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Coronavirus (COVID-19) news

Visit the Government roadmap out of lockdown for the latest updates

Government roadmap out of lockdown

January 2021

6 January
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Lockdown 3.0

The Prime Minister has announced a new national lockdown that has come into effect across the UK from the 4th January 2020. This is on the back of a recent spike in the number of cases of Coronavirus across the UK throughout December and the Christmas period.   

What this means for UK businesses is that many premises and venues, such as non-essential retail, hospitality venues and accommodation facilities are required to close, until at least mid-February. The Government has published guidance on businesses and venues which must close and those that may remain open. 

To find out more about managing your business through times of uncertainty read our blog.

For UK businesses facing further uncertainty the government have announced further support they are making available to support you and your business through the coming months. In response to the latest lockdown £4.6 billion in lockdown grants have been promised to support businesses and protect jobs in the UK.   

This grant is to support businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors through one off cash payments of up to £9,000. The UK Government is also making additional funding available to local authorities so they can offer financial support for businesses not covered by the new grants. Applications can be made through your local council.  

To understand the full breakdown of the support available and the eligibility criteria for the support read the full government article here. 

For the general public this means that people need to stay at home and only leave for the following reasons:  

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person 
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home 
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. 
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one 
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse) 
  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible (vulnerable children and children of key workers) 

A definitive date for when the new lockdown will be lifted has not yet been set, however when announcing the new measures, the Prime Minister indicated the hope is after the February half term that schools will be able to return and regions can start ‘moving cautiously down the tiers’. 

To read the full announcement from government you can click here.

November 2020

4 November
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Prime Minister announcement: Lockdown 2

On Saturday 31st October 2020 the Prime Minister announced the UK will enter into a second national  lockdown from Thursday 5th November 2020, until 2nd December.

This decision has been made due to the increased number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the UK.  Plans for lockdown will be set out in Parliament on Monday, with a view to a vote taking place on Wednesday and introduction on Thursday 5th November.  

To read a full breakdown of the Prime Minister’s announcement visit the website

New lockdown measures : Find out more

Government support measures : Find out more

What this means in the UK is: 

  • People must stay at home and only leave for specific reasons:
    • If you cannot work from home
    • Daily exercise
    • Shopping for food and essentials
    • For any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies, or to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm - such as domestic abuse
    • Childcare or education where this is not provided online
  • Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment will be closed along with pubs, bars and restaurants
  • Schools and universities will stay open
  • Workplaces only stay open when people can’t work from home, and construction and manufacturing should continue
  • Households can only mix inside for childcare reasons or to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer
  • Single adult household support bubbles can continue
  • Clinically vulnerable over age of 60 must be especially careful

Job Retention Scheme 

As a result of this imposed lockdown, the government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) through to the 2nd of December to ensure businesses that cannot remain operational can still support their employees, by placing them on ‘furlough’ via the JRS.

The specifics of the extension are yet to be fully disclosed and we will share this information as soon as it becomes available. What we do know is the extension is time limited and will continue to be adjusted in line with the spread of COVID-19.

To find out if you are eligible for the Extended JRS scheme click here

Job Retention Scheme: Product Update

At Sage, our priority is to support you and your business through these uncertain times, as we did during the first national lockdown and have throughout challenges since.  We are working hard to ensure you have all you need from us and more. We’re continually updating our products so they are in line with the latest government changes and legislation updates. And we have free resources, including webinars, advice and support articles, to help you manage your business and your employees in the coming weeks.

We will release an update to the Sage JRS module soon to support you through the next round of claims.  

For 50Cloud Payroll customers who do not use the module, we will update all our manual processing guides with the new guidance once details have been confirmed by HMRC.

Our Sage Business Cloud Payroll guidance will also be updated and will be released once confirmation on  the details around the Scheme have been released by HMRC.

Job Support Scheme : Update

As a result of the recent announcement, and the upcoming lockdown the Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

As more information becomes available from Government we will update you to the changes, and the new start date for the JSS.

September 2020

30 September
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NEW: Winter Economy Plan

On Thursday 24th September 2020 the Chancellor outlined the Government’s Winter Economy Plan, which outlines the latest updates to the Treasury’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  

In the Winter Economy Plan, the chancellor announced updates to existing support measures and the introduction of a new ‘Job Support Scheme’, which will start on the 1st November after the Job Retention Scheme comes to a close.

To read our blog on the Winter Economy Plan click here

NEW SCHEME: Job Support Scheme

The government has introduced a new scheme to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19 impacts.   

This scheme will run for 6 months, starting from the 1st November 2020 through to the end of April 2021.

