Yesterday the prime minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital due to the persistence of his coronavirus symptoms, after his first signs of being infected began 11 days ago. The news came shortly after the Queen delivered a rare televised address to the country, asking people to remain united and resolute to overcome the outbreak.
The spread of Covid-19 has already led to the deaths of almost 5,000 people, with many businesses closed and the whole country on lockdown. As we awake to a new week under lockdown, we consider the latest developments in the UK business world.
Further details released about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
There are many businesses which have been forced to close or have been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. To help maintain current workforce levels the government is providing grants which cover 80% of the usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 per employee. The grant also covers the associated employer pension and National Insurance contributions. Claims begin from the date that an employee finishes work and starts their furlough.
The scheme is available for 3 months and payments can be backdated to 1 March 2020. To be eligible the business must have been using a PAYE payroll scheme before 28 February 2020 and be enrolled for PAYE online, which can take up to 10 days. Any business with a UK payroll and UK bank account can apply, including charities and public authorities. The online service which businesses should use to make a claim is not available yet, although it is expected to be up and running by the end of April 2020.
Any business which employs apprentices can also avail of the scheme, however the apprentices must be paid at least the appropriate Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. This means that all employers will be required to cover the 20% shortfall between the grant amount and the apprentices minimum wage amount.
To be eligible, an employee must have been on a businesses PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020. Any employees hired after this date cannot be furloughed and therefore will not be eligible for the scheme. If an employee was already made redundant after 28 February, businesses can re-employ them and declare them as furloughed.
The grant covers all employment types, including flexible workers, agency contractors and those which are working via a zero-hour contract. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme also extends to salaried company directors, who can receive the grant payment while fulfilling their statutory obligations as directors. Although, they cannot carry out work which generates a commercial revenue or provides unnecessary services to the company. In addition, if an employee is declared furloughed, they cannot undertake work for the business. If critical tasks need to be conducted, these should be allocated to staff which are not furloughed.
Sir Keir Starmer announced as the new Labour leader
Sir Keir Starmer has been announced as the new leader for the Labour party, with 56.2% of the vote. Following his election Sir Keir explained that under his leadership the party is aiming to save lives and protect livelihoods, during this national emergency.
This week Sir Kier will meet with key government officials for a coronavirus briefing, where he has explained difficult questions will be asked, but only for the purpose of putting right any mistakes. As the Brexit debate shifts towards repairing the economic consequences of the coronavirus, it is expected that the parties will need to work closely together.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus outbreak is causing challenging times for businesses and individuals across the country. If your business is struggling with cash flow, there are a number of ways we can help. We specialise in helping businesses compare products and find the most competitive deals, whether you are looking for a loan, a business bank account or even cheaper utilities. To find out more about how we can help, please contact our team today.