COVID-19 POLICY UPDATE 6 June - 12 June 2020

The latest update from the Advice NI policy team includes COVID-19 information on social security, health, employment, Advice NI training and more. 
Social Security Changes, Announcements, Information
  • Official DfC Announcements
  • Further Changes to the Coronavirus Regulations
  • New Strategic Framework for Rebuilding Health Services
  • Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA)
  • Testing and Contact Tracing Programme
  • Update on Childcare for Keyworkers
  • PPE Arriving from China
  • Coronavirus & Government Services Information from NI Direct
Health Updates
  • Plans for Phased Return of Dental Services
HMRC Updates
  • Job Retention Scheme Update
  • Parents Returning to Work Eligible for Job Retention Scheme
  • New Guidance for SEISS and Job Retention Scheme
  • Job Retention Scheme and People Receiving Direct Payments
  • Job Retention Scheme Official Stats
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Official Stats
Other Information
  • Advice NI Training
  • Advice NI ‘Universal Credit and redundancy payments’ Briefing Paper
  • New ID Card for Carers
  • Charity Commission Guidance
  • Law Centre Updated Employee Rights Guidance
  • CIPD Updated Furlough Guidance

Social Security Changes, Announcements, Information

Official DfC Announcements

Further Changes to the Coronavirus Regulations

New Strategic Framework for Rebuilding Health Services

  • The Department of Health has published a new Strategic Framework for Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services to deal with the fact that services will not be able to resume as before.  Complementing this document, the 6 Trusts have published plans setting out the immediate work being done in their areas.  In addition, a new Management Board for Rebuilding HSC Services has been set up.  Full details here https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/minister-launches-strategic-framework-rebuilding-services

Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA)

Testing and Contact Tracing Programme

Update on Childcare for Keyworkers

PPE Arriving from China

Coronavirus & Government Services Information from NI Direct

Health Updates

Plans for Phased Return of Dental Services

HMRC and Employment Updates

Job Retention Scheme Update

  • The following message came through from HMRC this week, to be shared with employers and agents
“As part of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, I’ve outlined below important dates that may impact you in the coming weeks.
 
Important dates - what you need to know now
  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 June. This is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme. This ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 June.
  • You will then have until 31 July to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 June. This applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.
The future of the scheme
  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 July.
  • On 12 June, we’ll publish full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' to find this. Webinars offering more support on the changes will also be available to book online from 12 June. Please do not call us for more information, as everything you need to know about the scheme changes will be published online on GOV.UK.
  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time. You can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business. You’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also for periods starting on or after the 1 July, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 June was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 August, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 October.
Making changes to your claims if you have overclaimed
  • If you’ve made an error in a CJRS claim that means you received too much money, you must pay this back to HMRC.
  • We’ve updated the application system so you can tell us if you have overclaimed in a previous claim – when you apply you’ll be asked if you need to reduce the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You should then keep a record of this adjustment for six years.
  • If you have made an error in a CJRS claim and do not plan to submit further claims, we are working on a process that will allow you to let us know about your error and pay back any amounts that you have overclaimed. We will update guidance and keep you informed when this is available.”

Parents Returning to Work Eligible for Job Retention Scheme

New Guidance for SEISS and Job Retention Scheme

  • New DWP guidance has been issued in relation to the impact of SEISS and job retention scheme payments on JSA and new-style ESA claimants.
  • For job retention scheme payments, recipients are considered to be engaged in remunerative work and are not entitled to JSA, with the exception of those who were working less than 16 hours a week, pre-COVID-19.
  • For SEISS payments, recipients are considered to be engaged in remunerative work both for the notional period and for any later period the payment covers, and are not entitled to JSA; if a recipient can show that pre-COVID they worked less than 16 hours a week on average, their SEISS payment will be treated as part-time earnings and will be brought to account for the period covered by the payment.
  • Payments from the job retention scheme don’t impact on ESA entitlement; where work is being undertaken the exempt work regulations would apply to both hours worked and earning received, which would include the job retention scheme.
  • Payments from SEISS don’t impact entitlement to ESA.
  • Full details of the guidance are available from here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890799/adm8-20.pdf

Job Retention Scheme and People Receiving Direct Payments

Job Retention Scheme Official Stats

  • HMRC has released the first official statistics on the job retention scheme, up until 31 May.  Key points include:
    • The total number of employers that made at least one claim is 1.07 million.
    • 8.7 million employments have been supported through the scheme, with claims totalling £17.5 billion.
    • 6,300 large employers (those with 250 or more employees) have furloughed around 2.5 million employments.
    • Employers identified as operating in the wholesale and retail sector have made claims covering 1.6 million employments with a claim value of £3.3 billion.
    • Accommodation and food services employers have furloughed 1.4 million employments and claimed £2.6 billion in support under the CJRS.
    • Construction sector employers have made claims covering 680K employments with claims totalling £1.8 billion.
    • Read the full report here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/891249/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_Statistics_June_2020.pdf

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Official Stats

  • HMRC has released the first official statistics on SEISS, up until 31 May.  The breakdown of claims is presented by age and gender, sector of the economy, and geography.  Key points include:
    • 3.4 million self-employed individuals were identified as potentially eligible.
    • 2.4 million of the potentially eligible population (70%) had claimed a SEISS grant with the value of these claims totalling £7 billion.  The average value per claim was £2,900.
    • Around two-thirds of the potentially eligible population are male (2.3m).  A slightly lower proportion of potentially eligible females have claimed a SEISS grant (66%) compared to males (72%).
    • The average claim for females is also lower at £2,300 compared to the average claim for males of £3,200.
    • Take-up of the SEISS grant is lowest for those aged over 65 (55%) and those aged 16 to 24 (62%).
    • The sector with the highest number of potentially eligible individuals and the highest proportion of claims is the construction industry, with 800K claims for SEISS totalling £2.9bn.
    • Read the full report here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/891165/SEISS_Official_Statistics_June_2020.pdf

Other Information

Advice NI Training

  • The Advice NI Training team has developed a 10-minute top-up course to cover the most up-to-date information on the Self Employed Income Support Scheme Payment.
  • The course will deal with SEISS Payments and how they’re treated in an assessment period; how Surplus Losses and Surplus Income work for Self Employed People on UC; and how any other grants, loans or business support are treated by UC.
  • The course is free and you can access it anytime from this link https://www.adviceni.net/content/anytime-online-universal-credit-and-seiss-payment 

Advice NI ‘Universal Credit and redundancy payments’ Briefing Paper

New ID Card for Carers

  • The Department of Health has launched a new ID card to support carers.  Similar to IDs for healthcare workers, carers will be able to show their ID in stores to get access to priority shopping hours.  Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s have all confirmed they will facilitate unpaid/family carers during their priority shopping hours.  More information at https://www.carersuk.org/northernireland/news-ni/new-id-card-for-carers-launched

Charity Commission Guidance

Law Centre Updated Employee Rights Guidance

  • The Law Centre employment hub has now updated the FAQs on employee rights in relation to COVID-19, reflecting the changes and announcements made by the government since the job retention scheme was introduced; providing more clarity on the rights of workers who need to shield or self-isolate; including more guidance on workers' right to sick pay; and giving guidance on the job retention scheme for people on zero-hours or agency contracts.
  • Anybody with an employment query can contact the employment advice line on 028-9024-4401 or by email at employmentadvice@lawcentreni.org
  • Read the guidance here https://www.lawcentreni.org/news/new-faqs-document-on-employee-rights-coronavirus-covid-19

CIPD Updated Furlough Guidance