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23rd March 2020COVID-19 – Government Support for Business Explained

19th March 2020

The Government has issued COVID-19 guidance for employers and small businesses. The guidance assists employers with issues facing the health and wellbeing of employees as well as informing them of certifying absences from work. The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and business through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, which are outlined below.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
  • the Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Support for businesses that pay business rates

The Government will introduce a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year, starting 1st April 2020.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

A grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between and .

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by the 20th March.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of to businesses who are currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by Government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in the coming weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. If you need assistance in this area, please contact us at info@hwfisher.co.uk and we can assist you with your application.

Support for businesses paying tax

Taxation – Time to Pay Arrangements

A Time to Pay Arrangement is a method of spreading business tax payments over a longer period of time in a more affordable way. An agreement is reached between the business and HMRC in an attempt to provide some breathing space to the business and to allow cash flow to improve. We are able to assist clients if they are in this predicament as it could affect their monthly PAYE, VAT and Corporation Tax. If you need assistance in this area, please contact us at info@hwfisher.co.uk and we can assist you with your application.

19 March 2020
The information contained in this guidance has been obtained from public sources and every attempt has been made to ensure its accuracy at the date of publication. In this ever changing environment, this information is subject to change and we will not accept liability for losses arising from changes in the law or the interpretation thereof.


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