Situation update 28 August 2020
- To see the number of cases of COVID-19 in England and the UK visit the UK COVID-19 dashboard.
- To see the number of cases globally see the World Health Organisation dashboard.
Changes to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to take effect 1 September
From 1 September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a maximum cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% (up to £2,500). The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. Read here for more information about changes.
Unless you’re making a new claim for an employee who is a military reservist or is returning from statutory parental leave, you can only continue to claim through the scheme if:
- you have previously furloughed the employee for 3 consecutive weeks between March 1 and 30 June
- you submitted your claim before 31 July
Information about the Job Retention Bonus was published on 31 July.
Further guidance on cancellations and refunds during COVID-19
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a statement that a consumer will generally be entitled to a refund when they have paid money in advance for services or goods that cannot be delivered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lockdown laws: If contracts cannot go ahead due to lockdown laws, the CMA would expect customers to be offered a full refund. If contracts are partially impacted by lockdown laws, consumers may be entitled to a refund or price reduction depending on the scale of the impact.
Government guidance: Whether a consumer is entitled to refund as a result of government guidance will vary according to the specific circumstances. It is not always the case that a full refund is due because government guidance does not create legal restrictions and will not necessarily mean that a contract cannot be performed, but it is important for businesses and customers to follow government guidance and businesses should treat their customers fairly to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Read the CMA’s updated statement on cancellations and refunds.
ONS COVID-19 roundup
Analysing data up to the week ending 14 August – see the latest data and analysis from ONS related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on our economy and society. Read the full report here.
Some key findings on the on the travel and leisure sectors:
- There were an estimated 1.3 million passenger arrivals (including returning UK residents) in April to June 2020. This is 97% (27.7 million) fewer than the same period in 2019, and is due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
- The number of applications for visitor visas in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 was 99% lower than in the same period in 2019.
- The arts, entertainment and recreation sectors had the largest proportion of its workforces furloughed (51%) compared with 13% across all industries. The industry with the next highest proportion of furloughed workers is the hospitality industry (27%).
- When asked about insolvency, almost a quarter of arts and entertainment businesses (23%) reported the risks as severe to moderate; this is the joint-highest proportion of any industry, along with the hospitality sector. Across all sectors, 11% of businesses said their risk of insolvency is severe to moderate.
Reminder on Increased Fines
With the August Bank Holiday here it is worth noting that the increased fines for holding or attending illegal gatherings come into force today as the Government attempts to dissuade people from breaking social distancing rules. The fines are:
- The fine for attending an illegal gathering is £100 for the first offence. This then doubles for every subsequent offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
- The fine for staging an illegal event attended by 30 or more people is up to £10,000. While this is targeted to people organising illegal parties or music events but applies to any gathering of 30 people.
Change to Test and Trace Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality Businesses
The Guidance to tourism and hospitality businesses on the test and trace data, that they must collect, has been amended to remove a line in that guidance that said that NHS Test and Trace will ask a business for their Test and Trace records when someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 has listed the premise as a place they visited recently, due to data protection issues.
National Museum Figures
This week’s National Museum figures are encouraging with a rise in average visitor numbers from 15% to 21% of normal footfall.
The R Number
Reflecting the recent increase in the number of cases, this week’s R number for the UK is 0.9-1.1 and the growth rate is -2% to +1% per day.
Situation update 27 August 2020
- To see the number of cases of COVID-19 in England and the UK visit the UK COVID-19 dashboard.
- To see the number of cases globally see the World Health Organisation dashboard
Update on travel corridors
This week’s review of Travel Corridor countries has concluded, based on data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England, with Ministers agreeing to remove the following from the list of exempt countries:
This is due to a significant increase in both the level and pace of confirmed cases in these countries. These removals apply UK-wide and will be effective from 04:00 on Saturday 29 August.
Ministers have agreed to add the following to the list of exempt countries, following a decrease in the number of confirmed cases:
This addition applies UK-wide and will also be effective from 04:00 on Saturday 29 August. Passengers arriving from these countries before this time will still need to self-isolate upon arrival into the UK.
FCO Travel Advice is being updated to reflect these changes. See the full list of travel corridors on the Gov website.
Update on spectators to elite sports events
On a separate note, the Government has announced further pilots for the return of spectators to elite sport to allow fans to return to live sport from 1 October with social distancing.
Payment for People Self-Isolating in Highest Risk Areas
You will have seen considerable attention in the media to the new payment for people on low incomes in areas with high rates of COVID-19 who need to self-isolate and can’t work from home. The payment is, which will be first trialled in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, will pay £130 to eligible individuals who test positive for their 10-day self-isolation period. This payment is in addition to any other benefits that the person already receives or may be entitled to. Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.
To be eligible for the funding, individuals must:
- have tested positive for COVID-19 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate
- have agreed to comply with the notification from NHS Test and Trace and provided contact details to the local authority
- be employed or self-employed:
- employed people will be asked to show proof of employment
- self-employed will be required to show evidence of trading income and that their business delivers services which the local authority reasonably judges they are unable to carry out without social contact
- be unable to work from home (checks will be undertaken on all applicants) and will lose income a result
- be currently receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit
Passenger Arrivals in July
The Home Office has released data today showing that there were 1.3m arrivals into the UK by air during July. This is 89% lower that the number of arrivals in July 2019, when 11.1m people entered the country. The data also indicates that arrivals into the UK by rail were down 65% and arrivals by sea were down by 69%.
It should also be noted that the arrivals data includes British nationals returning from overseas. When British nationals are removed, the number of arrivals falls to 640,000 people, however to note that this figure will also include foreign nationals that live in the UK returning from holidays overseas.
CBI Service Sector Report
The CBI has published its service sector report today. The survey includes data on sentiment within the hotels, bars & restaurants; travel services and leisure sectors which shows that costs per employee have increased by 20-30% while the volume of sales is down 30-60% and employment is down 30-90% depending on the sector.
How HMRC Will Continue to Support Customers and the Economy
HMRC have published a policy paper setting out how they will continue to support individuals and businesses through the Coronavirus outbreak. While there are no initiatives in the policy paper it presents a series of principles on how it will operate:
- Our approach will be to collect the tax due in a way that recognises the very real needs and challenges that businesses and individuals face.
- We will communicate openly and transparently, to give people as much certainty as possible.
- It is more important than ever that we are professional, fair and even-handed in the way we interact with our customers.
- Where we have introduced temporary administrative arrangements that have improved the customer experience or created operational improvements, we will try to build on these changes to deliver long-term sustainable solutions.
- We will continue to prioritise tackling serious fraud and criminal attacks on the tax system, while increasing wider activity to make sure individuals and businesses pay the right tax.
The ONS has produced the latest results of their ongoing survey of economic and social indicators. The main tourism related findings are:
- 13% of the workforce remain on furlough
- Accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors were the only sectors that reported less than 90% of businesses had been trading for more than the last two weeks, at 82% and 63% respectively.
- 23% of businesses in these two sectors said their risk of insolvency was moderate or severe
- Job adverts in the hospitality sector are 38% of what they were last year compared to 55% for UK businesses as a whole
The Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC UK) and the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) have commissioned a survey to evaluate the effects of Covid-19 on the self-catering sector across the UK. The survey will also help them to identify what the sector’s business priorities are over the next 12 months to support recovery and growth.
The results will be shared with UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments to inform autumn budgets and spending reviews, as well as policy decisions going forward.
The survey is being undertaken by The South West Research Company. Answers will be treated as strictly confidential and will be combined with those from other businesses in various regions to provide overall results.