Advice for Small Businesses in the wake of COVID-19

As COVID-19 is causing unprecedented levels of disruption around the world as well as here the UK the government will be implementing some short term measures to aid small businesses.

Here is a short summary of what has been proposed to date:-

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package for SMEs

Employers will be able to reclaim SSP for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

To be eligible:-

  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19 whether they contracted it or have been advised to self-isolate.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • The period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.
  • The government will then work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England

The Government are going to introduce a business rates retail 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.

Small business grant

This is a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

  • You don’t need to apply, instead you will be contacted by your local authority if you are eligible.

Business rates grant of £25,000

To be eligible you must have a retail, hospitality or leisure business with a property that has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

  • Enquires about eligibility should be made directly with the relevant local authority.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This is to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. This should be available from next week from the British Business Bank (https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/) and covers term facilities, overdrafts, invoice finance facilities and asset finance facilities. On the British Business Bank website it says that loans are available from £1000 up to £1.2 million, for terms between 3 months and 10 years. The HMRC figures differ slightly, they indicate loans up to £5 million and that these will be interest free for the first 6 months.

The Small Business must be:-

  • UK based with a turnover under £41 million per annum.
  • Operate within an eligible industrial sector (https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ineligible-and-Restricted-Eligibility-Sector-2017.pdf)
  • Have a sound borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet a lender’s normal requirements.
  • Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years(https://www.gov.uk/guidance/state-aid).
  • For more information https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Tax can be distressing at the best of times, but if you have a business or are self-employed with outstanding tax liabilities that would be difficult to pay off in light of the COVID-19 situation you may be eligible for this relief.

  • Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
  • Your case will be reviewed and if successful, a workable payment scheme will be agreed that takes account of your cash-flow situation.
  • For more information https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc

Finally check your Insurance

Every insurance policy is unique, it may be a long shot but it is worth checking to see if you have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure.

Both the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.

  • Check your policies the terms and conditions and if in any doubt contact your provider.

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

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