Government announce support for employees

The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer today announced measures that focus on employee/individual support and strengthened the tone on social distancing

Measures on employee protection:

  • The Government will be stepping in to pay people’s wages with a new scheme. A grant will cover 80% of wages up to £2,500 for those employees kept on the payroll. This will be backdated to 1 March, open for three months (may be extended). This will cover businesses of any size. HMRC is working to get the scheme running within weeks, with first payments made by end of April. In the Q&A the Chancellor stated that the scheme will cover everyone on PAYE (including zero-hours contracts). Further details will be published on shortly.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme interest free period will be extended to 12 months. The Scheme, announced in the 2020 Budget on 11 March, is expected to be available in week commencing Monday 23 March.
  • Cash flow support via the tax system. Deferring next quarter of VAT payments. No business will pay VAT from now until the end of June. The payments will not be due until the end of the financial year.
  • New national advertising campaign to communicate business support. Chancellor calls for people to consider the support carefully before laying people off.
  • Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance by £1,000 a year. Working tax credit basic element will also increase by £1,000.
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for everyone impacted, allowing the self-employed to access Universal Credit up to the level of statutory sick pay.
  • Self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.

Additional announcements: 

  • New measures include closing bars, restaurants, pubs, theatres, nightclubs and gyms (although take-out services are still allowed). Measure to be reviewed monthly.
  • Further details about the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme, announced earlier in the week, have been published today: COVID-19: guidance for businesses

An online sick note system for COVID-19 absences is now available