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.  


Corona Virus: Help and Support Update 18/03/20

After the briefing from the chancellor last night, the following new information has been provided.

If you are not a client but need some help, please get in touch and we will do all that we can to help you. It’s in times like these that we need to help each other.

Government Backed Business Loans

The biggest single element in the Chancellor’s rescue package is a package of £330bn bank loan guarantees to help small and large businesses manage cashflows during the pandemic. The sum is equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. 

Any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the 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 in the next week or so. No further details are available at this time.

12 Month Business Rates Holiday

The chancellor extended the business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector for 12 months. This goes one step further and applies to all size of businesses – last week’s announcement only covered those sectors with a rateable value below £51,000.

Business Grants to those with Business Premises

The chancellor has now offered further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in smaller premises with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.

He has also increased the small business rate relief grant of £3,000 to £10,000.

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. Those working from home do not appear to be eligible.

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.

Insurance Policy Cover

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.

IR35 Delay by 1 Year

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.

Self Employed / Renters / Companies Without Business Premises

It has been recognised by the government that large sections of society will not necessarily be helped by the measures announced so far. Anyone employed within the “gig” economy, self employed people without business premises, and those that rent rather than pay mortgages seem extremely vulnerable to a possible lock down. The government have promised to make more announcements in the coming days.

If you have tax falling due in the next few months and you are self employed you can call the new HMRC helpline on 0800 0159 559. The HMRC have allocated 2,000 call handlers to the line that opened on 11th March. They may also be able to provide you with numbers to claim income support or other benefits.

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.


Corona Virus: Help and Support

We have today provided the below information to our clients regarding the effects the Corona Virus may have on their businesses. We thought it would be helpful to share it on our website as well.

Please bear with us as the information and advice is changing on a daily basis, and some of the information available is limited.

If you are not a client but need some help, please get in touch and we will do all that we can to help you. It’s in times like these that we need to help eachother.

Summary of Current Help Available

The COVID-19 guidance for employers and businesses factsheet is attached below.

COVID-19 Factsheet

This advises what needs to be done if Coronavirus is suspected among any members of staff and details the financial measures that are being made available including:

  • Refund for businesses and employers required to access Statutory Sick Pay
  • A 100% Business Rates retail discount for one year 
  • Funding support for those small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

No details are yet available as to the £3,000 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. Those working from home do not appear to be eligible.

Statutory Sick Pay for Employees

As per the attached factsheet, SSP will be reclaimable by employers for any staff member who contracts COVID-19 or has to self-isolate as per government guidelines. As it stands now, this would apply to people without symptoms if a member of their household does have symptoms.

At present the RTI payroll system does not allow for these costs to be reclaimed, so there may be a delay in businesses getting credits on their PAYE account.

Please let us know if this affects any of your staff, and we will be able to submit the correct returns for you.

In the event of a “lockdown” ordered by the government, anyone unable to work from home may be allowed to claim SSP at this point, even if they do not have symptoms. This has not as yet been confirmed.

The maximum claimable per employee is 2 weeks. SSP is paid at £94.25

Communication with Employees

We would recommend that you communicate regularly with your employees, and make them aware that as per the guidelines, they should tell you and self-isolate as soon as anyone in their household has symptoms.

It is key to let them all know the sick policy for your business, and what may happen if the situation becomes more severe.

If possible, you could also arrange for them to work from home.

Keeping everyone informed is the best way to avoid panic, and will stop people coming into work when they should not be doing so.

Check Your Insurance Policies

We would advise all clients to check out any insurance policies you may have. If you have keyman insurance see if you are covered by a lockdown, or if you contract the virus.

If you have any cover for staff, again let them know.

Problems Paying Taxes to the HMRC

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.

Arrangements are on a case-by-case basis.

Other Financial Help

We would also suggest that you see what help is available from your bank, either now or in the next few months. 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.

Review Business Costs

If you believe that the currently situation is going to affect your business, we would advise you to look at all costs and reduce discretionary and non-essential expenses as far as possible.

Fixed costs such as wages, rent, utilities, financing costs etc that will still need to be paid if sales decrease need to be looked at and budgeted for. If lump sum payments are coming up such as van insurance, paying monthly might be the prudent thing to do.  

Communicate and Carry On

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.

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

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.

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 liabilities ASAP.  

If you have any concerns about being able to pay our future bills, again please get in touch.


The CIS VAT Reverse Charge – VAT’s not going to be the same for Builders from Oct 2020!

CIS VAT Reverse Charge

In an attempt to stop fraud in the construction industry, HMRC will be introducing a domestic reverse charge which will take effect from 1st October 2020.

The new CIS VAT reverse charge will only apply to certain building and construction services. It will mean that the customer will now be liable to account for the VAT on purchases, rather than the supplier, just as it currently works when dealing with businesses within the EU.

The idea is to limit the amount of VAT paid from business to business, so that fraudsters cannot syphon off the money and not pay it over to the HMRC.

Although on the whole this will not have a negative affect on most businesses, it will affect cash flow, and will of course mean yet more paperwork at a time when small businesses are under pressure already.

This information was accurate as of March 2020.

There is more information about the CIS VAT reverse charge on the HMRC website here.

Please download our full free PDF guide for a full explanation as to the new rules, or get in touch for a no obligation chat.

Download CIS VAT Reverse Charge Guide


MTD For VAT – The Beginning of the End for the Annual Tax Return?

Making Tax Digital for VAT

Making Tax Digital for VAT is a government initiative that went live in April 2019 for anyone over the VAT threshold of £85k turnover a year. In a nutshell, returns now need to use software to submit their returns to a new government gateway, and cannot use the HMRC portal any more. They will also need to keep their accounting records digitally i.e. not on paper or spreadsheets.

This general requirement to submit and keep records digitally (just known as MTD) is expected to roll out to more businesses, and will drastically change the tax return system as we know it. The endgame is to have all businesses, no matter their size, submit a return each quarter instead of the annual Self Assessments of today, with additional returns at year end to finalise the figures.

These drastic changes will have a huge impact on business owners. It could also mean that many businesses, that have not used an accountant before, may need to engage one for the first time in order to comply.

In our opinion the rollout of MTD for VAT has been a much bigger deal for businesses than the HMRC first thought, so it is likely that further rollouts to other businesses will be delayed. However – it would be prudent to look at software solutions – especially those on the cloud. A lot of them do make sense for most businesses outside of these changes to the tax regime, and guarantee to save most business and company owners considerable time. Both FreeAgent and Xero, along with other software providers, have MTD for VAT solutions in place.

More information on MTD is available for the HMRC website here.

We are keeping up to date with information as soon as it is being released by the HMRC, and will keep all of our clients as informed as possible. Please get in touch of you are newly VAT registered and need help setting up MTD for VAT, or if you just need further information.