Update re second Lockdown

We are continuing to receive a lot of e-mails asking for the new scheme details. These have now been released by HMRC in advance of the vote tomorrow and so I have detailed them below. These may of course be subject to change but I don’t envisage any. There are also changes to the Self Employed Income Support Scheme – these are detailed at the bottom.

COMPANY & EMPLOYEE SUPPORT
The JSS scheme that was due to come into effect on 1st November has been put back and in its place the Job Retention Scheme (JRS), that initially came in from 26th March to 31st October, has been extended. A reminder of the support, with a few changes, is as follows. Please note that the extension mainly returns to the original scheme introduced in April and so is better than the October version.

1)      The government will pay up to 80% of a furloughed employees wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (£576.92 per week).
2)      You can still have employees working some hours/days and the balance of their normal wages will be covered as to 80%.
3)      If an employee is fully furloughed you can still top this up by the 20%.
4)      The employer will have to pay all of the Employers NI and Pension contributions – unlike the April scheme.
5)      This extended furlough scheme comes into effect from 1st November.
6)      You can claim furlough support for any employee that was on your payroll between 20th March and 30th October, even if they haven’t been furloughed before. This must have been supported by a RTI submission.
7)      You do not have to have used the JRS scheme before to be able to use it now.
8)      If you made someone redundant between 23rd September and now you can re-employ them under this extended furlough scheme. They must have been included on a RTI submission up to 23rd September.

As before you should agree in writing with your staff the hours they are to work and the amount they will be furloughed for.

SELF EMPLOYED SUPPORT
The third SES grant was originally set at 20%, was increased to 40% and has now been further increased to 55%. The gateway screen for this will be open from 30th November and, as previously, is accessed via your own gateway account. This support covers the period 1st November to 31st January.
This increase in rate is thought to have arisen because one of the three months should be at a rate of 80%, to fall in line with the JSS scheme support. Hence, two months at 40% and one at 80%.

The fourth grant details for the three months to 30th April have not yet been released and I expect it will depend on the state of the virus and the economy.


COMMENT
This period of lockdown will be different to the last. The weather is an obvious factor as we will not have the benefit of being able to enjoy being outside. The novelty, if there was any, has worn off. People are more tired and depressed and, in many cases, have less savings (business and personal) than they had in March.

Secondly, although working from home does suit some people, for many it was lonely and they lacked the support of meeting colleagues, managers etc. It can be depressing being at home 7 days a week and also stressful with kids at home.
It is therefore important that as much support as possible is given to home workers. In addition, this time round businesses have already spent money and taken a lot of steps to ensure staff/visitors safety at work so it may be better for staff to remain at work or, if practical, rotate them so they work part at home and part at work.
Whether they are furloughed (part or full), working from home or at the place of work, communication is key as people will be worried about the future.

If you are forced to close, either by the government or because it is uneconomic to be open, try and use the time wisely. Plan for the future and perhaps consider different products or services that can be provided either under lockdown or when you are able to re-open. 

Consider Christmas and whether you can benefit from this period. People will not be going out so much but will still want to enjoy the Christmas period and so may be prepared to spend more on your products or services.

Perhaps look at that list of jobs that you have been meaning to do but always seem to have other fires to put out first. This may be work jobs (e.g. updating your website or client database, bringing your admin up to date or even preparing your tax information for the tax year to 5th April 20) or jobs at home.

Above all stay positive and focused. We will come through this and the objective is to be in as strong a position after that you can be.

Stay safe and healthy. If we can be of help please contact us but be aware that it is a difficult and stressful time for us as well!