Coronavirus Updates

Since the Spring Budget 2020 on 11 March, the Government has continued to announce a series of measures designed to counter the threat posed to the UK economy by the outbreak of the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

This post summarises all measures so far announced and provides up-to-date information on how you can:

  • find out more about each measure from reliable sources and
  • help your UK business clients access the support on offer.

It will be updated regularly as new information emerges on eligibility and how businesses can access each service or fund.

Further information

COVID-19 1: Overview

Updates from 11th November

  • CJRS has been extended to 31‌‌‌‌‌‌ ‌‌March for all parts of the UK. From 1 November, the UK Government will pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The UK Government will review the policy in January.        Employers and their employees do not need to have used the scheme before to claim for periods from 1 November. Go to GOV‌‌.UK for full eligibility criteria.
  • HMRC intend to publish details of employers who use the scheme for claim periods from December, and employees will be able to find out if their employer has claimed for them under the scheme.
  • There are now monthly deadlines for claims. Claims for period on/after 1 November must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday. For further details go to GOV‌‌.UK and search 'Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.
  • The Job Retention Bonus will no longer be paid in February‌ ‌2021 and an alternative retention incentive will be put in place at the appropriate time.    The launch of the Job Support Scheme has also been postponed.

What you need to do now:

Submit any claims for periods up to 31 October on or before 30‌ ‌November.  Claims for periods up to 31 October will not be accepted after 30‌ ‌November. Claims are subject to eligibility and the rules in force at the time. Search 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV‌‌.UK for full eligibility criteria.

 What you need to do for your claims – for periods from 1 November

  • Read the new guidance – go to GOV‌‌.UK and search 'Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' – to check if you or your clients are eligible.
  • Agree working hours with your employees you wish to furlough for November and agree any changes to their employment contact. 
  • Work out how much you can claim for your employees using our CJRS calculator and examples on GOV‌‌.UK.  and submit any claims for periods from 1 November no later than 14‌‌‌ ‌‌December.

Employers will need to keep the records that support the amount of CJRS grant they claim, in case HMRC need to check it. Employers and authorised agents can view, print or download copies of previously submitted claims by logging onto their CJRS service on GOV‌‌.UK.

Updates from 6th November

The Chancellor told the House of Commons that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will also be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

Furlough extension

Originally due to end on 31 October, the CJRS will now remain open until 31 March 2021. For claim periods running ‘through to January 2021’ employers will be able to reclaim 80% of the usual salary of their furloughed employees, subject to a monthly cap of £2,500. Employers will have to cover the costs of the national insurance and pension contributions for those employees.

Support for self-employed

The level of the third SEISS grant has been increased to 80% of trading profits covering November 2020 to January 2021. It is calculated based on 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500. The window for claiming the third grant will open on a phased basis from 30 November and HMRC expects to pay grants within six working days of the date of the claim.

Updates from 2nd November

The Government has now announced that the Job Support Scheme due to commence yesterday is postponed and they have instead extended their furlough scheme until December.

 

Full guidance is yet to be published but the details so far released are:

·         The extended scheme will be more generous for employers than October and the subsequent cost for retaining employees will be reduced.

·         Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

·         Businesses will only have to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for an average claim, accounts for just 5% of total employment costs.

·         Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part- time basis or furlough them full time. 

Updates from 23rd October  (NOW POSTPONED, SEE ABOVE)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is ending on 31st October 2020.

What you need to do from 1‌‌‌ ‌November:

Job Support Scheme 

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will open on 1‌‌‌ ‌November and run for six months, until 30‌‌‌ ‌April 2021, with a review in January. There are two variations to JSS – JSS Open and JSS Closed. 

JSS Open will provide support to businesses that are open where employees are working shorter hours due to reduced demand. Employees will need to work at least 20% of their usual hours. Employers will continue to pay employees for the hours they work, and the UK government will pay a contribution of 61.67% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £1,541.75 per month. Employers will pay 5% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £125 per month, and can top this up further if they choose. This means employees should receive at least two thirds of their usual pay for hours not worked. 

