The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now live, helping any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5 million. CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the Government for an initial period of up to twelve months. The scheme is initially available through more than 40 accredited lenders.
For larger firms, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility is also open for applications. This purchases short-term corporate debt, helping release cash and keep paying wages and suppliers. The scheme is open to firms that can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to the impact of Coronavirus.
Any businesses can apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to cover 80% of salary for a retained but not working employee, as long as they were on the payroll as at 28th February, so PAYE employees only. The Treasury has today updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance with specific reference to National Insurance and pension contributions for furloughed workers.
Support for SMEs who are paying sick pay to employees. SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because 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. These will come into force shortly and the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. More on this here.
For the self-employed, full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay and the next tax self assessment payments will be deferred until the start of next year.
Those with a self-assessment tax return for 2019, with trading profits up to £50,000 a year whose work is affected by the pandemic, will be eligible to have 80% of their monthly wages (calculated using average monthly profits over last three financial years) covered by the government up to £2,500 per month. Anyone who missed the filing deadline has four weeks from now to get it done and still qualify.
Unlike the employee scheme, the self-employed can continue to work as they receive support. The money, backdated to March, will arrive directly into people’s banks accounts from HMRC, but not until June. The grants will be taxable, and will need to be declared on tax returns by January 2022. Company owners who pay themselves a dividend are not covered.
VAT deferred until the end of June, with option to postpone longer. Will need to be repaid at a later date.
Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. In addition, a £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Support for businesses paying tax. All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated tax helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also has a business support helpline: 0300 456 3565.
A new FAQ section on business closures has been added to the business support website. Government advice is that people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do absolutely cannot be done from home. With the exception of the organisations covered in the link above, the Government has not required any other businesses to close.
The Government has launched a portal for the registration of offers of help, which can be found here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/L5B32S/