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on Thursday, 04 March 2021. Posted in Latest news and BFM action

Last updated: Thursday 4th March

BUDGET 2021: Protecting the jobs and livelihoods of the British people

This is a release from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, presented his Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 3 March 2021. The three-point plan to protect jobs and strengthen public finances announced:

  • billions to support businesses and families through the pandemic;

  • investment-led recovery as UK emerges from lockdown;

  • future changes to strengthen public finances.

    Measures announced in the Budget include:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to September 2021 across the UK. Employers will be expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20% in August and September, as the economy reopens.

  • An extension of the UK-wide Self Employment Income Support scheme to September 2021, with 600,000 more people who filed a tax return in 2019-20 now able to claim for the first time.

  • £5 billion for new Restart Grants – a one off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.

  • A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10 million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery.

  • Extension to the VAT cut to 5%, for hospitality, accommodation and attractions across the UK until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.

  • 750,000 eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief to continue for three months to the end of June. For the nine months after, the rate will be 66 per cent.

  • An extension to the temporary cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax in England and Northern Ireland until September will support the housing market and protect and create jobs.

  • A new mortgage guarantee scheme will enable all UK homebuyers secure a mortgage up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit.

  • Extension of the apprenticeship hiring incentive in England to September 2021, and an increase of payment to £3,000.

  • £7 million for a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship programme in England, that will enable apprentices to work with a number of employers in one sector.

  • Additional £126 million for 40,000 more traineeships in England, funding high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in 2021/22 academic year.

  • Small and medium-sized employers in the UK will continue to be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs per employee from the Government.

  • To further support the cashflow of businesses, the government is extending the loss carry back rules worth up to £760,000 per company.

  • The rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25%, which will remain the lowest rate in the G7. In order to support the recovery, the increase will not take effect until 2023. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, around 70% of actively trading companies, will continue to be taxed at 19%, and a taper above £50,000 will be introduced, so that only businesses with profits greater than £250,000 will be taxed at the full 25% rate.

  • Beginning April 2021, the new super-deduction capital allowance will cut companies’ tax bill by 25p for every pound they invest in new equipment.

  • Fuel duty and alcohol duties will be frozen.

  • Eight new English Freeports will be based in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

  • The £375 million UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ will invest in highly innovative companies, such as those working in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean tech, that are aiming to raise at least £20 million of funding.

  • Reforms to the immigration system will help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent.

  • A new Help to Grow scheme, to offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK, a digital and management boost.

  • Build Back Better: our plan for growth sets out the Government’s plans to support growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation, and to pursue growth that levels up every part of the UK, enables the transition to net zero, and supports our vision for Global Britain.

    All Budget 2021 documents can be found here.

Further detail on some aspects:

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of September 2021.

The UK Government will continue to pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, up to the end of June 2021.

For periods in July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.

Businesses will need to continue to pay their furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This means, for periods between July and September, employers will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grants. Businesses can also top up wages above the 80% if they wish, but are not required to do so.

Employers must continue to pay the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on subsidised furlough pay from their own funds.

CJRS eligibility from May

For periods from 1 May 2021 onwards, employers will be able to claim for eligible employees who were employed and on PAYE payroll on 2 March 2021. This means employers must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying HMRC of earnings for that employee.

Employers and their employees do not need to have benefitted from the scheme before to make a claim, as long as the eligibility criteria are met.

For more information on the extension to the scheme and the support available, search 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

Employers can now make February CJRS claims

Employers can now submit claims for periods in February. These must be made by Monday 15 March.

Claims can be made before, during or after payroll is processed. If possible, it’s best to make a claim once sure of the exact number of hours employees worked so claims do not have to amended later.

Employers can check if they and their employees are eligible, can and work out how much can be claimed using HMRC’s CJRS calculator and examples, by searching 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

 What employers need to do now

  1. If employers haven’t submitted their claim for January but believe that they have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline of 15 February, employers should check if they can make a late claim by searching 'claim for wages' on GOV.UK.

  2. Submit any claims for February no later than Monday 15 March.

  3. Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants claimed, in case HMRC need to check them.

VAT deferral

If businesses deferred VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, businesses should pay by 31 March 2021 if they can.

If businesses cannot afford to pay by 31 March this year, they can now use the online VAT deferral new payment scheme to spread the payment.

The new scheme lets businesses pay their deferred VAT in equal monthly instalments, interest free. They can spread payments across a number of months depending on when they join – the earlier businesses join, the more months businesses have to spread their payments across.

