With the locally tiered restrictions not bearing the results the government had hoped, Johnson reluctantly announced the need to move to national measures, given the speed of acceleration of the virus.
While elements of the restrictions of the first lockdown will not apply this time, with schools, nurseries and universities allowed to remain open, the impact for businesses, venues and the self-employed is anticipated to be severe.
With effect from 5 November, the government will require the closure of all non-essential retail businesses, all indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, entertainment venues and personal care facilities. Hospitality venues must also close, but can continue to provide takeaway and delivery services, with the exception of alcohol delivery, which is not permitted.
In response, the government has announced an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and further economic support through the coming months.
We have attempted to provide a brief summary below of the updates to the multiple schemes and grants that are currently available to businesses.
Extension to the CJRS – the furlough scheme
In order to support businesses over the coming month, the CJRS has been extended to run until December and on the same basis as the scheme available in August. Under this one month extension, employees can receive 80% of their current salary for unworked hours, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This is an improvement on the extended scheme in place until 31 October, which was introduced after the initial scheme ended, and provides a more generous arrangement for employers where the costs of retaining workers will be lower than they were last month.
Flexible furloughing is still possible and, as with the predecessor scheme, employers are only required to pay employers’ National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work, but should continue to pay all employee costs for the hours they do work.
Employers can also continue to top-up the wages of those on full-time furlough.
To be eligible for the scheme, employees must have been on the payroll by 23:59 on 30th October 2020 but, unlike previous iterations of CJRS, do not need to have been furloughed previously.
Job Support Scheme delayed
The Job Support Scheme, which we covered in our last update, was due to come into play from 1 November, but has now been rescheduled to begin when the CJRS ends in December.
Local and National Restrictions Support Grants
As previously, under the Local Restrictions Support Grant, any business premises in England which are legally forced to close as a result of either the local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following grants:
- For properties with a rateable value below £15k, £1,334 per month
- For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k, £2,000 per month
- For properties with a rateable value over £51k, £3,000 per month.
Support for the self-employed
We are still awaiting clarification on the position for the self-employed and whether there will be a further extension to the previous SEISS payments. We will update you as soon as we have further information.
Previously, borrowers were able to request a holiday from making mortgage repayments for a period of up to six months, with the availability of this due to end on 31 October 2020. This facility has been extended for the new period of lockdown and borrowers can now extend mortgage holidays up to six months. Those borrowers, who have already had six month holidays and are still adversely affected by the pandemic, are advised to contact lenders urgently.
We are also here to support you
We will continue to provide you with updates in response to all new government announcements related to financial support for businesses and the self-employed, charities and not-for-profits over the coming weeks, but please know that you can contact us at any time.
We are continuing to work through the lockdown and are here to provide advice and support to our clients. Please contact your usual UHY adviser for further information on the financial support available to you and for guidance from our experts or find your nearest UHY expert here.