LIVING WITH COVID POLICY 22nd february 2022 update

On Monday 21 February, the Prime Minister announced the removal of measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic as we learn to live with the virus. Read full details on our living with covid policy here.


In light of current government updates and the lifting of some lockdown restrictions which has been indicated will take affect from 19th July, BL Training have made the decision to keep the current covid secure procedures we currently have in place, due to the rise in covid cases nationally, but especially in the North East region. Please view full letter here. 


In response to the announcement by the Prime Minister earlier this week and updated guidance from the Department for Education, we would like to inform you of changes to our Health and Safety protocols which will take effect from Monday 17th May 2021. Please view full details here. 


As a provider, we now have been issued with a batch of tests for students to take home. You will be able to collect your home test kits from your BL Training Academy on the first day back in learning in April…Read full letter here LFT 001 – Home Testing Letter to Learners (03.21)

letter to parents, learners and employers (LATERAL FLOW TESTs)

To ensure a safe return, we request all learners have a lateral flow test prior to coming back to the academy (which can be done at local council facilities indicated via link in letter). BL will supply future tests once we have received them but prior to this, students must get one independently at a local test site before their first day back at BL. Preferably 24hrs prior to return to college so book in advance. Please view full letter with details here.


Please follow this link for all of the info you need, from how to work out apprentice wages to employer top ups: GOV UK – PAYING YOUR APPRENTICES THAT ARE FURLOUGHED


As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic increasingly affects day to day life in the UK, last week ended with the Chancellor’s statement in which he announced additional measures to allow businesses to support their employees along with further financial assistance.

In addition to informing you of financial measures, we also would like to highlight that in these chaotic times you need to remain vigilant of fraudulent activities including scams. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and HMRC have issued warnings to watch out for COVID-19 related scams and also emails purportedly from HMRC offering tax refunds.

The key COVID-19 business support measures, that have been announced to date, are summarised below. We have mentioned some of these before but feel that reminding clients of all of the assistance available may be helpful.

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme

The government is stepping in to help employers continue to
pay part of their employees’ salary for those who would have been laid off due to the pandemic. Initially in place for three months, this scheme is open to all UK businesses.
HMRC will reimburse 80% of the wage’s costs relating to
‘furloughed’ employees up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020..
What does furloughed mean and how to access the scheme?
A furlough is “a temporary layoff from work”. People who get furloughed usually get to return to their job after a furlough. In today’s situation this means anyone asked to stop working during the COVID-19 pandemic but not made redundant. You should be aware that employees should not undertake work for their employer whilst on furloughed leave. Therefore, the option to work less hours is not available to furloughed employees, even though this may be an employers’ preference.
At present we do not know whether this will include pensions etc. and how the cap will work in practice (e.g. is the maximum £2,500 or 80% of
£2,500?). We are assuming that the £2,500 is a gross cap.In order to implement these payments, HMRC need to update their IT systems as existing systems are unable to make payments to employers. This will take until April to complete. PAYE software also will require updating before employers can automatically add ‘furloughed’ employees to their payroll systems.


How to access the scheme

1. Employees will need to be officially designated as ‘furloughed’ employees and those employees will need to be notified of this change. Don’t forget that changing the status of an employee is subject to existing employment law and any employment contracts in place.


2. When available, employers will need to submit information in relation to their ‘furloughed’ employees through a new HMRC online portal. As soon as we have details of this portal we will let you know.


Support for the Self-employed

Although more support for the self-employed is anticipated, these are the measures that have been announced so far. Self-assessment tax payments due on 31 July 2020 by self-employed individuals will be deferred until 31 January 2021. You do not need to apply to claim this deferral, it will be automatically applied. In addition, no penalties or interest for late payment will be due in the deferral period. Self-employed people can now also access full universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.The planned changes to the IR35 off-payroll working rules have been deferred by a year to April 2021. Existing off-payroll working rules will continue for a further year.


VAT Deferral

All UK businesses are eligible for the VAT deferral which will take effect from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. Businesses do not need to make a VAT payment during this period. They will have until the end of GVB NH the 2020/21 tax year to settle any VAT liabilities which may have arisen during the deferral period. Again, no applications are required as this scheme is automatic. VAT repayments will be paid by the Government as normal.


Business rates holidays and cash grants

Any business within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year. In addition, for all businesses in England and Scotland in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, a one-off small business grant of £10,000 is available. Within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England, there is also grant funding of up to £25,000 per property for businesses with a rateable value between£15,000 and £51,000. In Scotland businesses with a rateable value between£18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. You do not need to apply for this relief or contact your local authority as plans are to deliver these automatically.


Business Interruption Loans

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)will be delivered by the British Business Bank, allowing SMEs to access bank lending and overdrafts, with interest rates similar to current bank lending. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan. CBILS is available to all UK-based business with a turnover up to £45 million and will support loans of up to £5m per business. No interest will be charged for the first 12 months as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. It should be noted that the business borrower will always remain 100% liable for the debt.More details can be found on the British Business Bank website.local authority as plans are to deliver these automatically.


The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which is co-ordinated by HM Treasury and Bank of England, will provide funding to all UK businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy. Commercial paper, also called CP, is an instrument used for obtaining short-term funding. This should help businesses across a range of sectors pay wages and suppliers, whilst they are experiencing disruption to their cash flows.


COVID-19 Government Statutory Sick Pay and how to apply

The government will meet the cost of COVID-19 statutory sick pay (SSP) for small businesses with up to 250 employees (as at 28 February 2020) for 14 days. SSP will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government advice. SSP will also be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals. The weekly allowance for SSP will increase from £94.25 to £95.85 on 6 April. People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will soon be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.


COVID-19 statutory sick pay is expected to be in the form of a refund. The Treasury says that it is “working with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism as soon as possible for employers reclaiming statutory sick pay”.


Renters and landlord protection

Under new laws, landlords will not be able to start new possession proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months. In addition, mortgage borrowers can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their lender. This applies to both residential and buy to let mortgages, providing relief to landlords whose tenants are experiencing difficulties due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. It will be expected that landlords and tenants will work together to establish affordable repayment plans, taking into consideration tenants’ individual circumstances, at the end of the period.



If you have not already done so, you should check your business insurance policies to see if business interruption cover for pandemics is in place. Confirmation has been provided that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance should they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics.


HMRC Helplines

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline providing practical help and advice to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax as a result of COVID-19. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals.


For those who are unable to pay due to COVID-19, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore


– Agreeing an instalment arrangement
– Suspending debt collection proceedings
– Cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately


The helpline number is 0800 0159 559. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.
Guidance for employees, employers and businesses


Guidance the Information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses can be found on the GOV.UK website: