Winter Economy Plan announced
UK government launches plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months
Additional government support to help businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK has been announced.
The package includes a new Jobs Support Scheme to protect returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.
The package of measures, which applies to all regions and nations of the UK, includes:
Support for workers
Job Support Scheme
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 can’t 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 the 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 and could be worth over 60% of average wages of workers who have been furloughed – and are kept on until the start of February 2021. Businesses can benefit from both schemes in order to help protect jobs.
Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant extension
Self-employed individuals will be supported 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.
Tax cuts and deferrals
Tourism and hospitality VAT cut
The temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors will be extended to the end of March next year. This aims to give businesses in the sector - which has been severely impacted by the pandemic - the confidence to maintain staff as they adapt to a new trading environment.
New Payment Scheme
Business who deferred their VAT bills will be given the option to pay back in smaller instalments through the New Payment Scheme. This means, rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end of March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.
Time to Pay
Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans
Pay as You Grow
A Pay as You Grow repayment system 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.
Coronavirus loan schemes
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will have 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.
Applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes will be extended until the end of November. This includes 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.
First published: 24 September 2020