Business and coronavirus

Business impact

The British Chamber of Commerce is publishing the results of a weekly tracker which measures the impact on business and Governmental support. Its 8th weekly #CoronavirusImpactTracker report, published on 20 May 2020

Specific business sectors

If you are a PR sole trader or small / micro firms, visit the Independent Practitioner section in the Local Public Services Resource for Communicators

Also in that Resource view:
– Government sectors section for other areas including the Care, Health and Education sector.
Local Government section for announcements on retail trading restrictions.

Key business guidance from UK and Devolved Government

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) – first published 3 April 2020. Produced from Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, and HM Revenue & Customs. It is broken up into sections:

  1. Paying your employees
  2. Paying sick pay
  3. Paying tax
  4. Business rates relief
  5. Business support grant funds
  6. Support for the self-employed
  7. Support for small and medium-sized businesses
  8. Support for large businesses

Benefits and tax

Universal Credit, SSP and claiming benefits during a Coronavirus period

Universal Credit
Check if you are eligible for Universal Credit under the new arrangements, Gov.uk

Statutory Sick Pay and isolation documentation

Online isolation certification system – reduces pressure on GP surgeries (20 March 2020). Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

Statutory Sick Pay – guide for employers with updated information during the coronavirus outbreak, Gov.uk

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme relating to coronavirus
UK Government guidance on claiming back statutory sick pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID19), Gov.uk, 3 April 2020
The scheme will repay employers only the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. 

The guidance states: “repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus or cannot work because they are self-isolating at home.”

Working Tax Credits
Increase to working tax credits (Gov.uk, 23 March 2020) – “Working Tax Credits payments will be increased by £1,045 to £3,040 per year from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021. The amount a claimant or household will benefit from will depend on their circumstances, including their level of household income.”

Taxation

HMRC – coronavirus tax helpline 

UK Government advice on what to do if you can not pay your tax bill online during the coronavirus outbreak – includes a HMRC coronavirus helpline

Companies House – Coronavirus: if your company is unable to file accounts with Companies House on time due to the restrictions associated with tackling coronavirus 

Taxable expenses for employees home working during the coronavirus restrictions, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) 26/3/2020. This gives information on which expenses should be declared for tax if your employee works from home due to the pandemic.

Business Support Schemes in the UK

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) – first published 3 April 2020. Updated 7 April 2020.

Business Support grant funding
  • Documentation for Business Support grant funding – this guidance sets out the eligibility criteria, and the operation and delivery of the two funding schemes: the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).
    • First published 1/4/2020.
    • Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • Business Support grant funding – this guidance sets out the details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). Gov.uk from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 1 April 2020
  • Guidance on business suppport grant funding
    • Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
    • Updated 1 May 2020 with information on tax.
    • Guidance on business suppport grant funding – update, 30 March 2020, version 3. This guidance is for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). This is version 3 and has updates on State Aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, new annexes on state aid, Spotlight, and post payment checks, clarification on the eligibility of charities.

Business Support Service

Loans

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

These loans were announced on 4 May 2020 by HM Treasury. According to the statement on Gov.uk, “Britain’s small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000… with the cash expected to land within days.” 

Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Loans will be 100 per cent UK Government backed for lenders. The UK Government has ” agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans.”

The scheme is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. You can not apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), but can request a lender to transfer a loan to the Bounce Back Loans scheme until 4 November 2020 (information correct at 4/5/20).

Apply for a Bounce Back Loans – more details and online application form on the British Business Bank website

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was announced in the UK Budget in March 2020. It is being delivered by the British Business Bank. The scheme will support businesses in accessing bank lending and overdrafts. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme opened on 23 March 2020. (Gov.uk, 23 March 2020).

Loan scheme expanded to include large businesses, 22 April 2020. The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme is in addition to the COVID Corporate Financing Facility. The guidance released by HM Treasury states:

  • All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for UK Government-backed support
  • Firms with turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million from lenders.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

  • The UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live on 20 April 2020. Businesses can claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.
    • Employers can apply online ‘to claim cash grants worth up to 80 per cent of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker.’(HM Treasury)
    • Applications can now be made for the Government’s furlough scheme
    • As at 20/4/20, 5,000 HMRC staff will operate the scheme – which is expected to help thousands of firms across the UK
    • Employers can apply for direct cash grants through HMRC’s new online portal – with the money expected to land in their bank accounts within six working days
  • Step by step guide for employers on Job Retention Scheme, HMRC, 17 April 2020.
  • Job Retention Scheme eligibility
    • Source: HM Revenue and Customs
    • First publication: 26 March 2020. Details of who is eligible, how much employers can claim if they put staff on temporary leave (“furlough”) because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
    • Job Retention Scheme, HMRC, 26 March 2020

Coronavirus self-employment income support scheme

  • Claim a grant via the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme
    • Source: HM Revenue and Customs
    • First publication: 26 March 2020. Details who can apply.
    • “This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.”
    • How to apply: wait to be contacted by HMRC

CCFF

COVID Corporate Financial Facility (CCFF), Bank of England (23 March 2020) – for companies, and banks acting on behalf of companies wanting to participate in HM Treasury and Bank of England’s CCFF.

Business and premises closures and business rates

Other coronavirus-related guidance for businesses from UK GovernmentInformation on business and premises to close as part of social distancing Gov.uk, 23 March 2020. This provides guidance on the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises as part of the UK Government’s further social distancing measures.

Ministers from the UK and Welsh Governments on business (27 April 2020)

Information letters from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government., Gov.uk, 9 April 2020. The letters will be issued at intervals and relate to the 2020 Budget business rates measures in response to COVID-19, extension of the discount, nursery discount 2020/21, and monitoring data request for local authorities.

Letter to those working in the retail sector from the Secretay of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma. 8 April 2020. Links to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales added 16 April 2020.

Letter to the manufacturing sector from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma. 8 April 2020.

Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP’s article for a national newspaper, 5 April 2020. On behalf of the UK Government, he thanked workers and businesses for their support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Letter to the UK construction sector, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 31 March 2020. Updated 16 April 2020 with information for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Updated guidance to employers and business. Includes guidance for local authorities on administering the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. This contains details of the expanded retail discount guidance. 24 March 2020

Statement on the additional support

Source: Gov.uk, Publication: 23 March 2020

Chancellor’s statement on additional measures to support business

Source: Gov.uk, HM Treasury 17 March 2020

International Chamber of Commerce and World Health Organization call for action by the private sector to help tackle COVID-19

Source: ICC and WHO, 16 March 2020

Business advice specific to devolved government and Channel Islands

Advice for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland

Advice for businesses in Scotland, Scot.gov

Support for businesses in Wales, Wales.gov

Advice for businesses in Jersey, gov.je

Business associations