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.


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.