Summary of the announcements made on 12 May regarding Coronavirus
In this Coronavirus update we cover the following:
- Extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) announced by the Chancellor today.
- The government guidance relating to its Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy following the Prime Minister’s address last Sunday (10 May), including:
- a link to the detailed guidance;
- a link to the updated Coronavirus outbreak FAQs issued by the government; and
- a link to “Planning for the Future: A practical checklist to help SMEs prepare for returning to work post lockdown” which has been prepared by the UK200Group.
- The top up to the local business grant funds scheme.
- Some minor changes to the government coronavirus support schemes since our summary newsletter of 23 April.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced that the CJRS will be extended until the end of October 2020 with furloughed employees continuing to receive 80% of their salary up to a maximum of £2,500.
Furthermore, from August 2020, new flexibility will be introduced to assist with bringing employees back to work and to support the re-emerging economy.
Whilst further details of the flexibility will be made available by the end of May, the Chancellor indicated that furlough workers will be able to return to work part-time from the start of August.
Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff as a substitute for the contribution being made by the government to ensure employees continue to receive 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month.
It is not clear at this stage whether this percentage will be linked to the amount of part-time work carried out by a furloughed employee.
The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy
On 10 May, Boris Johnson addressed the nation to communicate the government’s strategy to gradually bring us out of the Coronavirus Lockdown and restart the economy. This was followed by detailed guidance, in the form of a 60-page paper, being published on 11 May. A link to the paper is as follows:
This is supported by an updated frequently asked questions issued by the government, which are linked as follows:
For many there will not be any significant changes to their work life at present as the relaxations are principally aimed at those that cannot work from home. Where these employees’ places of business are open, they are actively encouraged to travel to work, avoiding public transport where possible.
As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines, which will be published this week, but are likely to focus on maintaining social distancing by:
- limiting the number of people in the office at any one time;
- considering contact points, including entry / exit points and shared resources and how these can be accessed in a compliant manner;
- improving ventilation and hygiene, principally through more regular cleaning and provision of hand wash / face masks; and
- helping employees to avoid crowded public transport by encouraging cycling, walking (and driving) and / or staggering work start and end times.
To help you and your business prepare for returning to work, the UK200Group have produced a checklist for SME businesses to use as a reminder of the key things that they need to put in place to get their business functioning efficiently, effectively and in accordance with government requirements and guidance.
Top-up to local businesses grant funds scheme
On 1 May, an uplift of £617 million was announced to the £12.33 billion previously made available for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).
The additional funding, which will be allocated at the discretion of local authorities, is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Those in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties and bed and breakfasts (paying council tax rather than business rates) will be prioritised.
Businesses must have less than 50 employees and have seen a significant drop in income due to the Coronavirus to qualify.
Grants are available at three different levels:
- A maximum grant level of £25,000
- A grant of £10,000
- Any amount lower than £10,000 at the discretion of the local authority
Changes to the government coronavirus support schemes
- When making a claim through the CJRS online portal, it is now possible to save a claim and finish it later.
- The online service for the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be available from 13 May 2020. If you are eligible, HMRC will tell you the date you can make your claim from. If your claim is approved, you will receive your payment within 6 working days.
- Further education establishments are now eligible for the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.