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Coronavirus/COVID-19: 2 November Update – England Lockdown: UK Government Announcement

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at the weekend and the new controls in Scotland coming into force today, we are once again preparing for the repercussions.

We want to reassure you that the health and future of our staff and clients remains our priority.  As we are considered a ‘key business’ we do have a skeleton staff across our premises to allow for essential business practices to continue but our offices remain closed.  However, GWA is definitely open for business. The majority of our team are working from home, as they have been successfully for the past six months, so please continue to contact partners and staff in the usual way by phone or email.

With the expectations of travel restrictions becoming harsher later this week, we would like to encourage you, where possible, to bring in any records needed to complete tax returns before Wednesday evening.  Details on how to safely drop off documents can be found here. These procedures are there to keep our clients safe, our staff safe and maintain our offices as safe environments.

You can also send your documents electronically. We have a GWA online portal, which provides a secure method of passing information between us. If you have not used this facility before, please do get in touch and we can guide you through setting it up.

We have outlined more details below concerning the weekend’s statement and you will always find the latest summary of finance and business support measures, along with an archive of all previous updates on the news section of our website.

Much of the support announced is UK wide. Scotland and the other devolved governments are seeking clarity about how this will affect them, as should they decide to have a full lockdown in the future it is not clear if the support will be extended. We will, as always, keep you updated on any new information that becomes available.

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The CJRS has been extended until December. This extension applies UK wide and not just in England.

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) that was to open on 1 November 2020 to replace the CJRS is now postponed until the extended CJRS ends.

As such, furloughed employees will receive 80% of salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500, with businesses only being required to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions. This means the extended furlough scheme is more generous for employers than it was in October with the cost for employers of retaining workers being reduced compared to the current scheme which ended on 31 October.

Similar to the second phase of the CJRS, businesses will also have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time. So staff may be brought back part-time to say, set up premises for the lifting of national restrictions, or to prepare for Brexit.

Eligibility is as per the CJRS.  All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS but employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October 2020. 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.

We are still waiting for more details as to when claims can be made in respect of employee wage costs during November and we will let you know as soon as more information becomes available.
For more information on the CJRS and whether you can claim for employee’s wages can be found  here on the GOV.UK website.

Local Business Support Grants

As we mentioned in one of our previous updates, businesses in England that have been required to close due to local or national restrictions lockdowns as a result of COVID-19 restrictions can apply for grants of up to £3,000 per month.

The grants are based on assessing the size of the business on the rateable value of its premises.

  • for properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks
  • for properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks
  • for properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks.

Local authorities will be responsible for distributing the grants but have not yet been provided with the full details of the scheme.

You can find more information on the grants in England here on the news section of our website.
You can find more information on the grants in Scotland here on the news section of our website.

Changes to the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The UK Government’s announcement provided no specific update to the SEISS. Therefore, the previous statement confirming the extension of the SEISS to the end of April 2021 still stands. This applies UK wide and not just in England.

In summary this provides an initial grant for the three-month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. This will cover 40% of average monthly profits and will be capped at £3,750 in total. The online service for claiming this next grant will be available from 14 December 2020.

Details of the grant for the period from February 2021 to the end of April 2021 have yet to be provided.

More details of the current criteria for the SEISS can be found here on our website.

Mortgage Payment Holidays Extended

As part of the weekend’s announcement, mortgage payment holidays will no longer end in October. This extension applies UK wide and not just in England.

Borrowers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and have not had a payment holiday will be able to ask for a six-month holiday. Those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be also able to top this up to six months. The payment holidays will have no impact on your credit rating.

We will continue to keep you updated with any further details as they are released.  We know there still many challenges to come and we encourage you to contact us if you need support. We cannot emphasise enough you are not on your own during this crisis. Our team is continuing to provide assistance and for us it is ‘business as usual’ when it comes to client support.

Information correct as of 2 November 2020

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