Updates on COVID business support & rules
Following the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance announced this week, including restrictions upon socialising and working, we were pleased that no operating restrictions have been placed upon the close contact services sector. In addition, today (24th September), Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the UK government, announced further financial support for businesses affected by COVID-19.
Today's Winter Economy Plan included support for companies to keep employees in their positions with the new Job Support Scheme when the Job Retention Scheme comes to an end next month. If your salon footfall is lower than it was before lockdown and you are therefore struggling to provide your staff with their usual hours (who may currently be on the furlough scheme but don't have to be), then this is an option for you.
Responding to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's statement, ABT's Dave Horton welcomes the interventions announced today. He says:
“Whilst ABT are still internally processing the impacts for our members, we certainly welcome the Governments move to a longer term strategy for small and medium sized business support.”
Job Support Scheme
Whilst full details are yet to be published, in brief, the Job Support Scheme will operate as follows:
- Employers will be required to keep employees in work for at least a third of their usual hours and pay for one third of an employee's contract hours; the government and employer will support this with payment of two thirds of outstanding pay for the hours that the employee hasn't been able to work. This means that employees will be working 33% of their contracted hours, and receiving 77% of pay for the contracted hours that they are not working.
- The Job Support Scheme will be available for all small and medium-sized businesses across the UK, and for larger companies that can prove a need.
- Companies do not need to have made use of any Coronavirus support schemes previously to qualify.
- Employers will not be able to make redundancy notices for employees whilst they're benefitting from this scheme.
- The Job Support Scheme will commence from November 2020 (the Job Retention Scheme / furlough finishes at the end of October), and will run for six months.
Self Employed assistance
The Chancellor also announced that the Self Employed Grant Scheme will be renewed, details are yet to be confirmed.
Coronavirus business loans
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that businesses will be able to benefit from help with cashflow. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme will have ‘pay as you grow' payback terms, from six to ten years. Interest only repayments will be offered, and repayments may be suspended for up to six months.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will have a 10-year government guarantee, with application deadlines extended until the end of December 2020.
VAT & income tax deferral
Businesses will be able to defer payment of VAT over an 11-month period, rather than one large payment at the end of March 2021, whilst those who pay income tax via Self-Assessment will also be able to extend their payments over 12 months from January 2021.
For the hospitality industry, the VAT reduction to 5% will remain in place until 31st March 2021.
Salon operating updates
The recent updates announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on (Tuesday 22nd September) pertinent to our sectors in England that you should be aware of, include:
Face Masks and Visors
The mandatory wearing of face coverings and visors during close contact services and when visiting beauty salons, hairdressers, barbers and spas became law from 24th September.
You have a duty to remind clients on arrival that they should wear a face mask when entering your premises. Those who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations due to an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt.
NHS Track and Trace
It is vital that you follow government guidance to keep your premises COVID Secure. From 24th September, your salon must display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers can ‘check-in' using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details for NHS Track and Trace purposes.
If you employ staff, you must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
Fines for breaching the rules
In England, from 28th September, those operating close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
Hands, Face, Space
The government highlighted its latest campaign for controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
- HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.
- FACE - Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.
You should also observe any local lockdown restrictions for your area. Please contact your local council if you are unsure whether this applies to you and your business.
Find the latest government guidance relevant to your devolved regional government: