Main points from the press conference on 20th March
- Cafes, bars, restaurants, leisure centres, theatres, nightclubs to close asap and not reopen tomorrow.
- The Chancellor announced a raft of measures to help businesses and workers (see below) and urged employers to look at the support on offer before making any decisions.
- The PM closed with the commitment to employers that ‘we will stand behind you and we hope you will stand behind your workers’.
As at the time of writing (7pm) the details have not been published online. New measures announced today:-
- The launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:
- Any employer is eligible to apply to the HMRC for a grant to cover workers who are retained, but not working, of up to 80% of salary up to £2,500 per month.
- When asked to clarify the meaning of ‘workers’ the Chancellor said ‘everyone on PAYE’.
- Backdated to 1st March.
- Will be in place for 3 months at least.
- Payments to employers in next few weeks with aim to be fully operational by end April.
- Deferral of next quarter’s VAT payment until the end of this year. Therefore, no business will pay VAT until the end of June. A £30 billion cashflow injection for businesses, says the Chancellor.
- The next self-assessment payment will be deferred until Jan 2021.
- Further measures for larger and medium businesses will be announced early next week.
- Business loans interest free for 12 months (previously 6 months).
- Increases of £1,000 each to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs. The new SSP Regs have been amended to clarify the position (see below).
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Isolation Notes (NEW)
The Department of Health and Social Care have launched on online service through NHS 111 to provide Isolation Notes.
Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
Late last night (11.55pm and 12.07am) two new guidance notes were published by the Department for Education.
This provides a definition of vulnerable children and also critical workers. It would appear that an earlier version did not include support staff in schools, but this has now been amended:-
Education and childcare
This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Further details on exams and grades announced. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July.
The general coronavirus guidance starts here:-