COVID-19, Emergency Support for Businesses

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for Employers

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees as at 28 February 2020 will be eligible to reclaim SSP paid due to COVID-19 for up to two weeks per eligible employee.

Employers should keep a record of staff absences but will not require employees to provide a fit note. Current systems cannot facilitate employer refunds but the Government aims to have a repayment mechanism in place as soon as possible.

Eligibility will commence the day after regulations extending SSP to self-isolators comes into force.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for Employees

SSP will be available from Day 1 of sickness instead of Day 4 for those diagnosed with COVID-19.  It will also be available for those who have been advised to self-isolate and are unable to work.

It is intended that the relevant fit note will be available from NHS 111 rather than visiting your GP to obtain it.

HMRC Time to Pay Service – 0800 0159 559

A dedicated helpline is available for those business and self-employed individuals who are struggling to pay their tax liabilities due to COVID-19.  Time to pay arrangements are agreed on a case by case basis and are tailored to the particular circumstances of the taxpayer.

Business Rates

The Business Rates retail discount will be increased to 100% for 2020/21 in respect of premises with a rateable value of less than £51,000.  The discount will also be extended to the leisure and hospitality sector.  The rates discount for pubs will be increased to £5,000.

Businesses will be rebilled by their local authority but may need to apply to receive the discount.

Those in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief will be eligible for a one-off grant of £3,000 to meet ongoing costs.

Business Loans

A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be launched within the next few weeks whereby the Government will provide an 80% guarantee to lenders to support loans of up to £1.2 million.  There will be no charge for the provision of the guarantee.  This will be delivered by the British Business Bank and will initially support COVID-19 related lending of up to £1 billion.

Support for Self-Employed People

Measures are also introduced for those not eligible for SSP, for example the self employed or those earning less than £118 per week.

Universal Credit/Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (CESA)

– The requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been advised to self-isolate

– Those advised to self-isolate will not be required to attend a jobcentre in order to claim Universal Credit or access advance payments

– CESA will be payable at £73.10 per week for those over 25 who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been advised to self-isolate from Day 1 of sickness instead of Day 8.