The measures announced in July include the following support measures for employers/employees:
A Job Retention Bonus will be introduced to help firms retain furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. Eligible employers may use the bonus as they wish.
Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus for employees who:
- were furloughed and had a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for the scheme
- have been continuously employed by the relevant employer from the time of the employer’s most recent claim for that employee until at least 31 January 2021
- have been paid an average of at least £520 a month between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 (a total of at least £1,560 across the 3 months). The employee does not have to be paid £520 in each month, but must have received some earnings in each of the three calendar months that have been paid and reported to HMRC via RTI
- have up-to-date RTI records for the period to the end of January 2021
- are not serving a contractual or statutory notice period, that started before 1 February 2021, for the employer making a claim
A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will also be launched in Great Britain to create subsidised jobs for those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week. Employers may choose to top this wage up.
From 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021, any business that hires a new apprentice aged 16 to 24 will receive a one-off payment of £2,000, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for apprentices who are aged 16 to 18, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care plan.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that between April and June, the number of people in work fell by 220,000, being the largest drop in the number of people employed since May to July 2009, during the last UK recession.
Separate statistics published by HMRC reveal that the number of workers covered by the furlough scheme was 9.6 million by 9 August, and has yet to record a fall in any week since it began. There are concerns of a sharp rise in redundancies due to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end on 31 October 2020. The FSB recognizes that further help for small businesses is required as the furlough wind-down begins. The FSB surveyed 1,486 small businesses for the Q2 2020 Small Business Index at the end of June 2020, revealing that the share of small firms that have reduced headcounts over the last three months is at an all-time high (23%), while the share doing the opposite is at an all-time low (4%).
The FSB is also lobbying the Government for further forms of support, including National Insurance holidays, increases to the Employment Allowance and greater incentives for businesses to take on apprentices.
The third phase of the government’s plan will be set out in the autumn with measures with the aim of supporting the longer-term economic recovery through a Budget and a Spending Review.