We are sure that you are aware of the support that the Government have put in place during the current COVID19 virus to date, however we want to ensure that you are fully up to date and aware of support available to you. We write to let you know that we are posting updates as they come in on our Facebook Page ‘BFMS Accountants’ and will also be updating our website www.bfmsltd.co.uk ‘latest news’ page.
So what support is available: –
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- 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
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
Small- and medium-sized businesses and employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- the 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
Employees Eligible for Sick Pay
So, if you are self-isolating, you’ll be able to get SSP from the first day. This will begin from 13 March 2020.
To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you must:
- be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
- have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)
- earn an average of at least £118 per week
- tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline – or within 7 days if they do not have one
Employees Not Eligible for Sick Pay
You will not qualify if you:
- are self-employed
- have already had SSP for 28 weeks (and the 28 weeks ended within the last 8 weeks)
- had Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the last 12 weeks
- are getting statutory maternity pay or Maternity Allowance
- are pregnant, your baby is due in 4 weeks or less and your illness is pregnancy-related
- had a baby in the last 14 weeks (or the last 18 weeks if your baby was born over 4 weeks early)
- are in the armed forces
- are in legal custody (detained either by the police or in prison)
If you’re not eligible or your SSP ends
If your SSP is ending your employer must send you form SSP1 either:
- within 7 days of your SSP ending, if it ends unexpectedly while you’re still sick
- on or before the beginning of the 23rd week, if your SSP is expected to end before your sickness does
If you do not qualify for SSP
your employer must send you form SSP1 within 7 days of you going off sick.
Support for businesses that pay business rates
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.
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.
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 20 March 2020.
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 £10,000 to businesses 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 2020. 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 next week 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 £5 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
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 helpline on 0800 0159 559.
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 enough to make a claim.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
If you are worried about immediate funding and have planned to lay off staff or close your business, please contact us. We have included some guidance to our most asked question to date, ‘can I lay off staff’
If the employer needs to close the workplace
An employer may want to plan in case they need to close the workplace temporarily.
This might be a difficult time for both employers and staff. It’s a good idea to make sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.
Lay-offs and short-time working
In some situations, an employer might need to close down their business for a short
time, or ask staff to reduce their contracted hours. If the employer thinks they’ll need to do this, it’s important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout the closure.
Unless it says in the contract
or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.
Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a ‘statutory guarantee payment’ of up to £29 a day from their employer.
This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any period of 3 months. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, employees might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance from Job centre Plus.
We hope that this information is useful.