Financial support measures via the Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (‘MERA’) and Salary Support Scheme (‘SSS’) have both been extended in order to assist those who are unable to return immediately to work following the coronavirus circuit breaker lockdown.
It was announced on Thursday that, as of 00.01 on Saturday 23 January, some businesses are now able to return to work including outdoor trades and services such as construction. Dependent on continuing lack of community transmission, remaining lockdown measures are set to be lifted from 1 February, which will allow all workplaces to resume.
Those people who have been able to return to work over the weekend, or who will be returning to work over the next few days, will be paid MERA to Sunday 31 January. For the vast majority of customers, this will mean that they will be paid MERA for a total of 3 weeks, as originally anticipated.
However, recognising that some people will not be able to return to work straightaway, Treasury is extending MERA by 2 weeks, to 14 February with the last date for registration being the 8 February. Anyone who becomes newly unemployed on or after 8 February will not be eligible for MERA and should claim jobseeker’s allowance or other benefits as appropriate.
The Salary support Scheme, which is aimed at assisting businesses to pay wages, is also due to end on the 31 January for the majority of businesses. This scheme has now been extended to enable all businesses who are eligible to apply for January to also apply for support for 1st February to 28 February 2021. Any business applying for the scheme for February will need to evidence a 25% downturn in revenue for the full 4 week period.
Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan MHK, commented:
‘The plans that are in place for rapid lifting of circuit break restrictions come as very welcome news for many workers, businesses and self-employed.
‘However, we recognise that not everyone will be able to return to work straight away, and that it may take some businesses a short time to resume normal activity. To provide some further financial assistance we have therefore extended both MERA and Salary Support schemes.
‘Whilst I recognise that this short circuit breaker will have had an economic impact, I am confident that our economy can rebound rapidly. This additional support will aid that process and I would urge the people of the Isle of Man to support local businesses once more through what I hope will be a fabulous February for our high street.
‘The extension of the schemes will help with that transition and whilst expected to cost between five and seven million pounds will provide the assistance that is required at this time.’
For further information on MERA or the Salary Support Scheme, please visit www.gov.im/coronavirus