Coronavirus Business Signpost
COVID-19: Signposts to all the advice you and your business needs in one place.
We understand the pressures you are under managing your business while trying to keep up with the latest Government measures to combat the coronavirus.
So to help, we’ve now launched this dedicated website to signpost businesses to simple, clear guidance on all aspects of business support made available by the government.
We will only ever signpost you to official advice, issued by Her Majesty’s Government. This way you can be sure the information you are making your decisions on is from a reputable source.
Key Business Support Schemes
How does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme work?
What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? The Government, via HMRC, will pay 80% of wages of workers who would otherwise have been laid off due to coronavirus. These are workers who are employed, but not working. The employer must designate such workers as ‘furloughed’. The pay will be capped at £2,500 per month, back dated to March 1. Employers can top up wages if they wish.
When will it be in place? HMRC is working on a new online portal for employers to input the information required. A system for making the wage payments to employers is being worked on. Current reports are that it will be ready at end of April.
Note 1) No clear guidance on employers’ National Insurance Contributions is available yet, but Government is working on a solution.
Note 2) Business is expected to pay wages in the meantime, but measures like VAT deferral are expected to help meet the cost.
Can I get help paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
What will be paid? SMEs can claim an SSP refund for employers off work due to sickness from COVID-19. Two weeks SSP will be covered. Employers should maintain records of absence and SSP paid. This INCLUDES those self-isolating because of their own symptoms or the symptoms of someone else in their household.
When will it be paid? Government is setting up the repayment mechanism ‘as soon as possible’.
Will I qualify for a Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme?
What will I qualify for? Supporting SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, to ensure no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. The scheme will be delivered through 40 accredited commercial lenders, including major banks, and is backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.
Whats my eligibility: Company turnover must be less than £45 million per year.
When will it happen? Now open. Talk to your lender in the usual way, or go to these accredited lenders.
What grants are there available?
What grants are there? If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Whats my eligibility: Properties that will benefit include shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs/bars, leisure and sports facilities, hotels and guest houses.
How will I get the grant? You do not need to do anything. Your Local Authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
Do I need to pay my VAT now?
What do I do about my VAT? VAT payments for all businesses will be deferred (it is automatic, no need to apply) for three months, from March 20, 2020 to June 30, 2020. The deferred VAT will still need to be paid in full at the end of the 2020-21 tax year.
How to set up conference calls to keep in touch with your team during the outbreak.
Frequently Ask Questions
If you have a question that you want help finding the answer to please email your question email@example.com
- +Where can I easily find out the latest information on Government financial help?
- The Government has launched its Coronavirus Business Support page, which is a handy ‘one-stop shop’ of all the current loans, grants and tax relief measures put forward. This is updated with any changes as they happen. But don’t worry if you don’t have time to stay updated. Our service is monitoring hour-by-hour the best Government support available and will offer advice bespoke to your business.
- +What can I do right now to help my business?
- The Government has published a very simple ‘five steps to take’ for businesses. Our advice service will bolster Government measures with tailored support for your business.
- +Support has been announced, but where’s the detail and when is it available?
- The Government is working hard to set up the systems through which the support will be delivered. Some schemes, like the coronavirus loans of up to £5 million for SMEs are available now. Our advice service is monitoring updates and will let you know as soon as possible how your business can benefit.
- +How can I access the Job Retention Scheme which pays my staff 80% of wages?
- The message from Government is: ‘Do not to lay anyone off due to coronavirus’. Staff who would otherwise be laid off should be ‘furloughed’ instead. We are awaiting detail on how this will work in practice but it is expected to be operational from late April. This is a primary area of focus for us and we will keep you updated.
So far we understand businesses will be able to register furloughed staff with HMRC and then claim the 80% of wage costs, capped at £2,500 per month, as a grant. Until grants are available, businesses are likely to need to borrow and take advantage of tax breaks like the VAT deferral to pay staff.
- +How do I know if I employ key workers?
- The Government has defined key workers as:
• Health and social care;
• Education and childcare;
• Key public services;
• Local and national government;
• Food and other necessary goods;
• Public safety and national security;
• Communication and financial services.
These employees will be eligible for their children to be looked after at school. An element of common sense is needed in determining whether an employee is operating in a role essential to the COVID-19 response.
- +How can I support my employees at this time?
- The simple answer is for them to work from home if they can, and not to lay them off but instead wait to be able to classify them as ‘furloughed’.
As well as the Job Retention Scheme paying 80% of wages, Government said businesses with fewer than 250 employees will have the cost of providing two weeks of COVID-19 related statutory sick pay per employee refunded in full by the Government.
Employees can be pointed to other Government support including three month mortgage holidays, a ban on evictions from private and social rented homes and help if taxes can’t be paid.
- +Do I have to shut my business?
- Only specific businesses need to close their doors to the public. From March 23, Government announced all non-essential shops as well as hospitality, leisure and other venues must close, with some notable exceptions like supermarkets, post offices, banks and other essential services. A handy table is available on the Government website.
Most businesses do not need to close, but following Public Health England guidelines on handwashing and 2-metre distancing is essential.
- +What if my staff can’t work from home?
- Every effort should be made to allow for home working or reducing contact with other people. But it is accepted that if the job can’t be done from home, then it is fine to come into work as long as Public Health England guidelines on handwashing and distancing are maintained.
- +I’m worried about paying commercial rent. Can I be evicted?
- No. The Government is putting through legislation so no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.
- +I’m worried about my staffing due to self isolation or possible lockdown. What should I do?
- We’re working around the clock to source the staffing needed to keep our clients operating. We are also sourcing workers who have been laid off or whose hours have been cut to make up shortfalls.
Job Retention Scheme
- +How are you going to ensure that firms use money to pay furloughed workers wages?
- Government will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of the scheme with scope to claw back fraudulent or erroneous claims.
- +Can workers claim redundancy pay whilst on the Job Retention Scheme?
- No. This scheme ensures that workers will continue to be employed and paid a proportion of their wages and therefore not entitled to redundancy pay.
- +I employ people on zero hours contracts / gig economy workers. Can they access support?
- With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (“furlough”) due to coronavirus. This can be for any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. The scheme allows you to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month.