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What support is available for Small Businesses during COVID-19?

2 April 2020

small business COVID-19 Coronavirus Government support

By now, the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) are not just unmistakable for businesses across the UK, but they also unavoidable. Small businesses, the self-employed and larger firms are being urged to keep up to date with the continued guidance and advice from the UK Government, especially with regards to the support on offer to help businesses struggling with financial commitments during this time.

We have summarised everything you need to know about small business support during COVID-19 and what’s on offer to you, including:

  • What the support is
  • Who is eligible to receive it
  • and how it can be accessed, including quick links to relevant resources

Please note: The information cited on this page is up to date as of 26th March 2020. We advise all our customers to regularly check gov.uk for any amendments to the business support package.

 

Skip to section:

→ Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
→ Deferring VAT payments
→ Deferring Self-Assessment payments on account
→ Self-employment Income Support Scheme
→ Support for businesses paying sick pay to employees
→ Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality & leisure businesses
→ Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
→ Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates
→ Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
→ Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
→ Support for larger firms through Corporate Financing Facility
→ Time to Pay service
→ Commercial insurance
→ Protection from eviction for commercial tenants
→ Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements
→ Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


What support is available for Small Businesses during COVID-19?




Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


What is it?

Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wages, up to £2,500 a month, plus Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

Who’s eligible?

Open to all UK employers that started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020

Important dates:
  • Open for 3 months starting from 1 March 2020
  • Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period

How to access:

Claim for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.




Deferring VAT payments


What is it?

Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments can be deferred for 3 months.


Who’s eligible?

UK VAT registered businesses with a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020


How to access:

Find out how to defer your VAT payment.




Deferring Self-Assessment payments on account


What is it?

If you’re due to pay a self-assessment payment on account by 31 July 2020, you may defer payment until January 2021.


Who’s eligible?
  • If you’re due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July.
  • You don’t need to be self-employed to be eligible.

How to access:
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until 31 January 2021.
  • During the deferral period you can set up a budget payment plan to help you pay the deferred payment on account when it comes due.


 


Self-employment Income Support Scheme

What is it?

Claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

Who’s eligible?

Self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships)


How to access:

Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.




Support for businesses paying sick pay to employees


What is it?

Allowing small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.


Who’s eligible?
  • UK employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020
  • employers should keep record of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • If evidence is required by an employer, employees can get an isolation note from NHS 111 onlineand those living with someone who has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
     
How to access:

The rebate scheme is still being developed. Further details will be provided once the legalisation has passed.




Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

 

What is it?

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Who’s eligible?
  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
  • Occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used as:
  • Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation
  • More information on eligibility is set out in the expanded retail discount guidance.

How to access:

There’s no action for you. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to provide this support. They will do this as soon as possible.




Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses


What is it?

Provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

  • A property with a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000.
  • A property with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Who’s eligible?
  • your business is based in England and is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector
  • your business has a rateable value of under £51,000
  • Occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used as:
  • Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation

How to access:

You don’t need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you’re eligible for this grant.

Any enquiries on eligibility for should be directed to the relevant local authority. Find your local authority.




Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates


What is it?

Business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.


Who is eligible?
  • your business is based in England

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to provide this support. They will do this as soon as possible. You can estimate the business rate charge using the business rates calculator.


 


Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates


What is it?

Funding for local authorities to support small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. Provides a one-off grant of £10,000.


Who is eligible?
  • your business is based in England and occupies property
  • you are receiving small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March

How to access:

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.Any enquiries on eligibility should be directed to the relevant local authority. Find your local authority.




Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme


What is it?

Supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.


Who’s eligible?

How to access:
  • To apply, talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers(not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan.
  • If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.




Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility


What is it?

The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will allow you to finance short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.


Who’s eligible?

All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website.


How to access:

Bank of England website


 


Time to Pay service


What is it?

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.


Who is eligible?
  • Your business pays tax to the UK government
  • has outstanding tax liabilities

How to access:

If you’ve missed a tax payment or you might miss your next one due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 024 1222.


 


Commercial insurance

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19.

However, businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms of their policy).


Notifiable diseases

These are certain infectious diseases that registered medical practitioners have a statutory duty to notify the ‘proper officer’ at their local council or health protection team about when they have a suspected case.

On 5 March 2020, the government added COVID-19 to their list of notifiable diseases.

Many insurers use diseases on this list as triggers for the activation or exclusion of insurance cover. For example, insurers’ policies that cover notifiable diseases will typically only cover a specific subset of notifiable diseases (such as Cholera or Anthrax) that the insurer will reference in the policy documentation. These policies will exclude any notifiable disease not on the insurers list, as well as future/unknown diseases (such as COVID-19). The price that the insurer charges for the policy is modelled against the risk posed by this set list of diseases.


Unspecified notifiable diseases

Some businesses will have purchased add-ons for their insurance that cover for ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. These policies effectively cover any disease listed as a notifiable disease, enabling the business to claim for losses for all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point the policy is written.

The effect of the government adding COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases is to ensure that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover are able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions in their policy. For example, someone infected with COVID-19 may need to have been on the premises.


Government ordered closure

The government asked a number of different businesses and venues to remain closed from 21 March onwards.

Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for COVID-19 losses to make a claim (if the only barrier to them making a claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government had ordered businesses to close). As such, intervention by the police or any other statutory body is no longer required to trigger cover in the current circumstances.

However, most businesses’ commercial insurance policies (including for denial of access) are unlikely to offer cover for COVID-19.


Event coverage

Businesses with event cancellation policies that include unspecified notifiable disease extensions should be able to make a claim for the necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption of their event for reasons beyond the control of organisers and participants (subject to the other terms and exclusions of their policy).

Insurance for major events is often bespoke to the specific event, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their insurer or broker.


How to access:

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.


 


Protection from eviction for commercial tenants

 

What is it?

Commercial tenants who can’t pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. This means no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment up until 30 June. Note: This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent.


Who is eligible?

All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible.

How to access:

The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. No action is required.




Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements

What is it?

BIDs will be able to extend the maximum duration of their BID arrangements until 31 March 2021 by delaying BID ballots due to take place this year. This enables BIDs, and the local authorities who administer the ballot process, to concentrate on responding to the current emergency.

 
Who’s eligible?

The measures apply to any BID in England due to ballot between now and 31 December 2020.


How to access:

The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. No action is required.




Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Because some elements of business support are devolved, the measures you can access may differ if your business is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

→ View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Scotland.
→ View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Wales.
→View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Northern Ireland.

Source: gov.uk


 

About Retail Merchant Services

 

Retail Merchant Services provide thousands of small to medium-sized businesses across the UK and Ireland with reliable, secure and tech-driven payment solutions to help them accept card payments, grow their businesses and retain more customers. Founded in 2007, the company was acquired in 2017 by TCV, one of the largest growth equity investors in the technology industry.

Retail Merchant Services provide a host of products and services to help small business owners, including: credit and debit card machines with Same Day SettlementEPOS systemsMerchant Cash AdvanceE-commerce Gateways, Pay by Link & Virtual Terminals.

“We’re on a mission to make customers’ lives easier. We pride ourselves on delivering at pace and keeping our heads up when it comes to customer needs. Staying restless for improvement and being customer obsessed is the cornerstone of our business; and we invite our customers to tell us if we fall short.”