Winter Economy Plan
On the 24th September, the Chancellor outlined additional government support to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK.
Delivering a speech in Parliament, the Chancellor announced a package of measures that will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the uncertain months ahead as we continue to tackle the spread of the virus. The package includes a new Jobs Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and extending the reduced 5% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.
Support for workers
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 and help keep employees attached to the workforce, 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.
This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they cannot work.
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.
It is designed to sit alongside the Jobs Retention Bonus for those employees kept on until the start of February 2021. Businesses can benefit from both schemes in order to help protect jobs.
In addition, the Government is continuing its support for millions of self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.
Extension to the reduced rate of VAT for Hospitality and Tourism
The government has extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) to tourist attractions and goods and services supplied by the hospitality sector. This relief came into effect on 15 July 2020 and will now end on 31 March 2021 across the UK.
VAT Deferral new payment scheme
If businesses have deferred VAT payments that were due between 20 March and 30 June 2020, then these payments need to be made to HMRC by 31 March 2021. Employers can use the New Payment Scheme to spread these payments over equal instalments up to 31 March 2022. Alternatively, they can make payments as normal by 31 March 2021 or make Time To Pay arrangements with HMRC if they need more tailored support.
New Self-Assessment Self-Serve Time to Pay Scheme
If you have deferred paying your July 2020 Payment on Account, you will need to pay the deferred amount, in addition to any balancing payment and first 2020/21 Payment on Account, by 31 January 2021. This may be a larger payment than you usually pay in January.
If you are unable to pay your Self-Assessment (SA) bill in full by 31 January 2021, you can set up a Time to Pay payment plan of up to 12 months online without speaking to HMRC.
If you have SA tax debts are up to £30,000, you will be able to access this Time to Pay facility through GOV.UK and will get automatic and immediate approval. If your SA debts are over £30,000, or you need longer than 12 months to repay your debt in full, you will still be able to use the Time to Pay arrangement by calling HMRC.
Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans
The burden will be lifted on more than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. This will provide flexibility for firms repaying a Bounce Back Loan.
This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses. These measures will further protect jobs by helping businesses recover from the pandemic.
The government also intends to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders 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.
In addition, the Chancellor also announced he would be extending applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes that are helping over a million businesses until the end of November. 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. This change aligns all the end dates of these schemes, ensuring that there is further support in place for those firms who need it.
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