Our helpful accountant has provided an update on the COVID-19 position as at 23/03/2020 for business support – the below information should answer many questions and outline all government initiatives ongoing for the foreseeable future:

1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – This was announced on the 20th of March. The government will be issuing grants which will cover 80% of PAYE Employees’ salaries. The scheme is open to any employer in the country and covers wages of employees who would have otherwise been laid off from 01/03/2020. The scheme will be made available by the end of April and it will continue for the next 3 months at least. Employees who joined on February 28th can still be included on this scheme. The scheme covers wages up to £2,500 a month. To claim this employers will need to designate employees as furloughed workers and notify the employee of change. Submit information about the employees through the new HMRC Portal. It is unclear at the moment when employers can expect reimbursement from HMRC of 80% of furloughed worker salaries.

2. Business Rates holiday – Business rates for the tax year 2020-21 are not payable by any businesses within the Leisure, Retail or Hospitality sectors. You should not need to take any action, the council will apply the credit to your next council tax bill April 2020.  You may have already received a bill, if this is the case we advise you to contact the council about the credit. 

3. Cash Grants for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality – The Retail and Hospitality Grant is of a value up to £25,000 – Businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000 they will receive £10,000. For businesses between £15,001 – £51,000 they will receive a cash grant of £25,000. Your business will only be eligible for this grant if you are based in England and are within the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Sectors. There is again no action required for this, your local authority will contact you. If you are unsure about your eligibility then please contact your local authority. In the links below we have included a URL to check your businesses rateable value.

4. Grant Support for businesses that pay little to no business rates – This is a grant of £10,000 for businesses who pay little to no businesses rates because of the Small business rate relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR). Eligibility required, based in England, receiving SBBR and/or RRR, you are the business occupying the property. Again no action required, if there are any questions your local authority will be best to contact, due to the information they already have to hand on your business.

5. Support for businesses paying Tax – You may be able to receive support from HMRC’s Time to Pay service if you have outstanding tax liabilities and you are worried about cashflow. The number to call will be 0800 0159 559 this is HMRC’s Dedicated Covid-19 Helpline.

6. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – This will be a viable option for almost all of our clients. This is an initiative spearheaded by the British Business Bank. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan, to give lenders the confidence to provide finance to SME’s. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for the scheme and loans of up to £5 million, will be made available. The first 12 months of the finance is interest free as the government will pay the first 12 months of interest. The scheme will be made available commencing 23/03/2020. You will need to contact your bank as soon as possible and speak with them about your plan and outline your situation to them. This will speed the process along as much as possible, we expect getting these loans to be slightly time consuming due to the availability and demand.

7. Sick pay – Small to medium sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This will cover 2 weeks SSP. This will be for employers with less than 250 employees. Staff absences and payment of SSP should be kept on record. You do not need a GP note. If evidence is required then you can get a sick note from 111 online if they were sick or living with someone who had symptoms. We are waiting for more information to be released as this is still new legislation which needs to pass through the legal system.

8. Income Tax – Payments due on the 31/07/2020 will now be deferred to 31/01/2021, if you are self employed you are eligible. There is no action required, all deferrals are automatic.

9. Self Employed – Self employed people who are affected by coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory sick pay will receive this from day one rather than the fourth day of the illness. This will be paid to those who would be staying at home from the government’s advice, not just those who are ill. Self-employed claimants on universal credit who are required to stay at home will not have a minimum income floor (assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. IR35 is also being deferred until next year. There could be more news about how the self employed will be supported over the coming days.

10. VAT Payments – The VAT payments due to will apply from 20/03/2020 – 30/06/2020. No Action required this will be an automatic deferral. This means no VAT payments are due until after June. All deferrals will need to be settled by the end of the 2020-21 tax year.

11. Insurance claims – Businesses with insurance that covers pandemics should be covered. The government and insurance companies said that the announcement made to avoid pubs, bars, etc on 17/03/2020 will be sufficient to make a claim.

Here are some links below you may find helpful with an explanation:

Check your properties rateable value 

ICAEW’s Coronavirus Hub

GOV.UK COVID-19 Guidance for employees, employers and businesses