The latest government guidance for businesses affected by COVID-19 can be found here.
In order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the government announced on 23 March that certain businesses must close. This list can be found here.
You must only travel to work if it is impossible to work from home.
For businesses in my constituency, Buckinghamshire Business First is an excellent source of information and advice.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
For the first time in British history, the government has stepped in to help pay people's wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. This is a temporary scheme in place for 3 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
- Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.
- You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.
- Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts.
- Employees must not undertake work for the company they are being furloughed by
Go here to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
VAT & Tax Payments
Temporary changes have been made to VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cash flow.
If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to:
- defer the payment until a later date
- pay the VAT due as normal
Go here for more information on deferring your tax payments.
Paying Sick Pay
If your business had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020, you will be able to claim back the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for employee absences (starting on or after 13 March 2020) due to coronavirus.
The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:
- have coronavirus
- cannot work because they are self-isolating at home
Go here for more information on the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.
Business Rates Holiday
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
You’re eligible if your property is a:
- restaurant, café, bar or pub
- cinema or live music venue
- assembly or leisure property - for example, a sports club, a gym or a spa
- hospitality property - for example, a hotel, a guest house or self-catering accommodation
You do not need to apply for a business rates holiday, Buckinghamshire Council will apply the discount automatically.
Small Business Grant Fund & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund*
Most businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and those receiving Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief will receive a grant as follows:
- Eligible properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant
- Eligible properties with a rateable value of more than £15,000 and up to £51,000 will receive a £25,000 grant
For more information and to apply for a small business grant, go to the Buckinghamshire Council website here.
*Please be aware that you should apply for these grants directly through Buckinghamshire Council, do not pay a fee to any third party to apply for these grants.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (For Small & Medium-Sized Businesses) (CBILS)
CBILS supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.
You’re eligible if your business:
- is based in the UK
- has an annual turnover of up to £45 million
- has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
There are 40 accredited lenders offering the scheme, including all the major banks.
Bounce Back Loans
The Chancellor announced on 27 April that small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders.
These loans will be available from 9am on Monday 4 May.
- businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
- loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form
- for most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval