Coronavirus Update for Businesses

Further to our email on Tuesday, it is clear that Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on the UK economy with uncertainty and challenging times ahead for us all.  We would like to reiterate that we are here to support you and please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss anything at all.

The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses to ensure the impact of Covid-19 is minimised.  Below are some of the measures announced so far aimed at helping business.  Government advice and guidance is changing all the time and you can stay up to date at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

A summary of the key measures at 18th March 2020 is below.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Delivered by the British Business Bank, it will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.  To access the Scheme, you should talk to your bank or finance provider and discuss your business plan with them.  Please get in touch if you would like help with your business plans.  We understand lending decisions are taken by each individual provider, not by government.  More details can be found at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/.  We understand that all the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched.

Statutory Sick Pay

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.  We expect that payroll systems will need to be updated to accommodate this change.

HMRC helpline for payment support

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2020/mar-2020/covid19-vat-and-self-assessment-payment-deferral/

Business grants of £10,000

There will be a £10,000 cash grant to our smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority – they do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to local authorities in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Business rates holiday

The government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.  A £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.

We suggest that you sign up to receive government updates as advice and guidance is changing daily. https://www.gov.uk/email-signup?link=/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Other websites with useful information include:

ACAS – https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce – https://staffordshirechambers.co.uk/coronavirus-toolkit/

We understand that this is an unsettling time for us all.  The office currently remains open as normal but we have altered some of our working arrangements to keep our staff safe. We are able to expand this should we be required and have systems in place to operate remotely (via cloud and home-working) to continue with our support and services. We are very happy to help you even if just as a sounding board.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes from all the team at Geens. Stay safe.