  • 11 instalments if joined by 19 March

  • 10 instalments if joined by 21 April

  • 9 instalments if joined by 19 May

  • 8 instalments if joined by 21 June.

    Businesses can join the scheme quickly and simply online without the need to call HMRC. To find out more information, including the things businesses need to do before joining, go to GOV.UK and search 'VAT deferred'.

    The online service will close on 21 June 2021 – if businesses want to join the scheme online, they must do so before this date.

    If businesses are on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme, they’ll be able to join the new payment scheme later in March. HMRC will share more information on this shortly and I will send this to you as soon as I can.

    If businesses have a Time to Pay arrangement already in place for their deferred VAT, they cannot use the online scheme. If they need to amend their Time to Pay arrangement, they should contact HMRC to do this.

Reopening businesses and venues in England

Click here to read the guidance that details the steps to reopen certain businesses and venues in England.

Plans to open non-essential retail from 12 April 2021

PM Boris Johnson has announced the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. Click here to read more. 

Robust border regime comes into force

Anyone who has visited a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the last 10 days will have to quarantine in hotels. Click here for more information.

All UK travel corridors temporarily suspended to protect against new international variants

Emergency border measures introduced to prevent the spread of new variants of coronavirus into the UK. Read more here. 


£4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs

£4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs including furniture retailers - Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor has announced.

National Lockdown announced 

National lockdown rules apply in England. Stay at home. Find out what the rules are in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Protocol agreed to reopen French border to UK arrivals

Hauliers strongly urged not to travel to Kent until further notice. Click here for more information.

Tier 4 restrictions and UK border closures

Click here to view a PDF of all the latest information.

Government announces new Tier 4: 'Stay at Home' Alert Level in response to new COVID variant

As a response to a rapid rise in infections attributed to the rapid spread of a new variant of COVID-19, tougher restrictions have been introduced for London, large parts of the South East and East of England, with a new Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level, that came into force at 00:01 hrs Sunday 20 December 2020. 

As a result, the following areas have moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4:

  • Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings;
  • London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London); and
  • the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

For business, those that can, should work from home.  Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example, in the construction and manufacturing sectors. Homeware stores under Tier 4 are considered non-essential retail and must close.

Non-essential retail, indoor leisure [such as swimming pools and gyms], indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] must all close.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to businesses:

  • Loans, tax relief and cash grants are available
  • Employers might be eligible for financial support to pay wages
  • Self-employed people might be eligible for a taxable grant covering 80% of trading profits

Business support advice can be found here.

New travel advice between the tiers: People should not travel into or out of Tier 4 areas and, those in Tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad, apart from limited exceptions including work.

People in Tiers 1, 2, and 3 should stay local.

A copy of the Prime Minister’s statement announcing the changes can be found here.

Specific information for businesses and employers in Wales Scotland and  Northern Ireland  is available.

Tier 4-Stay at Home: For Guidance on what you can and cannot do in areas with a very rapidly rising level of infections, from 20 December.

Tier 1: Medium alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 1 of local restrictions.

Tier 2: High alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 2 of local restrictions.

Tier 3: Very High alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 3 of local restrictions.

Find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area


Access to France for Passenger Transport and Accompanied Freight from the UK

Tonight, 20th December 2020,  the French Government announced that all passenger transport and accompanied freight from the UK will be unable to access France. This will take effect from 11pm tonight (GMT) and will last for a period of 48 hours. Given this, hauliers must avoid traveling to Kent ports (including Eurotunnel) and other routes to France until this period is over. 

Unaccompanied freight will continue to be able to travel to France and inbound freight will still be allowed to come to the UK. The Prime Minister will chair a meeting tomorrow to discuss the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK.

Hauliers seeking alternative paths must ensure they have made the correct arrangements to travel via that route. For further updates, click here.

UK's furlough scheme to be extended 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today (17 December) that the UK's furlough scheme will be extended for an extra month until the end of April 2021. Under the furlough scheme, employees placed on leave receive 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.  

Businesses will also be given until the end of March 2021 to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These had been due to close at the end of January. This announcement comes ahead of the Budget, which the Chancellor has confirmed will take place on 3 March 2021. 

Further information can be found here.

Full list of local restriction tiers by area 

This page sets out the full list of local restriction tiers by area from Wednesday 2 December 2020: click here.

