Financial support scenarios (November update)

Financial support scenarios (November update)

The PGA has created various scenarios to provide guidance on updated government support for Members in the UK.

Background

This scenario is for PGA Professionals who had reached an agreement with an employee to work reduced hours from 1st November because of local lockdown restrictions and who would have secured support under the Job Support Scheme, now having to mothball business due to national lockdown.

These scenarios are relevant as of November 2020.

Scenario 1

Joe is a Club Professional who has been trading for many years as a sole trader. He employs a qualified Assistant Professional to allow him to provide a full service to the members and visitors at his Golf Club in the UK.

At the start of the pandemic, Joe was able to take advantage of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) because of the level of his average trading profits per annum for the years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. He was also able to furlough his qualified Assistant, an employee, under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”).

After golf restarted in May, Joe and his Assistant returned to work and Joe stopped claiming the CJRS. The pair worked long hours in the next few months in an effort to claw back some of the business that was lost during the original lockdown, but for the last few weeks a Tier 2 local lockdown has been in place, visitor numbers have dried up and the footfall at the Club and in the shop has dwindled as a direct consequence of coronavirus restrictions.

In light of the local restrictions, Joe had been planning ahead and decided that he did not need his Assistant to work his full contracted 35 hours a week after the end of October. He had hoped to put the Assistant back on furlough but that option was not available to him, with the cessation of the CJRS scheduled for 31 October.

Instead, having taken advice, he decided to make use of the new Government support, the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”), from 1 November 2020 to protect the Assistant’s job. This scheme requires a blend of the employee working reduced hours, and both the employer and the government paying a proportion of wages for the hours not worked by the Assistant.

Because his local area was in Tier 2, Joe’s business could  operate safely, albeit at a reduced level, and since he met the other criteria by being enrolled for PAYE Online and having a UK bank account, Joe could claim “JSS Open” in respect of his Assistant.

Following discussions, the pair agreed, in writing, that the Assistant would work for 40% of his contracted hours from 1 November for as long as the Tier 2 local lockdown continued to impact the business.

All of Joe’s forward planning was knocked on the head when, in late October, the Prime Minister announced that there would be a national lockdown in England from 5 November to 2 December, and that the CJRS would be extended until December 2020 and the JSS postponed, the latter to be introduced following the end of the extended CJRS support, at a date in December to be confirmed.

The national lockdown therefore overrides the Tier 2 local restrictions, while the CJRS Extension supplants Joe’s plans to claim support under the JSS Open. Consequently, he needed to take some immediate decisions and actions in relation to his Assistant’s employment, and to communicate them to the employee.

Although a collective of golf industry bodies made strong representation to Government to keep golf operational during the national lockdown, to date this has not been successful. Therefore, since Joe’s shop is a non-essential retail outlet, it cannot open during the period of national lockdown and Joe’s business will again be mothballed.

His Assistant, who had been expecting to work 40% of his contracted hours for the foreseeable future, will not be able to work at all from 5 November until 2 December, and Joe will not be able to secure support under the JSS. Joe will need to write to the Assistant, advise him about the extension to the CJRS and the postponement of the JSS, and ask him to agree to be furloughed until December instead.

Joe will then be able to make a claim for support through the CJRS Extension, since he meets all the criteria to allow him to make a claim, and the employee had been on the PAYE payroll at midnight on 30 October.

The Assistant normally works 5 days a week and earns £1,400 per month. Under the terms of the CJRS Extension, the Government will pay 80% of an employee’s normal pay up to a cap of £2,500 per month, and Joe will be responsible for the employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions.

The Assistant will therefore be assured of a monthly income of £1,120. In his case, this is the same sum as he would have been paid when working 40% of his hours under the local Tier 2 lockdown, part funded by a JSS Open grant.

Joe would like to top his Assistant’s earnings up to his normal level, but is unsure whether that will be possible given his current level of trading and cash flow.

The Assistant was, however, happy to agree to being furloughed until the end of national lockdown and remains relieved to have his employment retained. 

 

Since Joe had responded quickly to the changes in Government support which had been necessitated by the national lockdown in England, he was well positioned when, on 5 November 2020, further changes were announced, with the furlough scheme being extended until 31 March 2021.

