The UK Government has announced a package of measures to support SME businesses and Self-employed individuals affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
These measures include
- Business Rates Reliefs
- Business Interruption Loan and Grant Schemes
- An extension of statutory sick pay (SSP)
- A dedicated helpline for businesses seeking a deferral of tax liabilities
Business Rates Reliefs
- The Business Rates Discount Scheme has been extended from the 50% planned for 2020/21 to 100% for one year
- The relief is available to leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value of less than £51k
- Planned rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100k will be increased to £5k from the current £1k
- Businesses that have already received the retail discount in 2019/20 will be rebilled by their local authority but those newly eligible will need to apply for the discount from their local authority
- Small businesses that currently pay little or no business rates (because they receive small business or rural rate relief) will be entitled to a one off grant of £3k from their local authority to help meet their business costs
Business Interruption Loan and Grant Schemes
- A new temporary coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be made available through the British Business Bank in the next few weeks
- Loans up to £1.2m will be available to businesses
- The Government will guarantee 80% of each loan at no charge to the business or bank (usually 2%)
- Interest rates will be similar to existing bank lending
An extension of statutory sick pay (SSP)
- SSP will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with Covid – 19 for those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice.
- SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for infected individuals
- Those not eligible for SSP, for example those who are 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;
- People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for eligible people affected by Covid – 19 or self-isolating from day one of sickness rather than day eight
- Legislation will be brought forward to allow SME’s and employees to reclaim SSP. The eligibility criteria will be;
- Refund (just under £200) will cover up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Covid – 19
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020will be eligible
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid – 19
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP note
Dedicated helpline for businesses seeking a deferral on tax liabilities
- All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be able to agree additional time to settle their tax affairs through HMRC’s ‘Time to Pay’ scheme, for which a dedicated helpline has been set up.
- These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual’s circumstances and liabilities.
- During the coronavirus outbreak the usual 3.5% annual interest on deferred tax payments will be waived
There is more information available on the HMRC’s new dedicated Covid – 19 helpline – 0800 0159 559.
If you want advice on how this will affect you and how to take advantage of the support contact us.