As you’ll have no doubt seen, last week the Chancellor announced further changes to the Coronavirus financial support measures announced last month, with a view to easing the financial burden on employers and the self-employed. Key points from the changes are as follows:
- Job Support Scheme (“JSS”) – there are now two variations of this scheme: JSS Open and JSS Closed.
JSS replaces the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which ends on 31 October. Both JSS schemes will offer support from 1 November for at least six months, and all small and medium-sized businesses are eligible; larger businesses will only be able to claim through the scheme if their turnover has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will be available to businesses regardless of if they previously claimed under the furlough scheme or not. JSS claims can be made in arrears from 8 December, although the claim process has not yet been confirmed.
This scheme will provide support to businesses who, due to reduced customer demand, cannot afford to provide full working hours to their employees.
For employers to be eligible for the support, employees must work (and be paid for) at least 20% of their usual hours. For the remaining hours not worked, the government will pay 61.67% of the usual pay, capped at £1,541.75 per employee per month, and employers will pay a further 5%, up to a maximum of £125 per employee per month. Note that employers can choose to top this up further.
Employers will need to cover all National Insurance and pension contributions.
This scheme is available to support businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions, such as local lockdowns. Note that this includes premises restricted to delivery; collection-only services; or providing food and/or drinks outdoors only.
Under this scheme, the Government will pay two-thirds of employees usual wages, capped at £2,083.33 per month. Employers will not be required to contribute but can choose to top up employees’ salaries. As with the JSS Open, employers will need to cover all National Insurance and pension contributions.
- Job Retention Bonus
Between 15 February and 31 March, employers will be able to claim their Job Retention Bonus in respect of employees previously furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme but kept in continuous employment until at least 31 January 2021. The bonus will be worth £1,000 per eligible employee and the employer will be entitled to keep 100% of the bonus themselves. Further details of how the bonus can be claimed will be published by the end of January.
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”)
With the extension of the SEISS, eligible self-employed individuals will be able to claim two further support grants, the first covering the period November 2020 to January 2021. The first grant will now cover 40% of three months’ average monthly profits, capped at £3,750 in total, and will be paid out in a single instalment. The grants will be available for both individuals who temporarily cannot trade and those actively continuing to trade but facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. Details of how to apply for the first tranche will be made available in mid-November. The level of the second grant is yet to be confirmed.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.