The Covid-19 outbreak has produced serious challenges, and uncertainty for all.
Keep up to date with all government changes for businesses during this period on gov.uk
The government set out a package of assistance to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by Covid-19:
- A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
- A Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rate-able value between £15,000 and £51,000
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Job Retention Scheme
Under the new Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, government grants will cover 80% of the salary of
PAYE employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. The scheme, open to any
employer in the country will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and will be open
before the end of April. It will continue for at least three months and can include workers who were
in employment on 28 February. To claim under the scheme employers will need to:
- designate affected employees as furloughed workers and notify employees of this change.
Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and,
depending on the 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
- HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per
The next quarter of VAT payments will be deferred, meaning businesses will not need to make VAT
payments until the end of June 2020. Businesses will then have until the end of the 20-21 tax year to
settle any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.
The deferral applies automatically, and businesses do not need to apply for it. VAT refunds and
reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. Please review your payment methods including
direct debits. Guidance on filing VAT returns is awaited so assume these need to be filled on time.
Self-employed Income Tax payments
Income Tax payments due July 2020 under Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment
will be charged in the deferral period.
Self-employed people can now access full universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
Employed director paid via a basic salary and dividends
If you can justify that you are no longer working, you can consider yourself a furloughed worker and
follow the above guidance.
HMRC Time to Pay
HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme can enable firms and individuals in temporary financial distress as a
result of Covid-19 to delay payment of outstanding tax liabilities. HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19
helpline provides practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.
Business Rates holidays and cash grants
- No rates payable for the 2020-2021 tax year for any business in retail, hospitality or leisure sectors.
- Above sectors, if rateable value between £15K – £51k, a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
- A business in receipt of small business rates relief, including those above, a cash grant of £10,000
- The rates holiday and cash grants will be administered by local authorities and should be delivered automatically, without businesses needing to claim.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Should be available from Monday 23 March and are delivered by lenders that partner with the
British Business Bank, including all the major banks.
- The lender receives a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount from the government. They are
available for UK-based businesses with turnover of no more than £45 million and can provide for a
facility up to £5 million.
- The borrower remains liable for 100% of the debt. No interest will be charged for the first 12
Mortgage and rent holiday
Mortgage borrowers can apply for a three month payment holiday from their lender. Both residential and buy-to-let mortgages are eligible for the holiday. Borrowers still owe the amounts that they don’t pay as a result of the payment holiday; interest will continue to be charged on the
Tenants can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their landlord. No one can be evicted
from their home or have their home repossessed over the next three months.
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government ordered closure should be covered.
The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs,
theatres, etc., is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses should check the terms and conditions of their
specific policy and contact the provider.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If you’re a director of a limited company with less than 250 employees, you can pay yourself two
weeks of SSP if you need to self-isolate subject to meeting the minimum payroll requirement for SSP.
The government will refund £94 per week, maximum £188, to your company. It will also refund SSP
for staff of businesses with less than 250 employees for up to two weeks.
Filing Deadlines of Statutory Accounts at Companies House
If you are unable to file your accounts within the deadline, there is an option to request an extension
to this deadline for up to two months as a matter of course and for a further one month in special
circumstances. This can be actioned on line via Companies House website or by post. To take
advantage of this, you must apply before the deadline.
Corporate financing facility
The Bank of England has set up a scheme to finance working capital by purchasing commercial paper
from larger business ‘making a material contribution to the UK economy’. Businesses do not need to
have previously issued commercial paper in order to participate. The scheme will operate for at least
HMRC helpline launched to help businesses and self-employed people concerned about paying their
tax. Tel: 0800 0159 559 HMRC will discuss specific circumstances.
On Monday 23rd March 2020, the government announced that, in order to prevent the
spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), people should only leave their homes for essential
Signs and symptoms – new continuous cough and/or high temperature; some may also experience
muscle aches, tiredness and shortness of breath.
How does it spread – cough and sneeze droplets which fall on people in the vicinity and directly
inhaled or picked up on hands and transferred when touching the face.
How long does it survive – depends on the surface the virus is on, whether exposed to sunlight
differences in temperature and humidity, exposure to cleaning products.
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to
have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours
Am I allowed to leave my house – to prevent the spread you must only leave home for the following
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- one form of exercise a day – eg a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with household members
- a medical need, to provide care, or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to/from work, only where absolutely necessary, if cannot be done from home
Non-essential businesses have closed. Essential businesses eg food shops and pharmacies are open.
If someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus (a new continuous cough or high temperature), all stay inside the house for 14 days. Ask someone else to collect supplies and leave them outside.
What can I do to make sure I don’t catch coronavirus?
- Reduce contact with other people
- stop germs like coronavirus spreading
- wash hands more often for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitiser
- avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Is hand sanitiser effective – best protection from infections like coronavirus is regular washing of hands with soap and water, if not available, and hands visibly clean, sanitiser gel can be used.
Should people wear face masks to protect themselves from infection – in clinical settings they play an important part but there is little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of clinical settings. Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.