The UK government has announced that its new Job Support Scheme has been expanded to support companies required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions.

Under the expansion, businesses whose premises are legally required to shut for a period of time over the winter as part of local or national lockdown restrictions will now receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.

Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions, and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January.

The UK government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages, and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.

Payments to businesses will be made in arrears via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December — employees of companies that have been legally closed in the period before 1 November are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The UK government is also increasing the cash grants to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. The grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was previously available.

Chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, commented: “Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed. I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”