Expansion of furlough and self-employment schemes will be welcomed by many local businesses, says Thorne Widgery - Thorne Widgery

Hereford and Ludlow-based accountancy firm, Thorne Widgery, has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to expand the furlough and self-employment schemes but has said businesses need to act fast to take advantage of the latest financial support.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the furlough scheme would be extended to the end of March – the second time in six days that the scheme has been extended.

On Saturday, just hours before the scheme was due to close, it was extended to 2 December 2020.

The Chancellor also confirmed that employees made redundant before the scheme was due to end on 31 October 2020 can be brought back and furloughed.

At the same time, he said that the next round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would now be worth 80 per cent of a self-employed individual’s average trading income over three months, capped at £7,500 in total. The figure had been increased from 40 per cent to 55 per cent only on Monday.

Daniel Crowther, CEO at Thorne Widgery, said: “The further extensions to the furlough scheme and the self-employment scheme are welcome announcements that will make a real difference to businesses and the self-employed over what looks to be a challenging winter of heightened restrictions.

“We hope these measures will help put those businesses most affected by the crisis in a position where they can return to full trading as quickly as possible after restrictions are lifted and demand returns to the economy.

“It is particularly welcome that employees made redundant before these latest measures were announced can be brought back and furloughed, potentially saving businesses from the costly headache of rebuilding their workforces as the crisis eases.”

The Chancellor also announced that the £1,000 per employee Job Retention Bonus would no longer be paid to businesses that retain previously furloughed staff until the end of January because of the extension of the furlough scheme.

Dan said that while some businesses may be disappointed by this, the overall package of support on offer from the Government remains great and will help many businesses to survive the tough months ahead.

“The Government may have put this job retention initiative on hold, but they have promised to review this at an appropriate time and at the end of the day they simply cannot fund everything at once,” added Dan.

“Alongside the latest announcements, there has been a string of other key measures launched to help businesses as England enters a new period of lockdown, including an extension to the loan application deadline and the ability to top up existing borrowing from the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

“Those businesses that are concerned about the months ahead should act now and seek professional advice to find out what support is available to them and receive help accessing it.”

Thorne Widgery has established a dedicated Facebook group to help businesses through the pandemic, which is packed with advice, videos and support. To find out more please visit www.facebook.com/groups/539256590303972/