With the situation surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re rounding up the key information from the Government’s most recent updates regarding the virus that could impact our members, so that you can keep informed of any changes.

For everything you need to know about COVID-19, including what you can do to stay safe, please visit the Government’s official website.

20/03/2020: Job Retention Scheme

This is a scheme that Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed on 20th March 2020. It refers to the Government’s plan to help companies protect jobs, if they are experiencing operational challenges as a result of the spread of coronavirus.

The Government will cover up to 80% of the salaries of workers who have been ‘furloughed’, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. A worker is ‘furloughed’ when they are still employed by a business but cannot be provided with work.

It is thought that wages from 1st March will be covered by the scheme for a period of three months. However, on 26th March 2020, the chancellor stated that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme may not be rolled out until the end of April. He also clarified that all workers on PAYE (pay as you earn), will be eligible.

To find out more about the scheme and if you’re covered, click here for the Government’s information page for employed workers.

23/03/2020: Government announces official lockdown measures

In an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the Government took unprecedented steps. The Prime Minister made a series of announcements that instructed the closure of all bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, leisure facilities and non-essential retail outlets. Online retailers selling non-essential goods have been allowed to continue trading.

Essential retail outlets have been outlined as: supermarkets and other food retailers, pharmacies, banks, post offices, petrol stations, pet shops, health shops, newsagents, corner shops, bicycle shops, garages, care hire firms, laundrettes/dry cleaners and home/hardware shops.

The official government guidelines for UK citizens are as follows:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for essential food, medical reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • You are permitted outside to take one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

All measures are outlined on the Government’s website.

26/03/2020: Self-employed support package

During a government announcement on 23rd March 2020, a large proportion of the nation was instructed to work from home, where possible, while many non-essential businesses were told to close their doors. This left many self-employed individuals, business owners and freelancers unsure about what that meant for them. However, millions of self-employed workers are to receive government assistance, according to Mr. Sunak, who outlined the Government’s support package on 26th March 2020.

The rescue package was hailed as one of the most generous in the world by Mr Sunak. He has promised that the Government will pay out £3bn every month to support the self-employed that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. For now, it is projected that this scheme’s initial lifespan will be 3 months.

It is reported that 95% of people who make most of their income through self-employment will benefit from the scheme which will pay a cash grant of up to 80% of monthly profit, up to a maximum amount of £2,500 per month.  The scheme is capped to exclude those earning over £50,000 a year; a move that has been deemed “reasonable, proportionate and fair” by the chancellor.

Mr Sunak has also advised that the scheme may not be ready to start paying out until the beginning of June, with payments backdated to March. If you’re self-employed and looking for more information, click here to access the Government’s website with all of the details regarding the scheme.

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