THE NOTTINGHAM office of national accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young processed more than £1.2 million worth of furlough claims within the first two months of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) being launched.

The scheme was announced as part of a package of measures to safeguard jobs and alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses across the country. It enables employers to recover 80% of wage costs for employees on ‘furlough leave’, which was an entirely new concept.

Since its introduction, 8.7 million jobs across the UK have been furloughed (as of 31 May), with the Office for Budget Responsibility estimating the cost of the scheme to be around £60 billion. Almost 1,000 of those jobs were processed by UHY Nottingham, based in Park Row – supporting businesses across the East Midlands and helping them to stay afloat.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Nottingham, said: “These are extraordinary times that are full of uncertainty for the UK economy, and many businesses are experiencing a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The CJRS has been vital for the protection of jobs and a lifeline for many businesses, offering an alternative for employers who might have otherwise implemented redundancies, lay-offs or unpaid leave for their employees – ensuring they have a steady income – while also giving companies a degree of stability. 

“We are really proud to have processed such a substantial number of claims successfully and efficiently for our clients – guiding local employers through the hurdles of the pandemic and assisting with the survival of their business.”

On Friday, 29 May 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced further changes to the CJRS. 

The scheme will continue in its current format – with employers being able to claim 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee, and employer National Insurance and pension contributions – until the end of July 2020. After that date, employees on furlough leave will continue to receive 80% of their salary but employers will be required to start contributing under the scheme. 

The Chancellor also confirmed that a more flexible form of furlough will be introduced with effect from 1 July 2020. Several days/hours per week, which suit the needs of the business, can be agreed between employers and employees to enable a return to work on a part-time basis. 

James said: “The government has introduced several changes to the scheme as it works to re-open the economy. These include flexible furloughing, which will allow businesses to gradually increase fixed costs adjacent to lockdown measures easing. 

“We cannot emphasise enough the importance of planning ahead wherever possible, and we are anticipating a continued demand for our services as we adapt to the scheme’s changes and as businesses start to understand the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in.” 

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