COVID-19 / Coronavirus Update 17 March 2020 – Support for UK SME Businesses
As many of my contacts are not on our email database, I thought you might still be interested in the information below which has been sent out to clients just now.
I hope you and your loved ones are all staying well.
I had hoped to be able to write to you by now with details of how to apply for the various promised support packages which will be available to businesses to help alleviate the worst pressures of COVID-19.
However as we are yet to receive full details, I hope you will find the below update and thoughts useful:
Business Rates Retail Discount:
If you are eligible for the temporary 100% business rates retail discount and currently do not receive any business rates relief, then you will need to check with your local authority for eligibility. If you are already paying a reduced rate you should receive notification of further changes in due course.
For Stockport based businesses, details of how to apply will be updated on the council’s New Business Rates Support Measures – Budget 2020 page.
Statutory Sick Pay
The government has promised to refund in full all statutory sick pay for up to 14 days for small and medium sized businesses in the UK. This will be available from day one rather than day four of their illness and the Government is looking at legislation to apply this measure retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
Financial Support for the self employed
Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for universal credit, and the usual seven day waiting time for new Employment Support Allowance will not apply, so claims will be payable from day one of illness.
Further details can be found on the Gov.uk press release from the Department of Work and Pensions – Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses.
HMRC has set up a dedicated helpline to support businesses and the self employed. Please use this number if you are struggling to pay any outstanding liabilities as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. You will be able to discuss your specific circumstances and agree a workable solution, including arranging ‘time to pay’ agreements, suspending debt collection proceedings as well as penalties and interest.
HMRC COVID-19 Helpline – 0800 0159 5599
The line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.
There is a further HMRC COVID-19 Guidance for employers page, but at time of writing this hasn’t been updated since 10 March 2020, so is already out of date. Do keep an eye on it though as we hope to see updates soon.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
While the details of this scheme have not yet been finalised, all businesses with a turnover of less than £41 million can apply via the British Business Bank website Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme page once they are open for applications, so keep an eye on this also.
ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – the workplace expert for England, Scotland and Wales), has a web page dedicated to Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees which is being updated daily with best practice for employers and employees. This has some incredibly useful information and guidance and I would urge all those employing people to read thoroughly.
I think this is probably enough information for one email. We are pulling together some top tips and suggestions as to how you can best mitigate the impact that this epidemic is bound to have on your business and I will summarise and send these through to you with our next update. If you would rather not receive these updates, please let me know and I will remove your details from this mailing list.
For now, stay safe, and look after yourselves and one another.
Very best wishes