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COVID-19 £1,000 Job Retention Bonus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Bonus – will you qualify?

During the Chancellor’s 8 July “Plan for Jobs” speech to Parliament Mr Sunak confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will end 31 October. However in an attempt to avoid mass lay-offs he also announced a bonus of £1,000 for employers that retain previously furloughed staff through to at least 31 January 2021.

Details of the Job Retention Bonus are here but I’ll outline the takeaways below: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/job-retention-bonus/job-retention-bonus

Job Retention Bonus Guidance – In Summary

1. The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.

2. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021.

3. Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

4. Employers can claim the Job Retention Bonus for all employees who meet the above criteria, including office holders, company directors and agency workers

5. Claims can be made from February 2021 and the income received under this scheme will be taxable income for the business.

Common Employers Questions:

  1. Do previously furloughed directors qualify for the bonus? A: Yes.
  2. My employee’s furlough finished sometime before 31 October but they’ll continue to be employeed well after January 2021 – will I still qualify for the bonus for that employee? A: Yes.
  3. Is there any action to take now? A: Simply continue to maintain up to date payroll records and RTI submissions with HMRC. Then, as long as your retained (but previously furloughed) employees earn over £520 per month between November 2020 – January 2021 there should be no problem in qualifying for this bonus.

My previous COVID-19 posts can be found here:

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COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – new rules from 1 July

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme – new rules from 1 July

On Friday evening the Chancellor announced three changes to the Job Retention Scheme as well as an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (the self-employed can skip ahead to that section).

The changes are outlined here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Detailed guidance on the new rules is expected to be published 12 June.

Job Retention Scheme – new rules starting 1 July

1. From 1 July 2020, the scheme will be made more flexible to enable employers to bring previously furloughed employees back part time and still receive a grant for the time when they are not working.

2. From 1 August 2020, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September (govt will fund 70%) and October (govt will fund 60%).

3. The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June.

Employers: What to do now?

The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June (in order to complete the minimum 3 week furlough by 30 June).

As some employers have been rotating their furloughed workers then they should consider now if any workers that haven’t yet been furloughed can be furloughed before 10 June in order to leave the door open to the flexible furloughing (part-time) rules starting 1 July.

Extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Chancellor also announced plans to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for those people whose trade is adversely affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Eligible self-employed people will be able to claim a second and final SEISS grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.

If you make a claim for the second grant you will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020 (PER GOV.UK 12 JUNE UPDATE). People do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second.

Self-Employed: What to do now?

Claims for the first SEISS grant, which opened on 13 May, must be made no later than 13 July. Eligible self-employed people must make a claim before that date to receive the first SEISS grant (a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total).

My previous COVID-19 posts can be found here:

Enjoy saving tax? 

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme: Advice for Company Directors

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme – Advice for Company Directors

The critera to qualify for the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (essentially funding 80% of salaries), is without doubt, stricter and less generous in the case of small company directors. Below I’ll discuss what can be claimed by this group of employees. The full guidance is the same as that for the non-director employees and is found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Job Retention Scheme: How it applies to company directors

  • Directors can be furloughed if they’re an employee on PAYE and on the payroll on 28 February 2020
  • The same restrictions to furloughing apply both to directors and employees. See here for the full list but of particular difficulty for directors is the requirement to perform no work whilst furloughed.
  • In practice, a company may be so badly affected by the crisis that it goes into a ‘COVID-19 hibernation’ meaning that the director would have no day to day employment type duties (especially, income generating activity) but is still on hand to undertake their statutory duties as company director.
  • Other companies might only be partially affected. In such cases, it might be practical to furlough all but one of the directors. This may especially apply to small husband and wife ran companies.

How much is the grant worth to directors?

  • Employers can choose to pay a furlough salary of 80-100% but the government is funding only up to 80% (capped at £2,500). In the case of directors it’s likely that the company will want to continue to pay 100% of the current salary in the knowledge that 80% will be funded by HMRC later.
  • Directors salaries are usually set quite low with the remainder of their remuneration being paid via dividends. Unfortunately HMRC will not be funding anything towards dividends.
  • Presuming therefore that you earn a typical directors salary (often below all tax and NI deductions) of £719 per month. HMRC will fund approx £575 per month.
  • The grant will be received by the company as taxable income and cannot be expected to hit the company before late-June 2020 or later.

Practical tips

  • There’s no need to worry or rush to take action. If work has ground to a halt you will qualify for this scheme. Just apply the rules are best as you can formalise the arrangement later using our template letter to furlough.
  • As for claiming the grant – please don’t contact HMRC. They’re of course extremely busy and are in the process of contacting employers.

My previous COVID-19 posts remain relevant and are:

Enjoy saving tax? 

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (detailed guidance for employers)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme – detailed guidance now available

Many employers are now considering their need to furlough employees perhaps from the next pay period starting 1 April. Thankfully updated and more detailed guidance on the Job Retention Scheme has now been released.