The Job Support Scheme will see Government pay grants to contribute to the wage costs of employees who are working at least a third of their normal hours. The UK Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third, ensuring employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages (assuming the Government contribution has not been capped).

To be eligible for the scheme, businesses and their employees must meet the following criteria:

  • Employees for whom grants are being claimed must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020.
  • The employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours for the first 3 months of the scheme. After this period, the Government will consider whether to increase this minimum threshold.
  • Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee.
  • All SMEs will be eligible for the scheme. Larger businesses will also be able to access this support if they meet a financial assessment test.
  • Employees do not have to have been furloughed under the previous Job Retention Scheme to be supported by the Job Support Scheme. For employees who meet the criteria of the Job Retention Bonus, the employer can still claim the job retention bonus if they use the Job Support Scheme

How the scheme will operate:

  • Employees will need to work at least a third of their normal hours, for which they must receive their normal contracted wage
  • For every hour not worked by the employee, both the Government and employer will pay a third each of the usual hourly wage for that employee. The Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month.
  • The grant will not cover Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions. Employers must still cover the costs of these contribution.
  • Employers must agree these new arrangements with their staff, make any changes to the employment contract by agreement, and notify the employee in writing.
  • Grants will be paid monthly from December 2020. Employers will be able to make a claim online from December 2020.

More detail can be found on the Job Support Scheme here.

Self Employed Support

The Government will look to support the self-employed through negative financial impacts due to COVID-19 through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme Grant Extension.

The SEISS Grant Extension will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade, but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19.

The SEISS Grant Extension will provide two grants and will last for 6 months, from 1st November to April 2020. The two lump sum instalments will each cover a 3-month period, with the first grant covering 3 months from November to January, and the second from the start of February to the end of April.

The first grant will be taxable (so subject to Income Tax and NICs) and will cover 20% of average monthly trading profits, up to a cap of £1875. The Government has said this will provide broadly the same support as seen through the Job Support Scheme, and the Government will set the support for the second grant in due course.

Additional support the self-employed will also be offered through measures to allow any self-assessed income taxpayers to extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from January 2020. 

VAT Cut for hospitality & tourism

The temporary application of reduced rate of VAT for goods and services provided in the Hospitality and Tourism sectors has been extended. This temporary application of the reduced rate, which is set at 5%, was scheduled to expire in January 2021, but has now been extended to March 31st 2021.

Extension of access to finance schemes

The deadline for new applications to four existing temporary finance schemes has been extended to the 30th November 2020. The schemes to which the new deadline will apply are as follows – Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and the Future Fund.

The Treasury has also announced changes to the Bounce Back

Bounce Back Loans

To ease the repayment burden for businesses accessing Bounce Back loans, the Treasury has announced changes to loan terms in measures they are calling “pay as you grow” ease the repayment burdens for the loans through measures called “pay as you grow”. 

“Pay as you grow” will ensure that all businesses who have borrowed under the BBLS scheme will have the option to repay their loan over a period of up to 10 years, an extension to the previous maximum of 6 years. For businesses who choose to extend repayments over 10 years – their monthly repayment will almost half.

For businesses struggling to make repayments, “interest only” payments will be made available for periods of up to six months, which can be used up to a maximum of three times.

For businesses who are struggling to make any form of repayments, they can apply to have the repayments suspended altogether for up to 6 months, if they have previously made at least six payments. This option can only be used by a business once. 

No business taking up “pay as you grow” will see their credit rating affected. 


The chancellor announced that the government will allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan to up to 10 years, ensuring that the Government Guarantee will remain effective for this time.  A new successor loan scheme is expected to be made available in January 2021.

VAT deferral “New Payment Scheme”

Under existing support measures announced at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, businesses were able to defer VAT payments due for March to June 2020 until March 2021.  HM Treasury has updated that businesses who have deferred VAT payments will now be able to spread the deferred bill over 11 equal smaller repayments, with zero interest charged.

Businesses will need to opt-in, with HMRC putting in place the process to do so in early 2021. All businesses who deferred VAT payment will be eligible.

30 September
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NEW: Local Lockdown support for businesses

In addition to the measures in the Winter Economy Plan, the government have introduced support schemes for businesses who have been impacted or forced to close as a result of local lockdown measures

These measures are only available to businesses in England who are impacted by local restrictions that have been required to close. Any businesses still closed at a national level (for example nightclubs) will not be eligible for the scheme.

