Covid: What government support is available now furlough is ending?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set aside millions in support for those struggling due to coronavirus. Credit: HMT

After Boris Johnson put the UK into a full lockdown back in March, more than nine-and-a-half million people received financial support from the government in the form of its furlough scheme.

Twenty-five weeks later, it is believed more than two million people are still claiming furlough payments.

But now the help - also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - is coming to an end, on October 31.

So what other support is available from the government to help people weather the storm on Covid-19?

Jobs Support Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak created the Jobs Support Scheme as a direct replacement to furlough, and it becomes available on November 1, just as the previous scheme ends.

It is less generous than its predecessor - it pays 67% of wages for unworked hours, rather than 80% - and requires staff to work at least one day a week to be eligible.

Workers will be paid their regular wage for the hours they do work.

If a place of work is forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions, staff at these firms will also be able to claim universal credit, which the government claims will top most people's wages up to around 80%.

Unlike furlough, it requires employers to contribute to payment for unworked hours.

Employers will pay staff 5% of unworked hours, while the government will pay the rest.

Under the Jobs Support Scheme the government, together with employers, will pay workers for two thirds of their unworked hours. Credit: PA

The government's contribution will be capped at £1,541.75 per month.

Staff must have been employed at the firm since at least September in order to be eligible.

The scheme will run for six months and the government will review it before deciding whether it should be extended.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

While not benefiting from the furlough scheme or its replacement, self-employed people are entitled to some help from the government.

But the amount self-employed people can claim is much less.

Under the scheme, people can claim up to 40% of their profits over a three-month period, capped at £3,750.

Grants will be paid in two lump sum installments each covering three months, one for November to January, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.

The government website says HM Revenue and Customs will provide full details about how to claim, "in due course".

Business grants

Businesses operating in areas under Tier 2 restrictions - the high alert level - can claim a grant from the government worth up to £2,100 a month.

The grants are designed to "primarily" help businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector which "may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas".

Businesses in very high alert level areas - Tier 3 - qualify for greater government support due to the increased restrictions.

Firms in these areas can claim up to £3,000 a month, whether or not they have been forced to close.

The support is provided through business support packages given to local authorities as they move into the higher alert level.

Test and Trace Support Payment

The government created the Test and Trace Support Payment in a bid to stop people in England ignoring self-isolation advice so they could continue working.

If you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500.

To qualify for the payment, you must have been told to stay at home for 14 days by the test and trace service following either a positive test or after being in close contact with someone with the virus.

If you have been told to self-isolate by the NHS app, you are not currently eligible for the payment.

You must be either employed or self-employed but unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating.

If told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, you could be eligible for the payment, but if alerted by the app you won't be able to claim. Credit: PA

And you must be in receipt of one of the following: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

If you do not receive any of the above benefits, you may still be eligible for a for a £500 discretionary payment, so long as you are on a low income and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while you are self-isolating.

Payments are made at a local level, so anyone who fits the criteria should contact their local authority to enquire about how to apply.

You'll need an 8-digit code from Test and Trace, to prove you've been told to self-isolate, proof of receipt of one of the qualifying benefits, a bank statement, and proof you're employed.

If you're self-employed, you must provide evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services that cannot be undertaken without social contact.

Working from home tax relief

Since April 6 this year - after the full national lockdown was enforced on March 23 - employers have been able to pay staff up to £6 a week tax-free to cover additional costs if they have had to work from home.

If an employee has not received the working from home expenses payment direct from their employer, they can apply to receive tax relief from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Workers eligible for the relief can claim it based on the rate at which they pay tax.

If someone pays the basic 20% rate of tax, they can claim back 20% of £6 for every week they worked at home.

If someone on the basic tax rate had been working from home since April 6 to now, they could expect £34.80. Over a full year it would add up to £62.40.

Someone on the higher rate of 40% would be able to claim £69.60 if they had been working from home since the start of lockdown til now. That would be £124.80 over a full year.

To claim, answer the questionnaire on the website, which will tell you if you are eligible to claim tax relief.

If you are, you'll be directed to another government page in which you'll fill out your personal details. To progress, you'll need your National Insurance number , plus a recent payslip or a P60 or a valid UK passport. You'll also need a Government Gateway user ID, which will take about ten minutes to create if you haven't already got one. Once the application has been approved, the online portal will adjust your tax code for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. You will receive the tax relief in your salary and will continue to receive the adjustment until March 2021.