Coronavirus update: Healthcare

On Friday (20th March) the government announced further message to help business. 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

To encourage businesses not to lay off staff, the government unveiled support for the payment of worker salaries.

Under the new Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, government grants will cover 80% of the salary of PAYE employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis (furloughed workers). The scheme, open to any employer in the country, will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and will continue for at least three months. I can include workers who were in employment on 28 February, even if they have subsequently been made redundant, as long as they are reinstated on the payroll.

You can find out more about the CJRS here.

VAT

All VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 will be automatically deferred until March 2021.

This deferral will apply to all businesses and there is no need to contact HMRC. However, any business that pays VAT by Direct Debit must cancel it, otherwise HMRC will may VAT due as normal.

For the avoidance of doubt, VAT returns should still be submitted on time as usual. For any business that is unable to file on time, a default surcharge may apply, though there may be grounds to appeal assuming it is COVID-19 related.

Nurseries 

The government have restricted access to schools and nurseries for children of key workers or the vulnerable. 

There is an exemption from business rates for one year from 1 April. This covers all private, voluntary and independent nurseries. There may also be some provision for child minders. 

Funding for the free early-years entitlement for children aged 2-4 will not be stopped or have to be refunded. We would suggest reviewing the guidance at the National Day Nursery Association for updates as well as our own website.   

Social care 

The government have issued some official guidance for residential care, supported living and home care.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) have also issued a five-point plan to contribute to managing Covid-19. It involves: 

  • Being prepared for and able to assist with an influx of new admissions to free up hospital beds – consider the likelihood that end of life care demand will increase significantly
  • Consider creating extra bed space by utilising lounge and dining areas and other non-clinical areas
  • Encouraging care and nursing homes to restrict non-essential visits
  • Taking the government-advised precautions  during domiciliary care home visits and consider reduced levels of safe care delivery
  • Drawing up a register of volunteers who might help if staffing levels are hit

Community pharmacies

The government have announced £300 million in funding to help community pharmacies to carry out essential services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

£200 million was paid on 1 April to pharmacy contractors, alongside their normal monthly payments from the NHS Business Services Authority. A further £100 million will be allocated on 1 May 2020.

Additional support measures

  • Help with tax liabilities: all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service.
  • Payroll costs: the government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • The business interruption loan scheme unveiled at the 2020 Budget has been extended to offer loans to SMEs of up to £5 million (originally capped at £1.2m) with no interest due for the first six months.

More information on these measures and more can be found in our Government Support for Businesses blog. For further advice please get in touch with a member of our Healthcare team.