More Coronavirus support changes…

As the implementation of the government’s three-tier lockdown system has continued, there has been increasing pressure on Rishi Sunak to increase support to businesses in the affected areas.

In response, HM Treasury has today announced further changes to the support available to businesses.

 

Change One – The Job Support Scheme

The Original Announcement:

Employees were to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours, and employers would pay for those hours.

Of the remaining, unworked, hours employers were to pay a third of the wages, while the government was to contribute a further one third of the remaining wages for the unworked hours.

Employees work for one third of their hours, but get paid for that work and for two thirds of what they don’t work.

The New Variation:

  • The employer contribution towards wages for those unworked hours is reduced to 5%.
  • The government contribution for the unworked hours rises to 61.67%.
  • The minimum hours worked requirement reduces to 20% of the normal hours.
  • Employees work one fifth of their hours, but get paid for that work and for two thirds of what they don’t work.
  • The government’s contribution has increased substantially.

What hasn’t changed:

  • The scheme opens on the 1st November 2020 and will run for six months.
  • Eligibility for the enhanced support levels are NOT related to local area lockdowns; these enhanced levels are available to all businesses in the UK.
  • The portal to claim the HMRC element doesn’t open until 1st December, so employers still need to have the cash available to pay employees before receiving the Government contribution.
  • The employer still needs to pay any National Insurance as well as any pension contributions.
  • Claims will be checked against RTI submissions before payment is made.
  • Employers can continue to claim the Job Retention Bonus as well as through the Job Support Scheme.

Change Two – The Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Original Announcement:

Two grants were to be made available for the Self-employed. The first would run from November to January 2021, the second from February to April. The first grant was to cover 20% of average monthly trading profits, capped at £1,875 in total.

The New Variation:

The amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants increased to 40 per cent, increasing the maximum grant to £3,750 for the three month period.

No announcement has yet been made around the level for the second grant.

What hasn’t changed:

  • These grants are available to sole traders who are experiencing reduced demand or increased costs due to COVID-19 but are continuing to trade, or temporarily cannot trade.
  • They will be available to those who were previously eligible for the SEISS grants paid out earlier in the year, and who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • The average monthly trading profits are calculated based on Tax Returns submitted for the tax years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Change Three – Business grants

Additional funding is going to Local Authorities to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month, primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions around socialising in high-alert level areas.

As before these grants will be largely dependant on the rateable value of business premises.

These grants will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for Local Authorities moving into Tier 3.

 

These further changes have been well received amongst various business leaders, but are likely to add to the growing confusion around what employers can claim and at what level.

If you’re unsure of how the Job Support Scheme might support your business, please get in touch. We’ll do our best to translate the guidance for you.

 

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