Latest Business Support information

There have been no sizeable developments in the last few days, however, we wanted to highlight some key points and items to consider. This really represents a consolidation of advice we have been providing on a bespoke, ad-hoc basis to clients, which we felt would be useful to collate and send around as there are some really useful and key points to consider.

Job Retention Scheme

There are some key points that are really worth employers considering where they are using the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). The below acts as a useful summary:

  • Holiday entitlement – furloughed employees continue to accrue leave whilst on furlough, however, crucially employees can take holiday while on furlough (they must be paid 100% but CJRS can be claimed at 80% in June or July) and employers can require employees to take holiday while on furlough as long as they give adequate notice. This should be seriously considered in order to avoid resourcing problems in the future in the event furloughed employees return and wish to use their accrued unused holiday (Business Cornwall reported on this issued earlier this week – see here). Please seek specialist HR advice before acting on this.
  • Flexible furloughing – as we mentioned in our last update (see here), ‘flexible furloughing’ will be introduced from 1 July 2020 meaning furloughed employees can be brought back to work part-time. Now is the time to start considering how you can benefit from this by reviewing your staff resourcing requirements;
  • The importance of the 10 June 2020 – This is the date by which an employee must start to be furloughed for the 1st time (i.e. an employee that has not been previously furloughed) in order to furlough them in the future and continue to claim under the JRS. Employers should consider ASAP if there are any such employees that you may wish to claim the JRS for in the future that you have not previously furloughed;
  • Training can be undertaken – Training can be undertaken by furloughed employees. This could cover ad-hoc training, but also could cover say annual training that is required to remain compliant with certain regulations and guidance. It makes sense to consider asking furloughed employees to undertake such training while they are furloughed. Remember though that furloughed employees undertaking training must be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the time spent – this could be an issue administratively where the NMW is more than 80% of their wage (if this is the amount they are being paid during their period of furlough).

Self-Employed Income Support

Those eligible to claim the Self-Employed Income Support 1st grant must do so by 13 July 2020 (as we mentioned in our last update).

The government have announced that further guidance around the 2nd grant will be published next Friday (12 June 2020). We will, of course, update you when this guidance is released.

Tourism

In Prime Ministers’ Questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Tim Farron asked whether the government would provide support to tourism businesses in Cumbria to enable them to survive until the 2021 season. Boris Johnson responded “all sorts of packages were being developed to support the tourism industry over the winter period”. Whilst there was no detail, and did not refer to any form of timescale or timeframe, this may give some degree of hope to those in the sector.

Self-catered letting sector

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, yesterday said in Parliament that the government’s target was for the sector to reopen on 4 July and acknowledge the lower risks associated with self-contained accommodation. Saying “I am keen that we get the tourism sector going as rapidly as possible. We have set the ambitious target of 4 July, and if we can do it consistent with public health, we will do so. Self-contained accommodation has a lower risk than other areas, so I would hope that that will be at the front of the queue.”

This may provide comfort to those in the sector.

Insurance – Business interruption cover

In a previous update we mentioned the issues some businesses are encountering when claiming under business interruption cover in relevant insurance policies for losses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (see our previous article here).

The FCA has now updated their guidance (see here).

The FCA are launching a test case in order to seek certainty around the validity of such claims.

The result of the test case may provide businesses that have been denied such claims by their insurer with hope of challenging the decision.

We will provide updates on the test case as they are published.

New Dairy Response Fund

It has been announced that a new dairy response fund will open for applications on 18 June 2020.

The new fund will provide up to £10,000 each to help those dairy farmers most in need of support to sustain their business

To be eligible for support from the fund, farmers will need to demonstrate that they have suffered a reduction in the average price paid for their milk of 25% or more in April 2020 when compared with February 2020.

Please see here for the government’s press release.

Grants to small businesses and retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The government has released the latest figures for the grant support that is being provided by government though Councils nationally. This can be found here.

The figures show that a significant number of grants have been made to date, however, that there are still grants that Councils have identified as being available that have not been claimed.

For Cornwall Council, the figures show that they have identified 23,666 properties as potentially qualifying for the grants, and that 19,664 grants have been made (at 31 May 2020). Still quite a shortfall.

For the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the figures show that they have identified 397 properties as potentially qualifying for the grants, and 374 of grants made.

If you are yet to claim, we would urge you to consider doing so. Please see our previous blog here that provides useful guidance as to the application process.

If we can help and advise you in any way, please get in touch with your usual RRL Team member, we continue to work remotely to keep our staff and clients safe and our telephone contact details can be found here. We will respond to emails as usual.

We will provide further updates, as and when further announcements are made and detail/guidance released.