Rishi Sunak unveiled today the Government’s plan to protect jobs and support businesses in light of the Government’s recently announced restrictions introduced to protect the country from a significant increase in COVID-19 cases.
The main part of the new plan was the establishment of a new job support scheme and extension of the self employment income support scheme (SEISS). The thrust of the Chancellor’s announcement was that the new schemes should support, in his words, ‘viable jobs’ in businesses who will suffer from lower demand over the winter months due to the virus.
The new job support scheme (JSS)
The JSS starts from 1 November 2020 and will run for six months. Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff that work (they will need to work at least 33% of their usual hours to qualify) and the Government and employer will each pay one third of the hours they don’t work. Broadly, if an individual works 33% of their usual hours they will get paid c.78% of their usual salary although the level of Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 per month. The JSS will be available to small and medium-sized businesses and also to large businesses that can demonstrate that they have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. The JSS will be available to businesses that have not taken advantage of the existing furlough scheme and the existing furlough bonus scheme relating to employee retention will continue to be available.
Extension to the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS)
The extension to the SEISS will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. The scheme will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. The extension will be in the form of two taxable grants which will cover the two three-month periods. The initial grant will cover 20% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering the first three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £1,875 in total. The second grant will cover the second three-month period from the start of February until the end of April although the amount of this grant will be announced in due course
The Chancellor announced that the temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sector will be extended until the end of March 2021. The Government will also allow the VAT payments that have been deferred until March 2021 to be repaid via eleven monthly instalments starting from this date. Self-assessment taxpayers will also be able to agree with HMRC to delay up to £30,000 of tax liabilities that were to have been paid by 31 January 2021 over a further twelve months.
In relation to the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) and coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the Chancellor has extended the length of the loan from six years to ten. In the case of the BBLS, businesses will also be able to take advantage of up to three six-month ‘interest only’ payment periods and a single six-month payment holiday.
Hazlewoods Partner, Paul Fussell stated: “Many businesses are reviewing their financing arrangements to ensure they can cope with cash flow requirements next year. Longer term loans along with other announcements today should reduce some of the peak cash flow pressures in March 2021 and beyond, which will be positive news for companies across a wide range of sectors.”
Clearly, further detailed guidance relating to the above will be provided to clarify the support available, which will need to be reviewed prior to taking advantage of these new measures.
Hazlewoods Partner, Pete Woodall commented further: “It looks like the Chancellor has listened and sought to address the concerns of the potential ‘cliff edge’ when the existing furlough scheme is unwound. Whilst the new job support measures are less generous than the existing furlough scheme, they should still provide businesses with a significant element of support as the economy hopefully continues to recover from the summer lockdown.”
Director, Ryan Hancock summarised: “It comes as no surprise and with some relief to hear that the Chancellor has announced that the deferred VAT liabilities can be paid by instalments rather than in one lump sum next spring. The impact on what is already expected to be a tight cash flow for many businesses could have been a step too far. Extending the repayment terms for the Government backed loans further helps in this respect.
Will the introduction of the JJS scheme help retain jobs? Any support in this area will obviously be welcome, but will employers supplement wages if they are not fully contributing to the business’ income? Only time will tell. The Chancellor’s use of the phrase ‘viable jobs’ appears to suggest that he does expect there to be jobs losses this time around.”
For more information on the changes and advice for your business, please contact Pete Woodall at email@example.com or 01242 680000.