Extending lockdown for four more weeks

Well, at least we know and in the end, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise but we had confirmation on Monday night that lockdown restrictions will be in place for four more weeks than expected until 19th July.

That’s terrible news for hospitality businesses who were expecting restrictions on numbers to be lifted and had been preparing by recruiting and training staff, bringing existing team members back from furlough and buying in stock.

Many arts and entertainment venues will be feeling disappointed too as they won’t be able to open as expected. Perhaps the only local venue not affected is the lovely Minack Theatre, which was showcased so spectacularly over the weekend when the G7 spouses were treated to a musical performance in bright sunshine.

Weddings given green light

Those planning a summer wedding did get some good news however – the 30 people limit has been dropped as originally planned. There are still some limitations in terms of the number of people who can sit down for dinner and there’s no indoor dancing (apart from the couple’s first dance) but at least those who have been planning their ceremony can now go ahead.

It’s good news too for all the local wedding industry suppliers who were desperate for weddings to be given special treatment – some of them even left a message for the government in the sand over the weekend.

Financial support

So far, there is no indication that any more financial support will be forthcoming now lockdown is 4 weeks longer. The furlough scheme is still in operation and will continue until September as we detailed in our blog about this year’s Budget which you can read again here.

There is also still another grant to come in the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme although there is a slight difference in the rules this time in that the payout alters depending on how much income has been lost.  

The reduced rate of 5% VAT for hospitality businesses remains in place but as with furlough, there doesn’t seem to be any plans to extend it beyond the current cut off date of the end of September when it is planned to increase to 12.5%.

And it doesn’t look like there will be any extension on the Business Rate holiday which is planning to finish at the end of this month before transitioning to 2/3 discount until the end of the year.

Payroll boost

The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that there was a record rise in May of those on payrolled employment which certainly reflects our experience locally of adding new employees to payroll schemes and preparing contracts of employment. They also reported high numbers of job vacancies and relatively low numbers of redundancies.

If you need any help with employees, dealing with furlough or simply getting through the next few weeks until 19th July, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Something new to make your life easier

With the good news this week that more lockdown restrictions are being lifted and life takes another step towards normality, for business owners and employers the future looks busier than ever. That’s why now feels like the perfect time to officially launch a new service that will make life just that little bit simpler and may even save my clients a bit of money.

BrightPay, the specialist payroll software that I use to manage my clients’ payroll, has just introduced a partnership with Modulr, a leading payment platform, that makes it easier to pay employees their salary once I’ve processed the payroll.

Instead of making individual payments to employees from the business bank account, employers will be able to log in to the secure Modulr portal and just make a single payment, potentially saving bank charges. The portal will then automatically pay the employees what they are owed on the day it’s due.

Secure and Flexible

Trusting hard-earned money to a new provider can be hard but employers and employees can be reassured that the system is fully secure with encrypted communications between platforms so sure all data will be safe, and the approval process on the platform is simple and straightforward.

I’m proud to say there are rarely errors on the payrolls that I manage but using BrightPay and Modulr reduces the chances of things going wrong even further, so employers can be confident that the employees will receive the right amount on the right day.

Flexibility is also built in so we have the ability to schedule payments in advance and make last minute changes if needed, which could be especially useful at the moment while the furlough scheme is still in operation and staff may need to be called in at short notice, or even have to be absent suddenly.

It’s also one less step to make when taking on new staff as I will automatically add the new employees’ details to the system, so their salary is paid from the first payroll date without hassle.

Freeing up time

As we come out of the pandemic (fingers crossed), employers will be working hard to rebuild and grow and I really believe that BrightPay and Modulr working together will save time and money when it comes to managing employers’ payroll.

Just as a reminder about how it works

  • I run the payroll as normal and upload the details
  • The employer logs into the Modulr payroll and uploads a lump sum to cover the salaries
  • The employer approves payments in just a few clicks
  • The employees are pay in minutes
  • The whole payroll is managed in one secure platform

If you’d like to find out more about using Modulr, just get in touch and I can arrange a demo and talk it through with you.

Coming out of lockdown

There was an important milestone along the path of us coming out of lockdown this week as, on Monday, non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms, some hospitality and some accommodation providers were able to reopen. There’s been plenty of news coverage of pints being enjoyed outside and queues outside shops, and it really does feel like things are starting to get back to normal.

But there are some more steps to go and so in this month’s blog, we’ll have a look at those and think about actions you might need to take as an employer.

