Latest update: 18th November 2020

 

The government has unveiled an unprecedented support package to help businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.

The support available is evolving to meet the needs of UK businesses throughout the different stages of the pandemic. We have summarised the help that is available to recruitment agencies below and we will keep this page updated as the government announces further information. Where details have been made available, we also outline how you can access this help.

Information on assistance available to contractors operating through their own Personal Service Company is available here.

Support At a Glance

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to 30th April 2021.

Due to the extension of the CJRS, the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus have been withdrawn. Suitable replacements will be introduced at a later date.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has also been extended to April with a further two grants announced.

Financial Coronavirus Support Available to Recruitment Businesses

Refund of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

In circumstances where an employee is absent from work due to coronavirus or must self-isolate in line with government guidance, Statutory Sick Pay will be payable from day one of absence rather than day four. SSP remains at £95.85 per week. Parasol as an employer has always paid Statutory Sick Pay and will continue to apply the updated legislation.

SSP is ordinarily a cost for the employer, however the government has confirmed that it will repay up to two weeks SSP for each employee that takes time off due to coronavirus.  You can find more information on the circumstances for which you will be able to reclaim SSP here.

Will my business qualify for this?

You will be able to reclaim the costs of up to two weeks sick pay per employee provided you are a small or medium sized business with no more than 250 employees at 28th February 2020 and your business is based in the UK.

How do I claim this?

The online portal to facilitate these claims opened on 26th May 2020. You can access this here.

What if I engage workers that do not qualify for SSP?

If you engage contractors via a compliant umbrella company, they will be employees of the umbrella company. Provided they earn more than £118 per week, they will qualify for SSP, speak to the umbrella companies you work with and confirm they will be applying this legislation.

If you engage workers that do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, for example employees paid less than £118 per week, they will be able to claim Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit. This is claimed directly from the government and further information is available here.

Deferral of VAT Payments

From 20th March to 30th June, you were not required to make payment of your VAT return, although it needed to be submitted to HMRC as usual. This means that for the quarters ending 29/02/2020, 31/03/2020 and 30/04/2020 no VAT payments needed to be made.

Initially, any deferred VAT needed to be paid in full by 31st March 2021, however due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, the Chancellor announced that businesses that deferred their VAT will now have the option to pay in smaller instalments over 12 months, the final balance being paid in full by March 2022. You will need to opt into this scheme. If you can afford to pay your deferred VAT by 31st March 2021, you should consider doing so.

How can I claim this?

You can opt to pay in instalments to spread the deferred VAT over 12 months. We will update this page when we have information on how to do this.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help businesses to continue paying employees that otherwise may have been laid off. Under this scheme, businesses can access grants of up to 80% of their employees’ wages up to a total of £2,500 per month per furloughed employee.

To access this scheme, businesses need to designate their workers as ‘furloughed employees’. A furloughed employee is an employee that remains on the payroll but is not working due to the coronavirus outbreak. From 1st July the government introduced flexible furloughing, which allows part time furlough depending upon your workloads. This could see you or your employees return to work a few days a week and continue to be furloughed for the remainder of the week, this could be useful for contractors who may be offered a tapered return to the office.

For the time furloughed, your employees cannot do any work that makes money or provides services to the business. The government has confirmed that company directors can be furloughed and continue to complete their statutory filing obligations.

Following the announcement of a second national lockdown for England the scheme was extended to 31st March 2021. From 1st November 2020 to 31st January 2021 the CJRS will operate in largely the same way as it did in August 2020. Crucially, this extension to the CJRS is available to all UK businesses that have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, neither the business, nor the individual need to have accessed the scheme previously.

For claims made from December 2020 onwards, HMRC will publish the company name plus company registration number of all businesses that have made a claim under the CJRS. If you opt to make a claim under the scheme you should be aware that this will be a matter of public record.

