There have been no further announcements of additional support or release of extra details about the government support measures already announced last week, however I will summarise what we know below:
Small Business Grant Funding
Business owners with premises subject to Non Domestic Business Rates but who receive Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relies will be eligible to a £10,000 grant. It was stated that it should not be necessary to have to apply for the grant, instead the grant is to be administered by your local authority who should be contacting you shortly, presumably by post. That being said Copeland Borough Council have a link on their website with an application form which should be submitted by email (https://www.copeland.gov.uk/coronavirus-resources-business ), it might be worth keeping an eye out on the websites of other local councils.
Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. If you have been sent your business rates bill then this should be reissued as nil in due course
Furthermore business in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector may be eligible for a Cash Grant. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000 (similar to above). Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
This covers occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:
• as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
• for assembly and leisure
• as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
It was stated that it should not be necessary to have to apply for the grant, instead the grant is to be administered by your local authority who should be contacting you shortly
Business Rates Holiday for Nurseries
Properties in England that are occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. If you have been sent your business rates bill then this should be reissued as nil in due course
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. There is little detail around the actual operation of this relief other than that on the gov.uk website (https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/ ) We would strongly recommend obtaining specific legal advice before making changes to employee terms and conditions.
The government will reimburse employers for 80% of wages paid to staff who would otherwise have been laid off or made redundant (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month).
• The furloughed worker will need to be designated by the employer which suggests that it is difficult to put someone on then off that system.
• The furloughed worker can do no further work for you.
• HMRC haven’t yet set up the system for reimbursements and currently no one knows how it will operate
• The first cash to be paid out is expected at the end of April
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate
Small and medium sized companies will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid to staff who have been absent due to coronavirus. To be eligible your business must be small or medium sized and have employed fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
The refund will cover 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay per eligible employee. The system to claim a refund has yet to be developed.
VAT Payment Deferral
VAT payments due in the next three months will be automatically deferred. The deferral is automatic however if you have a direct debit set up to pay VAT liabilities then this should be cancelled by yourselves via your bank in sufficient time so that HMRC do not automatically take the payment.
Deferred payments will need to be paid by 31 March 2021.
VAT refunds and reclaims should be paid by the government as normal.
Income Tax Deferral for the Self-Employed
Self employed income tax payments due in July 2020 will be automatically deferred until January 2021. If you have a direct debit set up to pay your income tax due via self assessment then this should be cancelled by yourselves via your bank in sufficient time so that HMRC do not automatically take the payment
Time to Pay
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.
Guidance is available on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19 or by calling HMRC on 0800 0159 559.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The government will cover interest for the first 12 months and also fees levied by the lender. The loans are being administered by 40 accredited banks.
• The loans are for viable businesses with no security that they can give.
• The government is providing 80% security to the banks but they are repayable and you are 100% responsible to repay the full amount.
• Applications should be made through the banks and will be subject to their lending criteria, however there may be some relaxation due to the government backing.
• It seems sensible to approach the provider of your current banking facility in the first instance.
• Anyone with assets that can give security needs to apply to the bank as normal.
What if I am self-employed?
Other than the potential business rates reliefs and grants noted above there is currently little support announced that would benefit the self employed. It is hoped that there may be additional support for this group in the coming days. In the mean time you may be eligible for support through the benefits system. Further information is available from the benefits office.