The planned off-payroll reforms to the private sector have been deferred by 12 months and will now be effective from 6 April 2021. We welcome this news which is the right decision to enable businesses to focus on the immediate complexities of responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. I very much hope that some detailed analysis of the wider implications of this reform can be undertaken in the coming months in order to establish whether or not it should be scrapped entirely, rather than simply ploughing on in 12 months’ time.
Whilst we welcome the government’s recent announcements that all workers will be entitled to SSP from day 1 of any Coronavirus-related absence, we are also concerned regarding the very significant financial impact on our members. We have been actively lobbying all relevant government departments and business lobby groups at the highest levels possible to make them aware of the likely financial distress and the wider impact on the contingent workforce – the very people that the UK’s economy traditionally relies on during a crisis. We are in touch with all of the right people and as a result of making our case heard strongly, we are involved in the discussions on implementing SSP and how businesses can be supported.
Emergency legislation is being introduced to Parliament today, including temporary changes to SSP. The legislation will enable employees to receive SSP from day 1 of absence due to Coronavirus. In addition, employees that isolate themselves based on advice published by Public Health England will be entitled to SSP. The legislation will be time-limited – for 2 years – and not all of these measures will come into force immediately. This allows the government to switch on powers when needed and switch them off again when no longer necessary. Importantly, SSP changes will be retrospective from 13 March 2020.
The Chancellor has announced a package of financial support for businesses. Initial plans are based on businesses borrowing the cash they need to stay afloat and such loans will of course need to be repaid eventually. Whilst I do not think it is fair for businesses to be financially penalised as a result of the pandemic, I do recognise that the challenges facing the UK are enormous and I appreciate any measures that support businesses and jobs.
However, a glaring omission from the government’s announcements so far is the lack of support for self-employed people. I am sure that this will be addressed in the coming days and I will keep you updated on developments.
As you know, FCSA is here to support you and we are doing everything that we possibly can to ensure that our sector is equipped to respond to the pandemic.