On Saturday 31 October, Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown to help stem to spread of Covid-19. It was also announced that the Job Support Scheme would be delayed and instead the furlough scheme would be extended to 31 March 2021 to support businesses through this second lockdown.

All non-essential shops, hospitality and many leisure and entertainment venues must close from Thursday, unless they provide a click and collect or can deliver. There are however a number of business that are being encouraged to remain open and trading, unlike back in March.

This lockdown will certainly be different in tone to the first but will still be painful for many businesses.  For all the updates on the rules for social distancing, meeting family and friends etc. see the Government website here.

We’ll be working hard to get you more details on how this will all work, but we’ve outlined below the currently updates about support available for businesses through this round 2 of lockdown.

1. Protecting employees’ salaries

To help businesses retain employees and their jobs, the Government have extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, also known as, the furlough scheme.  As a result, the new Job Support Scheme has been delayed. The extended furlough scheme rules will be:

  • The Government will cover 80% of employee’s average gross wages, capped at £2,500 per month
  • Employees included on payroll submissions up to the 30 October 2020 can be furloughed (a welcome extension to the original 28 February cut-off date), so staff you have taken on this summer and autumn should be covered by the extended scheme
  • Employers must pay the Employers National Insurance and Employers Auto Enrolment Pension contributions
  • Flexible furlough is still allowed – so employees can work whilst on furlough, but you must account for these hours on your furlough claim
  • Unlikely that the grant will be paid before the November payroll run due to updates needed to HMRC’s systems

Read our full guide to furloughing staff here. There are still some unknown items such as how the grant will be calculated for staff with variable pay given that the new scheme can’t use the 28 February date as before. As HMRC receive updates we will provide you with our analysis.

Our guide to furloughing staff

2. Business grants

For businesses in England that are required to close due to either local restrictions or the national lockdown grants will be made available from local councils as follows:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

This means larger premises are now eligible for the grant funding. Of course, it is not clear how this funding will be made available. It will likely be council led, but we will provide full details once we know more.

3. Mortgage holidays extended

Borrowers who have been financially affected by coronavirus and have not yet utilised a mortgage holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those who have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to take an additional six months payment holiday without this being recorded on their credit file.

Read more about how to apply for a mortgage holiday here.

In line with this, we will be sending an update next week on how you can get the mortgage you need, including how much you can borrow, the evidence lenders are looking for, the impact of interest rates and much more. So keep an eye out for that.

How to apply for mortgage holiday

4. Pay your Self-Assessment Tax in instalments

On 5 October, HMRC announced further details surrounding their new ‘Enhanced Payment Plan’ instalment scheme. This is to help individuals with tax bills of £30,000 spread the cost of their tax liability, addressing concerns that January tax bills will be higher than normal due to the deferral of the payment on accounts usually due in July each year.

The scheme was introduced to allow the 31 January 2021 Self-Assessment tax payments to be spread the cost into twelve monthly payments through 2021. This is the tax due on completion of your personal tax return. It doesn’t cover any other taxes like Corporation Tax, VAT or PAYE for employers.

To find out if you’re eligible and how to apply, read our full guide here.

How to pay your personal tax in instalments

5. Self-Employment Grant

The grant for the Self-Employed was extended in September to match the Job Support Scheme, however with much lower rates. It was announced on 5 November that the self-employment grant running from November to January would increase to 80% of average profits up to £7,500.

This is what we know about the Self-Employment grant:

  • Available to those that were eligible for the SEISS grants previously
  • Open to sole traders and partnerships that are facing reduced demand due to Covid-19
  • Will last 6 months – for the period from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, but will be made as two payments, covering 3 months each
  • It is calculated over 3 months. The total grant will be of 80% for the 3 months, capped at 7,500.
  • The second grant will cover a three-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

For how more about the support for self-employed and how to make a claim for the grant, head over to our article.

Support for Self-Employed

6. Coronavirus loans

Rishi Sunak announced on 2 November 2020, that the Bounce Back and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CIBLS) will be extended to 31 January 2021.

It’s always best to speak to an expert before you go ahead with acquiring a loan, so contact your Principal Adviser so we can help you decide whether this is the right option for your business.

If you have any questions about any of the above or would like to enquire about our Furlough Toolbox, please speak to your Principal Adviser or contact us at enquiries@a4g-llp.co.uk or call 01474 853 856.

If you’re concerned your business won’t survive this second lockdown and need more support beyond the Government measures announced above, head over to our Breakthrough Recovery Programme and contact us at discovery@a4g-llp.co.uk to book your free discovery session, which will include a personalised quote and package of how we can help your business recover through Coronavirus.