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COVID-19: Business Support Guide

These are challenging times for businesses. Which is why we’ve decided to put together this guide with a round-up of the help available and the special measures put in place to help UK businesses cope with the effect of Coronavirus. This includes Co-Vid 19 Business Interruption Loans, cash grants and the latest on Employment Law. We will keep this guide up to date with the latest advice and guidance.

COVID-19 Business Support Guide

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out a package of measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes specific measures to support businesses including:

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 this crisis.

Eligibility

All UK businesses.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

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

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may also be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Deferring VAT payments

The government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Eligibility

All UK businesses.

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.

Statutory Sick Pay relief package

The government are bringing 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 is as follows”

Eligibility

Business rates holiday

The government are introducing a 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 re-billed by their local authority as soon as possible.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

Specifically, properties that are used for the following purposes will benefit from the relief:

How to access the scheme

There is no action required. 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.

Small business grants

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under will receive a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the grant if:

Specifically, properties that are used for the following purposes will benefit from the relief:

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.

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

Find your local authority.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been introduced to support SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years.

The government will pay to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will not face any upfront costs and will benefit from lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

How to access the scheme

The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites.

All major banks are offering this scheme. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Eligibility

How to access the scheme

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

If you’re worried about a future payment, you should call HRMC nearer the time.

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

Employment Law Guidance

As the virus is now spreading through community transmission in the UK, all employers and workers are being affected in some way. People’s health and well-being, and stringent measures to prevent the virus from spreading, should be at the heart of every employer’s response.

You may have concerns regarding your position with employees in these difficult times – for example, you may be considering their/your rights if they are to work from home or reducing employee hours. Please consider discussion of all these options with your employees including changing work patterns, shorter weeks etc.

For the latest guidelines and advice, check out the CIPD website: How employers should respond to Coronavirus

ACAS Employment Law Helpline

ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, and they work with millions of employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships. They are an independent public body that receives funding from the Government and provide general Employment Law support. They are available on 0300 123 1100 – Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Other Useful Advice

Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

These are extremely challenging times. However, while some eCommerce businesses are clearly experiencing a drop in revenue as people put a cap on their spend, we’ve seen many others that are actively thriving as people rely increasingly on shopping online for essential products.

Either way, if you’re looking for help with with your online offering or would simply like some friendly advice, please do drop us a line.


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