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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 9 October 2020

Jobs Support scheme expanded for firms closed in COVID-19 local lockdowns

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to support businesses across the UK required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions.

Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work – protecting jobs and enabling businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.

The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

The Chancellor said: “Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed. I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions. Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months.

The government is also increasing the cash grants to businesses shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks.More information on the Job Support Scheme is available here.

Taskforce for safe return to global travel launched

A new Global Travel Taskforce to support the travel industry and the safe recovery of international travel has been launched. The taskforce will consider further how government can support the sector to meet these challenges posed by COVID-19 to international travel.

Work will begin with the industry on how to safely reduce the self-isolation period with testing. The taskforce will also consider a wide range of other measures to support the travel sector, including developing a global framework to make travelling easier.

£200m Port Infrastructure Fund opens for bids

The government is ramping up its preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period with the launch of a £200 million fund for ports to build new facilities.

The fund is targeted at those ports that have the space to build new border infrastructure on their current sites so they are ready to handle new customs requirements under the new Border Operating Model. The funding can be used for a range of vital port infrastructure – from warehouses and control posts to traffic management systems.

The deadline for applications is midday on 30th October, with successful bids announced shortly after.

New plans to make UK world leader in green energy

The Prime Minister has set out new plans to Build Back Greener by making the UK the world leader in clean wind energy. £160 million will be made available across communities like in Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland and Wales to hugely increase the UK’s offshore wind capacity, which is already the largest in the world and currently meets 10% of the nation’s electricity demand.

A pledged £160m investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure, as well as increase offshore wind capacity, will see around 2,000 construction jobs rapidly created and will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains, manufacturing the next-generation of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy to the UK.

The Prime Minister has also set out further commitments to ensure that, within the decade, the UK will be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution as it accelerates progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.These include:

  • Confirming offshore wind will produce more than enough electricity to power every home in the country by 2030, based on current electricity usage, boosting the government’s previous 30GW target to 40GW.
  • Creating a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1GW of energy by 2030, which is more than 15 times the current volumes worldwide.
  • Setting a target to support up to double the capacity of renewable energy in the next Contracts for Difference auction, which will open in late 2021 – providing enough clean, low-cost energy to power up to 10 million homes.

Additional updates and guidance

New guidance on £9bn Job Retention Bonus
Further information has been published on how businesses can claim the government’s Job Retention Bonus.

Self Assessment customers to benefit from enhanced payment plans
HMRC has increased the threshold for paying tax liabilities to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers to help ease any potential financial burden they may be experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Advice for food businesses
Guidance for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food has been updated. Please see the latest version here.

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services:

Working safely guidance has been updated on the operation of soft play and indoor play areas and taking payment in licensed venues.

Government to protect small businesses with action on late payments
new consultation has launched aimed at giving Small Business Commissioner more power to support businesses and resolve late payment issues.

“Permitted development” homes to meet space standards
New homes delivered through Permitted Development Rights will have to meet space standards, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

Companies House to resume compulsory strike off process
From October 10, Companies House has said it will resume striking off companies it believes are no longer in business.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
30 November 2020 is the last day you can submit Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020. After this date you will not be able to submit any further claims or add to existing claims.

Cyber safety guide to help small businesses work securely online
The National Cyber Security Centre’s re-launched Small Business Guide sets out five key areas for businesses to help improve their cyber security. There is also guidance that helps small to medium sized organisations prepare their response to and plan their recovery from a cyber incident.