News: Chancellor announces extension to furlough and SEISS Jump to main content

News: Chancellor announces extension to furlough and SEISS

Today (5 November 2020) the Chancellor announced an extension to both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The new announcements were as follows:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) also known as the 'furlough scheme' will now run until 31 March 2021 with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, capped at £2,500.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500, for the period of November to January 2021.

The latest amendments follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the House of Commons on 2 November 2020.

Responding to today’s announcement from the Chancellor, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:

‘We are delighted that the government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of March and is increasing support for the self-employed to 80% of trading profits across the November to January period. These measures represent a positive step towards the government fulfilling its commitment to deliver parity between employed and the self-employed.

Today’s announcement is the third change to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in a short period, following the ISM’s tireless campaigning on this issue. We told the government that their initial approach was insufficient and they have listened, benefitting thousands of musicians who cannot work while performance venues remain closed.

‘However, as we have said each time the government changes the level of SEISS, the grant only benefits those able to receive it. An estimated three million self-employed workers continue to be excluded from receiving it at all so expanding the eligibility criteria remains essential for preventing an exodus of highly skilled talent from our world-leading arts sector.’

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Shortly before its implementation, the Job Support Scheme (JSS) has been postponed and is now due to commence on 1 December - one day before the end of the new lockdown period for England. Instead, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until March 2021.

The CJRS (popularly called 'the furlough scheme') enables employers to once again claim the full 80% of their workers’ furlough pay, capped at £2,500. This is a reversal of the reductions to 70% and then 60% over the last two months. National Insurance and pension contributions cannot be claimed.

In addition, the criteria has also been expanded so staff on payroll and included in a Real Time Information (RTI) submission on or before 30 October are now eligible, even if they had not previously been furloughed.

The provision for flexible furlough has been continued for this extension, which allows employees to come back on a part-time basis, and we expect the government to publish more details about the entire scheme shortly.

Whilst we support an extension of the furlough scheme, we remain highly aware that many of our members who are atypical workers on PAYE contracts and eligible for the scheme have not been furloughed. With their employers not paying their wages and not providing any work, many of our members will continue to have no source of income and face serious financial hardship. We will continue to raise this issue as part of our ongoing communications with government.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The government has also increased the level of funding for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) from 40% to 80% of average trading profits for the third grant covering the period of November- January 2021.The SEISS is calculated over 3 months so this increases the total grant from 55% to 80% of trading profits for the three-month period and the maximum grant increases to £7,500.The claims window for the SEISS grants will now be opening at the end of November rather than the middle of December as originally planned.

We welcome the government's decision to provide further additional for the self-employed following their earlier announcement this week. However we remain concerned that, without the widening of the eligibility criteria, three million people are still excluded and face severe, irreparable hardship. We will continue to lobby government to highlight those who have fallen through the gaps such as the newly self-employed, those whose income falls below the 50 per cent threshold and limited company directors.