At one minute past midnight on 6 January 2021, our third national lockdown came into legal force, a mere 289 days after the start of the first, way back in March 2020. Set to last for at least 7 weeks until the February half term, this lockdown marks yet another step-change in the challenges faced by both businesses and individuals, with some inevitably hit harder than others. In the midst of an already disrupted year, many businesses also had to get ready for the 31 December end of the transition period following the UK’s departure from the EU the previous January.
Resilience and ingenuity have become watchwords to help businesses succeed through what has been an exceptional period of challenge and change, and we’ve certainly seen a great deal of both in action.
Retail, hospitality and leisure sector grants
Following the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was quick to reveal additional financial support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses forced to close by the new lockdown rules. This support is in the form of top up grants to closed businesses, to be allocated as follows:
- £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under,
- £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, and
- £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000.
As with other COVID-related grant funding, the new grants will be administered at a local level and businesses should apply directly to their local authority. These one-off grants are in addition to existing grant and loan scheme support measures already in operation. Remember, the deadline to apply for the loan schemes was extended to 31 March 2021 back in December.
Furlough for 2021
The lockdown is likely to cause many more businesses to turn again to the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), also known as furlough. With the CJRS now much less restrictive than it was in March last year, this support could be utilised by many businesses. In addition to closed businesses or those with curtailed activity where implementing furlough is a more obvious step, it’s helpful to note that employees can be eligible for furlough if they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including looking after children. With the schools closed, the option of flexible furlough to help employees balance work and childcare commitments could be valuable. This link to the Government website will help you check which employees you can put on furlough.
If you need any help understand the CJRS, please get in touch with your usual Sagars team member or contact our payroll manager, Andrew Senior.
In it together
At Sagars, we continue to support our clients. We miss getting together in person but meeting virtually is proving to be a welcome substitute and we’ve enjoyed some especially productive remote meetings. With the move up to a UK Covid-19 alert level 5 and a strict national lockdown now in force, our office door will unfortunately have to remain closed. We will only be able to accept client visitors in urgent or exceptional circumstances (and subject to strict COVID-secure protocols), but there will be team members in the office for drop-offs or collections. Stay safe and get in touch with your usual Sagars team member if there’s anything that you need help with.