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.


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: