Corona Support Update : Self Employed Grant, Bounce Back Loans and Local Top-Up Fund

We thought it would be helpful to let you know about some new support that is available from the government regarding Coronavirus, and more information regarding the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The HMRC will be contacting people from this week regarding their eligibility for a pay out under this scheme. The details of the scheme have been previously explained on an earlier post. If they have your mobile phone details they may text you, or they could email or write to you by post, but they will only ever direct you to the gov.uk website – if you receive any messages with links to select, these may be scams.

If you have a Government Gateway account they may message you through this account. If you do not have an account you will not need to set one up to claim, just fill in an online form and provide proof of ID.

If you are not sure if you are eligible, or if they have the correct contact details for you, please use the below link to use their online tool to check. You will just need your UTR number (Unique Tax Reference number) and Ni number. This should be shown at the top of any letters from the HMRC about Self Assessment, or on the front page of your Self Assessment tax return.

Once you have used the tool it will give you the option to add up to date contact details, so that they can contact you more quickly.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

They are expected to contact all Self employed people that they believe are eligible by the end of next week. When they contact you they will let you know what date you can apply. Dates start from 13th may. It is expected that you will get payment 6 working days after application, as long as there are no issues with your claim.

Agents are not allowed to make the claim, and have no access to your Government Gateway account, or even if you have a GG account. The government will calculate how much you are entitled to. Our clients have already been sent an estimate by us as to what we believe they will be offered under the rules

Bounce Back Business Loan Scheme

Due to the mixed reviews on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the government have announced thsi new loan scheme aimed at businesses wanting to borrow £50,000 or less.

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. You can have the loan for up to 6 years, there is no penalty charges to pay it back early, and no payments are due in the first year.

11 lenders are supporting the loans. More details are on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

Top Up to Local Business Grants

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodated certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. On 2nd May it was announced that an extra £617m would be distributed to local councils to distribute as they saw fit. This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

They are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

For more information on this we would suggest that you contact your local council. More details are on the below link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme

We’re Here To Support You

If you need any help or are worried about anything please get in touch and we will do all that we can to help and give advice. If you are not a client but are worried or need advice, please contact us and we will help you – Free of Charge 🙂

 

 


Coronavirus: Support for Businesses

We thought it would be helpful to summarise the support for businesses that is currently available from the government. More in-depth information is on previous posts on this website, or the government website – a link is at the bottom of this post.

Support for Employees

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • This is a grant – you will not have to pay this back. But you will have to pay tax and NI on it, and declare it if you are on benefits.
  • Any UK business with employees can claim, including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.
  • Covers full-time, part-time, agency and zero hour contract employees.
  • Employees can be furloughed on 80% of their wages (capped at £2,500 per month) for up to 3 months if they would otherwise be made redundant, as long as they do no work for their employer at all whilst furloughed.
  • Employers can “top up” the other 20% of the furlough pay but they don’t have to.
  • Employees already on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed. Employees on Sick Leave or self-isolating should get SSP, but can be furloughed after this.
  • If an employee is working but on reduced hours or reduced pay they are not eligible for the scheme.
  • They must be furloughed for a min, of 3 weeks and must be notified in writing. They can be brought back and then furloughed again if necessary.
  • Some staff can be furloughed whilst some still work. If staff have more than one job they can still work elsewhere or do volunteer work.
  • Company directors can be furloughed as long as they have stopped providing services or generating income.
  • Furlough money will be able to be reclaimed by employers from the HMRC from approx. the end of April through a new portal.

Support for Sole Traders, Partnerships & the Self Employed

Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

Who can claim and what you’ll get:

  • This is a grant – you will not have to pay this back. But you will have to declare it on tax returns and if you are on benefits.
  • The scheme will pay taxable grant payments to anyone who submitted a 2018-19 tax return and is still trading through to the 2020-21 tax year. On the return self-employment has to have been your main source of income, and you must have made a profit of less than £50,000 ( or it was if averaged over the last 3 yrs)
  • You will get 3 months’ pay of 80% of your average self-employed profit based on the last 3 years (or whatever period you were trading if it was less than this.)

The bad news:

  • If you were not self employed on 5th April 2019 or if you have stopped trading since 5th April 2019, or are about to, you cannot claim.
  • If you average profit was over £50,000 in the last 3 years, or if self-employment was not the main source of income on your return, you cannot claim.
  • The money will be paid in one lump sum for the 3 months, but not until June 2020 at the earliest.

The HMRC will contact people that are eligible and explain how to claim the money. This will not be for at least 4 weeks – so expected to start in May. They will not contact you by text or email – please be aware of fraudsters.

Loans For Businesses

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Good points:

  • Loans should be available for most small businesses with turnover under £45m interest free for at least 12 months – sole traders, partnerships or Ltd Cos.
  • Loans are backed by the government so personal collateral should not be required.
  • Loans should be available for businesses that would not have been eligible for help before.

Bad points:

  • Unlike the other support it will need to be paid back. The money is a loan. Any money owed over 12 months may have interest charged.
  • Loans must be for a business reason and cannot be used to pay personal living expenses etc.
  • Some banks are asking for personal or business assets as security – which is not as the government intended.
  • Some banks will offer you loans and overdrafts that they would normally have given you, at high interest rates, before they will offer you one of these loans.

If you have approached a bank and they have not offered you one of these loans, have asked for security or your own bank has been unhelpful, we would recommend trying another bank from the list of lenders. Full details of the scheme is on the British Business Bank website – see link below.

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils-2/for-businesses-and-advisors/

Grants for those with Business Premises

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

  • This is a grant – you do not have to pay it back.
  • This scheme will provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

If you are not sure if you get one of these bills, check your paperwork. Councils should be contacting businesses shortly about this money.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will also not have to pay rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Small Business Grant Scheme

  • This is a grant – you do not have to pay it back.
  • The government will provide funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief.
  • This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If you receive a rates bill from the council every year, but it is adjusted to zero with the wording “Small Business Rates Relief”, you should be eligible for the grant. This we think also applies to holiday lets as well as businesses with premises. It would not apply to those with a high enough rateable value that they have to pay rates, or for normal rental property businesses that are not holiday lets.

If you are not sure if you get one of these bills, check your paperwork. Councils should be contacting businesses shortly about this money.

Other Business Support Available

  • All businesses that are VAT registered can delay paying VAT due between 20th March and 30th June 2020. This will now be due next year. (VAT returns do still have to be submitted)
  • Any individual on Self Assessment can now delay payments on account due 31st July 2020, and not pay them until 31st January 2021.

Other Personal Support Available

  • Universal credits are available immediately without a wait and you can earn more money than before and still be eligible. The amounts awarded have also been increased, including the amount to cover rent.
  • Most banks and building societies have agreed to offer up to 3 months mortgage payment holidays
  • Anyone with a loan or HP agreement may also be able to get up to 3 month’s holiday from payments.
  • Anyone paying council tax who is in real hardship can apply to the council – the council may be able to use money provided to them to reduce your council tax bill in the short term.
  • If you pay council tax you may also be able to ask if you can delay your payments for the first 2 months of the new tax year, paying in Feb and March next year instead. As they usually collect only 10 payments a year some councils have agreed to this.

All of the different types of support that are available are confusing, and we have tried our best to summarise them in plain English. Further in depth information is available both on this website and the government website – please make sure you meet all of the criteria to receive any of the support packages offered. We would be happy to provide specific advice to anyone who needs it, whether you are a client or not, free of charge. Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. We all need to help each other right now.

Please find below a link to the new government website, which has more information about all of these support packages

www.businesssupport.gov.uk


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme HMRC update 27/03/20

The HMRC have published more details on the above scheme, and how it will work.

The full details are on the link below but, in summary:

  • Any UK business with employees can claim, including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities
  • You must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28th Feb 2020 and have a UK bank account
  • Any businesses still being paid with public money for staff costs cannot use the scheme.

Which Employees can be furloughed?

