An awful lot has happened since Boris announced the latest lockdown for England last weekend. Even though we are only one day into the new lockdown the government has been quick to announce support for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The full guidance hasn’t come out yet, but should be available soon.

This support is still full of limitations. There has been nothing to help more recently self-employed, or many other people who missed out last time around. But at least we now have more certainty about what help is out there between now and the end of March.


Furlough scheme extended

The Job Retention Scheme had been due to end on 31 October 2020. It has now been extended until 31 March 2021.

The government will meet the full 80% of the employees’ wages for the hours not worked, up to a maximum cap of £2,500 per month. The employer will still need to account for employer’s National Insurance and pension costs. This is much more generous than September and October, where only 70% and 60% respectively were covered.

Flexible furlough can still be agreed upon, between the employer and employee, where the business remains open. The employer will meet the costs for any hours worked.

As before the employer can top up the 80% if they want to.

Employees must have been on the employer’s PAYE Scheme as at 23.59 on 30 October 2020. The Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying the payment for that employee must have been made to HMRC on or before 30 October 2020.

Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020, who were made redundant or stopped working afterwards, can be re-employed and claimed for.  The employer must have made an RTI submission to HMRC from 20 March 2020 to 23 September 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for those employees.

The Government will announce when the November claims can be made.


Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (CJSS)

The Job Support Scheme, which was due to replace furlough, has been put on a back burner.


The Job Retention Bonus

The JRB of £1,000 per furloughed employee, whose employment was retained up to the end of January 2021, has now been shelved.


Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

The Government only recently increased the SEISS claim for the period November to January inclusive from 40% to 55% of the average net profits.

They have now increased that to 80% (maximum £7,500).


English Business Grants

If a business in England is required to close under national or local COVID-19 restrictions they will be eligible for a grant. This is based upon rateable value:

  • £15,000 or under – grant of £1,334 per month or £667 per two weeks;
  • £15,000 to £51,000 – grant of £2,000 per month or £1,000 per two weeks;
  • £51,001 or more – grant of £3,000 per month or £1,500 per two weeks.

There is a further £1.1 billion of funding being provided to Local Authorities to support businesses so there may be additional local grants available.


Keeping on top of an ever changing picture

This year has been an incredibly difficult one for all of us, and I for one am very grateful to still be working – and being paid.  However the constant changes in the available COVID-19 support for small businesses, processing endless furlough claims (we have now claimed around £400k for our clients), and fielding questions has really taken it out of us.

Much of the information we are able to share with our clients has come from two sources who I am sure are equally exhausted. On behalf of Starfish Accounting I would like to say a big thank you to the amazing Paul Flynn of ProActiv Tax, and the fabulous Sam Swinstead of vivoHR. Without them this would have been (if possible….) even harder.