COVID – 19 – 24/03/2020

Good afternoon

As we are in such a fast moving position I am trying to provide relevant updates as they are released.


On Friday evening The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced truly unprecedented social and economic measures to combat the effects of the coronavirus. Such measures included enforcing the closure of all pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas and other social venues, as well as the Government offering to pay 80% of every employee’s salary up to £2,500 per month. The measures came on a day that a ‘critical incident’ was confirmed at Northwick Park hospital in Harrow due to the number of coronavirus cases surging and causing the hospital to hit its capacity.

Coronavirus Press Conference

The Chancellor:

  • The Government’s response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world.
  • A new ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ is to be implemented, with any employer in the country being eligible. Employers can contact HMRC for a grant to pay their employees – this will cover 80% of each employee’s salary up to a total of £2,500 per month and will be open initially for three months, backdating to cover employees’ salaries from March 1st. There is no limit to the scheme, however there are likely to be some restrictions most likely that this will only relate to employees on the payroll at the end of February.  There is also some clarity required as to the exact conditions with the Chancellors announcement stating that the grant would be for employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic.  We were hoping for some clarity of detail over the weekend but the exact details have not been released – we are expecting more this week.   As soon as we understand the exact mechanics of the application  and availability we will be releasing  more information.
  • The coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will now provide interest free loans for twelve months instead of six. This scheme will open today, and the British Business Bank website who will be administering the scheme through the high street banks have just released further information that can be found on their website
  • The next quarter of VAT payments will be deferred. No business will pay VAT until end of June and will have until the end of financial year to pay these bills. This is worth £30bn and equivalent to over 1.5% of GDP.
  • A major advertising campaign will be released shortly – employers should look at this support before laying people off.
  • The universal credit standard allowance is being increased by £1000 per year over the next 12 months. Working tax credit basic element will also be increased by the same amount.
  • The minimum income floor is suspended for self-employed people, allowing them to fully access universal credit payments paid at the same rate as statutory sick pay.
  • The next self-assessment payments for the self employed (normally due 31st July 2020) will be deferred to January 2021.
  • Nearly £1bn of support for renters through increasing the generosity of housing benefit and universal credit so that the local housing allowance covers 30% of market rents in your area.
Please note that above is just a summary of the key points – there will be details released that might mean that some of the headlines are not as generous as they appear or there are some restrictions in place.

We are going to be working to ensure that every element of help that might be available is identified for our clients and I would encourage any questions to be sent through.

The following link also gives a little more information on the support for businesses

And the following gives some information on implementation

There is still a divergence in the timeline between government announcements and their practical application and so we will, of course, be monitoring the position closely.

I have been speaking to clients in detail about what can be done and will continue to do, so please feel free to reach out with any questions

Kind regards