  • Full-time and part-time employees
  • Employees on agency contracts
  • Employees on flexible or zero hours contracts

What are the rules to furlough staff?

  • Employees must be told in writing that they have been furloughed, and the date it applies from. Employers need to get their agreement in writing to the furlough if it reduces the pay as per their employment contract. Evidence of this needs to be retained. A template letter attached at the bottom of this post.
  • Employees hired after 28th Feb 2020 cannot be furloughed.
  • Employees cannot undertake any work for the employer whilst on furlough. This includes providing services or generating income.
  • Company directors are eligible to claim their PAYE income, but only if as above they do not undertake any work whilst on furlough. This includes providing services or generating income.
  • If an employee is working but on reduced hours or reduced pay they are not eligible for the scheme.
  • You can just furlough some of your workers, but anyone furloughed cannot undertake any work.
  • Staff must be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks. If bought back to work, they can be furloughed again, but again the minimum is 3 weeks.
  • Employees already on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on leave after 28th Feb 2020.
  • Employees on Sick Leave or self-isolating should get SSP, but can be furloughed after this.
  • If your employee has more than 1 job they can be furloughed for each job separately i.e. they can be furloughed from one but continue working at another. Each job is separate and the cap applies to each job.
  • Furloughed employees can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to, or generate income for, your business.
  • If workers are required to do online training, they can remain furloughed but would need to be paid in full for any time they took training.
  • Normal rules apply for Statutory Maternity Pay
  • All grant money paid to furloughed workers will be subject to income tax and National Insurance as usual. It will also have to be declared as income for those on benefits.

How Much can you Claim?

Employers will be able to claim the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, or £2,500 per month plus the associated Employer NI and minimum Auto Enrolment employers contribution. Fees, commissions and bonuses must be excluded. For directors, it would be any amount put through PAYE – dividends are not included.

Employers may choose to “top up” the other 20% of salary, but they don’t have to.

This has been set up for 3 months from 1st March, but may be extended.

You can claim:

  • For salaried employees i.e. those on a set annual salary, their salary in February 2020 should be used to calculate the 80% (excluding fees, bonuses and commission)
  • For staff on hourly rates or with variable pay, you need to claim the higher of the same month’s pay from last year, or their average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
  • If an employee has been employed for less than 1 year, you can claim the average since they started work.
  • Once you have calculated this pay, you can then add the amount of relevant NI and pension contributions to this figure.
  • If you chose to “top up” to 100% of their salary you can only claim the NI and pension payments relating to the 80% grant.

In this situation, furloughed workers are not entitled to the National Living Wage or the National Minimum Wage as they are not working.

Full calculations of the claim made must be kept, and can be audited by the HMRC to ensure compliance with the rules.

How can you Claim?

  • The HMRC expect the new portal for claims to be open by late April. You will be able to claim by providing basic information regarding your payroll, and a bank account for payment
  • You will be able to submit a claim every 3 weeks (the minimum furlough period) Claims can be backdated to the period you stopped working (as far back as 1st March.)
  • Once your claim has been received and agreed, the HMRC will pay the money into your account via BACS
  • You must pay the employee all of the grant money you receive, and cannot charge them fees.
  • Any grant money received must be treated as income for accounting purposes, to offset the staff costs in the accounts.

When the current situation is over, and the scheme ends, you must decide whether to take back your workers or consider redundancy as per your usual terms.

Whilst employees are furloughed they maintain all of the same rights that they had previously including SSP, maternity rights etc.

Now that the rules have been released, we will re-calculate staff wages and will be completing claims for any of our clients that we run payroll for. If any other clients need help with this we will assist.

If anyone – client or not – needs help or advice please get in touch.

Guidance for Employees:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Template letter for furloughed workers:

Download Staff Furlough Letter


Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

The chancellor has announced today a new scheme that will be available to support Self Employed businesses affected by the Coronavirus

The scheme will pay taxable grant payments to anyone who:

Submitted a tax return with self employed income for the 2018-19 tax year and is still trading
On this return self employment was their main source of income
Made taxable profits of less than £50,000

What You Will Get:

The grant will consist of self employed people being paid 80% of the monthly average of their self employed profits over the last 3 years (2016-2019).
Individuals receiving the grant will not have to pay it back, but will have to pay tax on the income as per usual rules.
Everyone will be entitled to at least 3 months of this average profit
Mr Sunak mentioned that self employed people could still be trading to receive the money. This may need to be confirmed.
If individuals were not trading for the full 3 years, the period that they were trading will be used to work out the payment.

The bad news:

If you were not self-employed before 6th April 2019, you will not be eligible to claim on the scheme
If you earned profit of over £50,000 you will not be eligible.
Payments will not be available until at least June, although at this point the whole 3 months will be paid at once.

What process will there be to claim the money?

1 The HMRC will contact people that are eligible
2 They will ask you to fill in a short online form to claim. If you have an accountant you may need their help.
3 They will then process the claim and pay the money directly into your bank account.
4 This money will not be paid until June 2020.

The chancellor stated that any businesses struggling to wait until June for the payment could access the interest free business loans, or Universal Credit in the short term.

Further information regarding this and all other support available is on a new Business Support website – see below link. If anyone would like any advice please let us know and we would be happy to help.

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/


Further Details on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Our payroll software provider, Brightpay, has provided further details on the above scheme, and how it will work. Although not directly from the government, we feel that this is a reliable source of information. We will of course keep you updated when the government confirms this.

The full details are on the link below but, in summary:

Employers must designate affected employees as furloughed, and get the employee’s agreement if it will mean a reduction in pay, or if there is not a specific clause in their employment contract covering this issue.

The HMRC must be notified, with details of the workers and their pay, through an online portal (in the process of being set up now)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wages costs, based on their February wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per person per month.

Employers may choose to “top up” the other 20% of salary, but they don’t have to.

This has been set up for 3 months from 1st March, but may be extended.

We will be completing claims for any of our clients that we run payroll for. If any other clients need help with this we will assist.

If anyone – client or not – needs help or advice please get in touch.


Coronavirus Support Business Loans Go Live

From today 40 main banks in the UK should start taking applications for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Full details are on the British Business Bank website – link below.

Most small businesses should qualify for a loan, but details of how to apply, and who to approach, along with a list of the banks, is on the British Business Banking site.

They recommend contacting your own business bank first, and making sure you meet the basic criteria – below.

The list of lenders as of 10am 23/03/20 includes:

Bank of Ireland UK – Bank of Scotland – Barclays – Clydesdale Bank – Danske Bank – HSBC – Lloyds Bank – Metrobank – NatWest – Santander – Skipton business Finance – RBS – TSB – Ulsterbank

As previously announced, these loans will be interest free for 12 months. If you need any further help or advice, please let us know.


Corona Virus Help for Businesses – Update 20/03/2020

Please find below a summary of all of the information we know so far about the support available, including items announced today at 5pm.

Self-Isolation

Anyone with symptoms or with anyone in their household with symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days.
Employers with less than 250 staff can pay Statutory Sick Pay to those staff members for up to 2 weeks. They will be able to reclaim this from the government. SSP is paid at £94.25 per week.

Government Support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The government has announced today that a huge scheme will be provided to help employers pay their staff. They have promised that for businesses where staff cannot work due to closure or suspension of services, that the government will pay 80% of their salaries, up to £2,500 per person per month, for at least 3 months.

This applies to all sizes of business, charities and non-profits. They will explain how this will work in practice shortly, but they are hoping that the money will be provided in a few weeks, or at the very latest the end of April. Businesses struggling should be able to apply for the interest free bank loans to help with cashflow by Monday (see Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme).

It is our understanding that this will not apply to those employees still working. This may be backdated to cover any disruption already faced.
More details should be released shortly.

Deferment of VAT Payments

The government have announced that all VAT payments due in the next quarter will be deferred, and will not need to be paid until the end of the Financial 2020-21 year in April 2021. It is our understanding that this will apply to all VAT registered business with quarter ends in March 2020, April 2020 and May 2020. It is believed that VAT returns will still need to be submitted.

