TOURISM and hospitality industry leaders in north Essex have welcomed the Chancellor’s latest plans to combat the threat posed to the UK’s “fragile” economic recovery by the resurgence of Covid-19.

Rishi Sunak has confirmed plans for the State to top up the wages of workers forced to cut their hours.

As part of a package of measures the Chancellor said the new jobs support scheme was aimed at protecting “viable” roles, rather than all posts which have been kept going as a result of State support under the furlough programme.

The Government will now top up the wages of people working at least a third of their normal hours.

They will be paid for that work as normal, with the State and employers then increasing those wages to cover two-thirds of the pay they have lost by working reduced hours.

The existing self-employed grant will be extended on similar terms and the temporary 15 per cent VAT cut for tourism and hospitality will be extended until the end of March.

Jason Smedley, owner of Clacton’s Royal Hotel, welcomed Mr Sunak’s support for the industry.

“I think it’s a very good thing overall - it is generous,” he said.

“It’s good to have the VAT cut extended to March, but if it could be extended a further three months into next summer, then we will be able to survive a little bit.

“We all knew furlough couldn’t go on, but if they had announced something before the summer it would have given us more time to prepare.

“We are now going into a quiet time of the year and people will be scared to go out.”

Clacton Pier director Billy Ball added: “It is really positive that the Government is continuing to show commitment to supporting businesses at this difficult time.”

“We are still working out exactly what this means for the pier and by how much we will benefit.”

Mr Sunak delivered his plans, which will cost cost the Treasury £300million a month for every million workers who take up the scheme, in the House of Commons yesterday.

He said: “The resurgence of the virus, and the measures we need to take in response, pose a threat to our fragile economic recovery.”

And he acknowledged “we can’t save every business” and “we can’t save every job”.