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Government will pay up to 80% of wages - this and more about Coronavirus

21 March 2020

The government has announced it will pay up to 80% of the wages for any retained workers who are not actively in work but are still on the payroll during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The grants, which will pay each worker up to £2,500 a month and can be obtained by contacting HMRC, will be available before the start of April and will cover a three month period starting on 1 March. The government says the period will be extended if necessary.

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal that HMRC is setting up.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

HMRC has set up a dedicated coronavirus helpline for self-employed workers and business owners who are concerned about making tax payments. Call 0800 015 9559 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm Saturday.

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

For self-employed workers who lose out on work due to being ill with coronavirus or self-isolating, the minimum income floor will be suspended, so they can apply for a rate of Universal Credit that is equivalent to statutory sick pay - £94.25 a week for up to 28 weeks.

Self-employed and gig economy workers can apply for Universal Credit or employment support allowance (ESA) in lieu of statutory sick pay. 

Additionally, self-assessment tax bill payments owed by self-employed workers are being deferred to January 2021.

This will particularly affect those who pay tax by payment on account (in which case, the next payment would be due 31 July 2021) or those with alternative tax payment arrangements.

To support those on low incomes and those who have already been made redundant, several means-tested benefits payments are being increased. The Universal Credit standard allowance and working tax credit basic element are both increased by £1,000 for the next 12 months.

Universal Credit claimants who cannot attend meetings with work coaches because they’re in self-isolation won’t face sanctions as long as long as the postponement is agreed with their work coach in advance.

Homeowners and landlords can apply for three-month mortgage holidays.

There's more from the government at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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