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Government’s coronavirus furlough scheme opens for applications

Chancellor-at-work-Feb-20

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opened for applications this morning, with jewellery businesses now able to claim money to help pay staff salaries during the pandemic.

Employers can apply for grants through HM Revenue & Customs’ new online page – and the money should arrive in their bank accounts within six working days.

Under the scheme unveiled by the chancellor last month, employers can put employees on furlough during the pandemic. This means their jobs will be put on hold and they will unable to do any work for the company that has furloughed them, but they’re still employed.

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The government will then substitute 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries, up to £2,500 a month.

To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on February 28, 2020.

However, following a review of the delivery system, new guidance has confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to March 19 – the day before the scheme was announced.

Therefore, employers can claim on the furlough scheme for staff that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March.

Self-employed jewellery professionals are also able to secure 80% of average monthly profits up to £2,500.

Though applications only opened today, firms can backdate claims to 1 March 2020. The scheme was originally due to pay people’s wages for three months, but last week the chancellor said that this will be extended by an extra month to the end of June.

The Government says that 5,000 HM Revenue & Customs staff will operate the scheme and that it will be able to handle up to 450,000 applications an hour.

The portal opened at 8am today and Jo Stroud of Fabulous Jewellers managed to apply by 8.20am. Jewellers that logged in past 8.30am have since experienced ‘technical difficulties’, crashes and delays… but those discussing the scheme on LinkedIn have all managed to get through eventually.

For more info on how this scheme works, see our Furlough FAQS, or read more information and advice for businesses on our Advice Desk page.

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The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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