Covid-19 update 17.04.2020


The government’s furlough scheme will be extended for a further month into June, the Chancellor confirmed ahead of today’s Downing Street Press Conference.

Following on from yesterday’s announcement to keep the social distancing measures in place, Rishi Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would now be open until the end of June – providing businesses with the certainty they need.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500, was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “We’ve taken unprecedented action to support jobs and businesses through this period of uncertainty, including the UK-wide Job Retention Scheme. With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery. The government has taken unprecedented action to help the economy and society bridge a period of national emergency so that as many people as possible can get back to work as the situation improves.”

The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April 2020. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. You can find more information on the scheme, what you will need to use the portal and eligibility to claim here.


Get ready to claim – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April 2020. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims. You can find more information on the scheme and eligibility to claim here.


Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses

A government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms, the Chancellor announced today.

Outlining further details of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday, Rishi Sunak said all firms with a turnover of more than £45m will now be able to apply for up to £25m of finance, and up to £50m for firms with a turnover of more than £250m.

Business with turnovers of more than £500m were originally not eligible for the scheme, which is being set up to help firms who do not qualify for the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – for small and medium sized businesses – and the Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility – for investment grade companies. The move, which comes after extensive consultation with businesses, will ensure even more firms are able to benefit from government support.

More information is available here.


Businesses to save up to £300m a year while reducing CO2

Businesses across the UK are set to save up to £300m a year, as the government launches launched a consultation on the terms of an extension to the Climate Change Agreement scheme (CCA), which it is estimated will also will prevent an estimated 700,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted each year.

CCAs work by setting targets for reducing businesses’ energy use in return for discounts on the climate change levy on their energy bills. The consultation will enable new targets to be put in place from January 2021, allowing the extension of the scheme beyond its current March 2023 end date to March 2025.

In addition to extending the CCA for thousands of companies currently in the scheme, the consultation will also allow new businesses to apply to join and gain vital access to savings as of January 2021. Under the current rules, businesses have not been able to join the scheme since October 2018.

By joining the scheme businesses will also be helping the fight against climate change. Since the CCA was introduced in 2013, it is estimated to have helped companies reduce energy use by up to 2.3 terawatt hours a year – enough energy to power 140,000 homes.

More information here.


Business, academia and government to combine in bid to mass-produce COVID-19 vaccine

Business, academia and government to combine in bid to mass-produce COVID-19 vaccine

A taskforce of industry, academics, government and regulators is being set up to ensure the UK develops and mass-produces a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced a new government-led “vaccine taskforce”, which he says will accelerate the development, trialling and manufacture of vaccines in the UK to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the government had “greenlighted” 21 projects to be carried out with a £14m pot of funding from the government. And he said it will add to the existing pledge of £250m from the government to develop a vaccine for coronavirus.

“We are looking forward,” said Mr Sharma. “When we make a breakthrough we will be able to manufacture millions.”

But he also urged caution, saying: “Be under no illusions. A vaccine is a colossal undertaking and a complex process which will take many months.

“There are no guarantees, but we are backing scientists [and] betting big, positioning Britain as a leader in clinical testing and manufacturing.”

“We are looking for forward to when do make a breakthrough, we will be ready to manufacture in the millions. We are bringing together a whole range of businesses keen to use their expertise to mass produce vaccines as soon as one is available.

“I am proud of how again and again, Britain has stepped up and answered the call to action. We are problem solvers and the best from science, business and government are joining forces to beat this invisible killer.”




Guidance on coronavirus testing for critical workers

Guidance is available on coronavirus testing for critical workers who are self-isolating. As part of the key worker testing programme NHS and social care critical workers who are self-isolating because of coronavirus symptoms are currently being tested. This list will be updated as testing becomes more widely available. If you are not covered in this list, you should continue to follow the government guidance for self-isolating.

Temporary relaxation of rules for bus and lorry driver’ licence renewals

Temporary removal of the routine D4 medical will make it easier for bus and lorry drivers to renew their driving licence and keep 30,000 drivers on the road each month.

Social care guidance

Information for the social care sector on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Specification for ventilators to be used in UK hospitals

This guidance sets out the clinical requirements based on the consensus of what is ‘minimally acceptable’ performance in the opinion of the anaesthesia and intensive care medicine professionals and medical device regulators. An updated version of the specification has been published.

COVID-19 Defra Update

Updated page with requirements for travelling and moving goods to France.

Guidance for Community Interest Companies (CICs)

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs) has released guidance for CICs to maintain services for CICs and protect the welfare of employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Government announces £10m fund for England’s fishing businesses

More than 1,000 fishing and aquaculture businesses in England will receive direct cash grants through a fisheries support scheme announced today by Environment Secretary George Eustice and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay.

More information is available here.

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