With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) coming to a close on the 31st of October, all eyes have been on Chancellor Rishi Sunak. COVID-19 has put a serious strain on the finances of both businesses and their employees, so it was clear that more help was going to be needed. Here’s a breakdown of what’s changing this winter:

Out with the old...

Starting from the 1st of November, the existing CJRS furlough scheme is evaporating entirely. It’s been tapering off for a while, but Halloween was set as its final cut-off point. In its place, we’ll be seeing a leaner support package that’s much more tightly focused. This new Job Support Scheme specifically targets employees who’ve been put back to work on reduced hours. Here’s how it works:

  • If you’re working at least a third of your normal hours, you can qualify for some help.
  • Your employer will pay you as normal for the reduced hours you work.
  • For the hours that have been cut, the difference gets split between you, your employer and the government. The bad news is that you lose a third of the money you’d have been paid if you’d worked those hours. The better news is that your employer and the Job Support Scheme divide the rest between them, each paying you a third of the money for the lost hours.

More help for the self-employed

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has already paid out twice. Now it’s set to deliver another round of taxable grants. The amounts on offer are still going down, of course. The upcoming third grant, for instance, will only cover 20% of your average profits from November 2020 through to January 2021. There’s a cap on that of £1.875, though. After that, there’s talk of a fourth grant to see you through from February to April 2021. There haven’t been any specific details on that yet, so keep an eye out for future announcements.

For people struggling with their Self Assessment tax bills, the deadlines have been relaxed a bit as well. People having trouble making their January 31st 2021 payments will now be able to use the “Time to Pay” system for an additional 12 months.

A few more points to remember...

If you’re strictly required to work from home during the pandemic, it’s worth checking out the Work at Home tax relief system. Hardly anyone knows about this scheme, but it’s worth a tax-free £6 per week from your employer. Even if your boss can’t stretch to that, you can still claim a tax break directly from HMRC on £6 a week of your normal pay. If you’ve got bigger expenses, you might be able to claim more. Of course, you’ll need to show the taxman some proof to get that.

There are still some details yet to come on the support available for struggling workers this winter. Stay safe, stay healthy and keep checking back for updates.

In the meantime check for free if you're due a tax refund for work related travel and expenses at any time during the last 4 years. The average first tax rebate comes to around £3,000 and you don't want to leave that sitting at HMRC when it could be in your wallet.

Wondering if you could be owed tax back? Use our free tax rebate calculator to see if you have a claim.  You'll get an instate estimate of what HMRC could owe you.