Covid-19: Measures in place to help Business Owners

The current health crisis has not only brought about changes to the way we conduct our everyday lives and huge worries to people who are vulnerable or at risk but it has also impacted every single business owner.

Over the past few months, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a package of measures aimed at assisting both workers and businesses.

Here we look at some of the measures announced so far:

HMRC Taxes Helpline
Many people will have questions and concerns about paying their taxes, whether due now or in the near future, so HMRC has set up a dedicated helpline for those who are anxious. It allows any businesses or self-employed individuals who have worries about paying their taxes, due to the coronavirus epidemic, to get practical help, support and advice.

Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available six days per week to support businesses and individuals when needed. The all-important telephone number is 0800 024 1222.

‘Bounce Back’ Loans
Available from Monday 4th May, the ‘Bounce Back’ Loan Scheme is designed to provide small business loans as quickly and simply as possible. The loans are between £2,000 and £50,000 and the maximum entitlement is 25% of turnover. No interest or repayments are required for the first 12 months and the maximum term available is six years.

It is important to note that these loans are not available to anyone who has already received a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. However, it may be possible to convert any existing loans into this new loan.

Small Business Rates Relief/Holidays
The Government has announced that small businesses who have premises but already pay little or no business rates are eligible for a one-off coronavirus grant worth up to £10,000. Around 700,000 businesses in England currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR) can apply for the emergency funding.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has written to local authorities to outline the scheme and your local authority should have contacted you if your business is eligible.

Businesses within the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors may be eligible for a 12-month business rates holiday, again to be administered by local authorities.

Mortgage Holidays
The largest expense most households need to cover each month is a mortgage and the majority of providers have set up ways for people to apply for a three-month mortgage holiday. A 90-day period will then be added to the end of the total mortgage term. During this time, interest will still be accrued but individual credit ratings will not be affected. The best advice is to visit your lender’s website where the majority have posted a simple online form to be completed. Most lenders will not ask for evidence as such.

Those who are paying rent, rather than a mortgage, have been offered the lifeline of an increase in Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, amounting to a package of nearly £1 billion.

Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory Sick Pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating, instead of day four as it was previously. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, explained that this meant ‘no one should be penalised for doing the right thing’. The change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required. Statutory Sick Pay is currently worth £94.25 per week. The mechanism for recovering this is still being established.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government said that it would pay the wages of employees who are unable to work due to the coronavirus epidemic, in a radical move aimed at protecting people’s jobs. Cash grants have been made available in order to pay 80% of salaries (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month) for staff who are kept on the payroll by their employer during the crisis but are considered ‘furloughed’ workers.

To qualify, a PAYE Scheme must have been in place before 29th February 2020. Employers have a duty to write, in an official capacity, to those employees who are to be furloughed and can only submit one claim every three weeks – which is the minimum length of time an employee can be furloughed for.

The online portal being used to handle Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims was opened on Monday 20th April and it has now been announced that the Job Retention Scheme available to support employers and employees is to be extended to 31st October 2020 (although the scheme has now closed for any new applicants). Find out more here:

Director-Only Limited Companies
The Government confirmed that director-only limited companies can qualify for furlough status. Directors, whose work has dried up, can only carry out work that is necessary to fulfil their statutory obligations, rather than their normal day-to-day work.

If the company has ceased trading completely, which will be commonplace for many one-person businesses, the directors can make the decision to furlough themselves. However, if the company remains operational, in any capacity whatsoever, then the directors would not be able to furlough themselves.

As with regular employees, the decision should be documented by way of an official letter to the directors, which we would be happy to help draft.

VAT Payments Deferred
The Government announced that any VAT payments due between now and 30th June 2020 can be deferred until 5th April 2021. This can happen automatically, with no application or prior approval required by HMRC. VAT repayments will be paid as normal.

We would obviously advise our clients to continue paying their VAT on time where possible, only deferring if they absolutely 100% need to.

31st July Income Tax Payment Deadline Deferred
The Government announced that the next Income Tax/Self-Assessment instalment, due by 31st July 2020, can be deferred until 31st January 2021 if necessary. Again, no application or prior approval is required from HMRC.

We would obviously advise our clients to continue paying their Income Tax on time where possible, only deferring if they absolutely 100% need to.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Launched a few weeks ago, the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme delivered by the British Business Bank (a state-owned economic development bank) is set to support small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The Government has said it will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence to provide finance to SME’s. The scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value and are available to businesses with an annual turnover of less than £45 million. The loans will include a 12-month interest-free period.

Help for the Self-Employed
Chancellor Sunak announced that self-employed workers – who earn under £50,000 a year and have completed a 2018/19 Self Assessment Tax Return – would be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three tax years.

The money – up to a maximum of £2,500 a month and taxable – has been available from 13th May (applications must be made no later than 13th July) in a lump sum. Self-employed people have been able to continue to work, as they receive support.

The Chancellor has also announced plans to extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for those people whose trade continues to be, or is newly, adversely affected by Covid-19. Eligible sole traders will be able to claim a second and final grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.

The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant. People do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant: for example, their business may have been adversely affected by Covid-19 more recently. The second SEISS grant will be available on GOV.UK from 12th June.

If you’ve got any questions then please do contact us on 01892 513515 or

Alternatively please visit these dedicated pages on the Government’s website:-