COVID-19 NEWS BULLETIN 25th MARCH 2020
Around a quarter of the world’s population are now living under restrictions to curb coronavirus. India has placed a total ban on its people leaving their homes. With even royalty now affected as the Prince of Wales tests positive. Yesterdays ask for volunteers to assist the NHS has been meet with 250,000 people registering their help today alone. The US have agreed a massive stimulus package, but details are yet to be released. And there has been talk today of a coronavirus antibody test being available in the “near future” which would assist in getting key workers back to work.
A story in todays Daily Mail which was worthy of note, Michael Gove predicting chaos in the housing market as he urges home-buyers, ‘don’t exchange contracts’.
At the time of writing we are still awaiting information on if any further financial assistance will be made available to the self-employed. Currently the self-employed will be helped by measures such as the deferral of self-assessment tax requirements, payment holidays for mortgages payers and the strengthening of the welfare safety net. But no further measures have yet been announced for the many self-employed. We are continuing to monitor this and will bring you updates on the subject as they become available. This afternoon there has been a mention of further information on this to be announced tomorrow, Thursday.
For several days we have included here details of the Corona Job Retention Scheme. Due to the volume of questions we are now receiving on this we have elected to continue to include these details. Upon checking again today the system in which employers will be able to register with HMRC for this assistance is not yet set up and anticipation is still for this to be available over the next 2 weeks or less. Please note that there is limited official guidance available about this scheme at the time of this release. Therefore, we would recommend that the information below and any further information you receive from other parties, for example payroll providers, is treated with caution at this stage.
One point which is clear and should be highlighted here;
• It is important that an employee voluntarily agrees to furlough, and this should not be imposed upon them. Doing so, could expose the company to potential Employment Tribunal claims.
Again, we will continue to monitor and update you with the legalities when they are released.
‘The government announced on 20th March they are to introduce the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which should potentially provide employers with much more confidence in terms of your ability to manage the costs of payroll during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the moment however, information is sparse. The government is clearly reacting as the situation develops and will need to add detail to the CJRS but what I know at present is as follows:
It allows employers to access financial support to continue paying the salaries of employees who would otherwise have been laid off/made redundant as a result of Covid-19
Employers will need to designate affected employees as “furloughed employees” but will need their consent to do this
Once they are designated, employers need to submit information (details of the furloughed employees and their earnings) to HMRC via an online portal which has not yet been set up
HMRC will reimburse the employer up to 80% of earnings subject to a cap of £2500 (national median salary). At the moment it isn’t clear whether this is net or gross income
This scheme will be backdated to March 1 to cover a three-month period
The government expects the first job-retention grants to be paid before the end
From an employment law perspective, you need to consider the following:
Where contracts do not have a lay off clause, you will need employees’ permission to furlough them. Realistically however, it is inevitable they will agree given that the alternative is potential redundancy
The guidance for employees on CJRS states it is up to the employer whether they have to top up the extra 20%
If an employer chooses to withhold the 20%, they will need employees’ consent to avoid any later deduction from wages claims. This means that when an employer seeks an employee’s permission to give them furloughed status they should confirm this in writing as a variation to their contract and make it clear in the agreement that they agree to the salary cut on a temporary basis where the remaining 20% will not be paid back (my legal team are currently compiling an appropriate letter template in this regard)
It is for the employer to decide who to furlough; an employee cannot insist
At the moment this is an accurate summary of what I know at present based on what the government has released. Obviously, I will be monitoring the situation and will update you as more information is added. Hopefully though, it gives you a lot more confidence in your ability to manage the employment costs during Covid-19.
Please also see the link below direct to the gov.uk website that provides ongoing information on all of the financial support available to businesses and which is updated regularly’
Source: HR Heroes
As the Chancellor last week unveiled financial measures to help business, many have been waiting to find out how to access the funds which were announced. Monday saw the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) open for application with eligible
businesses being urged to view the information available on https://www.british-business- bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/ and open discussions with their existing lender in the first instance and as a matter of urgency. Many of our clients are looking for confirmation on eligibility and how to access this lending. The advice today, 25th March, is still to contact your existing lender in the first instance. The key questions lenders will be asking when approving any such loan:
WouldtheyhavebeenpreparedtolendtothebusinessifitwerenotfortheCOVID- 19 and any resultant downturn? Therefore, before the COVID-19, was the business viable?
Is it true to say that sanctioning lending at this time could allow the business to continue to trade and ride out any short to medium financial concerns?
To any of our clients looking to approach a lender to access the CBILS, to get your application to the top of the pile, recommendations include having a clear outline of your business and its workings, up to date accounts plus previous years showing a viable business plan. Details of your operation and your contingency planning would be advantageous. Any annotations you can make to clearly outline the business, how it works and how the business has been affected by COVID-19. Information on any possible security, other lending facilities and any future plans for the business post COVID-19.
Everyone’s first question, how long would it take to have such a loan approved and as yet this is unknown. Our aim here, should you feel that this is a possible route of interest is to contact us so we can support you with the steps needed to start this process. Our advice at the moment would be to approach your existing lender and discuss with us the various documents required and we can help you in your preparation.
Essential Links for assistance via Gov.uk
Self-Employment & Universal Credit
Employment & Support Allowance
https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance Covid-19 Small Business Government Grant https://smallbusiness.co.uk/how-do-i-get-the- government-3000-coronavirus-grant-2549866/ Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan https://smallbusiness.co.uk/how-do-i-apply-for-a-coronavirus-business-interruption-loan- 2549863/ Citizen’s Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/if-youre-struggling-with- living-costs/ Emergency Funding https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/emergency-funding.aspx
With regards assistance during this time on personal finances, we are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds, as yet, not all information or information from all major lenders has been provided on what is available but the information on this does appear to be added to and updated almost daily.
Yesterday we included detail on what residential mortgage lenders were offering by way of support. Today, details below on other areas of personal lending which may be of interest to you now, or over the coming weeks. If you believe that there may be a need for such assistance to help with any short-term cash flow issues, please do speak with us so we have the opportunity to advice on any pros and cons and if it is the best solution for you. Banks who are willing to help on loans and credit cards:
Information taken from https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/
The markets saw another positive day with further rises all round.
The COVID-19 situation is fast moving and although we endeavour to bring you the latest information, the details enclosed are correct as far as we are aware, at the time of issue.
Should you have any concerns or questions, we are here for our clients and will happily arrange a telephone or video call appointment to provide guidance.
A good number of clients have taken the opportunity to use this downtime to review their financial planning, specifically analysing their current income and expenditure along with what income is expected to be in 6-12 weeks. This planning has been greatly received as it enables clients to prepare for what could be uncertainty for a prolonged period.
If you would like to take advantage of this review, please either call our practice mobile 07543 368 478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are here to help you through these challenging times, so please don’t be afraid to get in touch.