Rapid testing, bounce back loans, court regulations and the latest R rate

Updates on rapid testing, bounce back loans, court regulations and the latest R rate

We have a few updates for you:

Pay as You Grow – Bounce Back loan repayments made more flexible

The Government has announced this morning that businesses which took out government-backed Bounce Back Loans to get through Covid-19 will now have greater flexibility to repay their loans. The Treasury’s Pay as You Grow flexible repayment will enable borrowers to tailor their repayment schedule, with options to:

  • Extend the length of loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half), 
  • Make interest-only payments for six months 
  • Pause repayments entirely for up to six months.

The Chancellor has now extended the flexibility of the third option, which will now be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made. This will mean that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.  This is in addition to the government covering the costs of interest for the first year of the loan.  You can find more details of the announcement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-eases-burden-on-more-than-a-million-businesses-through-pay-as-you-grow-flexible-repayment-options

Workplace Rapid Testing Programme Expanded

Today, the government has confirmed that it has widened the criteria for joining the workplace rapid testing programme from businesses with more than 250 employees, to businesses with more than 50 employees.  This hugely increases the number of different businesses that are able to sign up, so that small and medium size companies can benefit from rapid testing. 

Testing is key to breaking the chains of transmission. More than 2.5 million tests have been distributed across the public and private sectors so far, and an online portal has been launched to make it even easier for business in the private sector to get involved and find out more about offering rapid testing in the workplace.  You can find the online portal here: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

You can register to order tests if:

  • your business is registered in England
  • you employ 50 people or more
  • your employees cannot work from home

Around one in three people who have coronavirus (COVID-19) have no symptoms and may be unknowingly spreading the virus. This expansion of testing will find more positive cases, keeping workers who cannot work from home unknowingly passing on the virus and protecting vital public services. 

Updated Operational Q&A for Court Safety for legal professionals

The Operational questions and answers document which followed the webinar on Court Safety which took place on 21 January has been updated, and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hmcts-online-event-21-january-2021-court-safety-for-legal-professionals

Latest R and growth rate data

The latest R range for the UK (as reported Friday 5th February) is 0.7 to 1.0.  The latest growth rate range for the UK is -5% to -2% per day.  An R value between 0.7 and 1.0 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 7 and 10 other people.  A growth rate of between -5% and -2% means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between 2% and 5% every day.  You can find more details here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-r-number-in-the-uk

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