Coronavirus (Covid-19) Hub

Covid-19 : Business Support 16.06.20 – Update 37

We have updated our UK Business Support summary document (click here) for the recent developments on the Coronavirus business support initiatives, some of which we have circulated via email. This includes:

o Extension and changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) – on 29th May the Government released details of the extended CJRS. Guidance in respect of the new “flexibly furloughing” approach was released by HMRC on Friday. The key aspects of the guidance include:

  • The Scheme is now closed to new entrants, with the exception of where an employee is returning from maternity or other parental leave and the employer has utilised the CJRS for other employees prior to 30th June.
  • All claims relating to the period prior to 30th June must be made by 31st July.
  • The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.
  • From 1st July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked.
  • Employers must agree a flexible furlough arrangement with their employees. There is no restriction on the working pattern which can be agreed.
  • Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.
  • When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
  • The maximum claimable amount for each employee will be calculated proportionately to the number of hours they are furloughed. E.g. an employer will be able to claim 60% of the £2,500 cap if the employee is placed on furlough for 60% of their usual hours.
  • From 1st July, claim periods will no longer be able to overlap months. This is necessary to reflect the forthcoming changes to the scheme.
  • Employers who make use of flexible furlough must keep appropriate records of their employees’ usual and actual hours worked, for a period of six years. This indicates that HMRC may audit use of the Scheme in due course.

o Self-employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) – on 29th May the Government announced that SEISS is being extended and if eligible, self-employed individuals will receive a second and final taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.
o HMRC guidance in respect of the treatment of certain expenses and benefits provided to employees– HMRC has provided guidance in respect of the treatment of expenses and benefits provided to employees during Covid-19 pandemic including living accommodation, volunteer fuel and mileage costs, paying or refunding transport costs, free or subsidised meals, company car ‘availability’, Employee Car Ownership Schemes (ECOS), salary sacrifice, employer provided loans and employees working from home.
o Domestic VAT reverse charge for construction services – HMRC confirmed that the introduction of the domestic VAT reverse charge for construction services will be delayed for a period of 5 months from 1st October 2020 until 1st March 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction sector. In addition there will also be an amendment to the original legislation, to make it a requirement that for businesses to be excluded from the reverse charge because they are end users or intermediary suppliers, they must inform their sub-contractors in writing that they are end users or intermediary suppliers.
o COVID-19 Charities Fund – the NI Executive has recently announced a £15.5 million fund aimed at helping local charities during the Covid-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Charities Fund, which opened on Monday 15th June. The fund aims to support groups that have lost income due to the impact of lockdown and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until 30th September. The programme will provide up to £75,000 for eligible organisations and be administered on behalf of the Department for Communities by the National Lottery Community Fund.
o Online skills interventions – the Department of Economy also announced an investment of £1.7 million for a range of online skills interventions to upskill and retrain people whose jobs have been impacted by Covid-19. The funding will be used to deliver up to 2,000 free places on short courses, delivered by the local further and higher education providers. Opportunities are available from entry to postgraduate levels, focussing on skills identified by industry, including:

  • digital skills
  • essential skills
  • employability skills
  • leadership and management

All courses will be delivered online so it is suitable for a range of applicants, whether they are working from home or providing support to children or vulnerable relatives. All courses include an accredited qualification and will finish by 30th November 2020.

ASM Contacts

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Grainne Quinn – Magherafelt

Ian Finnegan – Newry

Caroline Keenan – Belfast

Michael P. O’Hare – Dundalk

Alistair Cooke – Dungannon