Sick Pay

The government are putting forward legislation that would allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim SSP that has been paid due to COVID-19. The eligible period for the scheme began on the 13th of March.

The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work due to COVID-19.

To qualify the employer must have had fewer than 250 employees as of the 28th of February 2020.

Those not eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
There isn’t a repayment scheme in place at the moment, but the government say that this should happen over the coming months.

Business that pay business rates

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses in England will receive 100% off business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. However, businesses who received the retail discount in the 2019-20 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority.
Businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure business operating from premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a £25,000 grant.
All of this should be handled by the relevant local authority and enquiries should therefore be directed to them. However, guidance for local authorities on this matter will be only be published on March 20th.

Business with little or no business rates

Businesses with a property with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will be provided with a one-off grant of £10,000 to help with ongoing business costs.

There is no application process for this as the relevant local authority should get in contact.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK employers are eligible to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. To do this, employers must designate employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify the relevant employees of this change.
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. There is no system in place at the moment but it is hoped that first payments will be made available towards the end of April and may be backdated to the 1st of March; however, this may be subject to change.
An online portal will be setup in due course where employers can submit information about furloughed workers and their earnings.

Self-Employed Workers

There is nothing in place at the moment for self-employed workers, but the government is coming under increased pressure to implement a similar scheme to the one announced for Employers. As soon as the Government makes an announcement regarding this, we will make clients aware of the scheme.

Deferred VAT Payments

The payments of VAT can be deferred for 3 months in order to help with cashflow during this time. There is no application process and all business are eligible.
The VAT deferral period is from the 20th March 2020 – 20th June 2020.
Business do not need to make VAT payments during this period. Any liabilities due during this period will be payable by the end of the 2020-21 tax year.

Income Tax

HMRC have also deferred self-assessment payments due by the 31st of July 2020 until the 31st of January 2021.

There is no application process, and this is eligible to anyone who is self-employed. There will be no penalties or interest charged during the deferral period.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

There will be a new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The scheme is expected to become available from the 23rd of March and will support loans of up to £5m. The government will be providing lenders with a guarantee of 80% to help the loans be approved and will also cover the costs of the first twelve months of interest payments. To be eligible for support via CBILS, the small business must:

  • Be UK based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum
  • Have a sound borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet a lender’s normal requirements
  • Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond £200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years.

CBILS will offer a range of business finance products, including:

  • Term facilities
  • Overdrafts
  • Invoice finance facilities
  • Asset finance facilities

Finance terms are from three months up to 10 years for term loans and asset finance and up to three years for revolving facilities and invoice finance.

In order for any small business interested to apply they should go to one of the accredited lenders with their borrowing proposal. A list of accredited lenders and what finance products are available can be found at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/
It should be noted that If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of CBILS, they will do so.

There is a dedicated helpline for those who are self-employed or running a business and are concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus. The number is: 0800 0159 559.