Welcome to the November 2020 Newsletter from Certax Accounting

Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently increased the financial support for businesses affected by local coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns. Amendments have been made to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which will take effect from 1 November.

Meanwhile, the government recently announced its intention to proceed with plans to create new freeports across the UK in 2021. Sea, air and rail ports in England will be invited to bid for freeport status before the end of 2020, and the government will work with the devolved administrations to establish at least one freeport in each nation of the UK.

Financial support increased for businesses affected by COVID restrictions

On 22 October Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced increases to the COVID-19 financial support measures first outlined in the Winter Economy Plan.

The Chancellor made amendments to the JSS, which is set to take effect from 1 November. When originally announced, the scheme saw employers paying a third of their employees' wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33% of their normal hours.

The Chancellor's latest announcement reduced the employer contribution to those unworked hours to just 5%, and reduced the minimum hours requirements to 20%, so those working just one day a week will be eligible. That means that if someone was being paid £587 for their unworked hours, the government would be contributing £543 and their employer only £44.

Additionally, the Chancellor increased the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20% to 40%, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.

In regard to business grants, the Chancellor also announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions in high-alert level areas.

Commenting on the changes, Mr Sunak said: 'I've always said that we must be ready to adapt our financial support as the situation evolves. These changes mean that our support will reach many more people and protect many more jobs.

'I know that the introduction of further restrictions has left many people worried for themselves, their families and communities. I hope the government's stepped-up support can be part of the country pulling together in the coming months.'

Government to proceed with plans to create freeports across UK

The government has confirmed that it will create new freeports across the UK in 2021.

The Treasury recently outlined the next steps for the creation of freeports, which it hopes will drive investment and create jobs after the end of the Brexit transition period.

The government hopes the new freeports will attract major domestic and international investment. It stated that freeports have been used in countries around the world to drive prosperity and boost trade.

Sea, air and rail ports in England will be invited to bid for freeport status before the end of 2020, the Treasury said. Freeports will benefit from:

  • streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment

  • a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation

  • simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.

The government is working with the devolved administrations to seek to establish at least one freeport in each nation of the UK.

'Our new freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK and supporting jobs,' said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

'They will attract investment from around the world as we embrace new opportunities following our departure from the EU and will be key drivers for economic recovery as we build back better post-coronavirus.'

The first freeports are set to be open by the end of 2021.

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