What government support is available for Covid-19

In this article we aim to summarise the support the government is offering Businesses, Self-employed and Employees in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC says it will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

More information on how to access The Self-employment Income Support Scheme can be found here.

Self employed can also get support through Universal Credit and Business Interruption Loan Scheme

HMRC says if an individual as a director of its own company and paid through PAYE he/she may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

Deferral of Self-Assessment payment

The Self- Assessment payment on account, that is ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021.

If you are due to make a self- assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020 then you are eligible for the deferment. The deferment is optional and any persons still able to pay their second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020 should still do so.

No applications required for deferral of self-assessment payment. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if a business defers payment of the July 2020 payment on account until January 2021.

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

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. You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

Any businesses that have missed a tax payment, or they are at risk of missing the next payment due to COVID-19, is to call HMRC.

More information can be found here

VAT Deferral

Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 will be deferred.

No application is required for VAT Deferral. UK Registered businesses will not need to make VAT payments normally due with VAT returns during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay.

Mortgage holiday for homeowners, help for renters and buy-to-let landlords

The government announced a three-month mortgage payment ‘holiday’ to help those in difficulty as a result of COVID-19. Personal credit ratings for delaying payments for up to three months will not be affected. The repayments would still need to be made in the future and interest would still be payable.

Emergency legislation was announced to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.

No new possession proceedings will commence during the crisis. Landlords will also be protected as the three-month mortgage payment holiday includes Buy to Let mortgages.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Those who have benefited from a government backed Help to Buy equity loan will be offered interest payment holidays if they are struggling to pay due to coronavirus.  

More information, here

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee’s usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st if applicable and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.

Eligible businesses

  • All UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020 will be eligible
  • The employer must have a UK bank account.

To access the funding a business will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify its employees of this change.
  • Once the new online portal is live, submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings. Businesses will be notified ones the new system is in place.

The government expects the scheme to be up and running by the end of April. Businesses will be notified ones the new system is in place.

 If the business needs short term cash flow support, they may be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme

More detailed information can be found on the government guidance for employers and also the guidance for employees.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

The Government announced that it will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.

Eligible businesses are:

  • Based in the UK
  • Are small or medium sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.

 Government announced that a rebate scheme is being developed and that further details will be provided in the coming weeks.

Government-backed loans for small businesses

The government has announced a new coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, supported by the British Business Bank. The Business Interruption Loan Scheme will allow businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million on repayment terms of up to six years, with the government guaranteeing up to 80% of any default loans. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied charges.

Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you can receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Your business is eligible if:

  • It is based in England, and
  • It is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.Government has announced that if a business is eligible for the grant the local authority will write each business directly without the need for the business to contact the local authorities first.

Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Eligible businesses:

  • Your business is based in England, and
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those that are wholly or mainly being used:
  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,
  • for assembly and leisure; or
  • and hospitality such as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
  •  

More information on eligibility can be found here

There is no action for the eligible businesses. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to their bills.

Small Business Grant Funding

The Government announced additional funding for small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Eligible businesses:

  • Your business is based in England, and
  • In receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March and
  • It is a business that occupies property

Government has announced that if a business is eligible for the grant the local authority will write each business directly without the need for the business to contact the local authorities first.

3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19

From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts with Companies House

If a company is at risk of missing the statutory deadline for filing annual accounts, it needs to apply online before the deadline date to arrange an extension of up to three months.

Companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may not be eligible for an extension. Companies will need to check that with Companies house.

If a company does not apply for an extension and the company misses the filing deadline, late filing penalties will still apply.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility – Large Businesses 

The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. The scheme will be funded by central bank reserves – in line with other Bank of England market operations. It will operate for at least 12 months, and for as long as steps are needed to relieve cash flow pressures on firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy.

What government support is available for Covid-19?

More information can be found on the Bank of England website.

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