Since the Budget in March, businesses around the UK have been invited to take advantage of a number of different support schemes to help manage the financial impact of Coronavirus.
In a more recent update on 8 July, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced several new measures focused on a “three-point plan for jobs.”
Those three points – to protect, support, and create jobs – come as part of a “second phase” of support, aimed at keeping employment levels as high as possible as the country faces the challenges of a deep global recession.
Whether or not the new measures will be enough to get the public out and spending again, at a time when people face continued health concerns as well as uncertainty over their own financial futures, remains to be seen.
The additional support has however been largely welcomed by businesses as other government schemes, such as furlough payments and self-employed income support, are set to close by the end of October.
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The Chancellor is absolutely right to stress that the job of getting the economy back on its feet has only just begun. The key now is making sure these positive new measures work for all, especially the small firms that make up 99% of our business community and employ 17 million people.”
Below we discuss some of the new measures which have been put in place in a bid to help businesses as the UK gradually eases out of lockdown.
Furlough bonus scheme
Sunak has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), or furlough scheme, will not be extended beyond its current end date of 31 October 2020.
However, as concerns remain about rising redundancies with employers no longer able to claim furlough pay, the Chancellor offered an incentive for businesses to bring back currently furloughed staff and keep them in employment over the next six months.
Employers who bring back furloughed staff and keep them in continuous employment to the end of January 2021, will be able to claim a job retention bonus of up to £1,000 per employee.
This only applies if workers are paid at least £520 a month during the second and final phase of the furlough scheme, which is the lower earnings limit for National Insurance, from November 2020 to January 2021.
Payments to employers on the scheme are expected to be made from February 2021.
The chancellor noted that the under-25s are likely to be hit hard by Coronavirus as they’re “two-and-a-half times more likely to work in a sector that has been closed” during lockdown.
As a result, he has introduced a ‘kickstart’ scheme, which aims to incentivise employers to offer six-month work placements to those aged between 16 and 24, who are on Universal Credit and deemed at risk of long-term unemployment.
This offers funding for each placement, covering 100% of the national minimum wage for 25 hours per week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Traineeships & apprenticeships
Additionally, the Government is encouraging employers to offer work experience to young people on traineeships, offering a £1,000 bonus for each new trainee they take on.
From 1 August 2020 until 31 January 2021, employers in England will receive payments for hiring apprentices. This will amount to £2,000 for each new apprentice under the age of 25, or £1,500 for new apprentices over 25.
These payments will be 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 – where that applies.
Incentives for homeowners and buyers
In addition to the measures aimed at businesses, the Chancellor announced a stamp duty land tax holiday. They have raised the lower threshold at which the tax is due from £125,000 to £500,000 for transactions between 8 July 2020 and 31 March 2021.
Stamp duty land tax applies to the transfer of residential properties in England and Northern Ireland.
Additionally, a green homes grant is being made available to homeowners and landlords from September, providing a minimum of £2 for every £1 spent on making residential properties more energy efficient.
This will cover up to £5,000 per household, or £10,000 for lower-income households.
If you would like more information about the support available to businesses during Coronavirus, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.
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