Coronavirus support (November Update)

Just as the ink was drying on our update on the JSS and we were settling in for a family Halloween evening, the government announced a new month long lockdown to combat the spread of Coronavirus.  The measures include the closing of pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops for four weeks from  5 November.  Schools, colleges and universities can continue to stay open.  To aid businesses throughout the lockdown period the following support measures were announced:

Employment Support

The introduction of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) has now been delayed and instead the existing furlough scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the 30 November.  Although the lockdown applies from 5 November to 2 December 2020, the financial support for employers will apply from 1 November (the furlough scheme operates on full calendar months).

The furlough scheme has been reinstated with the similar conditions as applied in August 2020.  The CJRS grant will pay for 80% of the employee’s current wages for time not worked, up to £2,500 per month.  The employer must pay for all of the employer’s NIC and employer’s minimum workplace pension contributions on those wages.  The employer can top-up the employee’s furlough pay at their own expense.

Which employees qualify?

Employees who were on the employer’s payroll at 30 October 2020 will qualify to be included in CJRS claim for November; they don’t have to have been included in an earlier CJRS claim.  The employee must have been paid by the employer and that pay must have been reported on a RTI return before midnight on 30 October.  Employees on any type of contract can qualify, including zero hours, although more detail on whether contractors or directors are included is expected in the next few days.

Flexible furlough

Flexible furlough will be permitted alongside full-time furlough, so staff may be brought back part-time if needed.  The same rules for flexible furlough will continue to apply as they have done since 1 July, so the employee may be furloughed for a few days or hours per week.  There appears to be no minimum time set for furloughed hours or working hours.  However, each furlough claim must be for a period of at least seven consecutive calendar days.

Which employers qualify?

All employers with a UK bank account can claim support under the extended CJRS, there is no financial test to pass for larger employers as applies for the (now postponed) JSS.    Charities and not-for-profit organisations can also claim in respect of their employees.  However, public sector bodies and publicly funded organisations are not expected to use the scheme.

How to claim?

The claim process is similar to that which has applied so far under CJRS.  The employer will have to report the hours the employee has not worked in a claim period, and the usual hours.  It is not yet clear whether the employee’s pay must be reported on an RTI return before the CJRS grant is submitted for November pay periods.  Further details and legislation are expected to be published shortly.

Self-employed (Updated)

The Government has increased the support provided by its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.  The value of the next three-month grant has been increased from 40% to 55% of average trading profits.  The third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant covers the period from November to January, and its value in November will be increased from 40% to 80% of profits.  Over the  three months this would be up to55% of profits with a maximum grant of £5,160.  The next grant will also be paid faster than previously planned, with the claims window opening on 30 November rather than the middle of December as previously announced.

Support grants

Where businesses have been required by law to close, they will be able to apply for a support grant from their English local authority, based on the rateable value of their business premises:

Up to £15,000: £667
£15,001 to £50,999: £1000
£51,000 or more: £1500

The grant is payable every two weeks.  Different local business grants will also be available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mortgage holidays

Applications for mortgage holidays for up to six months were due to close on 31 October, but this facility will now remain open for borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus.  The FCA will announced details of who can qualify in the next few days.

Business as usual at West Lancs Accountants

We are still working flexibly from the office and home. We have undertaken remote working since 2017, so this is nothing new to us. All team members have remote access to our office server and telephone lines will be open as usual.

If you need to drop something into the office, please call 01695 35 1695 before you leave to make sure there will be someone in to meet you.

All meetings going forward will be moved to the telephone or video conference by default. We’ll ask what you prefer when we book the appointment.