Government business support due to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Following the Chancellor’s latest update as of Tuesday 17 March, the package of temporary measures to support public services, people and businesses through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19 now includes the following:

Support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all 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 the crisis. All UK businesses are eligible.

You'll 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 that will be required).

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

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (see below).

Support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access 12 months of that finance interest free, as the government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

It's expected that the new scheme to become available in week commencing 23 March 2020. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme webpage is the best source of the latest information. As well as loans, there are many other types of finance supported by the programme, depending on the provider. You can find out what type of finance they provide on the British Bank partner page.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. The 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

Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

The government will also support businesses by 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.

VAT

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible and it's 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're self-employed you're eligible and it's 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.

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.

Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you're concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The government will introduce a 12-month business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality, childcare and leisure sectors. Businesses that meet the criteria will automatically receive a new 2020/2021 bill with a full reduction from 18 March 2020.

Find out more about businesses that are eligible.

If you don't receive an amended bill but think your business meets the criteria, please complete our Retail Discount application form.

Business grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

A £25,000 grant will also provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. We're awaiting further guidance from the government and will update the website with details when they become available.

In the meantime, if you'd like to be considered, please fill in our refund contact form. This will be sent directly to us for review. You'll need your bank details and please make sure that you also provide an email address and contact number.

Small Business Rates Relief

To support small business that have little or no business rates to pay and are in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief, a grant of £10,000 will be available. We're awaiting further guidance from the government and will update the website with details when they become available.

In the meantime, if you'd like to be considered, please fill in our refund contact form. This will be sent directly to us for review. You'll need your bank details and please make sure that you also provide an email address and contact number.

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.

Paying your business rates

If you're struggling to pay your business rates due to the impact the coronavirus is having on your business please contact us on (01226) 787787 and select option 2. An adviser will take your details and arrange for a call back from a business rates manager who can discuss with you any possible support that may be available.