Under the scheme, businesses forced to close via a national decision to close businesses in a high incidence area will be able to grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks. The scheme will operate as follows:

  • if a business occupies a premises with a rateable value less than £51,000 or occupies a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of less than £51,000, it will receive £1000
  • if a business occupies a premises with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above or occupies a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of exactly £51,000 or above, it will receive £1500
  • Local authorities will be responsible for distributing the grants to businesses who are eligible.

For more information on the support available for businesses closed by local lockdowns – visit the government information page here.

July 2020

8 July
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NEW: VAT rate change

In the Summer Statement on 8 July 2020, the chancellor shared the government's plans to reduce the VAT rate for certain goods and services supplied by hospitality and tourism sectors from the standard rate of 20% to the reduced rate of 5%.

The change comes into effect on 15 July 2020 and runs until 12 January 2021. This targeted support forms part of the government’s plan to help restart the economy and support businesses most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. While no other changes around VAT have been announced, and only specific industries are impacted by this change, it’s important that everyone understands what this means.

Businesses that buy and sell food, provide accommodation or manage attractions will need to update their software for this VAT change. Sage is uniquely positioned to support businesses through this, just as we have done in the past with automatic enrolment, Real Time Information and Making Tax Digital.

As a Sage customer, we want you to know that we’re working on support and guidance to help you and your business manage the changes as soon as they come into effect. Over the coming days, we’ll share further information about what the changes are, and how you can manage them within your software.

In the meantime, to find out more about the specific changes to VAT and what this means for your business, visit the website.

8 July

NEW: Chancellor's summer statement

During the Summer Statement on 8 July 2020, the chancellor announced a package of additional measures to aid the economic recovery as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. These measures are not only built to create and support jobs in the UK but to encourage employers to bring staff back to work and continue moving to rebuild the economy.

The three main aspects of the announcement from the chancellor are:

  • Job Retention Bonus
  • Kickstart programme
  • Eat Out To Help Out

The chancellor also announced a £2,000 payment for firms to take on young apprentices, a cut in stamp duty (raising the threshold from £125,000 to £500,000, effective immediately), a scheme to encourage employers to introduce traineeships, an energy voucher scheme, and a VAT rate cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

To read more about the statement in detail, visit the website.

Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus will reward businesses that bring furloughed employees back to work. The government will give businesses a one-off bonus payment of £1,000 for each employee that is successfully returned to work and meets set criteria.

In order for your business to be eligible for the Job Retention Bonus, furloughed employees must:

  • Still be employed through to the end of January 2021
  • Have been paid an average of at least £520 per month between the end of the Job Retention Scheme (which concludes on 31 October 2020) and the end of January 2021

Payments to businesses that meet this criteria will be made in February 2021.

Kickstart programme

The Kickstart programme will provide job opportunities in the private sector for people under 25 who are on Universal Credit. The Government will provide funding for employers to offer six-month placements, with the scheme covering the costs of 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and minimum automatic enrolment contributions. This wage and associated administrative cost support is expected to total around £6,500 per Kickstart employee.

Businesses won’t have to pay anything for Kickstart scheme employees, however employers can choose to top up wages while the placement is running. The programme is available to all businesses, with no caps on the number of places each business makes available.

Eat Out To Help Out

This scheme is aimed at supporting the hospitality sector throughout August 2020. It will allow customers who have a sit-down meal and non-alcoholic drinks (up to £10 per head) to save 50% on their food bill when they eat out at participating establishments from Mondays to Wednesdays.

Businesses that sign up for the scheme will be able to claim the money back from the government on a weekly basis through August, with funds being paid into their bank account within five working days. To participate, eligible businesses need to register via a website, which opens opening on 13 July 2020.

We’ll keep you updated as more details on the various schemes are announced.

1 July
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NEW: Job Retention Scheme updated

Today, the newest changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme come into effect. These changes mark the beginning of Phase 2 of the scheme, encouraging businesses to start bringing employees back on a part-time basis whilst continuing to furlough them for time they are not at work.   

To be eligible for Phase 2 the employee must have been furloughed for at least three continuous weeks by the 30th June 2020, or be returning from parental leave, or be a military reservist. Any outstanding claims for employees who have been furloughed before the 30th June must be submitted before the 31st July.  

For more detail on the specific amendments to the Job Retention Scheme, please read our article in full.

Sage 50Cloud Payroll, accountants and bookkeepers: update to the JRS module

If you’re a Sage 50Cloud Payroll or Payroll Bureau customer, we’ve released an update for the Job Retention Scheme module today to help you and your business incorporate all the necessary changes.   

You can download the latest version of the module here.

