn said that he fears the new scheme will not be enough to protect jobs in the county.

He said: “The creation of the furlough scheme was a much needed and important contribution to maintaining our economic viability across Wiltshire.

“I’m concerned that the new scheme won’t be enough to protect the very many jobs under threat.

“As the chancellor said ‘there are many jobs that can’t be protected’ and I think that this scheme won’t go far enough to provide those protections.”

Cllr Thorn added that he believed the scheme would not be enough for businesses to retain staff and that ‘people will still tragically be made redundant’.

Outlining these plans, the chancellor of the exchequer said: “The resurgence of the virus and the measures we need to take in response, pose a threat to our fragile economic recovery.

“Our approach to the next phase of support must be different to that which came before.

“The primary goal of our economic policy remains unchanged – to support people’s jobs – but the way we achieve that must evolve.”