Flexibility furlough, support bubbles and extension of the ban on evictions announced

by Faareen Ali

The UK government has recently announced further transitional steps to help the nation back to normality, whilst still working to prevent a second spike in Coronavirus. There have been fundamental changes made to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, family support bubbles are permitted, and strict quarantine provisions enforced from 8 June for anyone coming in to the UK, by a plane, train or ferry. 

Today’s news has been dominated with reports from National Statistics Office which show that the UK’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) is all time low since 1997, 150,000 businesses are adversely affected amid lock down, and there have been significant shortfalls in customer demand, more in April than March. For businesses seeking financial aid, see our articles about the different packages available.

We sat down to compile a brief overview of some changes, some which come into force as early as tomorrow.

1. Flexible Furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which went live on 20 April, has seen over 8.4 million people furloughed according to new data released by the Treasury. The recent changes announced will wean employees off furlough, and see them back into work on a part-time basis from 1st July 2020. Employers will have the ability to dictate shift patterns, as employees can go back for as long as required.

The application process for new entrants has also come to an end on 10 June, with the last set of applications being accepted until that date. Things will remain the same until 1 July, and employers will be asked to share the cost up until October.

This means employers can only claim a minimum level of wages from July, in accordance with the criteria:

  • June and July –Things will remain the same during these months, employers will be able to claim 80% of wages, capped at £2,500, together with pension contributions and employers National Insurance.
  • August – The government will pay 80% of wages capped at £2,500, and employers will be required to pay towards the pension contributions and employer National Insurance.
  • September- The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50, and employers will be required to pay 10% of the wages with a total cap of £2,500, plus pension contributions and employer National Insurance.
  • October- The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay the remainder 20% of the wages to bring it to a total of 80%, up to a cap of £2,500, as well as pension contributions and employers National Insurance.

Whilst completing applications from July on wards, employers will be required to confirm actual hours worked by employees, as well as the usual hours that they would’ve worked under their contract.

Anyone returning from a prolonged paternity or maternity leave after 10 June 2020 can still be furloughed, and will not be affected by the cut-off date, provided that the employer has furloughed other employees from their organisation previously.

Useful links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps

2. Support Bubbles

From tomorrow (13 June), single parents with dependents or those living alone can enter into an exclusive support bubble with another household. This comes as some positive news for people who have spent lock down completely alone. This new law is a specific intervention to end loneliness.

Support bubbles can act like a big family- eat together, sleep under one roof, undertake activities, without needing to observe social distancing. Whilst it is recommended by the government that people enter into supporting bubbles locally, there are no strict restrictions for those who wish to travel some distance to form their bubble. Once entered into a bubble, it cannot be changed of swapped around.

Who can form a support bubble?
  • Anyone living alone, including a single parent with dependant children can form a bubble with another household.
  • A lone grandparent can form a bubble with one child. If there are two lone grandparents, then families should decide which grandparent to form a bubble with.

As it stands, those shielding will not be able to enter into a bubble, but further guidance is expected from the government next week.

If anyone within the bubble develops Coronavirus symptoms, then they will all need to enter self-isolation for a period of 14 days.

Useful links:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household

3. Ban on eviction of tenants extended by further 2 months

The protections against eviction of social and private tenants have been further extended by 2 months until 23 August, taking the moratorium on evictions to 5 months. The Coronavirus Act 2020 makes specific provisions for a 3 month notice to quit to be served on a tenant by a landlord, before a possession hearing can be instituted, which will remain in place until September.

The same extension applies to business tenancies, which means landlords cannot exercise their right to forfeiture or re-entry in cases of non-payment, during this period.  Courts will not hear matters until after the end of this extended period.

Any buy –to-let mortgagees struggling to meet their payments due to not receiving rental payments, can seek further extensions on their mortgage break.

There is an open-ended commitment by the government and Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP to continue supporting people, long after the end of the pandemic, who say relevant guidance is being issued to judiciary to that effect.

Useful links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-on-evictions-extended-by-2-months-to-further-protect-renters

The next few months will present a lot challenges as we make our way to our new normality. Understandably things will not return back to how they were before lock down, but it is clear that the government is fully intent on assisting us all through it, while continuing to keep Coronavirus contained. Most of the financial aid for individuals and businesses is still available, so do check out our articles for more on how to apply.

Disclaimer: This is a blogging forum tasked with the responsibility of simplifying law, it does not intend for its content to constitute or be used as legal advice

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