Yesterday evening, the government announced that England will be entering a third lockdown from Tuesday 5th January until mid-February in order to control the spread of the virus and to ease the burden on the NHS. The new national restrictions are similar to that were introduced in the lockdown last year in March. These restrictions are likely to have a significant economic impact on workers and businesses across the nation, with businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors particularly affected.
New lockdown grants for businesses
In order to support businesses during the toughest Covid lockdown since last March, the government has introduced a £4.6 billion package of grants.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality leisure industries can receive one-off grants worth up to £9,000 on a per-property basis to help businesses through to the Spring period. The grants will be given to closed businesses according to the following rates:
- Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under can claim up to £4,000
- Businesses with a value between £15,000 – 51,000 can claim up to £6,000
- Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above can claim up to £9,000
A fund of £594 million is also available to support businesses in other sectors that have also been impacted by the pandemic and do not qualify for the grants.
Additionally, the government will be providing discretionary grant funding of £1.1billion to Local Authorities to help them carry out the necessary actions required to help control the virus. This funding will also be used to provide Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 to qualifying local businesses that were operating as usual and were then required to close due to local Tier 2, Tier 3 or Tier 4 restrictions within England.
Furlough Scheme changes
The Furlough scheme also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was extended by one month until the end of April 2021 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in December with the aim to provide certainty for jobs and businesses within the UK in the New Year. Those who cannot work due to the coronavirus rules can still be furloughed under the current scheme and the government will continue to pay 80% of wages of furloughed employees.
The announcement of the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April gives businesses certainty ahead of the 45 day redundancy notice period helping more businesses retain staff. In addition, the government will provide a further update on wider Covid-19 economic support in the planned Budget on 3 March more than 45 days before the new end date of the scheme again helping provide businesses with support to retain as many staff as possible.
We know that this is a difficult time for many employers and employees. The Hegarty Solicitors employment law team are experienced in dealing with all types of employment issues. Whatever your situation, we can help.
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