COVID-19 Updated Support from Government

UPDATED SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT   As of last Friday, the 20th March the Government introduced additional support for businesses including a Job Retention Scheme. Full details on all the latest support for small businesses is continually updated and provided here. We have summarised this support below, please read carefully to find out if you need to take […]

UPDATED SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT

 

As of last Friday, the 20th March the Government introduced additional support for businesses including a Job Retention Scheme. Full details on all the latest support for small businesses is continually updated and provided here.

We have summarised this support below, please read carefully to find out if you need to take action for relevant support or if you need to sit tight to hear from local councils. If you are in need of emergency funding the Coronavirus Interruption Loan is available as of yesterday.

Join the Guild here for regular updates and information on what our network is doing locally to support each other in the coming days and weeks. If you cannot afford to contribute we will waive the membership fee until you can.

Click here for a template email to your landlord to ask for your rent to be reduced.

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME

UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible.

To access the scheme you will need to:
  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

To ensure ongoing support, HMRC has made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. If you need help call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan which is available to apply for as of today. See a list of providers here.

SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES THAT PAY LITTLE OR NO BUSINESS RATES

The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

You are eligible if:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBBR
  • you are a business that occupies property

How to access the scheme:

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to your local council.

A 12-MONTH BUSINESS RATES HOLIDAY FOR ALL RETAIL, HOSPITALITY, LEISURE AND NURSERY BUSINESSES

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme:

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Business rates holiday for nurseries

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

How to access the scheme:

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

DEFERRING VAT AND INCOME TAX PAYMENTS

The government is deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme:

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax:

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. If you are self-employed you are eligible.

How to access the scheme:

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

STATUTORY SICK PAY FOR SME’S

SME’s will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

    • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
    • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
    • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
    • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
    • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
    • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

You are eligible for the scheme if:

    • your business is UK based
    • your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

How to access the scheme:

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

INSURANCE

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.