COVID-19 Business Support Measures

Victoria Scally News

 Last updated: 9th April 2020 

Businesses all over the country are encountering real, painful problems due to the disruption of COVID-19 aka Coronavirus.

The support announcements and COVID-19 business finance measures have been coming thick and fast.

This blog will be updated as more news appears.

The main source of information from the government is located here.

If you haven’t already, we suggest bookmarking the above link, and check back often.

Broadly the support that is currently being offered is:

Support for the Self Employed (this does not cover limited company directors)

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

  • You can claim a grant of 80% of average monthly trading profits for last 3 years; max £2500 per month. You can claim for 3 months initially.
  • This is for people with the majority (more than half) of their income from self-employment (based on their tax return).
  • This is not claimable if you have average trading profits over £50,000.
  • You must have filed a 2018/19 tax return, have traded in this tax year and be looking to continue next year.
  • If you are late filing your 2019 tax return, you can do so in the next 4 weeks (by 23rd April).
  • HMRC will write to you to tell you how to apply online. There is no action needed (apart from getting any overdue tax return in).
  • This will be paid directly into your bank account in one lump sum.
  • This help won’t work if you didn’t do a tax return last year / became self employed after 6th April 19
  • This is expected to come in June…
We await further detail.

HMRC Guidance is HERE.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay

If you have employees off sick due to self isolation, you can pay them sick pay from day one.

This is reclaimable so there is no cost to you as an employer.

Currently there is no way to offset or claim the repayment; more details are due in the coming months.

If you are cash strapped, one option would to be reduce your PAYE amount by this amount in anticipation of the repayment mechanism.

This is how this type of reclaim used to work previously. If you don’t hand over any PAYE then unfortunately at this time there may be a cashflow strain.

**you may still have debt collection action in the intervening period if you choose not to pay your PAYE**

Support for businesses that pay business rates

If you are in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector you will have no business rates to pay now. You receive 100% relief in 20/21.

This 100% relief has been extended as of the 18th March to Nursery’s on Ofsted’s Early Years Register.

If you are in the retail, hospitality or leisure industry and have a premises with a ‘rateable value’ (find this on your business rates bill) of over £15,000, you will also receive a £25,000 grant. You had to be registered for rates as of 11th March for this to work.

Claim per business is 1 per eligible site.

Please make sure your business name is correct on your rates bill.

This will be automatically calculated by your local authority. There are no timescales currently, but according to the local authority guidance they will receive the money on 1st April.

Details are now available HERE

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

If you pay little or no business rates as you receive small business rates relief, you should receive a one off grant of £10,000.

There is no need to apply, you will be contacted by your local authority in April. Many of these letters have already arrived with businesses and have been asked to apply online.

You needed to be registered for rates/Small Business Rate Relief as at 11th March 2020 to be eligible.

Please make sure your business name is correct on your rates bill.

Claim per business is 1 per eligible site.

This will be automatically calculated by your local authority.

Details are now available HERE

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

There are potentially cheap loans, overdrafts and invoice finance facilities being offered by the British Business Bank.

They initially were quite restrictive in terms of which businesses can apply for them but this is slowly changing.

They are for £25,000 upwards.

On the 3rd April, the Chancellor has said now that personal guarantees from directors will not be needed for loans up to £250,000. Over this, a guarantee is likely to be needed but only for 20% of the loan (the bit the government isn’t guaranteeing).

There has also been a removal of the need to have effectively been declined for a normal (usually more expensive) loan before you could apply.

Having spoken to some local banks, it appears if your need is under £25,000, you may need to use the normal methods (overdrafts, loans etc).

In order to apply for these, guidance is HERE.

Support for businesses paying tax via the ‘Time to Pay’ service

If you have outstanding liabilities with HMRC you can request further time to pay on 0800 0159 559.
Several clients have used this service and have had great responses.

This seems currently the best way of instantly making yourself more cash-secure, if you have say a corporation tax or PAYE payment due shortly. The rest of the measures are not quick cash flow fixes at this time.

For VAT, you can defer the payment now for 3 months anyway (see below).

Support for VAT payments

HMRC are supporting business by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months.

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is automatic, you do not need to call.

You should cancel your direct debit with HMRC if you have one, otherwise payment could still be taken.

Support for Employers to pay employees (and Limited Company Directors)

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, 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. You needed a PAYE scheme as of 28th Feb.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of ‘furloughed’ (basically laid off) workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Details of how employers National Insurance and pension contributions are to be calculated in this limit are still due.

In order to use the scheme you will need to tell employees they’ve been ‘furloughed’ and then apply for the payment through a new HMRC portal (that doesn’t exist yet – expected end of April).

Furloughed employees cannot carry out any work for the company. They may attend training. The must be furloughed by a minimum of 3 weeks.

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. You will be able to submit online one claim every 3 weeks.

The money will be paid into a UK bank account. All monies received must be paid to employees and no fees can be deducted by the employer.

Claims can be backdated to 1st March and are based on salaries as at 28th February. If their salary varies there is further guidance in the HMRC details below.

If you have more than one job you can be furloughed on each. You can carry out another job while on furlough, presuming your employment contract doesn’t restrict you.

As of the 4th of April, HMRC have said directors can furlough. They have said you may perform any duties required to fulfil your statutory duties (say filing accounts, returns etc), but no more ‘than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, for instance, they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.’

For a director on say a tax efficient salary of around £8500 a year, this is worth approximately £565 a month.

HMRC details HERE.

Support for the self-employed who need to pay tax in July

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, 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.

Income Tax payments due in July 2020 will be deferred to January 2021. This is really good as it means if you’ve had a big dip in trade, and get your tax return prepared, there is a possibility of not even having to pay the full amount of that payment on 31st January.

We would recommend getting your 19/20 tax return prepared shortly after April to see how this plays out.

But I don’t fit into any of the above?

At this time there is no further announced support for businesses that don’t fit into the above.

Please check back here for regular and further updates as they are announced.

Video update for 21st March:

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