 On the original CJRS Extension, Joe’s Assistant agreed to be furloughed for the period of the national lockdown in England, to then return to work for 40% of his normal hours, with Joe due to claim support under the JSS. The CJRS support would have been 80% of the Assistant’s monthly salary for the month of November only.

Now, the  Assistant can remain on furlough, or flexible furlough, up to 31 March 2021, with Government funding of 80% applying throughout the entire period. Joe has already agreed with his Assistant that he will be on furlough until the end of national lockdown, and will need to reach further agreement  to extend furlough to suit the needs of his business when he returns to work. He remains keen for his assistant to work 40% of his normal hours as previously agreed, and will in that case introduce flexible furloughing after lockdown.

The Government has yet to confirm when and how employers such as Joe will be able to make their claims in respect of the extended CJRS support, but there will be no gap in eligibility for that support between the original end date of 31 October and the CJRS Extension. It should also be noted that the JSS is currently closed and will not be activated for the foreseeable future.

Although Joe had previously used the CJRS support for his Assistant it is not a requirement of the current scheme that staff need to have been previously furloughed.

Having prioritised on the urgent decisions and actions related to his Assistant’s employment, Joe had to recheck his own position.

Prior to the national lockdown in England, Joe had confirmed that he would be eligible to claim a grant under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension that covers the months of November 2020 to January 2021, since he had previously been eligible for the first and second grants. Now that he is unable to trade until the national lockdown is lifted, he remains in a position to claim the third SEISS grant, although in a change from the requirements for Grants 1 and 2, he will need to declare that his business has been impacted by reduced demand due to COVID-19 during the qualifying period.

 

To reflect the support available under the original extended furlough scheme for November, Government also adjusted the SEISS grant for that month. Initially the scheme provided for a third grant of 40% of monthly average trading profits, up to a maximum of £3,750 in total for the three months to 31 January 2021. However, Grant 3 was then increased to 80% of the monthly profit figure for November only, up to a maximum grant for the 3 months of £5,160. This represented support in the region of 55% of the average trading profits for the period.

In parallel with the Government’s announcement on 5 November of the further extension of the CJRS to March 2021, it was confirmed that the same level of support is to be made available to the self-employed.

Consequently SEISS Grant 3 will be increased to 80% of the monthly average trading profits as previously computed, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. The portal for claims for SEISS Grant 3 set to open on 30 November, while information on claiming for Grant 4 will be advised in the coming weeks.

Joe is also likely to be able to take advantage of the fourth SEISS grant which will cover the period February to April 2021, with eligibility criteria to be confirmed by Government in due course.

 

In summary, following Government’s decision to apply a national lockdown in England, subsequent extensions to the CJRS until the end of March and the mothballing of the JSS for the foreseeable future, Joe will be able to furlough, or flexibly furlough, his Assistant until the end of the March 2021 and secure grant funding through the CJRS Extension arrangements.

In addition, as a self-employed person whose business has been impacted by COVID-19 and who was eligible for SEISS Grants 1 and 2,  it seems likely that Joe will shortly be able to claim for the third SEISS grant, with 80% of his average monthly profits for the period from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 attracting government support, up to a cap of £7,500 for the 3 month period.

Scenario 2

Michael is a Club Professional who has been at his current club in Lancashire, England for over 35 years. He has been operating his business as a private limited company for many years and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was starting to think of retirement. 

Michael took a salary of £35,000 from the business to give him a secure regular income, sometimes topping it up, as he felt necessary, by declaring a small dividend should cash flow and profitability allow. He provides a retail service and attracts the normal retainer and commission mix, while employing a qualified assistant professional and a trainee professional who assist him in providing the services.

During the original lockdown, he furloughed his staff in order to keep them on the payroll ready to restart trading when restrictions allowed. In addition, as a salaried employee of his own company, he himself was also able to be furloughed under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, returning to work when golf was given the green light to start up in mid-May.

Prior to the national lockdown in England starting on 5 November, Michael’s golf club had been in a Tier 3 local lockdown area, which was in the “Very High” category in England. While his club members and more local visitors could continue to play regularly, in compliance with the Rule of 6, he was able to keep his shop open but the level of his income and activity was badly affected by the absence of both  members and visitors from outside his local area since travel into and out of Tier 3 areas were discouraged by government.

He was seriously considering at that stage whether he would be able to retain his staff, and concluded that he would at least try to do so by applying for new Government support under the terms of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) which was due to start on 1 November 2020.

However, before he could make a final decision, the Government announced the national lockdown in England, and alongside that the extension to both the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme (CJRS) and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) and the mothballing of the JSS for the foreseeable future.

In practice, this new lockdown means that golf is prohibited, golf clubs are closed and, as a non-essential retail business, Michael’s pro shop cannot open to the public.

Michael does not think that he will be able to keep both members of staff fully employed, at least for the period of lockdown which is expected to run until the beginning of December.

As an employee, Michael is unable to take advantage of the SEISS, and instead focussed his attention on how best to make use of the CJRS Extension to support his business in the coming weeks.

After the announcement of the lockdown in England, the Chancellor confirmed that the CJRS would be extended to 31 March 2021, would be paid at a rate of 80% throughout up to a limit of £2,500 per month, and would also apply to flexible furloughing, whereby staff working on reduced hours would be paid by the employer for hours worked, with 80% of the unworked hours attracting CJRS grant support.

Michael therefore made the difficult decision to furlough his Assistant at least until the end of lockdown on 2 December, and thereafter to review his staffing needs in anticipation of a Christmas rush. He is aware that the furlough period needs to be for an initial period of 7 days.

He considered his own arrangements, and decided that he would work for 3 days (60%) a week, and his Trainee for 2 days (40%), during which time he would aim to introduce a Click and Collect offering. The two employees would therefore be subject to flexible furloughing, and Michael will concentrate on the Click and Collect business, supported by the Trainee who would also be able to spend time on his training commitments during the hours he was being paid to work.

The effect on the business and the staff would be as follows:-

 

Michael (60%) £

Assistant (0%) £

Trainee (40%) £

Monthly wages

2,916*

1,350

1,000

Payment for hours worked

1,750

0

400

Grant for hours not worked (80%)

800

1,080

480

Total pay

2,550

1,080

980

% of wages

87%

80%

98%

 

Grant for hours not worked 40% x £2,500 = £1,000 for CJRG Extension computation purposes so grant is £1,000 x 80% = £800

Michael should be in a position to secure support of £2,360 per month while the staff are furloughed and/or working reduced hours under flexible furloughing, out of a total salary cost for the reduced hours of £4,610 per month. His overall return could have been higher had he decided to work fewer hours, but he was keen to spend time on the Click and Collect offering, and is confident that the return on that activity will be more than sufficient to allow him to top up the employees’ salaries to 100%, and still make a positive return.

In the meantime, he is happy that he has sufficient cash in the business to pay the staff in the normal way, prior to being able to claim the grant when the Government portal for processing claims effective from 1 November becomes available.

This Government support under the extended furlough scheme, and with a suitably projected end date, is much appreciated by Michael and his staff and will allow Michael to plan his business for the next few months.  

In terms of his Click and Collect Service, Michael is aware that Government rules for England mean that he can only supply goods in response to orders received through his website or other on-line communication, or by telephone or post. In addition, he knows any customer who has pre-ordered goods in this way cannot enter the shop to collect them. To address this, he intends to offer a delivery service which he knows some customers will welcome, and to introduce a schedule of collection slots which will be allotted to customers who prefer to collect the items they ordered.

It may be that the delivery element will be the preferred option until the beginning of December, when the travel restrictions on leaving the house without reasonable excuse – such as go to work or buy food – can hopefully be lifted. However Michael believes this will be a key part of his future business so is willing to invest the time to get the service up and running in the coming weeks.

In summary, following Government’s decision to apply a national lockdown in England, subsequent extensions to the CJRS until the end of March and the mothballing of the JSS for the foreseeable future, Michael will be able to furlough his Assistant and flexibly furlough himself and his Trainee, if necessary until the end of the March 2021 and secure grant funding through the CJRS Extension arrangements.

In addition, he can set up a Click and Collect scheme, or a delivery arrangement, to keep his business active as long as he complies with Government regulations on the manner in which goods can be ordered and collected, and in line with current travel restrictions.

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