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Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet
Summary of UK Government Coronavirus Pandemic Financial Assistance Measures Announced 5 November 2020
06/11/2020, by Lee Sharpe, Tax Articles - Budgets and Autumn Statements
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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to be Kept Until March 2021 (UK-Wide)

This is a UK-wide measure, albeit prompted by developments in England.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS – aka “furlough”) was due to be withdrawn at the end of October 2020, and replaced by a new, Job Support Scheme – notable for the significant reduction in government support, and questionable logic (employers would have been significantly worse off, retaining employees on reduced hours and using the JSS, instead of keeping fewer employees fully employed and without).

On 31 October, when the government announced that England was to be put into “lockdown” for 4 weeks commencing 5 November 2020 and ending on 2 December 2020, it said that the CJRS would be retained for the month of November, and the new JSS would follow.

On 5 November, the Chancellor announced that the CJRS would in fact be retained until March 2021.

Detailed guidance is here. (But even more detailed guidance is promised by 10 November).

The rates will be similar to those that applied for the month of August 2020 – at least for the first 3 months of the extension, until the end of January 2021 – as follows:

 

November 2020 to at least January 2021*

 (as for August 2020)

Government contribution to “usual” wages (for hours not worked)

80% but no more than £2,500

Government contribution: Employers’ NICs and statutory pension contributions

No

Employer contribution: Employers’ NICs and pension contributions (for hours not worked)

Yes

Employer’s minimum own contribution: (for hours not actually worked)

NIL

Employee receives (gross) pro rata, for proportion of usual hours not actually worked

80% up to £2,500 per month

 

*The government has said it will undertake a review in January, to see if the economy can support asking employers to contribute more to furlough payments for the balance of the extension period to March 2021.

  • Government support covers periods (pro rata) for which the employee is not working. The minimum claim period is for 7 consecutive days but the employee can be engaged to work some of their
    “usual hours” – this is not a return to the ‘original' furlough, when an employee was essentially unable to work at all, during a furlough claim period.
  • Neither the employer, nor the employee being claimed for, needs to have claimed / been eligible for the CJRS previously.
  • However, any employee for which a CJRS claim is to be made under the extension will need to have been included on an RTI payment submission from 20 March 2020 but before midnight at the end of 30 October 2020.
  • Employers will be allowed to re-hire employees who were made redundant after 23 September 2020 --when the less beneficial Job Support Scheme was announced – and those employees will be eligible to be furloughed under the CJRS extension.
  • Claims may be made from 08:00 on 11 November 2020; the claim for the month of November itself must be made no later than 14 December 2020; likewise for following months (i.e., no later than 14 days after the end of the calendar month, strangely). 
  • The Job Support Scheme has been postponed. Given the pace of change over the last few weeks, let alone months, it is difficult to see that, if we do go back to the JSS at some point in the future, it will be materially unchanged from the version(s) we have seen thus far.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) (UK-Wide)

While we have known since the Winter Economy Plan that there would be further Grants – 3 & 4 – under the SEISS, covering:

  • Grant 3: Quarter 1 November 2020 – 31 January 2021
  • Grant 4: Quarter 1 February 2021 – 30 April 2021

- we were initially told to expect support of 20% of the headline maximum profits rate of £37,500pa – equal to £1,875 for Grant 3. This was swiftly doubled, once the Chancellor realised that London would soon be joining the dirty northern towns in splendid self-isolation, and has effectively doubled again, now that we are in an (English) national lockdown, although it applies across the UK.

Grant 3, payable for the period 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021, will be 80% of annualised profits, to a maximum of £37,500pa, so the maximum Grant 3 award will now be £7,500.

  • The government has also announced that the claim window for Grant 3 will open on 30 November 2020 – 2 weeks earlier than originally planned.
  • Details of the 4th SEIS Grant rate, etc., will be set out “in due course” (but note that the Chancellor has already committed to enhanced CJRS until the end of March – as above).

Business Support Grants to Businesses Forced to Close (England – but Similar Expected for Devolved Nations)

Local Authority Grants to be paid out to businesses in England that are forced to close while the new national lockdown is in force are set out in the table below.

The table also covers the amount of the Grant award(s) to be made to businesses that were placed under restrictions under the Tier 2 or Tier 3 regimes, since August 2020.

NATIONAL LOCKDOWN(s)

TIER 2 – High Alert

TIER 3 Very High

From commencement of new lockdown – 5 November

Funding is to be backdated to 5 August, the point at which these restrictions began.

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value less than £15,000 will receive £1,334 per month, per premises

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value less than £15,000, will receive £934 per month, per premises

 

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £15,000 or more, but still less than £51,000, will receive £2,000 per month, per premises.

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £15,000 or more, but still less than £51,000, will receive £1,400 per month, per premises.

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, will receive £3,000 per month, per premises.

Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, will receive £2,100 per month, per premises.

 

  • There should also be provision in the funding to allow Local Authorities to assist businesses that have been adversely affected, but are not on the business grant list.
  • The government says that funds are being made available to the devolved governments so that they can make similar provision for Scottish and Welsh businesses, etc.

Other Measures Announced on 5 November 2020

Job Retention Bonus – the JRB has been withdrawn, now that the CJRS will take us well into 2021. While the government currently proposes to apply a similar incentive at some point in the future, one must wonder if government finances will ultimately support such a measure.

Bounce Back Loans, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and other capital support facilities – will now remain open until 31 January 2021 – a 2-month extension from the end of November 2020.

Bounce Back Loan “Top-Ups” – this is not an increase on the existing Scheme, but will allow businesses that have not so far borrowed up to the maximum, to be able to increase their borrowings to the original limits (lower of £50,000 and 25% of annual turnover). They can apply so to top up only once.

Mortgage Payment Holidays, etc. – The Financial Conduct Authority has published proposals, as follows:

  • Up to 2 payment holidays lasting up to 6 months in aggregate, for those who have not yet taken any mortgage payment holidays
  • A further payment holiday of up to 3 months for those who are either in an existing payment holiday, or who have had one and since resumed payments
  • Lenders should not take any steps to actually repossess homes until 31 January 2021
  • Payment holidays will also continue to be available for consumer credit products such as personal loans and car finance

A summary .pdf document of all of the new measures was released by the government here.

About The Author

Lee is TaxationWeb's Articles & News Editor and writes for TaxationWeb. He is a Chartered Tax Adviser with experience of advising individuals and owner-managed businesses over a broad spectrum of tax matters.
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