Happy new year everyone. It is likely to be a difficult first quarter and then let us hope that the effects of the vaccination programme will enable us to gradually return to normal.
In view of the national lockdown, yesterday the Chancellor announced –
- One-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring
- £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses
- £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for Local Authorities, Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and an extension of the furlough schemeHere is the detail and reminders regarding the extension of other existing schemes.
Top up grants
Businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by government as of 5 January 2021 may be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000, as follows.
- £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
- £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
- any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant
Local Restrictions Support Grants
Businesses that were open as usual, but were then required to close between 5 November and 2 December 2020 due to the national restrictions imposed by government may be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant.
Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 28 day period under national restrictions.
Your business may be eligible if
- it:is based in England
- occupies property on which it pays business rates (and is the ratepayer)
- has been required to close because of the national restrictions from 5 November to 2 December 2020
- has been unable to provide its usual in-person customer service from its premises
For example, this could include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses. It could also include businesses that operate primarily as an in-person venue, but which have been forced to close those services and provide a takeaway-only
Eligible businesses can get one grant for each non-domestic property.
Businesses excluded from the fund
You cannot get funding if:
- you can continue to operate during the period of restrictions because you do not depend on providing direct in-person services from your premises (for example accountants)
- you have chosen to close, but have not been required to close as part of national restrictions
- your business is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register
- you have exceeded the permitted state aid limit
You must notify your local council if your situation changes and you no longer meet the eligibility criteria.
What you get
The grant will be based on the rateable value of the property on the first full day of restrictions.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,334 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.
If your business has a property with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £2,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £3,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.
How to apply
Visit your local council’s website to find out how to apply:
Bounce back and CBILS loans are still available
The availability of these has been extended to 31 March 2021.
Focussing on bounce back loans, the length of the loan is 6 years, but you can repay early without paying a fee. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.
Before your first repayment is due, your lender will contact you about further options to:
- extend the term of your loan to 10 years
- move to interest-only repayments for a period of 6 months (you can use this option up to 3 times)
- pause your repayments for a period of 6 months if you have already made at least 6 repayments (you can use this option once)
You can apply for a loan if your business:
- is based in the UK
- was established before 1 March 2020
- has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.
Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14 January 2021.
You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
You can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. For periods from 1 November onwards, you can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
- fully furlough employees – they cannot undertake any work for you while furloughed full time
- flexibly furlough employees – they can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern but they cannot do any work for you during hours that you record them as being on furlough
If you flexibly furlough employees, you will also need to agree this with the employee and keep a new written agreement that confirms the new furlough arrangement. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 30 October 2020 to claim for periods from 1 November 2020.
What if employees are affected with child or other care issues, or health vulnerability under lockdown?
Your employee is eligible for the grant and can be furloughed, if they are unable to work, including from home or working reduced hours because they:
- are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance
- have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household
If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave
If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus, they may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness.
Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.
Employers can furlough employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus. It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough these employees. An employer does not need to be facing a wider reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for these employees.
You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and not the SSP rebate scheme. If a non-furloughed employee becomes ill due to coronavirus, needs to self-isolate or shield, then you might qualify for the SSP rebate scheme, where you can claim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.
If your employee becomes sick while furloughed
Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to SSP. This means that furloughed employees who become ill, due to Coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least SSP. Subject to eligibility this includes those self-isolating or clinically extremely because of Coronavirus. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.
Document your decision to furlough staff
Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way. Email or write to staff advising your decision to furlough them and the circumstances of the decision.
To be eligible for the grant, employers must have confirmed to their employee in writing that they have been furloughed. You must:
- make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
- keep a written record of the agreement for five years
- keep records of how many hours your employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (i.e. not working)
The employee does not have to provide a written response.
Employer claim information that HMRC will make public
From February, as part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020.
The following information will be published on GOV.UK:
- the employer name
- an indication of the value of the claim within a banded range
- the company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)BAYLISS WARE CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS
6 JANUARY 2021