Rishi Sunak – 2020 Statement on the Job Support Scheme

The statement made by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 12 October 2020.

Following my announcement on Friday 9 October that I am expanding the job support scheme (JSS), and increasing the generosity and frequency of local restrictions support grants, I am pleased to share more detail of these schemes and how this Government are supporting and protecting jobs and livelihoods.

The JSS is being expanded to provide temporary, localised support to businesses across the UK whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one or more of the four Governments of the UK.

This expansion of the JSS will help businesses through the period they are affected by these restrictions, supporting the wage costs of employees in eligible premises who have been instructed to cease work and comply with this instruction. This scheme will enable those premises to reopen as quickly as possible when they can. It will help protect employee incomes, limit unemployment and maintain employer-employee matches.

This is part of the job support scheme, available to employers from 1 November 2020 for six months, with the scheme reviewed in January. Further guidance will be published in the coming weeks. Employers will be able to make a claim in arrears on a monthly basis online through www.gov.uk from early December 2020.

The coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) remains in place until 31 October, and flexibility in the system means if an employer is required to close in October, eligible employees can be furloughed until 31 October. The new job support scheme is available from 1 November, with payments from early December. Eligible employees whose employers use the expanded JSS will continue to be paid by their employer throughout this period. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS to be eligible for the expanded JSS.

In line with the rules for the JSS already announced: all employers with a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme registered on or before 23 September can claim the scheme. Only employees that are on their employer’s payroll by 23 September are eligible. This means a real time information (RTI) submission notifying payment of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before this date. This scheme will cover businesses that, as a result of restrictions set by one or more of the four Governments in the UK, are legally required to close their premises. This includes businesses told to provide only delivery and/or collection services from their premises. This scheme is open to employers across the UK, and we look forward to working constructively with the devolved administrations to ensure it operates effectively in all four nations.​

The scheme will pay a grant to the employer calculated based on the number of eligible employees who cannot work at the relevant premises—which has been required to close by Government. Employers will only be able to use the scheme for employees who have been instructed to cease work—paid or unpaid for that employer.

Eligible employees cannot work for a minimum of seven consecutive (or calendar) days. An employee can return at a later date. Claims must not overlap and must be made monthly in arrears. These payments will be taxable, and employers will be required to cover employer NICS and automatic enrolment pension contributions in full, where applicable, but are not required to make further contribution to wage costs. However, employers can top up employee pay if they wish.

In line with JSS payments for hours not worked, the grant per eligible employee available from the UK Government is two-thirds of their normal pay up to a limit of £2,100 per month. Further detail on how normal pay is calculated will be set out in guidance. If an employer is closed by Government regulations then they can claim under the applicable rules. When that changes and they are able to reopen they can claim under the wider JSS for firms facing reduced demand under the criteria we outlined in September. Employers will be able to claim the job retention bonus for employees provided they are eligible. JSS grants can be used by employers to pay an employee’s wages and help meet the JRB minimum income threshold.

The employer must use the scheme to cover their employees’ wages and pay relevant payroll taxes. The whole of the grant must be used to meet employee costs. The grant will not cover class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the employer. Payments will be made in arrears, reimbursing the employer for the Government’s contribution.

On 9 September, the Government announced the local restrictions support grant scheme. This scheme provided businesses which are forced to close for three weeks or more due to a nationally imposed local lockdown in England with grants of up to £1,500 per three-week closure period.

The Government are now making this scheme more generous so that businesses receive up to £3,000 per month, and are eligible for payment sooner, after only two weeks of closure rather than three. The Government are also extending the scheme to include businesses which have been required to close on a national rather than a local basis, or which have not been legally able to reopen since the first lockdown in March.

Businesses will receive the following:

For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;

For properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;

For properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks;

Local Authorities will continue to receive 5% of the funding which they received for the local restrictions support grant scheme as a discretionary fund, which the ​Government will encourage them to use to support business that have been legally mandated to close by the Government but are outside of the business rates system.

Grants will be administered by local authorities, and eligible businesses will probably need to provide their details to their local authority to access this support.