COVID-19 NEWS BULLETIN 24th MARCH 2020
Last night saw the greatest change to our way of life in living memory as the Government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Indeed, many of us received a text message from the Government this morning sent by our mobile phone providers. Current time scales stated by the Government is an initial 3-week period and the spread of the COVID-19 will be monitored. If the spread has been limited by the restriction on movements announced by the PM last night, the limitations maybe eased. Should you have missed the PM’s delivery last night, the full statement can bee found on the following link;
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-to-the-nation-on-coronavirus- 23-march-2020?utm_source=3e82ab56-0ac0-456b-9c3c- 7e48ba3325f0&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk- notifications&utm_content=immediate
Further developments yesterday evening saw tougher measures with the closure of parks and public spaces and public buildings such as libraries and museums and all non-essential retail outlets, among others.
Full details of closures can be obtained via;
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 also applies to dentists.
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. Yesterday saw the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme 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.
Information lifted from:
Detailed in yesterdays update, but still relevant, are the details of the Corona Job Retention Scheme. Upon checking on 24/3/2020, the system in which employers will be able to register on HMRC for this is not yet set up and anticipation is for this to be available over the next 2 weeks. Again, we will continue to monitor and update you on this.
The government announced on Friday 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 of April
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
Essential Links for assistance via Gov.uk
Self-Employment & Universal Credit
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.
The following maybe of interest to those clients who have a personal mortgage.
Information taken from:
Today’s daily government update focused on reinforcing last night’s message from the PM and was delivered by Matt Hancock. The focus was on actions being taken to support the NHS. These actions included a plea for volunteers, those in good health, to assist the NHS in shopping, delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health. The Excel Centre in east London is to be set up as a temporary hospital called the Nightingale Hospital and will be opening next week. And so far, 35,000 retired NHS staff, individuals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists have been drafted in to assist the NHS in its efforts. Furthermore, final year student doctors and final year student nurses are also going to be moved to offer support.
Whilst there has been talk today as to details of financial support for the self-employed, there has been no announcement on this in todays daily update.
There has been positive news in the markets today with significant rises, largely across the board. Is this sharp rebound a result of the stimulus package announced in the US this week or a result of many governments making positive moves to protect their economies is yet to be seen.
The 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 07543368478 or email email@example.com
We are here to help you through these challenging times, so please don’t be afraid to get in touch.