Furlough, SEISS, CBILS and BBLS all extended or enhanced as new England national lockdown is enforced

With the Hallowe’en announcement of a new nationwide lockdown for England came the news that many of the Government’s Covid-19 support schemes for firms were also being enhanced or extended. In many cases, the support available has been restored to what was originally available when the scheme commenced.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the furlough scheme, was being wound down ahead of its proposed replacement by a less generous alternative on October 31. However, the Government has announced that the original furlough scheme will now continue until March 31 2021. Any employee placed on furlough can have 80% of their salary paid by the Government, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The employer will only be responsible for paying the staff member’s pension and national insurance contributions. This will remain the case until at least January, when the Government will consider whether there is a case for asking employers to make contributions towards the salary payments for unworked hours.

Firms don’t need to have used the scheme previously in order to make use of it now.

The scheme will operate across the UK – this is even though England’s national lockdown is currently scheduled to end on December 2, the ‘firebreak lockdown’ in Wales has already finished, and Scotland has not so far announced an equivalent national lockdown. Firms in all business sectors can continue to make use of the scheme – they don’t have to be in industries that have been forced to close. 

The introduction of the Job Support Scheme – where firms could retain employees on a part-time basis and have their wages topped up by the Government – has now been delayed indefinitely.

The third tranche of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will now cover 80% of a person’s average trading profits for the period November 2020 to January 2021, up to a maximum of £7,500. To apply, individuals must have been eligible for each of the first two grants, even if they didn’t apply. This means that their self-employed income must account for at least 50% of their total income, their average annual profit must be £50,000 or less and they must have filed a tax return for 2018/19. These eligibility criteria have been criticised for excluding those who have recently become self-employed, and those for whom self-employment is a secondary income.

There is also a subtle difference to the eligibility criteria in that anyone making a claim must have experienced reduced demand for their goods/services as a result of coronavirus, or alternatively must be temporarily unable to trade due to the virus at the present time. Previously, applications were welcome from anyone who had been financially affected by the pandemic in any way, e.g. increased costs, previous time off work due to illness or self-isolation.

Applications for the third tranche of SEISS open on November 30.

The Government has also extended its Covid-19 commercial finance schemes such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Applications for these schemes can now be made until January 31.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed by Scott Robert and as such are not updated. Please be aware of the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.