The caps are reduced according to the proportion of hours not worked. Further guidance on this will be available on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK shortly. 

Employers will need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions. 

JSS Closed will provide support to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one of the four governments of the UK. This includes premises restricted to delivery or collection-only services from their premises, and those restricted to providing food and/or drinks outdoors. 

For JSS Closed, the UK government will fund two thirds of employees’ usual wages for time not worked, up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month. Employers will not be required to contribute, but they can top up the government’s contribution if they choose to. Employers will still need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions. 

You will be able to make your first JSS claim in arrears from 8‌‌‌ ‌December, for pay periods ending and paid in November. We’ll let you know more about how to make a claim by the end of this month.

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Grant Extension 

As part of support for businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has increased the support available under the SEISS Grant Extension doubling the value of the first grant. This brings support for the self-employed in line with that for employers under the Job Support Scheme Open. 

The value of the first SEISS Grant Extension, covering the period November 2020 to the end of January 2021, will double. This means that the UK government will provide an initial SEISS grant based on 40% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, and capped at £3,750 in total. 

To ensure that support will be targeted to those who most need it, SEISS Grant Extension will be available to self-employed individuals who temporarily cannot trade as well as those continuing to trade and facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. 

HMRC will provide full details about claiming and applications in guidance on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK in mid-November. 

Job Retention Bonus (JRB) 

You will be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every eligible employee you furloughed and claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), kept continuously employed until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021 and who meets the other eligibility criteria. Employers do not have to pay this money to their employee.   You will be able to claim the bonus between 15‌‌‌ ‌February and 31‌‌‌ ‌March. To do this you must have submitted PAYE information for the period up to 5‌‌‌ ‌February 2021 on time. 

Further information on eligibility and when you can claim can be found on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK by searching 'Job Retention Bonus Guidance' and further guidance on the claim process will be published by the end of January 2021.

Updates from 5th October

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is ending on 31st October 2020.

What you need to do from 1‌‌‌ ‌November (superceded, see above)

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months.   The company will continue to pay its employee for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.

Final details are still awaited, but the plan is that the Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the Government contribution has not been capped.   Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Updates from 1st October 

What you need to do from 1‌‌‌ ‌October

  • From 1‌‌‌ ‌October the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will pay 60% of usual wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month for the hours furloughed employees do not work.
  • Employers will still need to pay furloughed employees 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grant themselves.
  • The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. For example, if an employee is furloughed for half their usual hours in September, employers are entitled to claim 60% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work up to £1,093.75 (50% of the £2,187.50 cap).
  • Employers will continue to have to pay furloughed employees’ National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions from their own funds.

Updates from 1st September 

What you need to do from 1‌‌‌ ‌September

  • From 1‌‌‌ ‌September the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will pay 70% of usual wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month for the hours furloughed employees do not work.
  • Employers will still need to pay furloughed employees 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grant themselves.
  • The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. For example, if an employee is furloughed for half their usual hours in September, employers are entitled to claim 70% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work up to £1,093.75 (50% of the £2,187.50 cap).
  • Employers will continue to have to pay furloughed employees’ National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions from their own funds.

Updates from 6th August

Job Retention Bonus

Employers will be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee they have previously received a grant for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and who remains continuously employed through to the end of Ja‌nu‌ar‌y 2021. To be eligible, the employee must have received earnings in November, December and January, and must have been paid an average of at least £520 per month, and a total of at least £1,560 across the three months.

As the employer, you will be able to claim the bonus after you have filed PAYE information for Ja‌nu‌ar‌y 2021, and the bonus will be paid from Fe‌br‌ua‌ry 2021. More detailed guidance, including how employers can claim the bonus online will be available by the end of September.

What you need to do now

If you intend to claim the Job Retention Bonus, you must tell us if you want to claim and:

  • ensure all employee records are up to date
  • accurately report employees’ details and wages on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) through the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system
  • make sure all of your CJRS claims have been accurately submitted and you have told HMRC about any changes needed (for example if you’ve received too much or too little).

