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COVID-19 – Business Support – Daily Briefing – 18th March 2020

Written by Jon Cooper

The spread of COVID-19 is presenting an unprecedented challenge to businesses across the world. We recognize COVID-19 as the greatest global threat since the Second World War and that we are extraordinary times that will probably last for the next few months.

As a global society, we have a duty of care to help the people around. For some, that could be helping elderly neighbours with their shopping. For others, it could be a generosity of spirit in not hoarding at the expense of others.

Quoting Winston Churchill seems apt at this time – “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

At CooperFaure, what we can give is a guiding hand through the package of measures that The Chancellor has set out to support businesses impacted by COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

Many of these measures are yet to be operational and we are starting this daily briefing to keep you updated.

We have summarised the measures below and we have outlined our expectations of further support in the pipeline.

Business Rates – Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

There will be a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

In addition, 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.

Enquiries on eligibility for the reliefs should be directed to your local authority and the government has committed to have guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.

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 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 and there is no application process.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April and guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

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 six months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first six months of interest payments.

We expect for there to be more details on this on Monday.

Statutory Sick Pay

The eligibility criteria for this scheme will be as follows:

The legislation is expected to come in to force before the end of the week but the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible as existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

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.

There is now a dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 for those concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19.

We have used this for one client already and found the HMRC officer helpful and sympathetic.

Off-Payroll Working (IR35)

The government has confirmed that it is postponing the reforms to the off-payroll working rules, IR35, from April 2020 to the 6th April 2021.

Mortgage Holiday

The government is to support households affected by COVID-19 by providing mortgage payment holidays of up to three months.

The guidance from mortgage lenders is that there will be a fast-track system for approval but not everyone will be granted a payment holiday – you will need to show that there has been an impact of COVID-19.  The unpaid interest will be recovered later but individual credit ratings will not be affected. 

More to Come

We expect the government to announce more support for employers and for the self-employed and those working in the gig economy in the next few days and these will be outlined in our daily briefing.

We appreciate that these are extraordinary and scary times for businesses and individuals and our mission is to keep you informed of the support that becoming available to help your business survive.

If you have any questions, please contact us at support@cooperfaure.co.uk. 

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