Covid-19 government updates

Jun 5, 2020 | Uncategorized

Updates from 1 June

On Friday 29 May, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a “second and final grant” under the self-employed income support schemewith applications to open in August.

The second grant will cover 70% of average monthly trading profits for three months, and will be capped at a total of £6,570.

Sunak also announced that the coronavirus job retention scheme will finish at the end of October. The scheme will also close to new entrants on 30 June, so it will only be available to those who were already using it.

From 1 July, employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with their previously furloughed employees, including part-time work. They will be responsible for paying employees’ wages while in work.

Support under the job retention scheme will then begin to taper off as follows:

  • August: The Government will pay 80% of employees’ wages up to £2,500, but employers will pay employer national insurance contributions (ER NICs) and pension contributions.
  • September: The Government will pay 70% of wages, up to £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions, plus 10% of staff wages to make up the 80% total (up to a cap of £2,500).
  • October: The Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions, and 20% of wages to make up the 80% total (up to a cap of £2,500).

Updates from 13 May

The self-employed income support scheme opened for claims today. This offers self-employed people a taxable grant of 80% of their monthly trading profits, paid in a lump sum to cover three months, and capped at £7,500 in total.

Self-employed individuals must use this service to make the claim themselves – accountants cannot make a claim on a client’s behalf. However, you can advise them on whether or not they might be eligible, using HMRC’s online eligibility checker, and help them to find the details they need to apply.

Updates from 12 May

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the coronavirus job retention scheme until the end of October.

He said there will be no further changes to the scheme until the end of July, but that from August it will offer “greater flexibility” to support the transition back to work, by allowing employers to bring furloughed members of staff back part-time.

It will also require employers to make a contribution to the cost of salaries.

The full details are expected to be released by the end of May, but Sunak stressed that while this scheme is open, workers will continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their wages up to £2,500 a month.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also issued new guidance on how businesses can operate safely during the pandemic. The guides cover eight different types of work, with information on how social distancing can be implemented.

Updates from 11 May

In an address to the nation on Sunday 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a “conditional plan” for easing lockdown restrictions. He said a new five-level alert system will determine the rate at which restrictions are lifted.

The plan, which will depend on whether conditions for combating COVID-19 are met, includes the following steps:

  • From Wednesday 13 May, those who cannot work from home, such as workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors, are being encouraged to go to work but have been told to avoid using public transport. Those who are able to work from home should continue to do so.
  • From 1 June, shops and schools could be reopened in phases.
  • From 1 July, some hospitality businesses and other public places could reopen – but only “if the numbers support it”.

The Government has published a 60-page guidance document on its COVID-19 recovery strategy, which can be found here.

Updates from 4 May

On Saturday 2 May, the Government announced an additional grant scheme designed to plug a gap in provision of support for businesses operating from shared working spaces and not paying business rates.

The local authority discretionary grant fund is worth £617 million in total – a 5% increase on the £12.33 billion already pledged – and is expected to help market traders and those in co-working office spaces. Councils have been told to use their discretion in deciding which types of business might be eligible, based on local knowledge and need.

Grants are capped at £25,000 and apply only to firms with fewer than 50 employees trading on or before 11 March 2020.

Businesses claiming the new grant will be expected to demonstrate that they have ongoing fixed building-related costs and have suffered a fall in income due to COVID-19. Those already claiming via existing grant schemes or through the self-employment income support scheme will not be able to access this additional funding.


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