20 March 2020
The government has said that cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants, night clubs, gyms and leisure centres must close after they finished trading tonight (Friday). The chancellor clarified that this list represents businesses whose main purpose is for social gatherings. The new restrictions do not currently apply to hair salons, barbershops or beauty salons. However, the government website has been updated since the Chancellor’s announcement and the list has been extended to include ‘spas, wellness centres and massage parlours’. We are seeking urgent clarification from the government about hair salons, barbershops and beauty salons as there is also a considerable degree of contact with clients in providing these services.
Hilary Hall said, “We will not have clear answers on this until Monday but it is clear that the aim is to reduce social interaction to prevent the spread of the virus. To protect the safety of their staff and clients many salons are already closed or are considering closing. While salons operating in gyms, spas or leisure centres must close, individual hair salons, barbershops and beauty salons must decide what course of action to take. The government has tonight announced a raft of measures to provide financial support which will help salon owners make those decisions.”
The financial measures announced by the government include:
- A ‘coronavirus job retention scheme’ which applies to any business, no matter how large or small. Businesses can apply to HMRC for grants to cover some of the cost of wages for people ‘who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off’. The grant covers up to 80% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month each. The scheme will be backdated to 1 March and will be open for a three-month period.
The Chancellor said, “That means workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary” and that the scheme would be extended if necessary. He said the system for claiming grants would be in place as soon as possible, expected to be by the end of April but that the first grants would be paid ‘within weeks’. He urged employers to make use of other grants and loans already announced until the new Coronavirus job retention scheme is fully operational.
Other measures included:
- Loans available through the Coronavirus Business Interruption scheme are now interest-free for 12 months, increased from 6 months.
- The next quarter’s VAT payments will be deferred until June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to pay their full VAT bill.
- Self-employed people will be able to access Universal Credit at the same rate as Statutory Sick Pay is paid for employees. Self-assessment tax payments will be put off until January 2021, although tax bills will still have to be paid.
- The Universal Credit Standard Allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element will be increased for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year. The minimum income floor for Universal Credit will be suspended for everyone affected by coronavirus so a self-employed person with no income should be able to claim Universal Credit at a similar rate to someone who is unemployed.
- For renters, £1bn of support by increasing Housing Benefit and Universal Credit so that the local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in local areas.
For further information about coronavirus please visit the NHBF hub: