On Friday 20th March the Chancellor announced a range of measures to help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. The information currently available is summarised below. Further details from the Government will follow, and we will keep our website updated as information is released.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Any employer, whether small, large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.

Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover 80% of the wages of staff who are unable to work but who are kept on the employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

The grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 per month per individual. This equates to up to £30,000 a year for staff whose gross salary is £37,500 per annum.

It is at the discretion of the employer whether they elect to top up the salary to 100%.

The Scheme will cover wages from 1st March and be open for a minimum period of three months. There is no limit on the amount of funding available for the Scheme.

Applications will be submitted through an Online Portal which HMRC will release in due course. HMRC are working to get the systems in place to operate the Scheme, and are aiming to have it fully operational before the end of April.

Further details of the Scheme can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Scheme is designed to help 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, to give lenders confidence to continue to provide finance.

The Scheme will support loans of up to £5million. There will be no charge for businesses or banks.
As announced on Friday, these loans are now due to be available from Monday 23rd March, and will be interest free for twelve months.

All major banks will offer the Scheme. Further details will be available from your bank or finance provider next week.
In the meantime a full list of the Scheme rules, eligibility criteria, and lenders participating is available here: British Business Bank website.

Financial support for larger businesses
The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies under the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility. All UK businesses are eligible and the scheme will be available in the week commencing 23 March 2020. Further information will follow.

VAT Deferrals
There will be a deferral of VAT payments for all businesses from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This will apply automatically and businesses simply do not need to make VAT payments during this period.

Businesses have until April 2021 to repay any liabilities accumulated during this period.

VAT refunds and reclaims will continue to be paid as normal during this time.

Support with paying statutory sick pay
Small and medium sized businesses will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for sickness absence due to Covid-19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 will be eligible. The Government will work to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. In the meantime employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments.

Support with business rates for small businesses
A Small Business Grant Scheme will provide funding for Local Authorities to businesses who are already in receipt of small business rate relief, rural rate relief and tapered relief who are based in England. This will be a one-off grant of £10,000.
No action is required to access the Scheme, your Local Authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Additional measures for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Business Rates Relief
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will have a business rates holiday for the 2020-2021 tax year. Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their Local Authority as soon as possible, no action is required. The relief will apply to the April 2020 council tax bill for eligible businesses.

A calculator is available to estimate the amount of business rate charge relief business rates calculator.

Cash grants
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme will provide small businesses in this sector in England with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property, for businesses with a rateable value up to £51,000.

The amount of grant depends on the rateable value.

No action is required to claim the grant – if you are eligible for the grant your Local Authority will write to you. Any queries in respect of the grant should be directed towards your Local Authority.

Measures for the self employed
Every self-employed person can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

In addition, the income tax payments on account due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021. This only applies to individuals who are self-employed.

The measure will apply automatically, no applications are required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged within the deferral period.

Time To Pay Arrangements
HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline to deal with requests for Time to Pay arrangements in respect of any outstanding tax liabilities.

20 March 2020 – 12:00
The government have issued further guidance over which business may be eligible to the business rates holiday and grants. Currently the rates holiday is available to businesses in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. A list detailing specific qualifying business types can be found at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873622/Expanded_Retail_Discount_Guidance.pdf

If you are eligible the local authority should automatically reissue your council tax bill. They are therefore the first point of contact to establish eligibility.

Businesses which are eligible for the rates relief may also be eligible to the grant scheme. Guidance on the grant scheme will not be issued to local authorities until early April so again there is little guidance available at present.

20 March 2020 – 09:15
There have been a number of initiatives announced by the Government in relation to assisting employees, employers and businesses during this period of disruption caused by Covid-19. The situation is changing on a daily basis and up to date information can be accessed from the Government website, which can be accessed here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Tax liabilities – time to pay arrangements
HM Revenue and Customs have set up a helpline to support businesses and the self employed who are concerned about payment of their taxes. To see how they can help you click here. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19
Accounts filing at Companies House
Companies House has also issued guidance for limited companies and limited liability partnerships who may not be able to file their accounts by their normal filing deadlines because of Covid-19. For guidance on how to apply for an extension please click here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-more-time-to-file-your-companys-accounts
We will continue to update you as further information is made available.

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