Support for Businesses

This page will be updated when appropriate. Last updated 9 July.

 

The Government has now set out a plan to rebuild the UK and help return life to as near normal as possible, in a way that is safe and continues to protect the NHS. The strategy sets out a roadmap to easing existing measures in phases and, as part of this, some businesses and venues which had been asked to close can now re-open. Guidance for businesses about this can be found here.

Employers should still take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Employees who cannot work from home, for instance those who operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services, can still travel for work purposes, provided they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms and neither they nor any of their household are self-isolating. Employers must ensure that employees are able to follow the Government’s guidelines on working safely while onsite.

A summary of the support available to businesses during the outbreak can be found below. More information about this support, including eligibility, can be found here.

Businesses can get more help and support here.

 

Support Finder Tool
 
There is an online ‘support finder’ tool for businesses and those who are self-employed to help them quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the outbreak.

 

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus symptoms
  • are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • are self-isolating because they have been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus
  • are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks

Employers can claim from the first qualifying day their employee is off work if the period of sickness started on or after:

  • 13 March 2020 - if the employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • 16 April 2020 - if the employee was shielding because of coronavirus
  • 28 May 2020 - if the employee has been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus

Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020.

Employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of COVID-19 can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

Employers must keep records of all the SSP they want to claim from HMRC, including:

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they said they were off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
  • the employee’s National Insurance number

Employers will need to keep these records for at least 3 years following the claim.

More information about the scheme and how to claim can be found here.

 

Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19 maintain their current workforce.

Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

Businesses will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify their employees of this change. It is important to note that changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. More information about which employees are eligible for the scheme can be found here.

More information about how to claim can be found here.

From 1 July, employers can bring employees back to work who have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

Guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims can be found here.

 

Jobs Retention Bonus Scheme

The Jobs Retention Bonus Scheme will be introduced to incentivise businesses to keep employees on. Under this scheme, businesses will be given a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee who earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month), was furloughed previously and is still employed as of 31 January 2021. Payments will be made after this date.

Further details about the scheme will be announced by the end of July.

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The SEISS supports self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have trading profits up to £50,000 and have lost income due to COVID-19.

This scheme will allow those who are eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

The Government has announced that the scheme is being extended and that those who are eligible will be able to make a claim for a second and final grant in August 2020.

More information about this and how to apply can be found here.

 

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

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.

This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. Businesses should talk to their bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers - not the British Business Bank - as soon as possible to discuss their business plan. Businesses with an existing loan with monthly repayments may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website.

At the bottom of this page you can find a letter from UK Finance’s CEO, Stephen Jones, regarding the recent changes to the scheme and the work the banking and finance industry is undertaking to make it available to eligible businesses as quickly as possible.

 

Future Fund

The Future Fund provides Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.
 
These loans automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are not repaid. To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
 
These loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme is delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank.

More information about this and how to apply can be found here.

 

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The Government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

Businesses who are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme cannot apply. However, they can transfer the loan into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, if it is less than £50,000, until 4 November 2020.

More information about the scheme and how to apply can be found  here.

 

Other Funds

A number of private lenders, including most of the leading banks, are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme is a temporary scheme being delivered through commercial lenders. All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45 million per year can apply for up to £25 million of finance. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million of finance.

The Scheme is available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website. The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans which will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by the virus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under the scheme will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

 

Corporate Financing Facility

Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

This will support companies who have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze and allow them to finance their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

More information about eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

 

Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments 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

Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. Further information can be found in the guidance for local authorities here.

Charnwood Borough Council has provided more information about the scheme and how to register for a grant here. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grant should be directed to the Council. 

 

Small Business Grant Funding

The Government as provided additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief, rural rate relief and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. Further information can be found in the guidance for local authorities here.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grant should be directed to the Council. Please see the Council’s dedicated webpage for more information and contact details.

  

Business Rates

The Government will introduce a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020/21 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments 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 & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Further information can be found in the guidance for local authorities here.

The Government will also introduce a business rates holiday for nurseries for the 2020/21 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

Further information can be found in the guidance for local authorities here.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019/20 tax year will be re-billed by Charnwood Borough Council as soon as possible. Businesses can estimate the business rate charge they will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the relief should be directed to the Council. Please see the Council’s dedicated webpage for more information and contact details.

 

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, participating food business can offer a 50% discount - up to a maximum of £10 per person - to diners for any food or non-alcoholic drinks they consume on the premises every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3-31 August 2020. Businesses will then be able to claim the money back from the Government on a weekly basis and receive funds within 5 working days.

More information about the scheme, including how to register, can be found here.

 

Recovery Advice for Business Scheme

The Recovery Advice for Business scheme, which is supported by the Government and hosted on the Enterprise Nation website, gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with an expert adviser to help them through the pandemic and to prepare for long-term recovery. The advice offered will include bespoke, specialist assistance with accountancy, legal, advertising, marketing, recruitment and digital matters.

More information about the scheme can be found here.

 

Tax Support

From 15 July 2020, the rate of VAT applied across the UK to hospitality, accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5% until 12 January 2021 to help the hardest hit sectors.

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will also be deferred until the 31 January 2021. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period. This deferment is optional and those who are able to pay on 31 July should still do so.

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.

Those who have missed a tax payment or who might miss their next payment due to COVID-19 can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Those who are worried about a future payment are asked to call HMRC nearer the time.

 

Companies House

Businesses are now able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts with Companies House so that they can prioritise managing the impact of COVID-19. Applications for an extension can be made through a fast-tracked online system here.

More information about this announcement can be found here.

 

Tenants

Landlords will now have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. This means that the landlord cannot apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the end point and the 3 month notice period will be extended if needed. 

If a tenant is facing financial hardship and is struggling to pay their rent they should speak to their landlord. In this unique context, the Government would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme. 

This is not a rental holiday, however, and all commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. 

 

Commercial Insurance

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases such as COVID-19.

However, businesses who have an insurance policy that covers Government ordered closure and pandemics or Government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim subject to the terms and conditions of their policy.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

 

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The FSB offers their members a legal and employment helpline manned by solicitors, and an online legal hub containing hundreds of templates and guidance documents including staff furlough letters, contracts, terms and guidance and checklists for employers. 

The FSB has also created a Coronavirus Information Hub which is available to everyone, including non-members, and is updated throughout the day. This hub contains employer guidance, and government and general business advice, as well as links to the FSB's 20 March webinar which was watched live by 7,000 people.

 

Sector Support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations

The Government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to COVID-19.

The Government has published a list of organisations businesses can speak with to get advice, as well as websites where businesses can access sector-specific guidance. Many of these organisations are also happy to respond to non-member queries related to COVID-19.

 

NHS Test and Trace Service

The NHS test and trace service will help to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased, as far as it is deemed safe to do so. The Government has asked employers to assist by:

  • making their workplaces as safe as possible; and
  • encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation.

To help employers, guidance has been developed on the 5 steps for working safely, along with sector-specific guidance. It is important to follow this guidance to help to reduce the risk of a spread of infection in the workplace.

The NHS test and trace service does not change the existing guidance about working from home wherever possible.

Further in-depth guidance on making sure workplaces are safe for workers can be found here.

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