COVID-19 Member Update – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On Friday 20 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP announced a range of significant measures aimed at helping businesses across the UK deal with the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our economy. The list below sets out some of what the Chancellor announced that may benefit your business and your employees and what information we have at the moment about how each intervention will operate.

1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

• All employers will be eligible
• The scheme will be available for all employees currently paid via PAYE
• Employers will be able to apply to HMRC for a grant to cover 80% of the wages of retained workers who are furloughed
(i.e. given a leave of absence from work) because of the COVID-19 outbreak and are kept on the payroll rather than being
laid off
• The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020
• The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be open initially for 3 months but the Chancellor has said that it will be
extended if needed
• HMRC are currently working on the implementation of this scheme and guidance is due soon. The aim is that the first
grants will be paid within weeks and before the end of April

2. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

• This scheme, launched previously by the chancellor, will now be interest free for 12 months rather than 6 months as
initially intended
• The Business Interruption Loans Scheme is due to be available from the week commencing 23 March

3. VAT

• VAT payments for the next quarter (i.e. the period from 20 March to 30 June 2020) will be deferred
• Taxpayers will have until the end of the tax year 2020/21 to pay any VAT liabilities that accumulate over the deferral
period

More information about what the Chancellor announced can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
Belfast Chamber warmly welcomes this unprecedented but wholly necessary move by the chancellor to protect people’s jobs and incomes. If there is anything that we at Belfast Chamber can do to assist you and your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Simon Hamilton
Chief Executive
Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce