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Coronavirus - business support

Information last updated: 27 March 2020

Overview of Government support

Because some elements of business support are devolved, the measures you can access may differ if your business is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

UK GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE

SCOTLAND

WALES

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME

GOV.UK INFORMATION

Chancellor Rushi Sinak unveiled the Government's support package for the self-employed on Thursday 26 March, the 'Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme'.

For those who have suffered a loss in income, a taxable grant will be paid to the self-employed or partnerships, worth 80% of profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Initially, this will be available for three months in one lump-sum payment, and will start to be paid from the beginning of June. The scheme is open to those who were trading in the last financial year, still trading now, and planning to continue doing so this year.

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. More than half of a claimant's income needs to come from self-employment. Those who are recently self-employed and do not have a full year of accounts will not receive any help under this scheme.

There is more information on the IPSE website.

Other support that is available for the self-employed:

  • The business interruption loan scheme (see below)
  • HMRC has set up a dedicated hotline for self-employed contractors to provide advice and assistance. Call them on 0300 456 3565 to find out about more benefits, financial assistance, and employment information for the self-employed
  • Access support to pay your mortgage by visiting your bank’s website and taking advantage of the Government’s three-month mortgage holiday
  • If you rent, the Government has also announced protections over the next three months. MORE DETAILS
  • Pause on self-employed income tax payment due in July – this will be payable in January 2021 to help with immediate cashflow problems
  • If you need immediate financial assistance, you need to get into the system for Universal Credit as soon as possible. For the self-employed who are sick, Employment and Support Allowance (£94.25 a week) is available through Universal Credit. Universal Credit also covers Jobseeker’s Allowance (also £94.25 a week) and you can also apply for extra costs to cover housing expenses.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME (UK-WIDE) 

All UK businesses are eligible for this scheme, which will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage cost, capped at £2,500 a month, to help businesses to keep staff on.

Although HMRC is currently working on an online system to manage this, there is one step you need to take right now to access the scheme - you need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify them of this change. When HMRC’s new online portal for this scheme goes live, you can then use it to inform HMRC which employees have been ‘furloughed’.

But make sure that you take the first step now – of designating affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notifying them of this change.

**NEW - 27 March**
Details of how the Job retention scheme will work for both employers and employees: FOR EMPLOYERSFOR EMPLOYEES

CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME (UK-WIDE) 

The scheme is now open and independent sector healthcare providers can apply. To be eligible, your business must be: 

  • UK-based, with a turnover of no more than £41 million per annum 
  • Able to confirm they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years 
  • In possession of a well-thought-through borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet the lender’s requirements. 

Please note that this is a loan scheme, not a grant, and must be repaid. To apply, approach your bank (or one or more of the 40+ accredited lenders) directly. 

MORE INFORMATION ON THE BRITISH BUSINESS BANK WEBSITE

HMRC TAX HELPLINE

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed. Call the helpline on 0800 0159 559. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.

For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore: agreeing an instalment arrangement; suspending debt collection proceedings; cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.

FILING ACCOUNTS WITH COMPANIES HOUSE

Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus has affected your business and you need more time to file your accounts. If you need additional time to file your accounts with Companies House, you can apply to have an extension. Applying for this can help you avoid a late submission penalty. Details on how to apply for an extension can be found here.  

SICK PAY

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers 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 two 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, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note;
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators 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. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

Details on how to make a claim will be available soon.

SUPPORT FOR LARGER BUSINESSES (UK-WIDE)

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. it will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.

CASH GRANTS (ENGLAND)

See below for details of cash grants in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The Small Businesses Grant Scheme provides funding to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because they benefit from small business rates relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. If you are a small business, you can access a one-off grant of £10,000. If your business is based in England and you already receive SBBR and/or RRR and your business occupies the property in question, you are eligible and do not need to act. Your local council will write to you.

Details of another cash grant scheme for a wider range of businesses are expected from the Government soon. In the meantime, you do not need to act. The government will issue guidance shortly and your local authority will write to you to inform you if you are eligible for this grant. When in place it will work as follows:

  • Eligible retail businesses with a property rateable value of under £15,000, will receive a grant of £10,000
  • Eligible retail businesses with a property rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000, will receive a grant of £25,000. 

BUSINESS RATES AND OTHER SUPPORT

ENGLAND

If your business is classed as 'retail', with a rateable value of less than £51,000, then you will not pay any business rates this year (leisure and hospitality category businesses will also not pay business rates this year). The detailed guidance does not make any reference to hearing services, and BSHAA and others are seeking clarification on this. In local areas that do agree to include hearing care, businesses may find the relief automatically applied to their next business rates bill in April.

WALES

The Welsh Government has announced a package of support worth £1.4bn for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses receive 100% business rates relief for the financial year 2020/21. For retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000, a grant of £25,000 will be offered. It also provides a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Businesses that qualify for this support will not need to do anything to apply for this scheme. This will be administered through the Business Rates system. You do not need to contact your Local Authority about this, you will receive information in due course.

SCOTLAND

The Scottish government has so far announced that with effect from 1 April there will be a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism; £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief; £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000; and 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.

£10,000 grant applications are now open for small businesses in Scotland. Qualification criteria: In receipt of Small Business Bonus rates relief scheme/Rural Relief/Nursery Relief/Disabled Relief. The grant is related to your business premises - if you are working from home it's not clear if it applies. Application forms can be downloaded from your local council's website - search CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND. Closing date for applications: 31st March 2021.

NORTHERN IRELAND 

There will be a three-month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities. This means that no rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020, reducing the 2020-21 annual rate bill for business ratepayers by 25%. The Northern Ireland Executive has announced two grants to be made available to businesses affected by coronavirus. A grant of £25,000 to be provided to companies in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 up to £51,000. A grant of £10,000 to all small businesses which are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief scheme. Details of these have yet to be published.                                              

FURTHER RESOURCES AND HELPLINES

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have a business support line on 0300 456 3565 or email them on enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org

The CBI
www.cbi.org.uk/articles/supporting-businesses-impacted-by-the-coronavirus

Federation of Small Business
www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html

Institute of Directors
www.iod.com/news-campaigns/news/articles/COVID-19-coronavirus-advice-and-resources

ACAS – for employment and HR related questions
www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Don’t forget your local Chamber of Commerce and your local authority.