As the government’s latest lockdown comes into force today (Nov 5), it is worth pointing out that the decision to introduce a set of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has been accompanied by an extension of the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) as well as other support measures for business.   

The JRS will, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says, now cover more of the cost of paying employees than it had previously. The government will now pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month for furloughed employees, leaving the employers to only pick up National Insurance and pension contributions for staff. 

He said the scheme will remain on offer to those businesses elsewhere in the UK if they went into their own full national lockdowns later on. The Chancellor told the Commons his intention was “to give businesses security through the winter. The security we are providing will protect millions of jobs.” 

Eligibility rules will continue to apply here: to access the support, companies must show that employees have been on the payroll on 30th October 2020, although they don’t need to have been furloughed before. This is a big change and opens up a whole new set of employees to the support offered by the furlough scheme.   

It’s important to remember that employers must agree on new working arrangements with staff to be placed on furlough. In addition, full-time or flexible furlough remains an option for employers and they are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant level at their own expense if they wish. 

Business Grants 

There will be many businesses that are forced to close that may be eligible for a business grant from their local authority. The grants vary in size, but the basic bands are: 

  • If your property has a rateable value of £15k or under then you can get a grant of £1,334 per month, or £667 every two weeks; 
  • If your property has a rateable value of between £15k-£51k then your grant could be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 every two weeks; 
  • If your property has a rateable value of £51k or over then your grant could be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 every two weeks. 

Business Loans and Funding (CBILS, BBILS, etc) 

The Treasury has also announced that the deadlines for CBILS, BBILS, and the Future Fund have been extended until the end of November