This update covers all changes to the scheme and will continue to support you with everything you need when it comes to collating information to submit applications.   

We’ll also be updating the module in August, September, and October with each iteration of the scheme as it is released. 

Sage Business Cloud Payroll 

As a Sage Business Cloud customer you benefit from quick and secure access to the employee information you need to process your application, and we’re here to make it easy for you as we transition into Phase 2.   

To support you, all of our guides to walk you through the process have been updated with the information you need.   

Click here to see our step-by-step guide.

To stay up to date with the Job Retention Scheme and how to process claims, visit our hub, where you’ll find all the information you need.  

June 2020

17 June
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NEW: Job Retention Scheme updated

As of the 1st July the Job Retention Scheme will be moving into phase 2.

In this phase the Government have announced workers will be able to return to work on a part time basis whilst still being furloughed whilst they are not at work.  

To be eligible for Phase 2 the employee must have been furloughed for at least 3 continuous weeks by the 30th June 2020.  Any outstanding claims for employees who have been furloughed before the 30th June must be submitted before the 31st July.  

For more information on the specifics of the changes to the Job Retention Scheme, please visit our article on all of the changes to the scheme.

Over the next 4 months the scheme will continue to change for businesses, what this means for you as an employer is that the amount claimed for furloughing employees will gradually reduce over the coming months.

  • July:  the employer can reclaim 80% of the total furlough pay, as well as the Employer NI and Pension Contributions paid on the reclaimable furlough pay.

  • August: the employer can reclaim 80% of the total furlough pay. They can no longer reclaim the Employer NI and Pension Contributions paid on the reclaimable furlough pay.

  • September: the employer can reclaim 70% of the total furlough pay but must fund the remaining 10% so that the employee still receives 80%. They can no longer reclaim the Employer NI and Pension Contributions paid on the reclaimable furlough pay.

  • October: the employer can reclaim 60% of the total furlough pay but must fund the remaining 20% so that the employee still receives 80%. They can no longer reclaim the Employer NI and Pension Contributions paid on the reclaimable furlough pay.

For Sage customers we will continue to keep you up to date with all of the changes and timescales for the Job Retention Scheme.

If you are using Sage 50Cloud Payroll the job Retention Scheme module will be updated and made available to you before the changes are implemented and the new claims need to be made.

To stay up to date with the Job Retention Scheme and how to process claims, visit our hub for all of the information you will need. 



May 2020

12 May
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Job Retention Scheme Update

Today the government have announced an important update to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

The scheme has been extended for a further 4 months – until the end of October. 

There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July 2020. To find out all about the Job Retention Scheme, and how to process claims visit the Sage JRS hub.

For the moment there is no action for you to take with the announcement – or change any claims you are planning to submit up until the end of July 2020. 

From August to October the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the UK – with increased flexibility. 

This change will allow businesses who are already using the scheme to bring furloughed employees back on a part-time basis. 

The overall support employees have received during this pandemic will not change – the government will work with businesses to ensure employees still receive 80% of their salary – up to £2,500 per month. 

Further information on the changes to the scheme are expected from the government by the end of May 2020. 

Sage will continue to keep you and your product up to date with any changes to the scheme and the calculations needed to make claims. 

To find out more about all of the financial support options available to you and your business read our blog.

11 May
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Update : Self Employment Scheme ​

On Wednesday 13th May the government will open applications for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.  The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a 3 month period – and is capped at £7,500 for that period.   The grant will be subject to both Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance. 

Claims submitted are expected to be processed within 6 working days and will be issued upon completion of your application.

Details of how to claim a grant can be found here.  

Key dates for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme :

May 5th 2020 – eligibility checker went live

May 13th 2020 – application process opens – each business is allocated time slots and will be notified by HMRC

25th May 2020 (or 6 days after claim is submitted) – government will begin settling claims

How to check to see if I am eligible :

If you have not been contacted directly by HMRC regarding this scheme you are able to use the government eligibility checker – this will confirm if your business is eligible for the scheme and allocate a time slot for you to apply online. 

Government eligibility checker 

Important : Your accountant can check to see if your business is eligible for the scheme however you must complete the application yourself.  Your accountant cannot apply for you.

To use the eligibility checker you will need : UTR, NINO (National Insurance number), gateway account.  If you do not have a gateway account you can create one as part of this process. 

To find out more information on the self employment scheme visit either the government website or our detailed guide.

11 May
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Update : Government Lockdown Announcement

Last night, Sunday 10th May 2020 saw the first announcement from the UK Government, as they begin to outline their plans to start easing restrictions across the country.

