While we may not be able to physically join hands at the moment given the current social distancing measures, as business owners we can all virtually join together to help and support each other as much as we can.
Hopefully, you will have seen the statement issued by the Prime Minister and Chancellor on 17th March 2020, outlining the additional support they are making available for businesses. These measures include:
Cash Grants and Loans
- The cash grants announced in the Budget for businesses that currently qualify for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief are being increased from £3k to £10k. It is believed that these grants will be proportional to the rateable value of premises, with a view to tailoring support in accordance with expected rental payments. These grants will be issued by Local Authorities and we are currently awaiting details of the mechanics of this.
- An extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which was announced in the Budget, to make additional funds available. These are government backed, guaranteed loans at favourable rates. Plus, there will be no interest charged for the first 6 months. You can talk to your bank about this from next week if needed. Please talk to us if you feel you need such a loan, so that we can provide advice to support you.
Additional Support for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Sectors
- Cash grants of up to £25k. This applies to businesses whose premises have a rateable value under £51k. It is intended that these grants will support those businesses most in need at this time.
- An extension of the business rates break to all businesses in the sector regardless of the rateable value of the property.
- Confirmation that those businesses affected by the government advice for us to stay away from pubs, restaurants, theatres, etc will be able to claim on their insurance, if it covers pandemics. There was initial concern that as there hasn’t been a forced closure of such businesses, such insurance wouldn’t pay out. Government have now confirmed with insurance companies, that where appropriate cover is in place, they will honour claims.
- A relaxation of planning permissions will shortly allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to temporarily offer hot food takeaway services, to offer an alternative source of income. While the measures will apply to hot food and drinks, the serving of alcohol will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws. While planning permission won’t be required for this change of use, businesses are required to inform their local planning authority when the new use begins and ends. Further details can be found here.
Support for Employers with Statutory Sick Pay
As you will know from our Budget review, there is also going to be support in place for Statutory Sick Pay to be refunded to employers. See our section on Statutory Sick Pay and COVID-19 in our Budget review. If you need advice on the HR matters relating to the impact of Coronavirus, please let us know and we can introduce you an experienced HR professional to support you and your teams.
Support for Self Employed and Low Earning Team Members
For those of you who are self employed or have team members that earn below the Lower Earning Limit which is currently £118 per week, Statutory Sick Pay isn’t currently available. There is debate around this at the moment. However, for now you can more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance:
- for the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support;
- you will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate;
- contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8.
Financial Support from HMRC and Mortgage Companies
Remember that HMRC will be assisting with time to pay arrangements for businesses and individuals experiencing financial distress as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Again, if you feel that you need to request such an arrangement please let us know and we will support you. Furthermore, mortgage companies will offer a 3 month payment holiday to individuals experiencing financial difficulties.
Support from the Team at Reach
If you would like to speak with us to explore how we can help you during this time, please call us on 01538 711000 or book a complimentary discovery call.
- advise and assist you in moving to cloud based accounting and communication systems to facilitate homeworking;
- provide outsourced bookkeeping services, including on a temporary basis to support you and your team;
- provide payroll services to reduce the burden on you;
- assist with cashflow projections to help you understand the possible impact on your business and the measures available to support you if you do face financial difficulties;
- be a sounding board to help you explore how you can adapt your business to the current environment.
This is a fast moving situation and information can therefore quickly become out of date. While we will endeavour to bring you updates, the current government advice can be accessed here.