General Business Help & Support News England - 27.09.2021

Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.

UK Autumn and Winter Covid Plan

Last week the Prime Minister set out the government’s plan to manage Covid throughout autumn and winter and the government will aim to sustain this progress through building defences through pharmaceutical interventions, identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission, supporting the NHS and social care, advising people on how to protect themselves and others and pursuing an international approach.

Vaccines will continue to be the first line of defence. All those who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9) will be offered booster jabs from this month – to boost immunity amongst the most vulnerable groups during winter.

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The Test, Trace and Isolate programme will continue with symptomatic PCR testing continuing throughout the autumn and winter.

Lateral flow tests will also remain free of charge but at a later stage, as the response to the virus changes, this will end, and individuals and businesses will be expected to bear the cost.

The legal obligation to self-isolate for those who have tested positive, and their unvaccinated contacts will continue, and the financial support payment for those self-isolating on certain benefits will continue in its current format until the end of March.

The coming few months could pose renewed challenges and it is difficult to predict the path of the virus so there will be a range of ‘Plan B’ measures kept under review to help control transmission of the virus while minimising economic and social damage.

Plan B would include:

  • Introducing mandatory vaccine only Covid status certification in certain, riskier settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, such as public transport and shops.
  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public if the risk level increases.

The government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary, but a final decision on this would be made at the time, dependent on the latest data – recognising the extra disruption this causes to individuals and businesses.

See: Prime Minister sets out autumn and winter Covid plan - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

New system for International travel

Eight countries will move from the red list on 22 September and the rules for international travel to England will change on 4 October 2021.

The current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4 October at 4am.

Testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take a PDT when travelling to England from Monday 4 October 4am.

See: New system for international travel - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Kickstart Scheme for employers

Employers of all sizes can apply for funding to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 December 2021. You will get funding until 30 June 2022 if a young person starts their job on 31 December 2021.

Further funding is available to provide support so that young people on the scheme can get a job in the future. You will get £1,500 funding per job. This should be spent on setup costs and supporting the young person to develop their employability skills such as training and employability support (provided by you, a Kickstart gateway or another provider), IT equipment and software and uniform or Personal Protective Equipment.

You can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant by either applying online yourself or applying through a Kickstart gateway who is already working with the Kickstart Scheme.

The funding covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions

See: How the Kickstart Scheme works - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Young people aged 12 to 15 to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine

People aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced.

The government has accepted the advice of the four UK CMOs and the NHS is preparing to deliver a schools-based vaccination programme, which is the successful model used for vaccinations including for HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP), supported by GPs and community pharmacies. Invitations for vaccination begin this week.

See: Young people aged 12 to 15 to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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