Over the course of the pandemic, we know the construction sector has been a heavy user of government support schemes, such as furlough. At the end of April 2021, nearly 170,000 construction workers (13% of the total workforce) were still furloughed from their roles.
As lockdown restrictions ease, many of the COVID-support packages are winding down. If you’ve been using one of the schemes, it’s important to ensure that you’re using it correctly and are aware of any upcoming changes.
Furlough (or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) has seen the UK Government pay up to 80% of the wages (up to a limit of £2,500 a month) of people who could not work due to the pandemic, or whose employers could no longer afford to pay them due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
As the economy has opened up, furlough support has begun to be withdrawn.
- From 1 July 2021, employers have been expected to contribute 10% to their furloughed workers’ wages. The Government will continue to pay 70% of furloughed staff’s salaries.
- During August and September 2021, employers will need to pay 20% of the wages of any staff remaining on furlough. The Government will pay 60%.
This scheme ends on 31 September 2021.
At this point, employers must decide to either:
- Bring your employees back to work on their normal hours.
- Reduce your employees’ hours.
- Terminate their employment.
** Furlough fraud is of serious concern to HMRC and if you are found to have committed it there could be serious repercussions for your business. **
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
To support the self-employed, who were ineligible for the furlough scheme, the Government introduced a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in May 2020. The FMB and others lobbied for its introduction.
Similar to the furlough scheme, the SEISS was a short-term wage protection measure that sought to keep those who were self-employed afloat during the pandemic.
- Offered five sets of grants to the self-employed throughout the period May 2020 to September 2021.
- Self-employed individuals had to prove their eligibility against several requirements in relation to lost work and earnings (these requirements have become increasingly strict as the scheme has progressed).
We are now entering the final phase of the SEISS, with a fifth grant opening for applications in July 2021.
- If your turnover has fallen by 30% or more between April 2020 and April 2021 - the grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.
- If your turnover has fallen by less than 30% - the grant will be worth 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.
You can work out your turnover as a self-employed individual through the Government’s Turnover Guidance page.
You can also check to see whether you are eligible for this fifth SEISS grant through the Government’s Eligibility Guidance page.
** If you have made a claim in error as you were not eligible for a grant or would like to make a voluntary repayment, you should tell HMRC and pay some or all of the grant back. You may incur penalties if you claimed unwarranted grants through the SEISS. **
Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
The Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) was introduced in April 2020 to support small and medium-sized businesses in accessing finance quickly when it was required. We know FMB members struggled to access other loans schemes, so we pushed for this one to be introduced.
BBLS closed to new applications in March 2021.
BBLS provided financial support to businesses across the UK that were losing revenue and experiencing disrupted cashflow because of COVID-19.
Loans through the BBLS:
- Could be up to £50,000, interest free for the first year
- Are repaid over six years
- Without any repayments in the first 12 months
- Without any set-up fees
If your business took out a loan under the BBLS, you may be able to use Pay As You Grow (PAYG) to support your repayment of this loan.
Lenders will start to communicate PAYG options to Bounce Back Loan Scheme borrowers three months before repayments commence and borrowers should wait until they are contacted by their lender before enquiring about the scheme.
PAYG allows you to:
- Request an extension of your loan term to ten years, at the same fixed interest rate of 2.5%
- Reduce monthly repayments for six months by paying interest only (available up to three times during the term of your Bounce Back Loan)
- Take a repayment holiday for up to six months (available only once during the term of your Bounce Back Loan)
If you have specific questions around any of the above, please get in contact with [email protected] with your questions.