Minister announces change in England restrictions from 2 December 2020

The Prime Minister has made a statement in the House of Commons on the details for the return to the ‘tier system’ in England when the current lockdown ends on 2 December 2020. The key announcements include: 

  • The national restrictions in England will end on 2 December 2020 and will not be renewed. 
  • From next Wednesday, regional tiers will be applied once again but restrictions will be tougher than before. The main changes are: 
  • Tier 1: People are encouraged to minimise travel and work from home where they can. 
  • Tier 2: Pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial’ meal. 
  • Tier 3: All hospitality settings, except delivery and takeaways, will be closed. Indoor entertainment will also be closed.
  • This time, the tiers will be a uniform set of rules with no negotiations on additional measures with different areas. The tier-system is intended to be in place until the end of March 2021.
  • The 10.00pm curfew for hospitality venues will be scrapped. Instead, last orders will be called at 10.00pm with an 11.00pm closing time. 
  • The Government will set out which areas will be in each tier on Thursday. 
  • The Prime Minister also announced a strengthened programme of community testing with the roll-out of rapid, regular testing. 

A summary of what types of social interaction can take place under each tier is as follows: 

  • Tier 1: Maximum of six indoors or outdoors, other than single households or support bubbles. 
  • Tier 2: No mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles. Maximum of six outdoors. 
  • Tier 3: No mixing of households indoors, or most outdoor places, apart from support bubbles. Maximum of six in some outdoor public spaces (e.g. parks, sports courts, public gardens). 

And, Christmas...

The plan states: 'Christmas will be different this year, but we will make sure people can see their loved ones. We are agreeing a common approach with the Devolved Administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales for a time-limited change to social restrictions over the Christmas period so that families can be reunited across the UK'.

Detailed guidance on the Government’s plan for managing Covid-19 through to the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021 can be accessed here.

Furlough Update

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 31 March 2021. Click here to read more. 

PM Commons statement on coronavirus: 2 November 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus to the House of Commons. Click here to read. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. Find out if you're eligible and how much you can get. Click here to find out more. 

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more. 

Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more.

Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more.

Prime Minister announces new national restrictions

From Thursday, everyone must stay at home, with a limited set of exemptions. Click here. 

Information on the new national restrictions

Including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available. Click here.

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here.

Furlough information

  • Calculate how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough, how much you can claim for employer NICs and pension contributions and how much you can claim back: Click here.
  • Find out what steps you need to take before you calculate how much you can claim for furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees: Click here.
  • Claim for some of your employee’s wages if you have put them on furlough or flexible furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19): Click here.

Plan for Jobs: Chancellor increases financial support for businesses and workers 

The government has announced it will significantly increase the generosity and reach of its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus.

You can find out more here. 

Help with kickstart scheme 

The kickstart scheme is designed for an employer to provide 30 or more jobs placements for young people. New guidance for organisations who want to be a Kickstart gateway and help employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme is available.

See the arrangement BFM has made to help members gain grants for taking on less than 30 placements.

Full list of new local COVID alert levels by area

You can view them here. 

Test and Trace Support Payment scheme: claiming financial support

If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020, you’re under a legal obligation to do so, and could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. This guidance sets out who can claim support and explains how to apply.

Job Support Scheme expanded to firms required to close due to Covid-19 restrictions

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to support businesses across the UK (including the devolved administrations) required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions. Read more here. 

Create a QR code

Small businesses should create and display an NHS Covid-19 QR code with a physical location that is open to the public. This service is only available in England and Wales. Get visitors to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. This is to help trace and stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Click here for more information. 

Job Retention Bonus

  • Check if you can claim the Job Retention Bonus from 15 February 2021 here.

  • Find an example of employees and the minimum income threshold for the Job Retention Bonus here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

  • Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan including replacement of Furlough Scheme

Rishi Sunak unveils the Government’s plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months. You can read more here.

NHS COVID-19 app launches

NHS COVID-19 app launches to help control coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. 

Read more here. 

BFM welcomes Kickstart support scheme from FIESTA

British Furniture Manufacturers’ partnership with Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA), will allow members to access new Government funding to support job creation.

Read the full story here. 

Kickstart Scheme employer resources

If you’ve been offered Kickstart Scheme funding, you can use these resources to show your support for the scheme. 

Find out more here.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do

Updated in line with latest government guidance, you can find out all the facts here

Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing guidance for employers

Some employers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service. This guidance will help them ensure that their testing programmes are as reliable and effective as possible.  Further details can be found here.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

  1. Updated guidance for the visitor economy on social gatherings of more than 6 people and Test and Trace (section 2.1) and mandatory test and trace requirements (section 2.2.2). Find out here how to make your workplace COVID-secure.
  2. Changes have been made to the “Working Safely” guidance, with the 5 steps to working safely section now withdrawn.

