As the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak begins to directly impact more businesses, the Government and other bodies are taking steps to ease the pressure on SMEs. To help you access all the available support, we have compiled a list of recent updates and the latest advice for SME businesses affected by Coronavirus.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salary employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. You will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and submit information about them to HMRC through a portal.
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. At the time of writing (22 March) no start-date has been for the scheme.
If your business needs short-term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
Other government initiatives
Head to the support for business page of the Government website for details of the initiatives that were introduced in the recent budget
- Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for the 2020/21 Tax year It will be applied automatically to your next council tax bill.
- £25,000 grant to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises
- £10,000 grant to businesses eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme helps SMEs get better access to bank lending and overdrafts. Here’s a list of lenders
- Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. Available w/c 23 March. More info on BoE Website
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. You can call a dedicated hotline to negotiate an agreement based on your individual circumstances.
Dedicated hotline: 0800 015 9559
If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. Jobcentre Plus can also help you claim what you may be entitled to under Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance.
Who you can talk to?
The Federation of Small Businesses offers the following advice on people you should talk to if you’re having difficulty. This page has plenty of detail including contact information – worth a visit.
- Talk to your insurer about what happens if you have to close your business
- Talk to your bank about finance options. In addition to considering new overdraft facilities, banks and finance providers should also be lenient on things like loan repayment.
- Talk to your customers about payment and chase large businesses for immediate payment
- Talk to your Government about business support
- Talk to HMRC about time to pay your tax, sick pay costs and employment allowance help
- Talk to your local authority about your business rates, grants and hardship funds
- Talk to your landlord about a rent holiday
- Talk to Jobcentre Plus about benefits for the self-employed
Banks and Finance
Barclays, Santander, Virgin Money, and TSB have announced they will be offering payment holidays for loans and mortgages to help businesses and individuals affected by Coronavirus.
- Barclays has launched a free telephone helpline offering support and information to its business banking customers. It is also providing repayment holidays. Coronavirus: frequently asked questions
- Lloyds has launched a £2 billion package to help minimise disruption to business operations. Support includes repayment holidays, and no arrangement fees for new or increased overdrafts, invoice discounting and finance facilities. Lloyds Banking Group Covid-19
- NatWest has announced a £5 billion fund to support small and medium-sized firms to deal with the impact of coronavirus. Support includes the provision of working capital, loan repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees. Read: NatWest pledges £5bn
- Santander has outlined the support it is offering to customers impacted by Coronavirus. Support includes a helpline and advice on managing finances. Read: Santander business
Protect your business from fraudsters
Fraudsters are exploiting the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus to attempt a variety of scams and cybercrime. Visit our Security Centre for information on how to protect your business from the latest threats.
Take care of your mental health
Covid-19 will be causing stress and worry for small businesses and the self-employed, and it is more important than ever to make sure you are taking steps to support your own mental health as well as that of any employees you may have.