Right, I can barely keep up with all this furlough scheme nonsense. It’s like a day-time soap opera giving us twists and turns and highs and lows every couple of days as we watch from our sofas eager for the next development. I wrote last week about how the government was set to announce substantial developments to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or furlough scheme) and on Friday they did just that, sending shockwaves through the working world.
As expected, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans for tapering off the furlough scheme which is scheduled to end at the end of October, There are a series of steps in this tapering process that will take place along a predetermined timeline:
From June 30th the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be closed to new applicants.
From July onwards, furloughed employees will be allowed to return to work on a part-time basis, being paid only for the hours they work.
From August, businesses are being asked to cover employees’ National Insurance and employment pension contributions which makes up 5% of the average furlough claim.
In August, self-employed workers will be able to claim a second and final grant for 70% of their monthly trading profits through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. This is to be paid in one instalment that covers three months total profits and will be capped at £6,570.
From September, the government will no longer pay 80% of furloughed staff wages. Their contribution will decrease to 70% with the employer picking up the remaining 10%. This will be 30% total for those who are topping up the remaining 20% of employee wages.
From October, the government will knock off another 10% of their contribution and will only foot 60% of the bill. The employer will need to pay the remaining 20% but again, if they are topping up their employees’ wages to 100% this will be a 40% total contribution.
The furlough scheme comes to an end at the end of October and the government will no longer support businesses.
And there you have it! While it is good to have a timeline it does little to assuage any fears that businesses and employees still have but it does allow time to prepare. For what exactly? Who knows, but at least we are not on the back-foot.
But if you read between the lines of Rishi Sunak’s cheerful delivery of this news then it is a sombre affair. Already employers who were topping up the remaining 20% are having to stop to make cutbacks in anticipation of legally having to pay more in a few months. The end of the furlough scheme to new applicants might also be a final nail in the coffin for many businesses and the end of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) will also prove problematic for small to medium enterprises who were already suffering.
We are in for a rough ride but remember that we are all in this together. Let’s hope the next few months pick the economy up a small bit so we at least have hope for the end of October.
Free COVID-19 Webinar
Interested in finding out more about the new changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? Watch our webinar on-demand where we discuss flexible furlough, the wind-down of the scheme and changes to making a CJRS claim.