If you run your own business then you’ll already know it can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. To support you during this stressful time, we’ve compiled a list of what government led support is available for those businesses disrupted by coronavirus COVID-19.
What help can I get for my business?
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out a series of measures aimed at the public services, people and businesses that are affected by COVID-19.
The coronavirus measures for businesses include the following reliefs and schemes:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- VAT and Income Tax payments to be deferred
- Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
- Business rates holidays and grant funding for eligible businesses in England
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Bank of England lending facilities to support liquidity among larger firms
- HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Access and eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will provide support for employers who are continuing to pay their staff who would otherwise have been laid off due to the impact of COVID-19.
The grant will reimburse employers for up to 80% of the salaries of workers kept on payroll, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
I’m an employer and want to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If you are an employer and want to access this grant, there are some steps to follow.
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ – that is, undertaking a temporary leave of absence due to the exceptional needs of the business.
- Tell your employees about this change (formally, in writing, is the best method).
- Submit this information to HMRC, detailing which employees have been furloughed, and their earnings. Submission is to be made through a new online portal which HMRC are in the process of setting up.
Deferred VAT and Income Tax payments
To support any businesses, including self-employed workers and companies, faced with cash flow issues due to the coronavirus pandemic, HMRC are deferring VAT and income tax payments.
VAT payments will be deferred for 3 months, with the deferral period in place from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
So, if your business is VAT registered then the good news is that you will not be required to make a VAT payment during this period.
Self-employed workers who might normally have Self-Assessment payments due in July 2020 now have until January 2021 to pay.
How do I defer my VAT or Income Tax payment?
The deferrals are applied automatically to those who are eligible, so there is no need to apply.
Keep in mind though that you will have until the end of 2020 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities which build up during the deferral period.
Importantly, no penalties will be charged for payments missed during the deferral period.
Statutory Sick Pay relief for small businesses
Small- or medium-sized business whose employees are off sick due to COVID-19 may be eligible to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
Smaller employers will be able to reclaim a refund and expenditure on up to 2 weeks’ worth of SSP paid out to eligible employees.
To be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief on COVID-19 absences
- Employers must have fewer than 250 employees as of 28th February 2020.
- Employers must maintain a record of staff absences as well as any payments of SSP made.
Due to the significant pressures currently affecting health workers, employees are not required to provide a ‘sick’ or fit note from their GP. But, if you still wish your employees to provide evidence relating to their absence, you can ask staff to get an isolation note from NHS 111 online.
If employees are isolating because they live with someone who has symptoms, you can ask them to get a note from the NHS website.
The eligibility period for the SSP relief scheme will begin the day after SSP regulations relating to those staying home are brought into force.
This is a new relief scheme and there is not yet a repayment mechanism in place, though this is something which HMRC are working on.
Business rates holidays for businesses affected by COVID-19
Social distancing and self-isolation have had a particular impact on businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, as well as for nurseries.
In light of this, the Rishi Sunak outlined plans for a business rates holiday for those operating in those industries. Find out more about business rate holidays in our article>
What is the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for SMEs?
In light of the financial impact caused by COVID-19, the British Business Bank will launch a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, supporting loans of up to £5 million.
The scheme is intended to help small and medium sized businesses access lending and overdrafts which will provide some measure of cash flow support.
To encourage lenders who might otherwise be wary of providing finance to smaller businesses in a time of economic concern, the government will guarantee 80% on each loan. This is subject to a per-lender cap, but the government will not charge businesses or banks for the scheme.
Am I eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?
There are some eligibility criteria to satisfy in order to receive the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
- Your business must be based in the UK
- Your annual turnover can be no more than £45 million
- Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria
A list of participating lenders and the full rules are available on the British Business Bank website.
Financial support for larger firms affected by COVID-19
The Bank of England has introduced a new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility to support larger firms experiencing disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The facility allows the Bank of England to ‘buy’ short term debt from any UK business, helping them to meet short-term liabilities.
Businesses given more ‘Time to Pay’ tax
HMRC’s Time to Pay service supports businesses and self-employed people who are struggling financially in meeting their tax liabilities.
Rather than risk incurring penalties and interest on missed or late tax payments due to COVID-19, those affected are encouraged to contact HMRCs helpline: 0800 0159 559
Am I eligible for HMRCs Time to Pay service?
The Time to Pay service operates on a case-by-case basis, and assesses the individual circumstances of those who need support.
Businesses who pay tax in the UK that have outstanding liabilities, or liabilities which are coming due, should contact the helpline.