Next step – 17th May

This is the next big date on the lockdown route map and is when more businesses will be able to reopen as well as some restrictions lifted on our own personal freedoms.

On this date, all pubs, restaurants, hotels, theatres, cinemas will be able to open. These industries clearly employ a lot of people, many of who will have been away from work for many months. Many will have been on furlough so employers will have been planning their return to work early on and perhaps will be organising some refresher training just before reopening.

Some employers might need to recruit new staff for reopening and again, will have been planning this as far in advance as possible. It’s tricky as the opening date isn’t guaranteed (the government might yet change its plans) but they will want to be able to hit the ground running and still have enough time for recruitment and training.

The government’s furlough scheme will still be in operation during this time, so businesses will have options and can be flexible in bringing staff back to work – get in touch if you need help managing your payroll through this transition time.

There’s likely to still be the need for social distancing and mask-wearing so many affected businesses will have been working out how they can open safely whilst having the maximum number of customers in their premises at any one time. Theatres and cinemas will find this especially challenging given they can’t move their furniture around as easily as pubs and restaurants.

The reopening of hotels means that we will be allowed to stay away from home again. The regulations from 17th May also allow us to stay overnight in another private home which opens up the possibility of family reunions – something many are looking forward to even more than the first pint in the pub!

Final step – 21st June

This should be our final step out of lockdown when all remaining businesses can reopen and all restrictions on numbers for gatherings are lifted. Although we might consider this the time we get back to ‘normal’, there will still be challenges for employers in terms of staffing, turnover and managing sickness. The furlough scheme continues until the end of September for those employers who need it and it is still likely that some staff who can will want to work from home at least part of the time.

The flipside of that is that some employers will need to boost their team numbers quite quickly in order to cope with a busy summer – here in Cornwall many tourism businesses are expecting to be very busy as people still may not be able to travel abroad for their holidays.

Just as we have done for the last 12 months during the pandemic, we can take away the headache of managing your payroll. This includes adding new staff and producing contracts (now a legal requirement from day 1), managing furlough, dealing with statutory sick pay and even preparing the paperwork for leavers. We can even make paying HMRC easier with Modulr, which could save you bank charges.

Get in touch for a chat if the time has come for you to get help with your payroll.

The Budget 2021

As I begin writing this, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has just taken his seat again after delivering his budget statement. Although he has looked forward to a time when coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, he is also clearly planning for a few more months of disruption caused by the pandemic.

Extension of the furlough scheme

Perhaps the most important announcement from a work and payroll point of view is the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, otherwise known as the furlough scheme. The scheme was due to come to an end at the end of April 2021, but it will now run until the end of September 2021.

Employees will still receive 80% of their salary for the hours they can’t work due to the pandemic but in July, employers will be asked to contribute 10% and in August and September they will be asked for 20%.

More grants for the self-employed

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will also be extended until September with two further grants confirmed. Newly self-employed who submitted a tax return for the 2019/2020 year will now be able to apply for a grant. The 4th grant covers the period of February to April and will pay 80% of average profits but the 5th grant will depend on how much income has been lost. If it is more than 30% of profits, then 80% can be claimed but if less than 30% has been lost then only 30% of average profits will be paid.

National Living Wage

As we have previously mentioned, the Chancellor confirmed the National Living Wage will increase from April 2021 and because the age threshold is lowering, more people will qualify for the higher rate of £8.91p.h.

Other business support

The Chancellor also announced a number of other initiatives to support business and jobs as companies reopen and the economy begins to recover.

Restart Grants will be available from April with non-essential retail businesses able to apply for up to £6,000 and hospitality and leisure businesses who will be reopening later will receive up to £18,000. Additional recovery loans will also be available.

The Business Rate holiday is extended until the end of June when a 2/3 discount will be applied until the end of the year.

The reduced VAT rate of 5% for hospitality businesses will remain in place until the end of September and will then increase to 12.5% for six months; not returning to the full 20% rate until April 2022.

Income tax

Although there won’t be an increase in tax and NI rates, the Chancellor did announce that both the personal allowance and higher rate threshold will be frozen from next year until 2026. This does mean that people will pay more tax in future years that they would have done if the allowances were allowed to increase.

If you need any help with any of the budget announcements – especially around how the extension of the furlough scheme will affect your payroll or if you think the time has come to ask someone to look after your payroll for you – then just get in touch and we can help.

About Me

My name is Kellie Burslem T/A Pixie Payroll Services, I am a local Payroll Bureau based near Helston, Cornwall. I provide a reliable, professional service at a competitive price.

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