Coronavirus: Support for Businesses

For Business Support visit www.businesssupport.gov.uk

For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus and for the latest Government advice, visit gov.uk/coronavirus

As we manage our way through this period, the government has been clear that our overriding priority is to protect lives. But we also need to protect the economy, shielding it from this crisis as best we can and ensuring that once we get through this, we can grow once again. That’s why the government has announced such a significant package of financial support. It is on a scale never seen before.

This page sets out the support being offered by government to impacted businesses as at the date shown above. This includes measures announced at the Budget on 11th March 2020 and subsequent announcements. 

The package includes the following measures, which are set out in more detail below:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank, which are interest free for 12 months. 
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers (big or small, and any sector) 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. The Government funding, administered by HMRC, will cover 80% of an employees monthly salary up to £2,500 per month. 

In order to access the scheme you will need to designate affected employees as "furloughed workers". ensuring you notify the individuals of this. Note that changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. 

During the period of being furloughed the employee will remain on your payroll and is not permitted to work for you or any other business. 

HMRC are currently establishing the system for the reimbursement. This will be active by the end of April 2020, and will reimburse wages from 1st March 2020. It will be active for a minimum of 3 months from 1st March 2020 and extended if necessary. 

 

VAT

Businesses are being supported by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. This deferral will apply from 20th March 2020 until 30th June 2020. 

All UK businesses are eligible and no applications are required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

 

Statutory Sick Pay Relief

Under the Emergency Coronavirus legislation currently passing through Parliament, SMEs (250 employees or less) will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. 

This will cover up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work as a result of the virus. 

A rebate scheme is currently being developed and further details will be announced once the necessary legislation has been passed by Parliament. 

 

Business Rates

All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive a business rates holiday for 2020/21 and so a 100% discount will be applied resulting in no rates being paid. This covers all shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs / bars, cinemas, live music venues, hotels, guest premises and leisure facilities. 

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

There is no maximum rateable value, and there is no action you need to take. As this discount is administered by the Council on behalf of Government, this will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. 

 

Grant Funding

The Retail Hospitality Grant Scheme will provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant. The grant amount will be:

  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000: Grant of £10,000.
  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000: Grant of £25,000.

 

Businesses are eligible for this Scheme if they are in the UK and the business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector. This covers all shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs / bars, cinemas, live music venues, hotels, guest premises and leisure facilities.

This Scheme is administered by the Council on behalf of Government and no action is needed. The Council will contact all eligible businesses. 

 

Businesses Paying Little or No Business Rates

The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Again, this scheme will be administered by the Council on behalf of Government and no action is required. The Council will contact all eligible businesses. 

 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in week commencing Monday 23rd March 2020 to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

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. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.

Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

To be eligible for a CIBL a business must be UK based, have a turnover of no more than £45m per year and meet the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria. 

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

 

HMRC Time To Pay

All businesses 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.

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

If you’re worried about a future payment, please call them nearer the time due to the volume of current calls. 

 

Monetary Policy

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.

The facility will offer financing on terms comparable to those prevailing in markets in the period before the Covid-19 economic shock, and will be open to firms that can demonstrate they were in sound financial health prior to the shock. The facility will look through temporary impacts on firms’ balance sheets and cash flows by basing eligibility on firms’ credit ratings prior to the Covid-19 shock. Businesses do not need to have previously issued commercial paper in order to participate.

All UK businesses are eligible for this and it will become active in week commencing 23rd March 2020. 

Full details are available from the Bank of England

 

Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th 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. The Government also announced on Friday 20th March that all pubs, theatres etc must close. 

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.

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