Update 7.30pm: This may also apply to quarter end February 2020 that is not due until 7th April. We will try to get confirmation ASAP.

Deferment of Self-Assessment Payments On Account

The government have announced that all SA payments on account due 31st July 2020 will be deferred, and will not need to be paid until January 2021.

Universal Tax Credits

For anyone who is unemployed or self-employed it will be easier to make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. The minimum income level for Universal Credit will be removed for COVID-19 cases, and you will no longer have to visit a job centre if you are self-isolating. The amount you can claim has also been increased by £1,000 per year. The Universal Credit Helpline is 0800 328 5644.

Working Tax Credits Basic payments will also be increased by £1,000 per year. Council tax relief may also be available, as councils will be provided with a hardship fund. Housing Benefit will also be increased to help renters that are now out of work.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

This scheme will provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Business Rates Holiday – Retail Hospitality & Leisure

There will be a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates.

The government will provide 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 (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If you receive a rates bill from the council every year, but it is adjusted to zero with the wording “Small Business Rates Relief”, you should be eligible for the grant. This we think also applies to holiday lets as well as businesses with premises. It would not apply to those working from home (Sole Trader or Ltd Co) or for normal rental property businesses that are not holiday lets.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

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. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value, for businesses with turnovers up to £41m. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover this interest. The main banks will deliver these loans, and these should be available from Monday 23rd March.

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

If you have tax falling due in the next few months (VAT, PAYE and CIS, Self-Assessment), and the current situation will affect your ability to pay, you can contact the HMRC’s time To Pay Service. All businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support. Their dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559. The HMRC have allocated 2,000 call handlers to the line that opened on 11th March.

Other Support

If you need other financial help contact your bank or building society. RBS, Lloyds Bank and Barclays have pledged to offer support by mortgage repayment holidays, temporary increases in credit card limits, waiver of fees on early access to fixed savings accounts and late credit card, mortgage, and loan payments.

Now that pubs and restaurants have been forced to close, if you have a clause in your insurance that covers you for pandemics, the current situation should allow you to claim on your insurance if your business is affected.

For any self-employed business – again check your insurance. If you are ill and have Key Worker insurance you should be able to claim.

IR35 Delay

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay announced in the House of Commons yesterday that the government was delaying the roll-out of the new private sector IR35 regime until 1 April 2021. He stressed that this was merely a delay in light of the virus, and that it would still be implemented next year. This is great news for contractors, but many of the larger companies have already put new systems in place, so it is unclear if this will make a huge difference to the job market.

Practical Things That You Can Do

If you run your own business, we believe that it is vital that your business must at least give the impression that it is carrying on. We would suggest talking to clients and suppliers, and informing them of your short-term plans – be it “Business As Usual” or that, in the case of restaurants etc, that there will be a temporary closure.

If you work in people’s homes or gardens see if you can arrange to work with minimum human contact, paying by bank so that you can still carry on working. If you have employees that can work from home make sure that they have the resources to do so. Keep in contact with them and keep them up to date with the situation. Make sure they know of the sick policy and what they would need to do if they or anyone in their household has to self-isolate.

If you do need to stop working, but will continue to pay your staff, is there anything you can do to help the community? Can you introduce delivery services to clients, or help older clients that may have to self-isolate.

Just by letting people know what is going on, you should again avoid panic or uncertainty.

We’re Here To Support You

If you need any help or are worried about anything please get in touch and we will do all that we can to help and give advice. If you have accounts that are due, we will get these sorted out as soon as possible, so that you will know what your future tax liability will be as soon as possible. If you have down time at home, please feel free to forward paperwork to us – we will be happy to process things whenever you supply them.
If you are a Self-Assessment client you may want to use the time to sort out the paperwork for 2019-20 so that you can provide it to us in April, so that again you will know your tax.

If you are not a client but are worried or need advice, please contact us and we will help you – Free of Charge 🙂

Below is a link with more information on the Government Website regarding the previously announced measures:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

 


Corona Virus Help for Businesses – What We Know So Far

Please find below a summary of all of the information we know so far about the support available.

