COVID-19 Financial Update
As you may be aware, in the Budget last Wednesday the Treasury announced emergency funding to support both business and individuals with the economic uncertainty and instability caused by the spread of the Coronavirus. There have however been further announcements as follows.
Grants for SME’s
Further to the announcement in the Budget that the government was making a £3,000 grant available for businesses that already qualify for Small Business Rates Relief; the Chancellor has announced this is to be extended to £10,000 (max) and delivered by local authorities.
Businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority – they do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to local authorities in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly and can be expected from your respective Council in the next 7-10 days, I will of course keep you updated as we learn more.
Grants for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Sectors
Furthermore, a £25,000 grant (max) will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20th March.
Similarly, in addition to the business rates holiday announced in the budget for 2019/20 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England, the government is extending this for the 2020-21 tax year.
Repayment to Employers of Statutory Sick Pay
As announced in the Budget the government has announced it will cover the first 14 days of sick pay paid to an employee who has been off work as a result of COVID-19. The repayment will be available to businesses with less than 250 employees and employers should maintain records of staff absences. The mechanism for paying employers will be developed over coming months through a coordinated effort by government and employers.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The government has also announced that businesses can access the first 6 months of finance provided by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme interest free, as it will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
This is in addition to the statement in the budget that businesses can apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees, delivered by the British Business Bank; the measure should be available from 23rd March 2020.
New COVID-19 HMRC Telephone Support Helpline
HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This line extends to, but is not exclusive to, VAT and PAYE deferral enquiries, and if you are concerned about paying your tax as a result of the virus the relevant number is: 0800 0159 559. It is my understanding however that HMRC will only consider an extension once the relevant return has been filed.
Companies House Filing Deadline
Companies House have announced that they will now consider COVID-19 based appeals, under the normal appeals process for the late filing of accounts and confirmation statements.