Covid-19 Measures for Business

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Daniel McAllister | 19th March 2020

Covid-19 Measures for Business

We have pulled together a round-up of the key Coronavirus announcements so far for businesses including useful links to government sites.

Statutory sick pay (SSP)

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be refunded the full cost of providing SSP to any employee off work for up to 14 days because of coronavirus.

Loan guarantees

In his latest announcement, the Chancellor has vastly extended the government-backed loan guarantee scheme revealed in the Budget. The Government will now provide loan guarantees up to “an initial” £330 billion for all sizes of businesses:

  • For large firms, the Bank of England is launching a Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which “will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy”.
  • For small and medium sized businesses, the loan limit on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (originally announced in the Budget at £1.2 million) is now £5 million, with no interest due for the first six months. Loans will be accessed via the businesses usual bank.

Both loan schemes are intended to be “up and running by the start of next week”, i.e. from 23 March.

Business Rates Retail Discount 

All shops, cinemas, restaurants, music venues and business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors will have no business rates to pay in 2020/21.

On 17 March the Chancellor also promised an additional cash grant of “up to £25,000 per business” to businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 – i.e. those that would have benefited from the old version of Business Rates Retail Discount Scheme. Applications will need to be made to your local authority for this grant usually via their website.

Businesses already eligible for small business rates relief 

There will be a flat £10,000 cash grant for each business that already benefits from zero or reduced business rates because of small business rate relief. It is anticipated that there will be no need to apply for this but will be paid in early April by Local Authorities.

Insurance cover

Although the government has not required the leisure and hospitality businesses to close, on 17 March the Chancellor said that “for those businesses which do have a policy that covers pandemics, the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy”. However, pandemic cover is not a feature of most business disruption cover, a point underlined by the Association of British Insurers in a statement it issued on 17 March.

Off-payroll working in the private sector (IR35)

Also on 17 March, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barker, said in a statement to the House of Commons that the start date for the new IR35 tax rules would be deferred to 6 April 2021.

Time to Pay (TTP)

In the Budget, the Chancellor announced that HMRC would scale up its Time To Pay service, giving businesses and the self-employed the chance to defer tax payments. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Pubs & restaurants

If you own a pub that serves food or a restaurant in England, you will be able to operate a hot food takeaway to serve people staying at home, without going through the usual planning process

 

Government guidance for employers and businesses is here.

Details of support for businesses and employers is here.