To make a claim under the extended CJRS, the employee you wish to make a claim for must have been on your company’s PAYE payroll on 30th October 2020. You must have made at least one PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC for the person you wish to make a claim for between the 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020.

Until 31st January 2021 the grant available will remain at 80% of the wage costs of the furloughed employee or director up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The business will need to bear the cost of any Employers NI, apprentice levy and auto-enrolment pension costs if applicable. Holiday pay will accrue as usual for the period the employee is on furlough.

It is important to note that this scheme will only cover salary. If you are a company director and receive dividends this will not be included in the calculation of the grant.

How do I claim this?

The portal to facilitate claims for the extended period from 1st November 2020 is now open.

As previously, your accountant will be able to make the claims on your behalf, provided they are authorised as your agent. If you wish to make the claim yourself, you will need a PAYE online account.

You will also need to calculate the amount of the claim yourself and you should keep a record of how this was calculated. HMRC has been clear that they will be investigating claims made under the CJRS and it is essential you keep all records that relate to the claim for 5 years.

Important deadlines

All claims for furlough periods from 1st July 2020 to 31st October 2020 must be submitted no later than 30th November 2020.

Claims from 1st November 2020 must be submitted by 11.59pm 14 calendar days after the month you’re claiming for. If this time falls on the weekend, then claims should be submitted on the next working day.

Claim for furlough days in

Claim must be submitted by

November 2020 14 December 2020
December 2020 14 January 2021
January 2021 15 February 2021
February 2021 15 March 2021
March 2021 14 April 2021
April 2021 14 May 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the full guidance on the extended CJRS here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was introduced to support self-employed individuals (unincorporated business and members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This scheme allows the self-employed to apply for grant of 80% of their average profits up to a maximum of £7,500 covering three months’ worth of profits.  To calculate your average income, HMRC will look at your last three tax returns. If you have not traded for three years HMRC will take the average of the tax returns you have submitted.

To be eligible for the scheme you must have taxable profits of less than £50,000, make most of your income from self-employment and have filed a 2018/19 tax return.

On 5th November 2020 the Chancellor announced a further Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension in the form of 2 further grants, each available for 3-month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

Self-employed individuals can access the extended scheme if they were eligible for the SEISS first and second grant (although they do not need to have claimed) and they intend to continue to trade.

It is important to note that this is a taxable grant and is treated as income for the purposes of your tax return. You must make provision for tax and National Insurance payments on this grant.

The government has been clear that this scheme will not be open to those workers operating through their own limited company. Instead these workers need to consider if they are eligible for a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is being implemented to encourage finance providers to continue lending to small and medium sized businesses amidst the crisis. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan and will support loans of up to £5 million. The government will pay interest and any fees for the first 12 months.

Can I claim the CBILS?

  • All UK businesses with turnover of less than £45 million per year can apply for finance through this scheme.
  • Further eligibility criteria can be found here
  • The application deadline has been extended to 31st January 2021

How can I claim this?

All the major banks will be able to offer the scheme so you should speak to your existing bank as soon as possible. Further details of the scheme and a list of lenders is available here.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is designed to help small and medium sized businesses to access finance. The scheme gives the lender a 100% government-backed guarantee and lenders are not allowed to request personal guarantees. This support from the government should mean lenders are more willing to offer help after growing pressure from small businesses about the difficulty in accessing finance.

An accredited lender can provide a loan from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover over a maximum term of 6 years. The maximum loan amount is £50,000.

The government will pay the first year’s interest payments and there are no repayments due from the customer for the first year of the loan. The interest rate is fixed at 2.5% for the term of the loan and there will be no early repayment penalties charged.

The loan is open for applications until 31st March 2021 and if you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, from 10th November you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You can find more information about how to access the scheme and a list of accredited lenders  here.

Can I claim this?
To be eligible to apply for this loan you must:

  • be a UK business established before 1st March 2020
  • have been adversely affected by coronavirus

You cannot apply if you are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), however you can transfer your balance from the CBILS to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme if you wish.

