With the uncertainty facing all of us around coronavirus (COVID-19), Be the Business wants to help you navigate the influx of news around it. Below is a short update on the most recent announcements and measures which may be relevant to you and your business.
29 March 2020 coronavirus update
- The business secretary wrote a letter to the UK construction industry stating it should continue its “critical contribution”. He states that sites should work to the Site Operating Procedures (SOP) published by Construction Leadership Council.
28 March 2020 coronavirus update
- The business secretary, Alok Sharma, announced he will make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, which could help them avoid insolvency. This will also include enabling companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue, and temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.
27 March 2020
- Additional guidance on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been published, setting out further details on eligibility and payments
The chancellor outlined measures to “benefit 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed”. Key points include:
- Those who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus can get a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years – up to £2,500 per month
- 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 minimise fraud, only those already in self-employment who have a tax return for 2019 can apply
- The 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 three months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June
- To make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, HMRC have decided to allow anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return
- Further information and details of the scheme will be shared shortly by HMRC
Guidance on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further social distancing measures has been updated to include additional details to the list of businesses and premises that must remain closed.
25 March 2020 coronavirus update
- The government launched a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. The service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting
- Businesses are being given the opportunity to apply for a three month extension for filing accounts with Companies House
24 March 2020
- Commercial tenants who cannot pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if a rent payment is missed in the next three months
23 March 2020
The prime minister announced that the government will enforce strict rules about when people can leave their homes. You can only leave your house for limited purposes, including:
- Shopping for basic necessities
- One form of exercise a day (a run, walk or cycle)
- Any medical needs (provide care or help a vulnerable person)
- Travel to and from work (only if necessary)
All shops selling non-essential goods, libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship will close. These restrictions will be reviewed in three weeks.
The government has launched a new central website outlining the full range of business support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.
20 March 2020
Cafes, restaurants, clubs, theatres and leisure centres will close from 21 March. The chancellor also announced an employment and wage subsidy package, including:
- A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will pay 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 per month for employees who are not working. All employers are eligible for the scheme and will need to contact HMRC for a grant. The payment scheme will be backdated to 1 March and will last until the end of June. There will be no limit to the amount of money available for the scheme and can be open for longer than three months if necessary
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will make loans of up to £5m available with no interest due for a year. The scheme will be available from Monday 23 March
- The government will defer next quarter of VAT payments and you will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills
- Universal credit standard allowance and working tax credit will increase by £1,000 a year
- 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
19 March 2020
The Bank of England cut interest rates to 0.1 per cent to support the UK economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a further cut following earlier action by the Bank on 11 March, when it announced a 0.5 per cent cut in rates to 0.25 per cent.
18 March 2020
The government announced schools in the UK would close their doors on Friday 20 March – except for vulnerable pupils or children of key workers. At this point it is unclear how long schools will remain closed for.
17 March 2020
At a press conference on Tuesday 17 March, chancellor Rishi Sunak joined the prime minister Boris Johnson to announce a massive range of economic stimulus designed to protect businesses and jobs, including:
- Government-backed and guaranteed loans of £330bn on attractive terms to support businesses with rent, wages, suppliers, and other costs
- To support larger firms with liquidity, a low-cost new lending facility has been agreed with the Bank of England
- To support SMEs, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will make loans of up to £5m available with no interest due for the first six months. Both schemes should be available from W/C 23 March
- Firms in the retail/hospitality/leisure sector without insurance and with a rateable value of up to £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000
- Firms in these sectors will also now have a 12-month business rates holiday irrespective of the rateable value of the property
- The £3,000 cash grant available from Local Authorities announced for businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief at the Budget on 11 March has now increased to £10,000
- A support package for airlines and airports to be announced
- The chancellor is also taking a new legal power in the Covid Bill to offer whatever further financial support deemed necessary
16 March 2020
Speaking at a press conference on Monday 16 March, the prime minister requested that anyone with a cough or fever and all the members of their household to stay at home for 14 days. The government has also advised against all unnecessary travel, mass gatherings and social meetings at venues such as pubs, clubs and theatres. Working from home is also encouraged.
W/C 9 March 2020
In the Budget on 11 March, the chancellor set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, individuals and businesses through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus. This included a package of measures to support businesses including:
- A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- A Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs, small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
- The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
One final thought.
Please look after yourselves. Staying safe and having the right advice is important. From the way we work, travel or socialise; we all are facing extraordinary change and daily life disrupted. As you continue to adapt your business as a result of coronavirus, we hope to update you on developments and measures announced over the coming weeks. As always, we’re grateful for your thoughts on what would be helpful from us and feedback on this update.
Be the Business