Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a series of financial measures to help businesses during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Below is an outline of the practical support currently available.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • This new scheme means that the government will cover 80% of the salary of PAYE employees who would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis;
  • All employers in the UK are eligible to apply if they started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account; and
  • It is intended that the government will run the scheme from 1 March 2020 for at least 3 months.
How to apply
  • Specify affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and then notify employees of this change. Employees should not undertake any work whilst they are furloughed but are still kept on their employer’s payroll. The status of employees remains subject to existing employment law;
  • Details of furloughed employees and their earnings should be submitted to HMRC through a new online portal (details to be confirmed by HMRC); and
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are currently setting up the system for reimbursement and intend to have this in place by the end of April 2020.

Download our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Factsheet here.

Further details on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

  • Launches week commencing 23 March 2020;
  • Will be delivered by lenders that partner with the British Business Bank, the full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website;
  • The lender receives a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount from the government;
  • UK-based businesses with a turnover of no more than £45million are eligible for a loan of up to £5 million;
  • The borrower remains liable for 100% of the debt; and
  • No interest will be charged for the first 12 months.
How to apply
  • Contact your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched.

Business Rates holiday 

  • All businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be given a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months;
  • Also applies to estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls.
How to apply
  • There is no action required as this will be administered by your local authority.
  • You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a cash grant of £10,000; and
  • Grants of £25,000 will be provided for businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
How to apply
  • Local authorities will contact you to confirm if your business is eligible for this grant.

Small Business Grant Scheme

  • One-off grants of £10,000 to small businesses that already receive small business rate relief (SBRR) and/or rural rate relief (RRR) and occupy property.
How to apply
  • Local authorities will contact you to confirm if your business is eligible for this grant.

VAT payments

  • VAT payments for the period 20 March 2020 – 30 June 2020 will be deferred;
  • Businesses will have until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period;
  • VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
  • Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Income Tax payments

  • All taxpayers with a second self-assessment payment on account due on 31 July 2020 can defer payment until 31 January 2021;
  • This is automatic with no applications required; and
  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period

HMRC Time to Pay service

  • A tax helpline for businesses and individuals concerned about paying their tax, arrangements can be put in place, on a case by case basis.
  • The number is 0800 0159 559.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

  • For those businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay for absence due to COVID-19 will be refunded in full by the government; and
  • Directors of limited companies, with less than 250 employees, can also pay themselves 14 days of SSP if they are self-isolating, subject to meeting the minimum payroll requirement for SSP.

Further details on the scheme, along with eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

Mortgage and rent holiday

  • Mortgage borrowers can apply for a three month payment holiday from their lender;
  • Tenants can apply for a three month payment holiday from their landlord; and
  • No-one can be evicted from their home or have their home repossessed over the next three months.

Insurance claims

  • Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered; however
  • Please contact your insurance provider to check the specific terms and conditions of your policy.

Extension for filing accounts

In addition to the financial support measures detailed above, if your accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts with Companies House.

At M+A Partners we are closely monitoring the developing situation and support available for businesses and will keep this page updated with the latest guidance.

Please be aware of fraudulent schemes

You will access Government support schemes only through GOV.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.

Helpful links: