The support that businesses can get during this COVID-19 pandemic

Many businesses are affected by COVID-19

The UK government has announced a string of measures to help businesses and self-employed individuals. Learn what support you can get here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shock waves through the business community in the UK. Many companies and self-employed individuals are affected and wondering where to get help. At Berley, we continue to operate as normal, albeit remotely. If you have questions pertaining to any of the schemes announced by the government, please get in touch – our name, email addresses and telephone numbers are listed at the end of this page.

Government to pay up to 80% of wages

Known as Coronavirus job retention scheme, this measure aims to help employers to retain staff.

For example, if you are a pub owner, you are required to shut the pub and as a result, you have to furlough your employees. In this case, the government asks you to continue paying your staff and you can then make a claim from the government amounting to 80% of their furloughed salary, National Insurance and minimum automatic employer pension. The maximum amount you can claim is £2,500 per employee per month.
A few important points are:

  • You must write to your employees confirming that they have been furloughed.
  • The furloughed employees must not work. If you have them working on reduced hours or reduced pay, they will not be qualified for this scheme.
  • The government plans to have the grant available by the end of April, although the grant can be backdated to March.
  • Once the government portal is made available, you can submit the information of your furloughed employees and their wages.
  • HMRC will then reimburse 80% of wages of these furloughed workers, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • This scheme is temporary and is open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020.
  • Please refer this gov.uk page for more information pertaining to this scheme.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

If your business does not have enough cash to tide it over during this period, consider getting a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

  • There are 40 accredited lenders (including major banks) offering this scheme.
  • You can access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
  • While you must repay the loans, the government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees to help small businesses.
  • To be eligible, you must be a UK-based business with a turnover of less than £45 million per year. Your business must also meet the other British Business Bank eligible criteria.
  • To apply, talk to your bank now. Alternatively, talk to one of the accredited lenders available on the British Business Bank website.

Deferring VAT

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If your business is VAT-registered, you can defer VAT for three months (between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020).

It must be noted that you have to continue submitting your VAT returns to HMRC on time. You can pay the VAT due as normal or you can defer the payment until a later date without penalties.

Deferring Income Tax payments

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If you are self-employed, your Income Tax Self-Assessment payments (originally due on 31 July 2020) will be deferred to 31 January 2021. No penalties for late payment will be charged during the deferral period.

Statutory Sick Pay relief

Applicable to UK-based small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020), this relief covers up to 2 weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. How it works is that you (the employer) will have to reclaim expenditure for any employee who claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. The process to which you can reclaim is still being developed.

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

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, your local council will automatically re-issue your bill which will exclude the business rate charge for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. For more information, see this guide.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • For assembly and leisure
  • For hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation

Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, you can get a cash grant.

  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under, you can get a £10,000 cash grant.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, you can get a £25,000 cash grant.
  • Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant once they have received the money from the government. Any questions, contact your local authority accordingly.

Small business grand funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

There isn’t much information on this yet, but according to this gov.uk page, your local authority will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 if you own a small business that pays little or no business rates after 1 April 2020. Once we know more, we will update this page accordingly.

Support for self-employed individuals

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to COVID-19.

This scheme will allow self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the three months. This may be extended if needed. This gov.uk page explains this scheme in detail.

Support for nurseries

Nurseries that pay business rates will be eligible for a business rate holiday, which your local authority will re-issue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. Nurseries that will benefit from the relief are:

  • Occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • Wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • For more information, please see this nursery discount guidance page.

Time to Pay Scheme

If you have unpaid taxes and your business is struggling due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss a payment plan. Please note that HMRC will review each case independently. If you are worried about a future payment, please call HMRC nearer the time.

Beware of scams

Amid this uncertainty, fraudsters and scammers are calling (or emailing) people. Pretending to be from HMRC, they promise to help you claim financial help or tax refund if you click on the given link or give information such as your name and bank details. Do not follow their instructions. HRMC has made it clear that you can only make a claim on their website when the process is made available.

Contact us

  • Mark Levy – Partner – mark.levy@berley.co.uk – 07831 127356
  • Jeremy Berman – Partner – jeremy.berman@berley.co.uk – 07831 127352
  • Stephen Silver – Insolvency – stephen.silver@berley.co.uk – 07872 606005
  • Mark West – Insolvency – mark.west@berley.co.uk – 07836 737040
  • Samuel Louis – Audit & Accounts Manager – Samuel.louis@berley.co.uk – 07753 827385
  • Matt Maitland – Accounts and Bookkeeping Manager– matthew.maitland@berley.co.uk – 07714 982988
  • Jan Lockley – Head of Tax – jan.lockley@berley.co.uk – 07886 395147
  • Parvize Assenjee – Client Manager – Parvize.assenjee@berley.co.uk – 07947 593803
  • Dipti – Payroll Services – payroll@berley.co.uk
  • Stephanie – Office Administrator – Stephanie.twigg@berley.co.uk – 07950 100860

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.