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Chancellor expands Job Support Scheme and grants to businesses facing new COVID-19 restrictions

The Chancellor has announced that the Government will expand the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) to assist jobs and businesses required to close their doors as a result of tougher Coronavirus restrictions.

The announcement was made ahead of new plans to introduce a tier-based system for lockdowns across the country, which could force some businesses to close their doors once again.

The expanded Job Support Scheme

Under the expanded JSS, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.

These grants will cover around two-thirds of each employees’ salary (67 per cent), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and will only be asked to pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) and auto-enrolment pension contributions.

The Government has estimated that around half of potential claims are not likely to incur employer NICs or pension contributions at all.

Businesses can only claim a grant where they are subject to a restriction that prevents them from opening and employees must not work for a minimum of seven consecutive days to be eligible.

The new scheme will open on 1 November alongside the other JSS measures announced last month in the Winter Economy Plan. It will be available for up to six months for businesses affected, with a review point in January.

All grant payments will be made in arrears through a dedicated HM Revenue & Customs service, which will be available from early December.

Lockdown grants

As well as expanding the JSS, the Government will also increase the value of cash grants offered to businesses in England forced into lockdown to support them with fixed costs.

Linked to the rateable value of business premises, the increased grants will see payments of up to £3,000 per month, payable every two weeks, instead of up to £1,500 every three weeks.

Under this reformed grant scheme:

  • Small businesses with a rateable value of or below £15,000 can now claim £1,300 per month;
  • medium-sized businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 can claim £2,000 per month; and
  • larger businesses can claim £3,000.

The Government is also extending this scheme to include businesses that are forced to close on a national basis, such as nightclubs.

Here to help 

Much of these new measures will rely on the Government’s new tiered system for restrictions and may vary over time from one region to the next.

With this being the case, it is important to consider how this affects your business and seek advice at the earliest opportunity. For help and advice on all employment matters, please contact us.

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