DVLA - Heavy vehicle test exemptions – October 2020 

Find out more here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 9 September 

Find out more here. 

Competition and Markets Authority – Cancellation and refund updates

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) remains of the view that a consumer will generally be entitled to a refund when they have paid money in advance for services or goods that cannot be provided because of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the evolving situation, the CMA has provided more detail on issues such as the difference between lockdown laws and government guidance, and their impact on cancellations and refunds. Further details are available here.

Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus – Action Cards

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has developed Action Cards, which reflect the latest advice on how to identify, manage and report a COVID-19 outbreak. The cards are designed as a useful visual checklist for businesses and bring together guidance and useful contacts to support your organisation’s planning. This will help businesses and other organisations work effectively with their local public health teams.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance has been updated with information on routine funding audits, redundancy and the use of face coverings. Find out more here.

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds. Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers

The guide has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme from Tuesday 1 September. You can read it here. 

HMRC Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from 1 September mean that employers will need to fund 10% of furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours they do not work and continue to pay their National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions, as these will not be covered by future grants.

Click here for more information.

DVLA – from 20th August gust 2020) – Essential information for UK hauliers - drivers' hours changes

Click here for more information.

North West of England: local restrictions – what you can and cannot do

Click here for more.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors

Click here for more. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel

Click here for more.

Local restrictions: areas with an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Click here to read a list of areas with additional local restrictions, including information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak.

Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020 notice

There is a notice to display, to show you have made your workplace COVID-secure that has been updated to reflect the change to the guidance on working from home. Click here to find out more.  

HSE - Social distancing and making your workplace COVID-secure

Click here for more. 

HSE - Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice

Click here for more. 

How changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 31 July impact you

Click here for more. 

£20 million in new grants to boost recovery of small businesses

Small and medium-sized businesses will have access to grants of between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track.

Sending your forms to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here for more. 

HSE - Disinfecting premises using fog, mist, vapour or ultraviolet (UV) systems during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here for more. 

HSE Update

The latest HSE bulletin warns companies that HSE inspectors are carrying out spot inspections in cities and towns where there is a coronavirus outbreak, to check that businesses are COVID-secure. Organisations are directed to this link: Click here.

Mandatory face masks for shops

Click here for more. 

How to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here for more. 

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance has been updated to confirm that from 13 July 2020 providers can welcome back 19+ apprentices into educational settings, that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended, and to provide more information on support for redundant apprentices. Click here to find out more. 

Safer Working Guidance Survey Results

Click here to view the results from the Safer Working Guidance Survey, that was requested by BEIS.

Health and medical surveillance during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to read the guidance for occupational health providers, appointed doctors and employers from the HSE. 

Time to warn your EU and other workers about issues with travelling outside of the UK

Companies are advised to warn their employees of the implications of travel abroad (and this includes any worker that decide to holiday outside of the UK).  Apart from goods vehicle drivers furniture workers would not generally be covered by the exemptions. See here for exemptions.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Update

Important dates – what you need to know now 

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.

The future of the scheme

  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.
  • On 12 J‌un‌e, there will be full guidance on all the scheme changes published on GOV.UK 

Click here for latest updates  

  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.

Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps

The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months, the Chancellor announced on Friday 29 May 2020.  The Chancellor set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue. From 1 July, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. From August, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect the people who will be returning to work.

Click here to read more. 

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Click here to view the document that sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

Click here to read the new guidance for those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

NHS test and trace: workplace guidance

Click here to read the new guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

UK Government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June

It will come as a surprise to many retail shops that are already open that the Government announced on Sunday, a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops, including furniture stores from 15th June.  

Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement, detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards.  You can find the guidance here.

Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches
Free business webinar – find out how to make your retail workplace COVID-secure

Other webinars including for factories.

Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 - companies to contribute towards furlough wages

This amendment from the Chancellor includes a new direction that 'From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May'.

This is expected to be between 20-30 per cent of the cost of furlough.

Click here for more.

Furniture Makers’ increase personal support grants

The Furniture Makers’ Company has increased the support, money and duration it can provide employees and sole traders in the industry. Find out more by clicking here. 

How the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will help business

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus outbreak and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate.