How can I claim the Bounce Back Loan?

This scheme is provided through a network of accredited lenders and you will need to approach them directly online to apply for the loan. You can find the full list of accredited lenders here.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

The CCFF is a measure introduced to help larger investment grade businesses. The Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies, supporting companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze.

In October the government announced an access review process asking for up to date credit ratings to ensure firms could repay the short term borrowing requested.

Full details on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

The Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year olds on Universal Credit.

 

The funding available from government will cover:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

A Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If a single employer cannot provide this many job placements, they can find a Kickstart gateway, such as a local authority, charity or trade body for help applying.

You can find more information about the scheme here.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant - LRSG (Closed) Addendum

The LRSG (Closed) Addendum is intended to support business that were open as usual but were required to close between 5th November and 2nd December due to the national lockdown in England.

You may be able to apply for a grant of up to £3,000 per month if you meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Your business is based in England
  • Your business occupies property on which it pays business rates (and is the ratepayer)
  • Your business has been required to close because of the national restrictions from 5th November to 2nd December 2020

You can find out more information on the grant here.

Deferral of Self-Assessment Payments

The government announced that any self-assessment payments on account previously due to be paid on 31st July 2020 will be deferred until 31st January 2021.

A further announcement in October confirmed that taxpayers unable to pay their self-assessment tax liability, including any deferred payments on account, on 31st January 2021 can pay in instalments by entering into a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement with HMRC.

You must still file your Self-Assessment Tax Return before the deadline, and you will need to wait at least 48 hours after filing the return before you can set up your Time to Pay arrangement.

As interest is payable on Time to Pay arrangements, you may still wish to pay your tax liability in full by 31st January 2021 if you can afford to do so.

Can I claim this?

If you are struggling to pay your self-assessment tax liability due on 31st January 2021, including any deferred payment on account, you can enter into a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC.

How do I claim this?

You must still submit your Self-Assessment Tax Return by 31st January 2021.

Once you have done this you will need to wait 48 hours before you can apply. If the total amount you owe is less than £30,000 you can apply online using your government gateway account. If the amount you owe is more than £30,000 you will need to call the self-assessment payment helpline on 0300 200 3822.

Relaxation of rules to allow workers to carry over annual leave

Workers who have not taken their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next two years.

Ordinarily workers that do not use their annual leave will lose it and there are financial penalties for employers that do not allow employees the opportunity to take their annual leave. In order to give much needed flexibility to business, the new regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of annual leave to be carried over to into the next two years.

Will this apply to my business?

This will be an amendment to The Working Time Regulations 2020 and so will apply to almost all workers including agency workers. It is to be used where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to coronavirus.

How can I apply for this?

You do not need to apply for this. If your worker is unable to take annual leave due to the coronavirus outbreak you can roll this over to the following two leave years. This amendment is contained in The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

Extension to Companies House filing deadline

Businesses impacted by coronavirus can apply for an extension to their accounts filing deadline of up to three months. You will need to apply for this. However, Companies House have confirmed that those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete. Further information on applying for an extension can be found here.

Time to Pay Helpline

A helpline has also been set up to help those who are unable to pay their tax bills to discuss Time to Pay support. If you believe you will be unable to pay a tax liability due to COVID-19 you can contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222.

Planning a Return to The Office?

In preparation for our own phased return to our head office, we brought in health and safety experts to ensure we meet the latest COVID-19 Secure government guidance. We’ve worked closely with them to develop our own Return to Work Plan, which you can see by clicking the link below. As part of the on-going support we’ve provided throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to the recruitment industry, we wanted to make this document public for your perusal and whilst this has been written for Parasol employees, it can also serve as a guideline for your agency team or any contractors you place at client sites.

Where possible, we would advise that you also have a health and safety expert assess your plans before returning to the office.

Download our COVID-19 Secure Return to Work Document

For more information, get in touch with our expert team

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