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COVID-19 UPDATE #40 – 1ST NOVEMBER 2020

Today we share our 40th Covid-19 digest in relation to the Scottish Dental Sector this morning.
It is effectively a short ‘flash update’ from the Prime Minister’s briefing yesterday. Although it appeared that the briefing was limited to the English jurisdiction, the devil in the detail strikes once more!
His announcement regarding the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now been confirmed as a UK wide measure. Therefore the guides in our last update for the new Job Support Scheme which was originally due to launch today can be postponed. On the assumption that the Job Support Scheme is not amended again these guides will be of assistance when the extension to Job Retention Scheme ends in early December. We will keep you informed as we receive more information.

POLITICAL UPDATE

In last nights delayed press conference the PM has placed England in to full lockdown in an effort to avoid the forecasted hospital capacity shortages which will occur if the ‘r rate’ cannot be brought back below the necessary level. At this early stage we do not anticipate the full closure of English Dental Practices, but more news will emerge in the days ahead.
As I intimated last night our First Minister has indicated she will “take account” of these measures, but at this stage we do not have a unified UK wide strategy for the pandemic. Time will tell whether the requirement to enforce similar measures in Scotland will emerge. 
The English measures will commence from Thursday the 5th of November. This alignment with Guy Fawkes night I assume is only coincidental! The new measures will be voted upon in Parliament on Monday and the emergency press briefings yesterday are another demonstration of the rapidly changing environment we are living through at present.

FINANCIAL UPDATE

Job Retention Scheme (JRS)
JRS (furlough) was due to come to an end at midnight last night as I covered in yesterday’s digest. The PM announced an extension last night and the high level press briefing can be read at the following link. At this stage we do not have the full detail of what level of support will be offered during the extended month, but we are told that it will be more generous than the final stages of the original scheme. In October anyone using the Flexible Furlough Scheme (FFS) was able to receive grant support of 60% towards wage payments with 20% being paid by the practice along with the pension and NIC contributions. Our anticipation is that this support will return to the 80% levels available on launch. However employers will remain liable for pension contributions and employers NIC payments during the extension. The scheme will still allow part time working rather than the rigid furlough requirements we saw in the first iteration.
This will obviously help closed businesses in England, and where Scottish Dental Practices can benefit from furlough may be helpful here too.
As always, our recommendation is that you document any changes to your employee’s positions and if you do wish to use the furlough scheme for December you should make sure your agreement letters are accurate and retained on your furlough files for 5 years in case they are required for HMRC inspection. I am still sharing the various templates in the footer of this note should you need to amend your position at this stage.
The new Job Retention Scheme is (at this point) scheduled to run to the 5th of December. However nothing is certain with any of the government schemes during this period so I will continue to keep abreast of matters on your behalf and update in my digests with any salient points. 

Job Support Scheme (JSS Open)
After last night’s announcements we have seen the JSS(Open) scheme postponed. It is now scheduled to launch when the Job Retention Scheme ceases (currently planned for 5th December) and you do not need to take any action at this stage. It may be prudent to plan your rotas for December with the assumption that the JSS(Open) scheme will be available to you.
The templates provided last night will still be valid. However if the government deliver their checklist for short time working on the 6th November as promised I will cross reference this to the template letter draft I provided and update where appropriate for your usage. 
The templates are retained in the archive footer of documents in this message below.
As Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher said ” Change is the only constant in life“. Nothing truer than this at the present time!
I hope you find this content of value and interest. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

And Finally

Once again love and best wishes to you at this time from the full Dental Accountants Scotland team. We hope you manage to stay safe and well. Have a restful and enjoyable weekend whatever you have planned.
As a recurring reminder – our full team are now working remotely but ready and willing to continue to do all we can to support you in any way possible. Please feel free to continue to call my mobile 07375 700468 (day or night) or book a zoom online consultation here and I will be glad to support you in anyway. Our no fee advice is available to you at this time and we will do all we can as part of your team.
I invite you to keep up to date with information on our blog and to like our Facebook page to stay in touch. 

Stay safe and look after yourself and all around you at this difficult time and have lovely weekend.

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