For most businesses this means staff will continue to work from home, and social distancing will still be in effect.  People who are unable to work from home are now actively encouraged to return to work where possible (within specific sectors and business types) – whilst continuing to be alert, and practice safe social distancing.

For more information on social distancing in the workplace you can check the government guidelines here.

The Government will be providing more detail on which sectors and business types will be affected, along with potential dates for a phased return to work, which will remain subject to the Government’s five tests for easing lockdown restrictions. Additional guidance for how to keep your workplace safe will be provided this week.

The government has also advised that from Wednesday 13th May, people can exercise more, lifting the restrictions on the amount of time spent outdoors .  Whilst this is not a full easing of the lockdown – it is the first steps to get the UK back on track. 

To read a full transcript or to watch the announcement from the Prime Minister click here.

At Sage we are here to help you continue to manage your business in the best possible way, be it setting up your employees to continue to work remotely, apply for one of the government schemes to get financial support, or streamline your processes and optimise efficiency in your business during this difficult time. 

Access our help centre to see what support is available to you and your business.

We will continue to keep you up to date with the information as it becomes available from government and how Sage can support your business through this transition. 

6 May
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Update: Bounce Back loan scheme is now open

On Monday May 4th the UK Government opened up the applications for the bounce back loan scheme.   

This scheme is in place to support businesses who are struggling financially as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Businesses who apply for the scheme can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. 

These loans are 100% guaranteed by the government and there is no interest for the first 12 months.  There will be no repayments for the first 12 months.   

For more information on the Bounce Back loan scheme read our guide.


If you have already borrowed up to £50,000 through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme you can transfer the amount into the Bounce Back loan scheme and you can arrange this with your lender.

For a business to be eligible for the loan you must: 

  • Be based in the UK
  • Have been negatively impacted by coronavirus 

How to apply  

 To find out how to apply for the bounce back loan scheme choose from the below links to be taken directly to the website and the British Business Bank to get all of the information you need, and understand which lenders are actively supporting businesses with this scheme. – Bounce Back loan scheme

British Business Bank

April 2020

9 April
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Job Retention Scheme module - Application and claims

HMRC opened the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme for applications on the 20th April 2020. They have advised that applications submitted will be processed within 6 working days and payments made – for example if you are submitting your application on the 22nd April you will receive payment on the 30th April, applications processed on the 23rd will be received on the 1st May.  As of today there is no deadline for submitting applications to HMRC in order to claim on this scheme.

We know that many of our customers have either submitted their applications or are in the process of doing so.  In order to help you when it comes to gathering the information you need to apply we have a range of solutions available no matter the product you are using with Sage.  

To find out more information on the Job Retention Scheme  and the application process directly from HMRC click here.

Sage 50Cloud Payroll Customers : Job Retention Scheme module

The Sage Job Retention Scheme Module update is available to download now. The module will support you in gathering all of the information required to submit your claim.

To get access to the module and all of our detailed support content click here to access our Job Retention Scheme hub.

Sage Business Cloud Payroll customers : Step by step guides

As a Sage Business Cloud customer we understand the importance of being able to access the information you need for your employees in order to process your application.  To support you with that we have a range of guides to walk you through the process, the information you will need to gather, and how to get this in your software.  

Click here to see our step by step guide.

Accountants : Job Retention Scheme module

For practices using Sage 50Cloud Payroll either single user, multi user or bureau the Job Retention Scheme module is available to download now. Whether processing applications on behalf of your clients, or for your own business the module will support you in getting all of the information you will need to submit your claims.

Click here to find out everything you need to know around the Job Retention Scheme.

Click here to access the module and all of our detailed support content on the Job Retention Scheme hub.

Webinars : 

If you want to find out more about the Job Retention Scheme register for our webinars, what information you need to collect, how to reclaim, and how to process furloughed pay in Sage 50cloud Payroll :


Accountants and Bookkeepers

Sage Legal Disclaimer

All information provided by Sage (UK) Limited (“Sage”) is solely intended to provide you with general guidance on matters related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact on your business. All information is valid at the time of publishing and is intended for general guidance purposes only and is provided "as is" with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained, and without any warranty of any kind, express or implied. Sage may provide links to certain third party web sites. Sage does not accept any responsibility for, nor makes any representations as to the accuracy of, any content in such third party web sites. Whilst Sage has made every attempt to ensure that all information provided has been obtained from reliable sources, it is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the information. As such, the information does not constitute legal or professional advice and before making any decision or taking any action you should consult a professional adviser. In no event will Sage be liable to you for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental loss or damage arising out of or in connection with your use of the information provided.