Like many other small businesses in the UK, I am left wondering what to do and how will my business survive the storm that is Covid-19. I am a firm believer in helping businesses to grow, so I have put together a very quick overview of what help is available out there.
The information and policies are continually being updated by the government, so I urge you to keep on top of the information by visiting the relevant website for your area.
Northern Ireland: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/
I will be trying to keep myself as informed as possible and will share relevant information on my fb business page: https://www.facebook.com/ihelmenterprises/
These are the current measurements that have been put in place to help businesses across the UK.
- Statutory Sick Pay Relief Package
This has been set up to allow small- to medium-sized businesses and employers to be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absences due to Covid-19.
There are certain criteria that the businesses must meet, however:
– it will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee off work due to Covid-19 (it cannot be claimed to cover any other SSP)
– employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28/02/2020 will be eligible
– employers can reclaim expenditure for any employee who claimed SSP (according to the new criteria) due to Covid-19
– employers need to keep records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees won’t need to provide a GP fit note
– also covers those employees who aren’t ill but unable to work because they’ve been advised to self-isolate in line with guidance issued by the Government
– the eligible period will commence the day after the regulations on extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
– the mechanism for claiming this repayment hasn’t yet been set up but will be set up over the coming months
- Business rates discount in England increased to 100% for 2020 to 2021 tax year for properties below £51,000 rateable value. This relief has also been expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors. All businesses receiving the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority. However, any business eligible for newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.
Any enquiries on eligibility or provision of rate relief should be directed to your local authority. Guidance given to local authorities on the expanded retail discount will be published by the government by March 20th.
- Support for businesses who pay little or no business rates
The government is providing an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR) which will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to businesses currently eligible to help meet ongoing costs.
There hasn’t yet been any information on how to get this grant.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A temporary scheme delivered by British Business Bank will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. They will not charge businesses or banks for the guarantee – and will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. The new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through British Busines Bank.
- Support for businesses paying tax
All businesses and self-employed people with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with tax affairs. Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. During the outbreak, the usual 3.5% annual interest of deferred tax payments will be waived.
If due to Covid-19 you are concerned about paying your taxes, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. The helpline is open fro 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
For those who are self-employed and not eligible for SSP, contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 per week if you are over 25. This is for those who are eligible and affected by coronavirus or self-isolating in line with advice, from day one of sickness rather than day 8. They have also made it easier to claim Universal Credit. These measures also apply to those who earn below the Lower Earnings Limit.
- Mortgage Holidays
Some banks and mortgage lenders are allowing customers affected by Covid-19 to delay their mortgage payments. Contact your bank or mortgage lender to discuss whether you can delay payments for a month or two in order to help with the cashflow – just remember that you may end up having to pay additional interest and such.
I will do my best to ensure that this information is kept up to date regularly – though there may be a delay of up to 24 hours between what is announced by the Government and getting it onto the blog.
Update as of 17:54pm: I’ve just been catching the highlights in the latest information released during the daily briefing and the government has announced the following:
– government-backed and guaranteed loans of £330 bn to support companies
-£10,000 cash grants for smaller firms
– an extension of the business rate holiday announced in the Budget
-a three-month mortgage payment holiday for homeowners
As more information becomes clear and available, I will update the blog and the fb page.