Government Aid for Small Businesses : Covid-19

The current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is understandably a worrying time for every individual in the UK and throughout the world, but none are worrying more than the small business community right now. The Government have been giving us daily updates on the aid they are giving to help businesses through this tough economic time, and I am here to give you a summary of the announcements that have already been made, and the announcements that are likely to be given over the coming days.

So far the information we have is:

1) All businesses who have a business premises and are currently in receipt of the small business rates relief will be entitled to a one-off Government grant of £10k. Grants are essentially payouts, so this will not need to be repaid. As yet there hasn’t been any official announcement surrounding the mechanics of claiming this grant, but the expectation is that the money will be filtered down to the local authorities who will then contact those eligible businesses and distribute the money. The local authorities are still themselves waiting on instruction from central Government, so we are hoping that this will becoming clearer over the coming weeks.

2) If you employ people and they are off work specifically as a result of isolating for Covid-19 (Coronavirus), then their entitlement to statutory sick pay (SSP), will begin on DAY 1 of their sickness instead of having to wait until day 4 under the most recent legislation.

3) Not only will your employees be entitled to SSP from day 1, but you as the employer will be able to reclaim the costs of giving your employee that pay for the first 2 weeks. Under the current rules SSP is one of the statutory forms of pay that business owners would usually have to self-fund, so again this is a good step in the right direction from the Government.

4) The Government have teamed up with the British Business Bank to provide business interruption loans to businesses in need of funds quickly at attractive terms. Please bear in mind that this is a loan and not a grant, so the money will have to be repaid in the future.

5) HMRC have set up a dedicated Covid-19 helpline for small business owners who are struggling to pay their tax liabilities. The number is 0800 0159 559. The advice here is to BE PROACTIVE. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope that it will get better. If you contact them and admit that you foresee having issues with paying your liabilities then they will be far more helpful than if you wait for them to start chasing you. They will help you arrange payment plans (known as time to pay agreements) and may even freeze interest on late payments to help you meet your statutory obligations.

Unfortunately as it stands (19 March 2020) the Government haven’t given much in the way of aid to support the micro business community who operate home based or mobile businesses in the UK. The only aid they have given to support those individuals is a 3 months mortgage break. This however only helps those micro business owners who are home owners.

The expectation is that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will announce measures to help the self employed in his address to the nation at 5pm today.

For the latest updates and information please see our website article

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