Coronavirus: Government business support
The government has announced a series of measures to support businesses in the UK in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. These measures include:
- A Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- The HMRC Time to Pay scheme
For more information about the support for businesses visit GOV UK:
Business Interruption Insurance
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. The government is pushing for insurers to pay where cover against diseases is included. Read more on the ABI website.
Business Interruption Loan
If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
The scheme is being delivered by the British Business Bank and is now available through participating lenders. The scheme which aims to support the continued provision of finance to UK, will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap) to give them further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees so smaller business will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
Claiming Statutory Sick Pay and/or benefits if self-employed
Those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, i.e. the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. For the duration of the outbreak, the Government has suspended the universal credit minimum income floor for those with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support. For more information visit GOV.UK.
Extra protection for businesses with a ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments. The government has announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.
These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. More information available GOV.UK.
Corporate Financing Facility
Larger firms will be offered support through the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, where the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze and enable finance for short-term liabilities.
Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
Network Rail tenants
Network Rail is cancelling all first quarter (25 March to 23 June 2020) rent payments due from tenants in their commercial estate portfolio, providing significant relief for small businesses. Find out more information about new measures to support retailers and tenants.
Tax payments holidays/ support for businesses paying tax
VAT payments will be deferred for 3 months. This will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the self-assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. Find out more information about tax payment holidays.
Businesses may also be able to agree a bespoke time to pay arrangement.
HMRC has set up a dedicated phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to COVID-19. For help and advice call: 0800 0159 559, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.