National Audit Office (NAO)- Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Click here to read the full report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BFM members – supporting the national effort during the COVID-19 pandemic

We’ve put together a short video to showcase how BFM members have been supporting the national effort in the fight against COVID-19. Click here to view the video.

HM Treasury has today published details of an update to the terms of the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) 

The aim is to promote the ability of companies to repay their borrowings from the facility in an orderly way after the Scheme closes to new drawings in March 2021. Click here to read the update.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May. Click here to read more. 

The Coronavirus Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide UK Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020.
These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The Future Fund was developed by the UK Government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.

Business Support Helpline

The Business Support Helpline number in England has changed to FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19.  

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on webchat about support for your business.

The Business Support Scotland helpline is 0300 303 0660, Business Wales helpline is 0330 060 300 and the Invest Northern Ireland helpline is 0800 181 4422.

Department for International Trade Webinars

The Department for International Trade are running a series of webinars to help businesses through coronavirus.

Logistics and movement of goods during COVID-19 - 20 May

Risk management when considering new markets - 21 May

Managing disruption of supply chains during COVID-19 – 22 May

Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella. Find out further information here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

More information to help companies check if they can claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here to check.

HSE - Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to view the guidance for employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced. Click here to read more. 

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely. Click here to view. 

Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today (Tuesday 12 May 2020). Click here to read more. 

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidelines

Click here to view the guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

All Party Furniture and Furnishing Group (APPFIG) Update

1. Please note that a report on the Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on the furniture and furnishing industry will be issued soon.

2. COVID-19: Strategy - Debate in House of Commons - 11 May 2020 - Mike Wood MP & Chair of the APPIFIG took the opportunity of the Prime Minister’s appearance in the House of Commons yesterday to ask him a question about the Job Retention Scheme.  Please find the transcript of their exchange below.
Mike Wood (Con): Many businesses restarting operations are unlikely to have order books full enough to sustain a full workforce for months after the end of formal restrictions. Will the Prime Minister look at how job support can be tapered rather than being withdrawn overnight, and how more flexibility can be added, such as being able to re-furlough for a week at a time to reflect a firm’s workforce needs?
Boris Johnson (The Prime Minister): I think that the furloughing scheme has been one of the most remarkable features of the Government’s response. It is unlike anything seen internationally, with 6.5 million people currently being supported. It is absolutely right that we should do it. I do not want to anticipate what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is going to say; the House will hear more about that tomorrow.

New guidance published to ensure transport network is safe for those who need to use it

Click here to read the latest guidance for safer travel and safer transport operations during the next phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators

Click here to view the safer working principles and risk assessment for transport operators and organisations.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance

Click here to read the latest information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak.

Staying safe outside your home

Click here to view the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.

Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces

The public has been advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Read more by clicking here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and parents and other educational settings

Click here to read the guidance and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

Read the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy by clicking here

Staying safe outside your home

You can find the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible by clicking here.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. Read about staying alert and safe here. 

PM address to the nation on coronavirus: 10 May 2020 - the way forward

Click here to watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest speech the nation on coronavirus.

£2 billion package to create a new era for cycling and walking

Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. Click here to read more. 

Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities

Click here to read the latest guidance for local authorities on managing their road networks in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

BFM survey shows most furniture manufacturers expect to start operations again this month

A BFM survey conducted last week shows that 68% of companies expect to start production by the end of May.  A further 27% expect June to be their start date.  There is an underlying assumption by many that measures will be introduced soon to ease current restrictions.

We understand that shortly government guidelines will be available on how to operate safely in business and these are being produced by a well-known consultancy.

Click here to access the survey.

Working Safely under Covid-19 guidelines for business

The Government are producing ‘Working Safely under Covid-19’ guidelines for businesses. We are in discussion with Government through BFC/BEIS and the purpose of these discussions is to solicit constructive feedback from a large group of businesses, their representative organisations and trade unions. 

Ernst Young are supporting BEIS to engage with Industry and other stakeholders to develop the Working Safely guidance. 

Please let us know your questions/issues as soon as possible - these guidelines will be issued shortly. You can do this by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BFM looking for case studies on your help during COVID-19 crisis

We are looking for case studies of ways our members have supported the national effort in the COVID-19 crisis. From manufacturing PPE, supporting community initiatives, through to supplying furniture for emergency facilities, we’d really like to hear more. In these unprecedented times, we hope we can shine a light on some of the ways the furniture industry is working behind the scenes to support the national effort.

Therefore, if your company has helped in any way, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any stories you have.