Special provisions to help businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Government yesterday announced a number of special provisions to help businesses during the Covid-19 (“Coronavirus”) pandemic.

Here is a link to the Government website page with links to their advice - https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Within this page is advice for businesses, employers and employees -https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

The advice for businesses includes information on:

Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs

  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees (at 28 February 2020), the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full
  • A repayment mechanism will be worked on over the next few months
  • Businesses are encouraged to keep detailed records of any payments to evidence any future reclaim.

 

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for 2020/21

  • Businesses should receive new bills from their local authority
  • Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

 

A grant of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

  • Any enquiries should be directed to the relevant local authority.

 

A small business grant of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

  • If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

 

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • The Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million.
  • The loan will be interest free for the first 6 months, as the government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims)
  • This will be delivered by the British Business Bank (BBS) and will launch from 23 March 2020.
  • BBS advises that the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. Here is a link to the BBS website with further details and conditions -  https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

 

The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax

  • The number for HMRC’s dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.
  • These arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

 

Insurance

  • The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc. is sufficient to make a claim if businesses have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure.
  • Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Standard business interruption insurance policies which are dependent on damage to property will exclude pandemics.

 

Additional resources

 

Banking Arrangements

  • If you are in difficulties with your cash flow generally, then we strongly recommend that you speak with your bank manager as a matter of urgency in order to discuss additional facilities being made available and capital repayment holidays on existing loans.

 

Off-payroll working (IR35) changes delayed

Finally, in a speech to the House of Commons last night the Government announced that the extension of the Off-payroll working provisions to the private sector will not now be implemented from 6 April 2020.  Instead the existing off-payroll working rules will remain in force until April 2021.

The ICAEW Tax Faculty have reported that HMRC has said that Status Determination Statements (SDS) already issued will have no standing in law and will not be used as evidence in any enquiry dispute during the coming year.

We will continue to monitor Government announcements.  Please contact your BGM advisor if you would like any assistance.

Mark Cole

Chief Executive