COVID-19 Business Support
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The political and taxation landscape is moving fast at the present time as the Government responds to the unfolding nature of the public health crisis that is all around us. Yesterday afternoon the Chancellor significantly revised the business support measures that were included in the Budget only a week ago. The measures to support businesses, especially small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are noted below
We recognise that the current situation will be causing significant worry and concern for many small business owners as the wheels of commerce begin to grind to a halt. Much was announced by the Chancellor yesterday but what we have heard so far is rather short on the practical steps needed to access this help and assistance. It is apparent that these details are still being formulated and in the circumstances this is understandable. We will be keeping abreast of all the latest developments and have contact with local agencies for the very latest information and adding further details here as they emerge.
The Government Announcement - 17 March 2020
The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
We will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
Support for businesses that pay business rates
We will introduce a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch next week 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. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
Support for businesses paying tax
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline - 0800 0159 559.
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.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Please get in touch if we can be of assistance to you and your business during this difficult time.
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