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Business Services  •  Coronavirus Advice  •  Corporate Taxation  •  Personal Taxation  •  Services  •  Small Business  •  VAT

Latest COVID-19 Business Support Information

By RJP LLP on 23 March, 2020

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced additional measures to help businesses and the self-employed impacted by COVID-19. This update outlines in full what is available; the measures already announced with any enhancements, plus the new interventions.

Full list of business and financial support

Below is a summary of ALL the support packages being offered by the Government currently. New measures are discussed in detail.

  • NEW - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see details below);
  • NEW - deferring VAT and Income Tax payments (see details below);
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs (see link to earlier article below);
  • 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England – information for this will be provided by the relevant local authorities in due course;
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief – if you are eligible you will receive notice from your local authority directly;
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 – details to become available soon;
  • EXTENDED - the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering 12-month interest free loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank;
  • New lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping bridge coronavirus disruption to cash flow through loans;
  • HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

Here is a link to our earlier article, with details of initiatives like the Sick Pay relief scheme, which were announced previously: https://www.rjp.co.uk/keeping-fit-and-avoiding-a-crisis-immediate-corvid-19-support-for-business/

More details about NEW business support interventions

On 20 March 2020, the Government announced some additional measures to help smaller businesses and self-employed people who are affected by COVID-19. These are extra support packages to enhance what has already been announced.

Further measures are expected this coming week, to support self-employed people who are unable to work or who have lost their contracts as a result of the crisis. The Government will also be passing emergency legislation to allow many of these measures to become immediately available. We will continue to issue you with updates to help consolidate all the information circulating.

What was announced on 20 March 2020?

New support for employers / employed people

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which is intended to protect jobs. This scheme allows any PAYE qualifying small business employee to receive 80% of their salary (to a maximum of £2,500 a month) for the next three months. It can be backdated to 1 March and the cost of providing this scheme will be funded by the national debt.

How to access

To access the funding, business owners need to apply through HMRC. It is expected the first grants will be available before the end of April. This scheme is available to all businesses, charities and not for profit organisations. HMRC are working to set up a system for reimbursement because their existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

According to the Government website, to access the scheme employers will need to do the following:

  • designate the affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify all employees of this change. Note that changing the status of your employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on their employment contract, may be subject to negotiation;
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings, through a new online portal.

HMRC will set out further details on the information required; please keep checking this link for the latest information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

We expect this information will become available as soon as the relevant legislation has been passed.

VAT Support

VAT Deferral - Businesses will not have to pay VAT for the next quarter and can defer, creating a direct injection of £30bn cash flow support. This became effective on 20 March 2020 and extends until 30 June 2020.

Accessing this scheme is very straightforward; it is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment for their next quarter but they will need to complete and file their VAT returns for the period.

Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Loan Support

Extended Business Interruption Loans - The original interest free business loans that were previously announced through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme have been extended. They were originally for 6 months and this has now extended to 12 months.

The funding is available from now, to a maximum value of £5m. All UK based businesses with a turnover of no more than £45 million per year and who meet the British Business Bank lending criteria are eligible to apply.

An alternative Bridging Loan Scheme is available for larger businesses.

The loan scheme will be available from 23 March 2020 according to the government information and will be offered by all major banks.

How to access

The official British Business Bank website provides up to date information and details on how to apply: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/.

All the major banks will offer this Scheme once it has launched. To access this support, speak to your bank or finance provider in the first instance, they will help you to expedite the process. The Government is advising businesses who have existing loans and monthly repayment commitments to request a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

New Support for the self employed

Income Tax Deferral - Any income tax payments due on 31 July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to 31 January 2021. This is deferral available to all self-employed people and no application is required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC have also increased their Time to Pay offer, to cover all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

What else?

The minimum income floor for the self-employed is being suspended and self-employed people can now access Universal Credit in full, at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

A petition is currently circulating asking the Chancellor to announce more extensive support for freelance and self-employed workers, similar to the Job Retention Scheme for employees. We cannot currently comment further than this; if more support for freelancers becomes available, an announcement will be forthcoming.

Where to find up to date information

All the latest information from the Government, with a detailed review of the different support packages available and how to access them can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

This information covers all levels of support - for SMEs, larger businesses and advice for individuals.

We advise you to keep checking this link as it is being updated all the time.

Need help?

If you would like some further advice regarding any of this information, or need support with any aspect of obtaining these business grants / funding packages, please contact us via partners@rjp.co.uk.

We will continue to monitor developments and update you with the latest information as we get it.

Read more articles like this

COVID-19: The Furlough Job Retention Scheme Summarised

COVID-19: 3 Month Extension for Filing to Companies House

Coronavirus Business Support: Clarification on 80% payments from Government

Immediate COVID-19 support for businesses to avoid a crisis

A cash flow action plan for the Coronavirus crisis

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31 July 2020 - Normally an important deadline!

All taxpayers due to make self-assessment tax payments on 31 July 2020 can now delay their payment due to the disruption caused by Coronavirus. This includes self-employed taxpayers and also company directors who pay self-assessment tax on dividend income.

Read more in our coverage of Coronavirus and business support from the Government.