The lockdown restrictions across the UK have become ever more complex, with the government having introduced a tiered system which is to be implemented on a regional basis. Businesses across the country are all being affected by this, with lots of the proposed measures inflicting economic uncertainty on communities.

Last Friday (9th October), ahead of the tiered system being put in place, the Chancellor announced further economic measures aimed to pre-emptively support businesses set to be affected by the new rules. We’ve summarised the variety of funding proposals and changes to the existing measures, here:

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is ending on 31 October, but steps have been taken to introduce further help in the form of the Job Support Scheme (JSS).

JSS will replace the CJRS, effective from 1 November 2020. The JSS, expected to run for six months, will see the government contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer hours than normal due to decreased demand for their service.

The rules state that:

  • employees will need to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours;
  • for every hour not worked the employer and the government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay;
  • the government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92 per month;
  • the employer will be reimbursed in arrears for the government’s contribution;
  • the employee must not be on a redundancy notice;
  • the scheme is open to all employers with a UK PAYE scheme;
  • large businesses will be required to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by COVID-19; and
  • The government expects that large employers will not be making capital distributions (such as dividends) while using the JSS.

On 9 October, the government announced that the scheme would be extended where a business is required to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The JSS will be extended to businesses that are forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, with a grant equal to two thirds of an employee’s salary – capped at £2,100 per month – made available.

Several conditions will apply, including that the employee must be absent from work for at least seven consecutive days.

The employer will not be required to contribute towards the employee’s wages, however, the business will be responsible for paying the NICs and pension contributions.

Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme

In addition to the expansion of the JSS, the government is making the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme more generous. Businesses in England can now receive up to £3,000 per month, and are eligible for payment sooner, after only two weeks of closure rather than three. It’s hoped this will benefit hundreds of thousands of businesses, including restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, bowling alleys and many more.

The government is updating information about these new measures all the time, but current detail can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus (CJRB)

Subject to meeting certain conditions, an employer can claim a £1,000 bonus for each furloughed employee that was continuously employed up to 31 January 2021. The conditions include that:

  • the employee is not serving a contractual or statutory notice period on 31 January 2021;
  • the salary received by the employee meets the minimum income threshold, being at least £1,560 over the three tax months ending 5 February 2021;
  • an employer may claim the bonus on or after 15 February 2021 and before 31 March 2021. It will be possible for the employer’s PAYE agent to make the claim on behalf of the employer;
  • The bonus will be taxed as a revenue receipt of the business.

Coronavirus Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The self-employed will continue to receive government support under new measures announced on 24 September 2020.

Initially, financial support was made available as a taxable grant payable to the self-employed or partnerships and was worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

SEISS was open to those whose business/es were trading during 2018/19 and which had been hit by coronavirus. Help was initially given as one lump-sum payment which was supposed to cover three months. Over the summer a ‘second and final’ payment was announced covering 70% of profits, up to a cap of £2,190 per month for another three months – £6,570 in total.

The chancellor’s winter economy plan has included fresh support grants for the self-employed.

A first, taxable, grant at the start of November will cover 20% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, with a limit of £1,875 in total.

The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February 2021 until the end of April, but the amount has yet to be set.

Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (CBBLS)

Since 4 May 2020, small businesses have been able to apply for a government-backed, low-interest loan of between £2,000 and £50,000 under the CBBLS.

The loan, which is 100% government-backed, is arranged through one of a panel of accredited lenders, with no fees or interest for the first 12 months and a low rate of interest for the remainder of the term.

On 24 September 2020, the government announced a number of changes to the CBBLS, including extending the length of the loan term from six years to ten. The deadline for applications will be extended to 30 November 2020.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

A small business is able to claim finance, such as a loan or overdraft through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) up to a total of £5m.

The loans are 80% guaranteed by the Government who will meet the cost of the first years’ interest charges and any fees imposed by the lender.

As with the CBBLS, the government announced on 24 September 2020 that the deadline for applications will be extended to 30 November 2020.

To discuss any of the above announcements in detail, then please contact your Champion adviser.