My summary of the scheme is below and I will personally help each affected client navigate their own particular circumstances. The full guidance is found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Job Retention Scheme Summary

  • Grant is available to all employers that had employees on the payroll on 28 February 2020.
  • All employees can be included (full-time, part-time, agency, zero-hours) if they’re being furloughed because of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Employees cannot work whilst furloughed. Employees put on reduced hours do not qualify.
  • You must have your employees agreement to designate them as furloughed. Of course put this in writing once discussed.
  • The scheme is running from 1 March 2020 for at least 3 months. The minimum period for which you can furlough an employee is 3 weeks.
  • Employers can choose to pay a furlough salary of 80-100% but the government is funding only up to 80% (capped at £2,500). Most employers are best advised to pay the 80%.
  • If 80% of an employee’s salary equates to less than National Minimum Wage (NMW) then that’s fine under the circumstances because the employee is not actually working the hours.
  • A furloughed employee may volunteer to perform work which does not generate income for the business (e.g. bookkeeping, admin type tasks) and can undertake training courses whilst furloughed.
  • Once agreed the payroll runs as normal, with usual tax, NI and pension deductions.
  • An employee who already has two or more jobs can be furloughed by one employer and continue to work for another.
  • If your employee is already sick or self-isolating and in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) this must run its course before they can be furloughed.

How do employers calculate the 80%?

Fixed salary employees – simply pay 80% of the fixed salary that was paid for 28 February.

Employees whose pay varies –
For those that have been employed for a full year, take the higher of:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year
  • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included in the calculation.

For those that have been employed for less than a year – use the average monthly earnings since they started work.

HMRC will also be funding the any Employer National Insurance Contributions and automatic enrolment contributions up to the minimum 3% contribution rate.

Effectively a furloughed employee paid at 80% will cost the employer nothing.

What to do now?

For many employers the best decision will be to furlough all but a skeleton staff. Discuss this with your employees now, decide when to start their period of furlough. Agree with them for how long (a minimum of 3 weeks) but you may like to do one month and reviewed monthly (up to a maximum 3 months unless extended by the government) and at what rate they’ll be paid 80-100%. Finally, and importantly, write to them to confirm. Our letter template can be downloaded Job Retention Scheme – Letter to employees.

As for claiming the grant – please don’t contact HMRC. They’re of course extremely busy and are in the process of contacting employers.

You may well experience a delay between paying your employee and receiving this grant. The claim system is expected to be working by the end of April. Plan you cash flow accordingly and consider using the Business Loan Interruption Scheme (interest free loans – just contact your bank).

What about small company directors?

UPDATE 1 Apr 2020: See my post: COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Advice for Company Directors

During the crisis I’ll be blogging about government help for small businesses as soon as the guidance is available. My previous COVID-19 post remain relevant and are:

What financial support is available for UK businesses? – NOW UPDATED
Can the Self-Employed go to work?
Help for the Self-Employed and other FAQ’s
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Help for the Self-Employed – PER THE 26 MARCH ANNOUNCEMENT

Enjoy saving tax? 

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Help for the Self-Employed

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help for the Self-Employed

This evening the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the highly anticipated Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) .

The government guidance gives a fairly concise summary of how the scheme will work and is found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

However, I’ll summarise a little further here:

  • SEISS takes the form of a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.
  • Applies to Self-Employed Sole-Traders and partners of Partnerships as long as your tax returns are up to date, you’re currently trading and you intend to keep trading beyond this crisis.
  • Your trading profits must be under £50,000 to qualify for help.
  • To work out your average trading profits HMRC will use the values declared in your Tax Returns 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • You do not need to contact HMRC to apply. HMRC will contact those eligible for SEISS and ask you to apply online.
  • Remember this grant is taxable income. It will also need to be declared as income if your claim Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

What questions now remain?

Where does this leave directors of small limited companies?

The last line of the SEISS guidance reads: “If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.”

UPDATE 1 Apr 2020: See my post: COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Advice for Company Directors

Can the Self-Employed continue to work whilst claiming SEISS?

Yes. There is no restriction made due to claiming this grant. That of course is subject following the social distancing guidelines applicable to all as I’ve explained here Can the Self-Employed go to work?

In contrast employees being funded by the Job Retention Scheme are not allowed to work for their employer or take on any other employment during the term that they’re designated furloughed.

For a reminder on how to furlough a worker see here.

During the crisis I’ll be blogging about government help for small businesses as soon as the guidance is available. My previous COVID-19 post remain relevant and are:

What financial support is available for UK businesses?
Can the Self-Employed go to work?
Help for the Self-Employed and other FAQ’s

Enjoy saving tax? 

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Help for the Self-Employed and other FAQ's

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ’s: What help is there for the Self-Employed / Small Company Directors? How to forlough employees etc.

Since my two posts Monday 23 March there have been no updates from the government. We are expecting more announcements but for now I hope that this post helps answer some of the most pressing frequently asked questions.

What financial help in there for the Self-Employed?

Regarding sole-traders / partners of a partnership – currently, very little. Extending the 80% funding of earnings to the self-employed has been discussed in Parliament but for now there are no official announcements.

You will likely qualify for the £73 per week Employment Support Allowance via the Universal Credit system.

My opinion: Don’t panic announcements of help for the Self-Employed are expected very shortly. If you’re allowed to work then considering doing so (see below).

