BEIS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Businesses and Employers Bulletin

Please find below the latest Businesses and Employers bulletin from BEIS:

This bulletin is issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and provides the latest information for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19). All coronavirus business support information can be found at gov.uk/business-support

• Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan
• Restrictions on businesses and venues in England
• Working from home and working safely guidance
• New and Updated Guidance

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined additional government support to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK.

Job support scheme

  • A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.
  • Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme, with further guidance being published in due course.

Tax cuts and deferrals

  • The temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors will be extended to the end of March next year. In addition, business who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans

  • Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.

The government is extending four temporary loan schemes to 30 November 2020 for new applications: As a result, more businesses will now be able to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.

From 28 September, businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID-19 secure

  • Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
  • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.

This guidance applies to England, except for where local restrictions apply.

Working from home and working safely guidance

  • To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. More here.
  • Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events in England will not be able to reopen from 1 October as previously planned.

New and Updated Guidance

NEW Guidance

Measures from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act extended to relieve pressure on businesses dealing with coronavirus: Measures put in place to protect businesses from insolvency will be extended to continue giving them much-needed breathing space during the coronavirus.

New package to support and enforce self-isolation in England: A new package has been announced to support and enforce self-isolation, including a payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result. New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.