Coronavirus (COVID-19): What financial support is available for small UK businesses?
Following is what we know so far. Clients will be updated as soon as possible on specific rules regarding eligibility and how to make claims once that info is available.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
All UK employers will be given support in paying 80% of employees salaries up to £2,500 per month (for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020) for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during, and only due to, the Coronavirus crisis.
How to claim – HMRC are working urgently to set-up a system but for now we know that you need to designate employees are “furloughed workers”, notify your employees and submit those details to HMRC (method of submission yet to be announced).
VAT payments falling due between 20 March – 30 June 2020 simply do not need to be made on time. This applies to all businesses but it’s deferment only. Any deferred payments will need to be caught-up by 31 March 2021 if not earlier. In the meantime VAT Returns must still be submitted on time. VAT Refunds will be processed as normal.
UPDATED INFO: HMRC ask that businesses please cancel their direct debits with their bank with the intention of setting these back-up again when you cash-flow allows you to make payments.
Self-Assessment payments for the Self-Employed
The usual payment on account due by 31 July 2020 does not need to be paid until 31 January 2021. This deferment will not attract penalties or interest. No application to defer is needed.
UPDATED INFO: Deferral of the July payment on account now applies to all taxpayers under Self-Assessment. There is no need to contact HMRC to arrange this.
HMRC will fund Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees absent due to Coronavirus
Until now employers themselves have funded the £95.85 per week SSP paid to employees during sickness absence. However, starting 13 March 2020 HMRC will fund employers up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee (including directors of small limited companies) who is absent because of COVID-19 (infected, self-isolating etc). During the crisis SSP is payable from day 1 of absence rather than the usual day 4. Eligible employees are those earning at least £120 per week. The HMRC mechanism for repayment is being designed and yet to be announced.
Self-employed not eligible for SSP
The Self-Employed will qualify for Employment Support Allowance of around £73 per week from day 1 of COVID-19 related sickness (extended from the usual day 8). If already claiming Universal Credit then claims are to be made via that system.
Automatic business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure industry for 2020/21. Local Authority will write to confirm – no action needed.
Automatic cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure industry trading from business properties of up to £25,000 or £10,000 for properties with a rateable value under £15,000 (including those paying no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief). Local Authorities are writing to affected businesses. No action or application is needed.
UPDATED INFO: The list of businesses to qualify for the grants is expanding. Of note, Estate Agents and Childcare Nurseries recently added.
Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan
The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow up to 25% of their turnover, capped at £50,000.
The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Details here.
Unfortunately, most businesses are not specifically not insured for closure due to pandemics or government-ordered shut-downs. But, check your policy – if you are then insurers are reportedly dealing fairly with such claims.
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