What Support is Available for Businesses During Lockdown?
As an independent business during the COVID-19 lockdown, it is understandable if you are feeling unsure as to what support you have. Such an event has never happened before, so of course, you are feeling worried.
The UK government has made a full range of business support measures available to business owners such as yourself, and in this article, we will be making sure you are aware of what these measures are and how they can help you.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The coronavirus job retention scheme is designed to help you, as an employer, keep your existing staff during the coronavirus pandemic – even if you have been forced to temporarily shut your business.
You will have the chance to claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if you have to put them on furlough as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
If one of your employees is self-isolating because either they or someone in their household is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, they will be eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay.
You will be able to give any employees who are self-isolating because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (and cannot work from home) Statutory Sick Pay.
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has also been introduced to repay employers the SSP paid to current or former employees. This repayment scheme will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness if any of your employees were unable to work because they:
- Have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Cannot work because they are in self-isolation due to someone they live with having symptoms
- Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or their GP telling them to stay home for at least 12 weeks.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including full-time and part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, employees of flexible or zero-hour contracts and fixed-term contracts.
You will be able to use this scheme as an employer if:
- You’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- You have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
- You had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
Defer VAT Payments
If you are a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you will have the option to either defer the payment until a later date or pay it as normal.
The HMRC will not charge you any interest or penalties if you have to defer payment as a result of the chancellor’s announcement.
You will only be able to defer:
- Quarterly and monthly VAT returns’ payments for the periods ending in February, March and April
- Payments on account due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020
- Annual accounting advance payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020
Though, this does not cover any payments for VAT MOSS or import VAT.
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Rent Holidays & Eviction Protection
Businesses in the UK are now also protected from eviction if they cannot pay their rent due to coronavirus. Under this new ‘rent holiday’ directive, no longer can a commercial property tenant forfeit their lease within 28 days of rent not being paid.
Due to coronavirus, businesses of all shapes and sizes are faced with new and unprecedented challenges, never before seen. Yet, it’s important to be assured that during this confusing time, the government has arranged a variety of schemes and bursaries to help you and your business stay afloat, whilst also ensuring your employees are as safe as possible.
Along with the aforementioned, the following support is also available to businesses, although it depends on the nature of your business and your individual circumstances.
- £750 million Innovation Fund grants for businesses involved in research and development
- Bounce Back Loan Scheme for Small Businesses
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
- £25,000 cash grants available for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses
- £10,000 one off grants for smaller businesses
- Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
- Universal Credit benefits for the self employed
To find out more or to apply, visit the government website for further details.