It’s been a while…

My last update of this nature was in June and back then I, like most of us, was hopeful that we were through the worst of COVID.

Now, in late September, I’m still optimistic that we are through the worst and whilst there are undeniably tough times ahead I feel like our collective level of preparedness is better. I believe we all know what to expect because we understand more than we did back in early summer I feel and so hopefully we can plan with slightly more certainty.

Yesterday the Chancellor announced the latest package of measures that are intended to help businesses through the next 6 months and to help you get to grips with them I’ve summarised them as best I can below.

Job Support Scheme (replaces the Furlough Scheme)

  • The current furlough scheme is coming to an end on 31st Oct 2020 and it will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme (JSS)
  • JSS will take effect from 1st November 2020 and will run for six months
  • It’s available to all employers including those that didn’t or couldn’t take advantage of the furlough scheme
  • The JSS is designed to cover staff that are working part-time as a result of lower demand and is calculated as follows:
    • You (as the employer) pay for the reduced time that your employee is working (pro-rated salary). Keep in mind that your employee must be working at least 33% of their normal hours
    • For the remaining hours that your employee is not working (but would ordinarily be working ) the government will make a top-up payment equal to ⅓ of the cost of these remaining hours and you will have to pay the other ⅓. Below is a worked example:

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

  • The SEISS is being extended to the end of January 2021
  • To claim for this extended period you must already be eligible for SEISS and you must be continuing to actively trade.
  • You will be able to claim an initial lump sum covering the three month’s worth of profits from November 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021. This is worth 20% of your average monthly profits up to a total of £1,875.
  • From the 1st February 2021 a second grant scheme will be available with details to follow nearer the time.

VAT (HMRC)

  • If you deferred payment of your VAT bill you will now get more time to pay via the New Payment Scheme
  • Under the New Payment Scheme you will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year instead of having to pay in full by the end of March next year.
  • As none of us know how long this will last my advice would be to minimise short/medium term cash outflows (like VAT payments) and retain cash to provide your business with a buffer to carry you through lean months, if they transpire.

Self-Assessment (HMRC)

  • If you’re a self-assessment taxpayer you will also get more time to pay your self-assessment tax bill.
  • Payments deferred from July 2020 and those that are due in January 2020 will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
  • Again, my advice would be to defer self-assessment tax payments and preserve/build your personal cash reserve(s).

Job Retention Scheme

  • The £1000 job retention bonus is still in place
  • For those who need a reminder this is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the job retention scheme, and who remain continuously employed through to 31 January 2021
  • Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021

Track & Trace

Lastly and very importantly….

  • For practices in England & Wales the NHS COVID-19 app is now available to download for iOS and Android (Scotland – iOS / Android). I’d encourage you to download the app so that you can can check-in wherever you see the Track & Trace poster. For what its worth I feel like this is our best shot at living with this horrible virus until a vaccine arrives. 
  • To assist with the Track & Trace push I’d also encourage you to set up a QR code at all of your locations so that clients can check in using the NHS COVID-19 app. If you haven’t already received your QR code pack you can download a kit to create your own NHS Track & Trace poster here-> https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster.
  • In my humble opinion I suspect this may become one of the pre-conditions to remaining open going forwards so its probably worth spending the few minutes it takes and getting ahead of the curve.

Sources:

HM Government: Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan