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Spring Budget 2021 - Supporting jobs for now and for the future

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Job Retention Scheme and furlough  

The chancellor has announced a further extension to the Job Retention Scheme which will now run until 30 September.  This is a further 5 months from his announcement back in October 2020. 

What will the scheme look like in terms of Government contribution and business contributions; it is basically JRS2 all over again. 

Month 

Employee paid  

Employer recovers 

March to 30 June 2021 

80% of reference pay 

80% of reference pay 

July 2021 

80% of reference pay 

70% of reference pay 

August and September 2021 

80% of reference pay 

60% of reference pay 

It is also important to note a one-liner from the Chancellor around compliance of the JRS.  He said he was making available funds for HMRC to employ 1,000 staff to make up a task force dedicated to fraud within the scheme.  This is in addition to their usual compliance schemes and the activity of naming those employers who have claimed the grant since December 2020. 

National Minimum Wage rates 

From April the National Living Wage will rise to £8.91 from the current rate of £8.72. The table below shows the other minimum wage rates.  

Category of worker 

Hourly rate 

Aged 23 and above (national living wage rate) 

£8.91 

Aged 21 to 22 inclusive 

£8.36 

Aged 18 to 20 inclusive 

£6.56 

Aged under 18 (but above compulsory school leaving age) 

£4.62 

Apprentices aged under 19 

£4.30 

Apprentices aged 19 and over, but in the first year of their apprenticeship 

£4.30 

Apprenticeships 

Rishi Sunak has doubled the incentive payments for employers who hire new apprentices. For six months from April 1 employers will receive £3,000 per new hire.  

This is on top of the £1,000 payment already provided for new apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, meaning that some employers could receive £4,000 in total. 

Employers receive payments as two equal instalments for each apprentice. The first payment is after an apprentice completes 90 days of their apprenticeship and the second is after 365 days.  

Meanwhile, new flexi-job apprenticeships are set to be introduced. These portable apprenticeships will enable people who need to work across multiple projects with different employers to benefit from the high quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides.  

Apprentices will register with an agency, rather a specific employer, enabling them to acquire skills and experience with several companies working in their chosen field. 

The initiative is aimed at industries with flexible working patterns, such as film and television, and will enable employers with access to a diverse apprenticeship talent pipeline.  

The Government will introduce a £7m fund from July this year to help employers in England set up and expand these new apprenticeships, with the first expected to start in January 2022.  

Apprentices can already take their apprenticeship with them when they move jobs, however the expectation is that an apprentices will stay with their current employer.  

This initiative is set up with short term contracts/projects in mind.  

Growing SMEs 

The Chancellor also announced plans for a ‘Help to Grow’ scheme for SMEs to upskill.  

The Government’s aim is for a new UK-wide management programme to upskill 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises over three years. 

The 12-week programme, which will be 90% subsidised by the Government, will equip SMEs with the tools to grow their businesses.  

The Budget’s costing document shows the Government has set aside £60m for this scheme in 2021-22 and then £75m for 2022-23. It is unclear at this stage which Government department will be responsible for the scheme. 


For further information or advice, get in touch with one of our payroll team on 0808 144 5575 or email help@armstrongwatson.co.uk

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The deadline for April 2021 claims is 14 May 2021, so please submit claims to jrs@armstrongwatson.co.uk.