There have been a lot of changes and tweaks to government support during the last month as we entered the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just a quick summary of the financial support now available.

Business Support Grants

Business support grants are now available from Wiltshire Council (and others). They can only be claimed by businesses which have been forced to close (unlike last time). Grants are £1,334, £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value. Additional discretionary grants may also be claimed by those businesses severely affected who might not otherwise be eligible. Claims can be made via the Wiltshire Council website.

Employees who have not previously been furloughed can now be furloughed, as long as they were processed through payroll on or before 30 October 2020

Job Retention Scheme (Extended Furlough)

The furlough scheme, which was originally intended to end on 31 October, has been extended to 31 March 2021. It is possible to either fully furlough employees (in which case they cannot work) or flexibly furlough them. Employees who have not previously been furloughed can now be furloughed, as long as they were processed through payroll on or before 30 October 2020. The amount that can be claimed is 80% of normal wages (or the relevant proportion) – the employer is not required to make up the difference but must pay any national insurance or pension contributions.

With the extension of furlough, it now seems unlikely that employers will be able to claim the bonus of £1,000 per employee retained on payroll. This position is unlikely to be clarified in the near future.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

The SEISS has also been extended for a further six months. Claims can be made for 80% of self-employed income for the period November to January. In order to qualify the self-employed will need to claim that they have been adversely affected by Covid-19 during this period. As previously it will be based on average profits for the tax years 2017/18 to 2018/19. This is an ‘all or nothing claim’ and does not distinguish between someone who cannot work at all and another who may just have suffered a modest drop in income. For eligibility see here.

A further grant covering the period February to April 2021 will also be available, with further details to be announced in due course.

Whilst financial support for struggling businesses is obviously welcome we are concerned that the extended furlough scheme may be open to abuse

Self-assessment Time to Pay

Taxpayers with less than £30,000 of tax due for payment at end of January 2021, including payments on account for the following year, will be able to use HMRC’s self-service Time to Pay facility to spread payment over 12 months. This means that by 31 January 2022 you will be expected to be up to date with tax payments.

Whilst financial support for struggling businesses is obviously welcome we are concerned that the extended furlough scheme may be open to abuse and the SEISS scheme is rather arbitrary and may be supporting some at a disproportionate level to the losses they have suffered. And, of course, some people have fallen through the cracks altogether and have had very little support.

If you have any questions regarding how this will work in your case, feel free to contact us.

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