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Coronavirus business support available

This page details all of the coronavirus (COVID-19) business support available to help mitigate the impact of the outbreak. We will keep it updated as more information is announced by government.

Our daily coronavirus update page can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

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

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)
  • HMRC will reimburse 80 per cent of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement and expect the first grants to be paid within weeks

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank (BBB), will primarily support small and medium-sized businesses in accessing bank lending and overdrafts.

This scheme will help any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5m. 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 government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each facility to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme is available through more than 40 accredited lenders.

To be eligible for support via CBILS, the small business must:

  • Be UK based in its business activity, with turnover of no more than £41m per annum
  • Operate within an eligible industrial sector (a small number of industrial sectors are not eligible for support – have a look at BBB’s eligibility criteria)
  • Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis state aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years
  • Have a sound borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet the lender’s requirements

The BBB will not provide CBILS loans directly to small businesses that are affected by coronavirus. The BBB will facilitate the provision of CBILS loans by accredited lenders. Businesses affected by coronavirus which wish to apply for a CBILS loan will therefore need to make an application to a participating lender. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.

Whether a lender requires a personal guarantee for a loan supported by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is at the discretion of the lender, who is accredited by the BBB to benefit from the guarantee the scheme provides. If a personal guarantee is required under the lender’s credit policy, it cannot be taken against the borrower’s home. The BBB’s website outlines further details on the eligibility criteria, how you can access the scheme and the types of finance available.

Coronavirus business support for  larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

To support larger firms, the Bank of England has announced a new lending facility (the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility) to provide a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital via the purchase of short-term debt. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. The scheme will be funded by central bank reserves – in line with other Bank of England market operations. It will operate for at least 12 months, and for as long as steps are needed to relieve cash flow pressures on firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy.

The scheme is open to firms that can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to the impact of coronavirus. Companies who wish to use the scheme do not need to have issued commercial paper before. In order to access the CCFF, you will need to contact your bank. It is important to note that not all banks issue commercial paper. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance will provide a list of banks that are able to assist. Further details, including practical steps your firm needs to take in order to access the CCFF, as well as other frequently asked questions can be found on the Bank of England’s website.

Support for businesses and individuals paying tax

The government will defer VAT payments in financial quarter running from April-June and businesses will have until the end of the tax year to repay those bills.

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.

To support the self-employed, the government will suspend the minimum income floor to access universal credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees and defer the next self-assessment payments to January 2021.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc, is sufficient to make a claim.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

Support for retail, hospitality and leisure sector

Firms in retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will now have a 12-month business rates holiday irrespective of the rateable value of the property

Eligibility:

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 and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme:

There is no action to take. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Firms in the retail/hospitality/leisure sector without insurance and with a rateable value of  between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000. Local Authorities will write to all eligible businesses with information on how to claim this grant. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant Local Authority.

Support for small businesses

A £10,000 cash grant is available from Local Authorities announced for businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief.

You will be 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
  • Your property’s rateable value is less than £15,000
  • Your Local Authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. To find out what your local authority is, use the GOV.UK checker

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