Coronavirus - FAQs for Businesses

Read the comprehensive guide for businesses and employees of all the support schemes offered by the Government – showing people what schemes are available, what they are eligible for and when they start - HERE

 

I am worried about being able to pay my staff because of COVID-19, what support is there for me?

On 20th March, the Chancellor announced a plan to protect people’s jobs and income.

For the first time in our history – the Government will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month.

Through the scheme, any employer can apply to put workers on temporary leave or 'furloughed' status, and the employer will receive a grant from HMRC to cover 80% of their salary, up to £2,500pm.

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
     
  • employees on agency contracts
     
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme covers employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.

This scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1st March 2020 and will be open to every business in the country from 20 April until the end of June. It may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

This scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy.

Employers will be able to apply for a grant to cover the Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions on paying the lower of 80% of regular salary or £2,500 per month.

Get more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme HERE

Click HERE to find out what you need to make a claim.

Once you’ve claimed, HMRC will check that your claim is correct and pay the claim amount by Bacs into your bank account within 6 working days.

 

What assistance is available to support small/medium businesses' cash flow throughout the outbreak?

The Government has been clear that it is willing to do 'whatever it takes' to support the UK's businesses at this difficult time, and has allocated funding to go towards both grants and loans. It is important to ensure businesses can survive this period and go on to have a profitable future.

On Friday 20th March, the Chancellor and Prime Minister announced that no businesses, regardless of size, will have to pay VAT until mid-June. This represents an injection of over £30 billion - equal to1.5% of GDP - into businesses, who will have until the end of the year to pay bills. 

 

GRANTS

If your business is eligible for small business or rural rate relief, you are entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000. 

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, then you may also be entitled to a cash grant. If you have a property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 then you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000, whether or not you are entitled to small business rate relief or rural rate relief. If you have a property with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £25,000.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will provide guidance for Local Authorities on how to administer these grants.  If you are an eligible business, contact your local authority for details of how to claim this money. 

Contact Forest of Dean District Council

Contact Tewkesbury Borough Council

Get more information about the grants HERE

 

CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank will help support businesses to access bank lending and overdraft facilities.

Businesses can now apply to borrow up to £5 million to pay their rents, salaries of their employees, pay supplies, or purchase stock.

Full details on how to apply can be found HERE

These loans are government-backed and have attractive terms, with the Government providing lenders with a partial guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium businesses. 

The first twelve months of these loans will be interest-free, as the Government will cover these payments.

Find out more about the Business Interruption Loan Scheme HERE

 

BOUNCE BACK LOANS

On 4 May, the Government announced the launch of quick and easy-to-access loans of up to £50,000 for small businesses. 

Thanks to this scheme, thousands of small firms and sole traders – including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak. 

Small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions.

The Government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this generous new scheme.

The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee and cover the cost of any fees and interest for the borrower for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during this period to enable firms to get back on their feet.

Read more information about the Bounce Back Loans HERE

 

I am a small/medium business and worried about being able to afford to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), is there any help available for me?

Since 13th March, businesses with less than 250 employees have been eligible to reclaim the costs of SSP for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

The refund covers up to two weeks' SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or have been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. 

Please ensure to maintain a full record of staff absences and note that employees will not need to provide a GP fit note for COVID-19 related absences during the outbreak. 

As existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP, the Government will work with employers in the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible. 

Please find the Government's coronavirus guidance for employers HERE

 

I own a business and am concerned about being able to pay my tax bills because of COVID-19, what help is available for me?

If you are self-employed or own a business, you may be eligible for support through HMRC's Time to Pay service. 

HMRC has committed to supporting business owners through this crisis, and have said they are happy to explore instalment arrangements, suspend debt collection proceedings and more. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. 

You can call HMRC's dedicated help and support ‘phone line on 0800 0159 559 to find out what support they can offer you. 

Find out more about the scheme HERE

 

Do I still have to pay Business Rates throughout the outbreak?

The Government has announced that the Business Rates holiday is to be extended to all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector for the next twelve months. If you own a business that falls into this category, you will not have to pay business rates for the next 12 months. This is to help the businesses worst-impacted by coronavirus. 

If you are currently receiving the retail discount for your Business Rates bill, you will shortly receive a revised bill with 100% relief.  Get more information about this scheme HERE.

If you are a nursery, you will also be entitled to the 100% relief for the next year. You should contact your local authority for more information. Get more information about this scheme HERE.

Contact Forest of Dean District Council

Contact Tewkesbury Borough Council

 

I have pandemic/government ordered closure insurance for my businesses, am I able to claim even though the Government has not forced my business to close?

The Government's medical advice of 16th March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government-ordered closure to make a claim - provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. 

If in doubt, please check the terms and conditions of your specific policy and contact your insurance provider. 

 

I am a restaurant/pub serving food, can I quickly operate as a takeaway so I can keep my business running?

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has legislated to bring forward a temporary Permitted Development Right to allow for a change of use from A3 (Restaurant) and A4 (Pub) to A5 (Hot Food Takeaway). 

Under this legislation, pubs and restaurants will be able to notify their local authority that they are now operating as a takeaway without any prior approval. 

Get more information about this measure HERE