The government recognises the huge challenges faced by many businesses in light of the Coronavirus epidemic. In both the Budget, and subsequent Downing Street Statements, the Chancellor has announced a range of support for businesses and the economy.
Full details of the measures that have been announced so far can be found here.
Closing certain businesses and venues
On 23rd March, the government increased measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus. All businesses listed here must close.
Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance below. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.
Employees should only go to work if it is impossible to work from home.
Support for businesses affected
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
For the first time in British history, the government is stepping in to pay people's wages. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month - above median earnings.
- The scheme is open to any employer in the country, and will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st. There is no limit on the funding for the scheme, and the government will pay to support as many jobs as needed.
- The scheme is open to employees who were on the payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract including agency, flexible and zero-hours contracts.
- Importantly, employees must not undertake any work for the company whilst furloughed.
- The scheme will open before the end of April, for at least 3 months.
VAT and tax payments
The next quarter VAT payments can be deferred, and no business will pay VAT between now and mid-June. Businesses will have until the end of the next Financial Year to repay those bills. Click here to find out how to defer a VAT payment.
- All businesses in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through the HMRC's Time To Pay service.
Support for businesses paying sick pay.
The government will allow employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for absence due to coronavirus.
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of coronavirus.
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
- eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home 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
Business Rates Holiday
The government is offering a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in the 2020/21 tax year.
Nurseries are also eligible, if they are providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register, or are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Further information about the scheme and how it will be administered can be found at here.
Retail and Hospitality Grants
The Retail and Hospitality Grants Scheme provides businesses the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant.
- Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a cash grant of £10,000.
- Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.
Small Business Grant Scheme (for businesses that pay little or no business rates)
Small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief and tapered relief are eligible for a one off grant of of £10,000.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SME's with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs.
The government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan, to give lenders the confidence to continue providing finance.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will purchase short term debt from larger companies.
More information is available from the Bank of England.
COVID-19 Useful Resources
A number of additional free resources are available to support small businesses during the crisis, including:
- Dept for BEIS: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/
- Business Support Helpline 0300 456 3565
- Government whatsapp service on 07860064422
- Enterprise Nation: https://www.enterprisenation.com/coronavirus-support/
- BT Skills for Tomorrow: https://www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow/
- Small Business Britain support: https://smallbusinessbritain.uk/coronavirus
- Join Small Business Saturday for Facebook Live daily business support: https://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturdayUK
- The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs Business Survival Toolkit: https://campus.ioee.uk/