Can the self-employed continue to work?

Yes in most cases. There has been a lot of misreporting on this issue along the lines of “non-essential work should stop”. This is not what the Prime Minister announced or what subsequent Government guidance states.

In truth its non-essential travel to work that should stop. The guidance states: “If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating.”

True, non-essential shops and public spaces have been closed so in all cases please read carefully the guidance below before deciding if you can still go to work or not.

Government guidance on staying at home: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

How to furlough workers and can directors be furloughed?

Any employee that has been out of work since 1 March (i.e. asked to stay home due to the COVID-19 crisis) can be designated as furloughed.

How to do it?

  1. Explain to your employee, first verbally and then in writing, that due to COVID-19 the workload is greatly reduced and you’d like to designate them as furloughed. You must have the employees consent. If they consent then they must stay at home and not take on any new employment.
  2. Agree with your employee the salary they’ll be paid whilst furloughed. Most employers are paying 80% of usual salary (if it varies then based on February’s pay) as this is the amount the government will fund (subject to the £2,500 per month cap). You can however choose to pay 100% but the difference will not be reimbursed by the government.
  3. Employers will makes claims for reimbursement via a HMRC system that is expected to be up-and-running before the end of April.

Can directors be furloughed like other employees?

UPDATE 1 Apr 2020: See my post: COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Advice for Company Directors

What about zero hours contract employees?

It seems that these can be furloughed and paid 80% based on their February pay but this guidance is not yet clear.

My opinion: If your business is coming to a standstill then furlough your workers now (even backdate to when they stopped coming to work). Directors don’t panic – I expect help for your earnings will be clarified along with help for the Self-Employed. If you’re struggling to pay the wages of furloughed workers contact your bank for a Business Interruption Loan (these are being processed quickly by most banks) which you can repay once the HMRC funding is processed.

I hope these FAQ’s help for now. I realise that many questions are left unanswered but I’ll aim to provide advice as soon as these issues are clarified.

Please ensure you’re up to date with my previous COVID-19 posts:

What financial support is available for UK businesses?
Can the Self-Employed go to work?

Enjoy saving tax? 

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Can the Self-Employed go to work?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest: Since the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening of a “UK lockdown” can the self-employed go to work?

The answer is, yes, you probably can. For full guidance and a list of industries which have been shut down (and cannot go to work) see the government guidance here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

Updates to follow as they happen.

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


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Coronavirus (COVID-19): What financial support is available for UK businesses?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What financial support is available for small UK businesses?

Following is what we know so far. Clients will be updated as soon as possible on specific rules regarding eligibility and how to make claims once that info is available.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK employers will be given support in paying 80% of employees salaries up to £2,500 per month (for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020) for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during, and only due to, the Coronavirus crisis.

How to claim – HMRC are working urgently to set-up a system but for now we know that you need to designate employees are “furloughed workers”, notify your employees and submit those details to HMRC (method of submission yet to be announced).

VAT payments

VAT payments falling due between 20 March – 30 June 2020 simply do not need to be made on time. This applies to all businesses but it’s deferment only. Any deferred payments will need to be caught-up by 31 March 2021 if not earlier. In the meantime VAT Returns must still be submitted on time. VAT Refunds will be processed as normal.

UPDATED INFO: HMRC ask that businesses please cancel their direct debits with their bank with the intention of setting these back-up again when you cash-flow allows you to make payments.

Self-Assessment payments for the Self-Employed

The usual payment on account due by 31 July 2020 does not need to be paid until 31 January 2021. This deferment will not attract penalties or interest. No application to defer is needed.

UPDATED INFO: Deferral of the July payment on account now applies to all taxpayers under Self-Assessment. There is no need to contact HMRC to arrange this.

HMRC will fund Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees absent due to Coronavirus

Until now employers themselves have funded the £95.85 per week SSP paid to employees during sickness absence. However, starting 13 March 2020 HMRC will fund employers up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee (including directors of small limited companies) who is absent because of COVID-19 (infected, self-isolating etc). During the crisis SSP is payable from day 1 of absence rather than the usual day 4. Eligible employees are those earning at least £120 per week. The HMRC mechanism for repayment is being designed and yet to be announced.

Self-employed not eligible for SSP

The Self-Employed will qualify for Employment Support Allowance of around £73 per week from day 1 of COVID-19 related sickness (extended from the usual day 8). If already claiming Universal Credit then claims are to be made via that system.

Business Rates

Automatic business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure industry for 2020/21. Local Authority will write to confirm – no action needed.

Automatic cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure industry trading from business properties of up to £25,000 or £10,000 for properties with a rateable value under £15,000 (including those paying no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief). Local Authorities are writing to affected businesses. No action or application is needed.

UPDATED INFO: The list of businesses to qualify for the grants is expanding. Of note, Estate Agents and Childcare Nurseries recently added.

Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow up to 25% of their turnover, capped at £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Details here.

Insurance

Unfortunately, most businesses are not specifically not insured for closure due to pandemics or government-ordered shut-downs. But, check your policy – if you are then insurers are reportedly dealing fairly with such claims.

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on our YouTube-logo-full_color channel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on  or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.