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What are the rules?

State aid rules are contained in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (previously referred to as the Treaty of Rome). The State aid rules prohibit the use of state resources, or any public support with an economic value, which given selectively has the capacity to distort trade by favouring certain undertakings, or the production of certain goods, and which has the potential to affect trade between Member States. Where aid is present it must not be granted unless it has been specifically approved in advance by the European Commission or benefits from a general exemption to the rules.

In general, the rules apply to all State actions which might assist businesses including:

  • Grants
  • “Soft” loans
  • Selling to business at an undervalue
  • Buying from business at an overvalue

Related FAQs

Can I be investigated or prosecuted by HSE if one of my workers contracts Covid-19?

The reality of these unprecedented times is that enforcement of health and safety legislation by the HSE (particularly through the criminal courts) in relation to Covid-19 is an extremely unlikely outcome.

I don’t live in the same home as my child’s other parent. Can my child move between each house?

If you are separated from your child’s other parent, government guidance about self-isolation and social distancing may have an impact on the contact arrangements that are in place and give rise to disagreements about spending time with the other parent, travelling arrangements and whether the child should continue to go to school, where one of the parents is a key worker and a school place is available.

The government has issued guidance which makes it clear that where parents do not live in the same household, children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

Cafcass has also issued guidance which states that, “unless there are justified medical/self-isolation issues – or some future nationally issued guidance or expectation associated with leaving the house in your area – children should maintain their usual routine of spending time with each of their parents. If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place this should be complied with unless to do so would put your child, or others, at risk”.  The guidance from Cafcass be accessed here.  https://mcusercontent.com/2750134472ba930f1bc0fddcd/files/987e77d6-0827-470c-9447-acc61404f465/CAFCASS_Covid19_advice_for_familes_20.pdf

What other financial support is available for self-employed individuals?

Although these measures fall short of the level of assurance given to employees both in terms of eligibility for an immediacy of access to payments, they are a vast improvement on the support for self-employed workers that has been put in place until now. Current support includes:

  • Access to business interruption loans
  • Self-assessment tax payments that were due in July 2020 have been deferred until January 2021
  • VAT is deferred until the next quarter
  • The introduction of Time to Pay arrangements under which deferrals for HMRC payments can be agreed
  • The minimum income floor for universal credit has been suspended which will allow self-employed workers to access the equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • Universal credit and tax credit payments to increase by £1000 per year
Can employees volunteer if they have been furloughed?

Yes. The Government has confirmed that those on furlough will also be permitted to volunteer to help the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak without risking their pay.

Can an employee on family related leave be furloughed?

Yes, but your claim will be limited to any enhanced contractual payments you make to employees who qualify for the relevant family related pay.

All maternity and parental rights remain in force for anyone in this category who is furloughed. However you may need to calculate average weekly pay differently if the employee was furloughed and then started family related leave on or after 25 April 2020.

Furlough pay cannot be claimed for the period that an employee is receiving Maternity Allowance. An employee can agree to accept furlough pay but they must contact Jobcentre Plus to stop their Maternity Allowance payments for this period.