The Government’s guidance on ‘Working Safely during Coronavirus’
The Government have published 14 guides on working safely during coronavirus, which cover a range of different types of work. The guidance is regularly updated.
The guidance can be read in full here.
The Prime Minister’s briefing on the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions in England – 17 July 2020
The Prime Minister has delivered a Downing Street briefing to provide an update on the relaxation of Coronavirus-related social restrictions. The key changes in England only are summarised below:
- Local authorities will be given new powers to close specific premises, shut outdoor spaces and cancel events to help contain outbreaks.
- From today, the use of public transport is encouraged.
- From 1 August 2020 the Government will update its advice on going to work. The Government will ask employers to decide on whether staff can come back to work. Employers should make decisions that comply with the requirement to have Covid-secure environments and in consultation with employees.
- From 1 August 2020, bowling centres, skating rinks, casinos and beauty salons will be able to reopen. Indoor performances to live audiences will be restarted, subject to pilots.
The Prime Minister said that the Government ‘will not hesitate, at any stage, to put on the breaks’.
Government support for businesses:
On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, set out the Government’s ‘Plan For Jobs’, designed to spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak.
The key aspects of the plan are:
Job Retention Bonus: A Job Retention Bous will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.
£2 billion Kickstart Scheme: The Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible. Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up.
Scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships: £1.6 billion will be invested to help people looking for a job. This investment includes:
- £2,000 for businesses, for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
- £111 million to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21.
- £17 million to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21.
- Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000; Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.
Further support for businesses:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Any employer in the country will be eligible for the scheme. Employers can contact HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are kept on payroll. Grants will cover up to 80% of salaries up to £2,500 a month.
The scheme will end in October 2020.
The new guidance regarding the Job Retention Scheme can be found here.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The scheme provides loans of up to £5 million to small and medium-sized businesses via the British Business Bank. Businesses can access the first 12 months of the finance interest free.
This temporary scheme, originally launched in the Budget, has been brought forward and will be available in the week commencing Monday 23 March 2020.
More information including eligibility criteria can be found here.
On Friday 3 April 2020, the Chancellor extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to continue operating.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
On Friday 3 April 2020, the Government announced the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
This aims to give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus but which they would not lend to without CBILS. Loans backed by a guarantee under CBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest, and further details of the scheme are due to be announced later this month.
The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest and fees.
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID 19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. Instead, any evidence that may be required can be obtained from NHS 111 online or from the NHS website.
The Government has said it will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.
More information can be found here.
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000.
If your businesses is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority. You do not need to apply.
Larger companies can access support through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Under the new facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. All UK businesses are eligible and the scheme will be available in the week beginning 23 March 2020.
More information from the Bank of England is available here.
Support for business paying tax: Time to Pay Service and VAT deferral
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis. The HMRC’s dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.
On Friday 20 March 2020, the Chancellor deferred the next quarter of VAT payments meaning no business will pay VAT between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
HMT Future Fund
This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The scheme will open in May 2020.
For further information, please see here.
Support for the self-employed:
Self-employed Income Support Scheme
The Government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over the past three years up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to people across the UK for three months and it will be extended if necessary.
The scheme will be open to anyone with trading profits up to £50,000.
People will be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.
To minimise fraud, only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply.
HMRC are working on the scheme and it is expected that people will be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June. HMRC will contact eligible individuals with an online form. The grant will be paid straight into bank accounts.
Anyone who missed the filing deadline in January will have four weeks from 26 March 2020 to submit their tax return.
The proposed measures for self-employed workers are broadly similar to those of the Job Retention Scheme and the formal guidance can be found here. More information is available here. Answers to FAQs can be found here.
The next Income Tax Self-Assessment payments, due in July, will be deferred for that month.
Self-employed individuals in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and who are unable to pay their tax on time or have existing liabilities are also eligible for Time to Pay. HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline to enable those eligible to get practical help and advice which can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559.
Freelancers and the self-employed may also benefit through the welfare system, including the £1,000 p.a. increase in the UC standard allowance, the equivalent increase in the basic rate of Working Tax Credit and the uprating of Local Housing Allowance.
Government is temporarily relaxing the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed UC claimants for the duration of the outbreak. This means a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak will be reflected in claimants’ awards.
Self-employed claimants will not be required to attend the job centre – UC can be claimed online or via phone.
Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will also be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. As announced at Budget, this is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth.
Bounce Back Loans Scheme
On 27 April 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, announced a new coronavirus loan scheme – Bounce Back Loans. The Chancellor has said that for this scheme, the Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. The details are included below:
- Businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans worth up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months.
- The loans will be available from banks from 9.00am on Monday 4 May 2020.
- There will be no-forward looking tests of business viability and no ‘complex eligibility criteria’.
- Businesses will have to complete a ‘simple, quick, standard form’.
- For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.
Education and childcare during coronavirus
The Government’s guidance for schools and other educational settings can be accessed here.
Specific Government guidance on safeguarding and remote education can be accessed here.
The Government’s guidance on keeping children save online during the COVID-19 outbreak can be accessed here.
TIGA’s top tips for parents can be found on our dedicated Consumer Advice page.
The Government’s advice for parents and carers on how to keep children safe online during the coronavirus can be found here.
The latest Government updates and advice can be found here.
The most up-to-date NHS guidance can be found here.
The World Health Organisation have recommended some physical activities that can be done at home, including exercise classes, active video games and muscle and balance training. The link to the WHO’s Coronavirus advice page can be found here.
Ofcom have provided advice on how to stay connected during the coronavirus, with broadband and network connections being under high demand.
Creative Scotland have launched three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain the country’s creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak. These include the creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund, the Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund and the Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development. These bursaries are aiming to support those most in need at this time. More information on the bursaries can be found here.
The Government have announced a £40 million boost for cutting-edge start-ups born out of the coronavirus crisis.
TIGA’s Coronavirus updates:
- Prime Minister announces easing of lockdown measures: 23 June 2020
- Coronavirus creates remote working and financial challenges for the video games industry, says TIGA: 21 May 2020
- The Government announces a £4 million boost for cutting-edge start-ups: 20 May 2020
- The Government announces a £5 million COVID-19 Loneliness Fund: 15 May 2020
- The Government announces that they will support businesses through a Trade Credit Insurance guarantee: 14 May 2020
- The UK publishes its COVID-19 recovery strategy: 11 May 2020
- The Prime Minister addresses the nation: 11 May 2020
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer announces the Bounce Back Loans Scheme: 27 April 2020
- The Government’s furlough scheme cut-off date is extended to 19 March 2020: 15 April 2020
- The Chancellor strengthens support on offer for business: 3 April 2020
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced additional measures of economic support for the self-employed: 26 March 2020
- Business Support: The Government’s response to COVID-19: 25 March 2020
- TIGA Survey: Covid-19, have your say: 23 March 2020
- TIGA’s Top Tips for Working from Home: 23 March 2020
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced additional measures of economic support to protect jobs and incomes: 20 March 2020
- TIGA has written to the Chancellor and other MPs to set out its Ten Proposals to Enable the Video Games Industry to Cope with Coronavirus: 20 March 2020
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a £330 billion range of economic support measures in response to coronavirus: 17 March 2020
- Prime Minister’s statement on COVID-19: 16 March 2020
- COVID-19: Government announces moving out of contain phase and into delay: 13 March 2020
- The Government releases action plan to tackle Coronavirus: 3 March 2020