Updates from 13th July

Details of the important - but temporary - VAT rate cut to 5% for the hospitality industry from 15th July has been produced by HMRC and in view of the complications, we recommend that, if you are affected, you discuss your own particular situation with your Landau Morley partner.  It makes sense to divide the changes into three sections:

  • Food and drink for pubs, cafes, restaurants: VAT Notice 701/14 Food products and VAT together with Notice 709/1 Catering, takeaway food have both been updated to reflect the reduction
  • Overnight accommodation: hotels and similar establishments, campsites, caravan parks – VAT Notice 709/3 Hotels and holiday accommodation has been updated to reflect the reduction
  • Tourist attractions: a separate document is available headed ‘VAT on admission charges to attractions

Updates from 8th July

Today, the Chancellor announced the introduction of the Job Retention Bonus.     This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.


  • To be eligible, employees will need to:

    • earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
    • have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
    • have been continuously employed up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

    Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

    Other new measures announced

    The Chancellor also announced other measures, including:

    • the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – during August, diners can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday on meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating at participating restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments
    • VAT reduction – from 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos
    • an increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold in England and Northern Ireland – increasing the threshold under which no SDLT is paid on the purchase of a main home from £125,000 to £500,000, with immediate effect until 31‌‌‌ ‌March 2021.

    For more information, search 'plan for jobs' on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

    Updates on CJRS scheme

    Claiming for employees furloughed on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June

    You need to claim by 31‌‌‌ ‌July for employees furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for periods ending on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June.  We are here to help you do this.

    Get ready for changes from 1‌‌‌ ‌August

    Employers will no longer be able to use a CJRS grant to cover National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions for furloughed employees from 1‌‌‌ ‌August.  August claims can be submitted in advance, from 20‌‌‌ ‌July.

Updates from 1st July

  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.

Updates from 8th June

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.

The future of the scheme

  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.
  • On 12 J‌un‌e, full guidance will be published on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' to find this.
  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.

Making changes to your claims if you have over-claimed

If you’ve made an error in a CJRS claim that means you received too much money, you must pay this back to HMRC.  The system has been updated so you can tell us if you have over-claimed in a previous claim – when you apply you’ll be asked if you need to reduce the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You should then keep a record of this adjustment for six years.

Protect yourself from scams 

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening. Search 'scams' on GOV‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599. 

 

Updates from 12th May

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to be extended by four months until the end of October and employers will be able to bring back furloughed employees part-time, as part of the government’s plans to ‘re open the economy’, the Chancellor has announced.

This extension will mean the government will have provided a total of eight months of support to UK workers and businesses during the pandemic, with workers continuing to receive the same level of support of 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500 a month.

The Chancellor has indicated that there will be no changes whatsoever until the end of July.  However, from August to October the scheme will continue for all sectors of the UK but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work, including employers using the scheme being able to bring back furloughed workers part time whilst paying a share of the cost of salaries. 

Full details are due to be released by the end of May.

Updates from 4th May

The chancellor has announced a new Bounce Back loan scheme, allowing small businesses hit by the impact of coronavirus measures to apply for up £50,000, with the government guaranteeing 100% of the advance.  Businesses can apply - using a two-page standard form, with no forward-looking business viability tests or eligibility criteria - for a minimum of £2,000 up to a maximum of £50,000 or 25% of business turnover with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months. The scheme is now open and loans should be paid within one or two days after being approved.  Businesses -  which must not have been in difficulties at 31st December 2019 and must have sufferred as a result of coronavirus -  will be able to obtain the loans through the existing accredited lender network - normally their bank. Further details are available here:  https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/faqs-for-small-businesses/

Updates from 20th April

From today it is possible to make your online claim from HMRC under the coronavirus johttpsb retention scheme. We can help you do that.  We do advise every employer to read the guide which HMRC has produced which you can find here: step-by-step guide

Updates from 14th April

The Government and HMRC have now confirmed that they are testing the on-line system they have developed to enable employers to reclaim the 80% of the amounts paid to furloughed staff (with upper limits) under the coronavirus job retention scheme. The system is expected to go live within the next week.  Do contact us if you would us to help you make your claim.

Updates from 3rd April

The Government is extending the special Business Interruption Loan Scheme to include all viable small businesses and not just those unable to secure normal commercial lending.  In addition, for loans under £250,000 personal guarantees will not be required.

Updates from 27 March

Full guidance has now been published setting out how businesses can claim through the coronavirus job retention scheme. Some key details are as follows:

  • Only employers that created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 are eligible.
  • The scheme covers full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
  • Employees made redundant after 28 February 2020 but rehired by their employer can be furloughed.
  • Employees hired after 28 February cannot be furloughed.

To make a claim, employers will need to provide:

  • ePAYE reference number
  • number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period
  • amount claimed
  • bank account number and sort code
  • contact name and number.

26 March: Support for self-employed people, at last

Having been under pressure for the past week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced measures to support self-employed people whose earnings have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Self-employed income support scheme (SEISS)

  • Those who are already self-employed and facing financial difficulties are asked to apply.
  • The scheme will cover up to 80% of average profits over the past three years, up to £2,500 per month, for at least three months.
  • Those with trading profits of more than £50,000 are not eligible.
  • Eligibility is determined with reference to earnings in 2018/19 as reported on tax returns filed this year.
  • What next? Application will be to HMRC via an online platform, yet to launch. The grants probably won’t be available until June 2020, backdated to 1 March. In the meantime, self-employed people who can’t work are expected to claim universal credit, access to which was broadened in the Spring Budget.

A frequently asked question has been “What about the directors of single-person limited companies?” The guidance says: “If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.” That suggests anyone drawing the majority of money from their business in the form of dividends will miss out on support.

Updates from Wednesday 25 March

Further to the news below that Companies House would automatically be giving those who need it a two-month extension on filing their accounts, the Government has now confirmed an automatic three-month extension for businesses that need it:

As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.

A new note has been added to the guidance on deferral of VAT payments reminding businesses that pay by direct debit to cancel if they want to defer payment:

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

The Scottish Government has published guidance on its support for businesses in Scotland, with some specific differences:

  • The threshold for £25,000 grants for small business is £18,000 rather than £15k, as in England.
  • All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get 1.6% rates relief, applied automatically.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief, as in England, also applied automatically.

Guidance from the Welsh Government is also now available. One notable difference is that the threshold for the £25,000 grant payment for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses is £12,000 – lower than in England or Scotland.

Businesses in Wales can also access loan and equity funding via the Development Bank of Wales.

Updates from Tuesday 24 March

Fuller detail of the retail, hospitality and leisure grant (RHLG) fund has been published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The guidance document, intended to help local authorities administer the scheme, is available on the Government website.

  • Payments will be made to the person listed in local authority’s records as the ratepayer for the business premises on 11 March 2020.
  • There is a strong warning against fraudulent claims with a promise of prosecution and clawback for any such payments.
  • Certain premises are excluded on the grounds of private use, such as private stables and beach huts. Car parks and parking spaces are also ineligible.
  • Businesses in liquidation or dissolved as of 11 March aren’t eligible either.

The Coronavirus Bill currently before Parliament now includes an amendment calling for support for the self-employed and freelancers in line with that being provided for employees under PAYE via the coronavirus job protection scheme. It was passed by the House of Commons last night and will now go to the House of Lords for scrutiny. The Chancellor is expected to announce provision for the self-employed tomorrow, 25 March.

Updates from Monday 23 March

The scheduled 5pm press conference was cancelled and the Prime Minister instead addressed the nation at 20:30 announcing, to all intents and purposes, a total lockdown of the UK. Movements are to be restricted and non-essential shops are to close.

This means expected clarifications on how businesses can access support are likely to be delayed until later in the week.