Self-Isolation

Anyone with symptoms or with anyone in their household with symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days.

Employers with less than 250 staff can pay Statutory Sick Pay to those staff members for up to 2 weeks. They will be able to reclaim this from the government. SSP is paid at £94.25 per week.

Government Support

For anyone who is self employed it will be easier to make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. The minimum income level for Universal Credit will be removed for COVID-19 or self-isolating cases, and you will no longer have to visit a job centre if you are self-isolating. The Universal Credit Helpline is 0800 328 5644

Council tax relief may also be available, as councils will be provided with a hardship fund.

Business rates will be reduced to zero for one year for anyone under the Business Rates Retail Discount Scheme. It is our understanding that this covers all shops, clubs, restaurants and hotels.

Grants will be available to businesses from the local authority to any business who receives the Small Business Rate Relief at the moment. Grants should be £10,000 for all businesses who receive SBRR, and £25,000 for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry. No details are yet available as to how to apply for this grant except that it is expected that businesses will need to apply to their local authority. It looks as though it will only be available to those who get Small Business Rate Relief i.e. have a business premises.

 If you receive a rates bill from the council every year, but it is adjusted to zero with the wording “Small Business Rates Relief”, you should be eligible for the grant. This we think also applies to holiday lets as well as businesses with premises. It would not apply to those working from home (Sole Trader or Ltd Co) or for normal rental property businesses that are not holiday lets

Any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, staff salaries, suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. It is expected that these loans will be able to be accessed by early w/c 23rd March.

If you have tax falling due in the next few months (VAT, PAYE and CIS, Self- assessment), and the current situation will affect your ability to pay, you can contact the HMRC’s time To Pay Service. All businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support. Their dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559. The HMRC have allocated 2,000 call handlers to the line that opened on 11th March.

Other Support

If you need other financial help contact your bank or building society. RBS, Lloyds Bank and Barclays have pledged to offer support by mortgage repayment holidays, temporary increases in credit card limits, waiver of fees on early access to fixed savings accounts and late credit card, mortgage, and loan payments.

Although the government has not forced pub and restaurants to close at this stage, they have confirmed that if you have a clause in your insurance that covers you for pandemics, the current situation should allow you to claim on your insurance if your business is affected.

For any self-employed business – again check your insurance. If you are ill and have Key Worker insurance you should be able to claim.

IR35 Delay

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay announced in the House of Commons yesterday that the government was delaying the roll-out of the new private sector IR35 regime until 1 April 2021. He stressed that this was merely a delay in light of the virus, and that it would still be implemented next year.

This is great news for contractors, but many of the larger companies have already put new systems in place, so it is unclear if this will make a huge difference to the job market.

Practical Things That You Can Do

If you run your own business, we believe that it is vital that your business must at least give the impression that it is carrying on. We would suggest talking to clients and suppliers, and informing them of your short-term plans – be it “Business As Usual” or that, in the case of restaurants etc, that there will be a temporary closure.

If you work in people’s homes or gardens see if you can arrange to work with minimum human contact, paying by bank so that you can still carry on working.

If you have employees that can work from home make sure that they have the resources to do so. Keep in contact with them and keep them up to date with the situation. Make sure they know of the sick policy and what they would need to do if they or anyone in their household has to self-isolate.

If you do need to stop working, but will continue to pay your staff, is there anything you can do to help the community? Can you introduce delivery services to clients, or help older clients that may have to self-isolate.

Just by letting people know what is going on, you should again avoid panic or uncertainty.

We’re Here To Support You

If you need any help or are worried about anything please get in touch and we will do all that we can to help and give advice even if you are not one of our clients.

For our clients:

If you have accounts that are due, we will get these sorted out as soon as possible, so that you will know what your future tax liability will be as soon as possible.

If you have down time at home, please feel free to forward paperwork to us – we will be happy to process things whenever you supply them.

If you are a Self-Assessment client you may want to use the time to sort out the paperwork for 2019-20 so that you can provide it to us in April, so that again you will know your tax liabilities ASAP.