COVID-19 Official Updates
I recommend you check the gov.uk website each day for the latest updates COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and business
New reliefs for businesses
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a dramatic package of measures since the 17 March to help protect businesses, jobs and the vulnerable. The key measures announced by the Chancellor to boost the economy so far are as follows:
Self Employment Income Support Scheme
Under this scheme, the government has provided 3 taxable grants to self-employed workers. The government will pay direct cash grants worth 80% of profits, capped at £2,500 per month.
The Universal Credit standard allowance has been increased by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months. The working tax credit basic element will be boosted by the same amount.
The new scheme means that self-employed workers will be able to access Universal Credit payments in full. At a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay (£94.25) per week.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
In a bid to protect jobs, the Chancellor announced that the government will step in and pay wages. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of ‘furloughed’ employees, capped at £2,500 per month. The scheme will continue to 30 April 2021.
Coronavirus Business Loan Schemes
Bounce back loans
The Chancellor has announced a 100% government-backed loan scheme for small businesses, designed to offer up to £50,000 of fast-track finance for those affected by the coronavirus.
The bounce back loans scheme will enable businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days, and in some cases within 24 hours.
Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple two-page standardised application form. There are no forward-looking business viability tests or eligibility criteria for the finance.
The bounce back loans should be available for application on Monday 4th May.
The government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months.
Business interuption loans
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open. No interest is payable within the first 12 months (previously 6 months). This scheme is being delivered through the British Business Bank. 80% of individual loans are being guaranteed by the government.
The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme is £5 million, available on repayment terms of up to six years. The borrower remains 100% liable for the debt.
To date accessing funding from this scheme has proven pretty difficult. With less than a thousand successful applications. Banks have asked for financial forecasts and personal guarantees. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now banned UK banks from requesting personal guarantees. In a bid to make the scheme more accessible.
To be eligible for the scheme, your business must:
- Be UK-based in its business activity
- Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
- Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic
- Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
You will need to provide the following supporting evidence to prove you can afford to repay the loan:
- Management accounts
- Cash flow forecast
- Business plan
- Historic accounts
- Details of assets
There are 40 approved lenders of the scheme. You should apply directly through these lenders. You can find a list of these accredited lenders here:
We recommend speaking to your current bank or lenders in the first instance. Traditional business or personal loan is likely to be more favourable, with faster access to funds. Check your online banking app for offers. Then check the approved lenders’ websites. Telephone lines are very busy, and branches have limited capacity with workers complying with social distancing rules.
Time to Pay Arrangements
The governement has offered additional support with the deferral of certain tax payments.
Businesses will also have until the end of the tax year (5 April 2021) to settle any liabilities accumulated in the deferral period between March and June 2020.
There will be no need to apply for the deferral. VAT refunds will be processed as normal.
Income tax holiday
The 31 July 2020 income tax payment on account has been deferred to 31 January 2021. There is also no need to apply for this deferral.
This is welcome news for self-employed individuals. During the deferral period, no penalties or interest will be charged for late payments.
Please contact the HMRC Helpline on 08000 159 559 for more information and to make any payment arrangements or deferments.
Business Rates Holidays and Cash Grants
Cash grants (doesn’t have to be paid back) of up to £10,000 (previously £3,000). For all businesses with premises in receipt of small business rate relief. Theses grants are now being administered through local authorities.
Cash grants (doesn’t have to be paid back) of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Theses grants are now being administered through local authorities.
A 12-month business rates holiday for all business in the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with rateable premises.
Local restrictions support grants
Additional grants are also available for premises forced to close due to the lockdown. You should see your local authority website for further details on how to apply.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
The statutory sick pay which you pay to anyone self-isolating due to COVID-19 for up to 14 days will be paid back to you. How and when is still being sorted out. The refunds will come, but we don’t yet know when at this stage.
The government will refund £94.25 per week. Up to a maximum of £188 for your company.
Businesses with less than 250 employees will be refunded SSP for up to two weeks.
Some people have basically been told to get lost by their insurers. However, the government have now made it very clear to insurers that if you have appropriate cover in place. Insurers should now treat the policy as if was enforced, and payout. Please check your policies to see what you might be covered for.
Good news this week for businesses as Insurers now must pay out on interruption cliam after a ruling in the high court. I suggest checking your insurance policy.
IR35 reforms postponed
In an announcement at the end of the parliamentary debate on the Budget speech, Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘The government is postponing the reforms to the off roll payroll working rules – IR35 – from April 2020 to 6 April 2021.
‘This is a deferral, not a cancellation. The government remains committed to re-introducing this policy reforms to ensure that people working like employees but through their own limited company pay broadly the same tax as those employed directly.’
Think positive, take action
Finally, on a more personal note. I would also urge you all to ensure that you’re looking after your mental well-being during this crisis too. We’re all trying to be positive throughout uncertain times. I’m sure it’s causing a lot of stress and feelings of helplessness at the moment. There’s no shame in sometimes needing a bit of extra support. It could be beneficial to schedule an online or telephone counselling appointment with a professional if you feel you are struggling. Of course, we are here to help!