As scheduled, however, the British Business Bank has published comprehensive details of how the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) can be accessed:

  • Eligibility: an SME must be UK-based with annual turnover of less than £45m and have a proposal which would be considered viable by the lender under normal circumstances.
  • Types of finance available: Term loans, overdrafts, asset finance, invoice finance.
  • How to apply: via one of the accredited lenders on this list. In the first instance, the British Business Bank is urging businesses to apply online and asking those who don’t need emergency finance to ‘consider the urgency of your need’. More detail is available here.

In other news, Companies House has confirmed that, in line with its existing rules, firms that were unable to file accounts on time can apply for a deadline extension, with an automatic two-month extension for those in isolation. There’s more information on that at AccountingWEB.

COVID-19 business bulletin 21.03.2020

Measures announced on 20 March

On the evening of 20.03.2020 the Prime Minister announced further restrictions on the compulsory closure of bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Alongside these new measures, the Chancellor announced a further package of support for businesses facing the prospect of having to reduce staff numbers.

Coronavirus job retention scheme

  • Grants of up to £2,500 per employee where those employees are unable to work (are ‘furloughed’) because of coronavirus, covering 80% of salary costs.
    Intended to run for three months in the first instance with the first payments expected in early April and the scheme fully up and running by the end of that month.
  • The grants will be paid via HMRC.
  • All UK employers will be eligible.
  • What next? At present, no information has been provided on how to apply. Though it is generally understood to mean ‘stood down but still employed’, there is as yet no official definition of ‘furloughed’. It is unclear whether employers will be expected to make up the remaining 20% of salary.

Extension of the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBIL)

  • Maximum turnover for eligible businesses was previously set at £41 million per year; it has now been increased to £45m.
  • The interest-free period has been increased from six months to twelve.
  • The scheme is being managed by the British Business Bank but businesses will access them via one of 40 accredited lending providers, including most major banks.
  • The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5 million – higher than the £1.2m announced initially.
  • What next? Discuss business plans with existing lending providers. Loans will be available from Monday 23 March 2020.

Deferral of tax and VAT payments currently due

  • VAT payments from UK-based VAT registered businesses due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 won’t need to be paid to the usual deadlines, with payment deferred until the end of the tax year.
  • Self-assessment income tax payments for the self employed which were due on 31 July 2020 can now be deferred until 31 January 2021.
  • What next? Both deferral schemes apply automatically with no application required.

Access to welfare for the self-employed

  • The minimum income floor for access to universal credit has been suspended for self-employed people affected by the economic impact of coronavirus.

Measures announced on 17 March

At a press conference on 17 March, the Chancellor announced a package of support worth £350 billion – around 15% of the value of the entire UK economy.

It came upon the heels of a statement from the Prime Minister on 16 March which urged people to stop visiting cafes, pubs and restaurants.

It was intended to send a strong signal to British businesses not to act hastily in downsizing because support would be forthcoming.

Extension of business rate discount

  • All hospitality, leisure and retail venues in England, regardless of rateable value, can now claim a 100% discount on business rates for 12 months from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
  • Unoccupied properties that become vacant in the next 12 months will be charged 100% full rates from three months after they become empty.
  • What next? The discount will be applied automatically to the next council tax bill, due in April 2020.

Cash grants for very small businesses

  • Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses operating from units with rateable values between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • Those with a rateable value of more than £15,000 will receive £25,000.
  • Your local authority will contact you if you are eligible for this grant.
  • What next? Await notification from local authorities.

Measures announced in Spring Budget 2020

In what the Office for Budget Responsibility called the “largest Budget giveaway since 1992”, Rishi Sunak announced business support measures worth billions. Events have moved quickly, though, and many of the specific measures announced have now been superceded or further extended.

Grants for businesses receiving SBRR or RRR

  • Businesses in England eligible for small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) will receive a one-off cash grant of £10,000.
  • What next? This will be processed automatically by local authorities.

Statutory sick pay reclaim scheme for SMEs

  • Small-and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • The refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP for each member of staff off work because of COVID-19.
  • It applies to all UK businesses that employed fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
  • What next? Legislation needs to pass before details of how to apply can be published.

Interest rates

  • On 19 March 2020 the Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.1%, having previously reduced them to 0.25% on the day of the Spring Budget.

 

Further information