COVID-19 & Your Business

Keeping you up to date with support, advice and plans for the future

News & updates

Chancellor’s Announcement of the Job Retention Bonus

On 8th July, the Chancellor announced information about the Job Retention Bonus, a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.

To be eligible, employees will need to:

• earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January

• have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

• have been continuously employed up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

More info…

VAT Reduction

From 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafés and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.

More info…

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

From 1st July, employers were able to start bringing furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim for CJRS grant for the hours not worked. From 1st August, the level of grant will be reduced each month, as follows:

Through July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours the employee is on furlough, as well as Employer’s National Insurance contributions and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.

For August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough, but the employer will now be responsible for paying Employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay Employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for the time they are furloughed.

For October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay Employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for the time they are furloughed.

Working Safely During Coronavirus

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more…

Help and Support if Your Business is Affected By Coronavirus

Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

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Updated Guidance for Employees, Employers and Businesses

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses in providing advice about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Claim Back Statutory Sick Pay Paid To Your Employees Due to Coronavirus

How to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

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Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

The Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more…

New Guidance Launched to Help Get Brits Safely Back to Work

Government publishes guidance for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.

Read more…

FAQ: Your questions, answered

This is a confusing time for everyone, especially for small businesses. We’ve put together answers to your most frequently asked questions HERE.

How long is this pandemic going to last?

We know it’s not what you want to hear, but we really don’t know for sure. A reasonable assumption would be three months per the government’s advice, and then three months to get back to ‘normal’, but this is an estimate that could change drastically at any time.

 

In a nutshell, our guess is as good as yours, but let’s all plan for the worst and hope for the best. We’re here to help you get the government support promised and to provide you advice on managing the risk to your business. We know it’s a bit cheesy and cliché, but we’re all in this together, and we want to see every small business come out on the other side.

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The latest from the Clic Small Business Blog

What actions should you take now?

SMALL BUSINESS 16-STEP EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN

 

If your customers are in isolation and cannot get to you, or you cannot deliver, or they cannot pay you, there is the reality of reduced or no sales for the next three or so months, and even beyond if the virus remains. It’s not something any of us want to think about, but please don’t ignore the possibility.

 

What you can do is stay healthy and ensure your loved ones are too. After all, if your business closes and you are healthy, you can start again. The reverse is not true.

 

The government has stepped up to the plate and we will be letting you know how to get help below, and will update this page as often as we can. We believe in planning for the worst and hoping for the best, so work through the following action points to help keep you in the best shape during the months to come.

Beware of Scams!

HMRC have been made aware of an increase in scam emails, calls and texts regarding the government assistance available to you and your business.

 

If someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND!

 

HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for these details.

Resources & Downloads

What help is available to my business?

Here’s what the government has put in place to help small businesses through this difficult time.
Please check HERE for the most up-to-date guidance from GOV.UK.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

Millions of self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants though a ground-breaking UK-wide scheme to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced on 26th March. Rishi Sunak has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

 

Cleaners, plumbers, electricians, musicians, hairdressers and many other self-employed people who are eligible for the new scheme will be able to apply directly to HMRC for the taxable grant, using a simple online form, with the cash being paid directly into people’s bank account.

 

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment. To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

 

The income support scheme, which is being designed by HMRC from scratch, will cover the three months to May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.

 

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.

 

Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

 

This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.

 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary. HMRC will set out more details shortly.

 

You will need to:

 

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

CLICK HERE FOR FURLOUGH LETTER TEMPLATE

Deferring VAT & Income Tax Payments

VAT

 

  • The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
  • All UK businesses are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

PLEASE BE SURE TO CANCEL YOUR NEXT VAT PAYMENT’S DIRECT DEBIT.

 

Income Tax

 

  • For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
  • If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
  • HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Support for Businesses Who Are Paying Sick Pay (SSP) to Employees

Applies to small- and medium-sized businesses and employers:

  • 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. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
  • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP 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.
  • 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 (England)

The government is introducing a 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. You do not need to take any action this will be done by your Local Authority. You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

 

  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
    • for assembly and leisure
    • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Cash Grants for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses (England)

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000. You are eligible for the grant if:

 

  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
    • for assembly and leisure
    • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

ACCESSING THE SCHEME – YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING. YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY WILL WRITE TO YOU IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THIS GRANT.

Support for Businesses That Pay Little or No Business Rates (England)

The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. You are eligible if:

 

  • Your business is based in England.
  • You are a small business and already receive SBRR and/or RRR
  • You are a business that occupies property

ACCESSING THE SCHEME – YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING. YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY WILL WRITE TO YOU IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THIS GRANT.

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 this week to support primarily small and medium-sized 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 £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. You are eligible for the scheme if:

 

  • Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45million per year
  • Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria

The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

 

Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years.

 

80% Govt. guarantee

 

At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

 

HOW TO ACCESS THESE LOANS

 

Detailed information can be found HERE.

 

FAQ about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme can be found HERE.

 

Businesses should approach their own provider – typically via the lender’s website.

 

Telephone lines are likely to be busy and branches may have limited capacity to handle enquires due to social distancing • Consider the urgency of your need – it is possible that some businesses may be looking for regular longer-term finance rather than ‘emergency’ finance, and there may other businesses with a more urgent need to speak with a lender.

Support for Businesses Paying Tax: Time to Pay Service

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. You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

 

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. If you’re worried about a future payment, please call them nearer the time.