Help for employers, employees, and the self-employed

The Government is taking a number of steps to help those who are affected by Coronavirus, directly or indirectly.

Support to national economy

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has made available an initial £330bn of in spending and other guarantees - equivalent to 15% of our GDP. The measures included mean that: 

  • any business who needs access to cash will be able to access a government-backed loan on attractive terms;
  • extending the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced at the Budget last week to provide loans of up to £5m with no interest for up to 12 months. These loans will be available from week beginning 23rd March 2020.
  • an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector with a rateable value of less than £51,000;
  • cash grants of £10,000 to 700,000 of our smallest businesses 
  • a three month mortgage holiday to those in difficulty due to the corona virus
  • The Government will provide employers with grants sufficient to cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to any employer in the country. It will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st, open before the end of April, and last at least 3 months. There will be no limit on the funding available for the scheme
  • VAT payments for businesses will be suspended until mid-June, and businesses will have till the end of the financial year to make payments

Read the full speech here.

Coronavirus Business Support

This page helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply. 

It includes:

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
  • Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Small Business Grant Funding
  • Statutory Sick Pay Rebate
  • Time to Pay
  • Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Business Rates Holiday for Nurseries
  • VAT Deferral
  • Income Tax Deferral for the Self-Employed

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. For further information click here.

 

COVID19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Treasury has been working with the banks to improve accessibility of this scheme,

Key points on changes to CBILS:

- ALL viable small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 can now benefit (rather than just those that couldn’t access commercial finance)

- NO personal guarantees for loans below £250,000

- LIMIT personal guarantees for loans above £250,000 to the 20% of the loan which isn’t guaranteed by Govt

- SPEED UP processing of applications, particularly those for smaller loans through operational changes.

You can find out more here.

 

Job Retention Scheme

Further information on the job retention scheme can be found here. This has been extended until the end of October 2020. 

Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Apply for the scheme here.

 

Bounceback Loan Scheme

The Government has announced the Bounce Back Loan Scheme - a new initiative for those in need of smaller loans.

Businesses can apply for the new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

The Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. Apply for the loan scheme here.

 

Support for commercial tenants

The Government is providing extra protection for businesses with a ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments.

No business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months. Further information can be found here.

 

Sector-specific guidance for employers during COVID-19 can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

 

Self-employed individuals

The Government has announced the steps it will take to protect those who are self-employed.

The Income Support Scheme will provide a taxable grant to those who earn the majority of their income from self-employment. These payments will provide up to 80% of average monthly profits to those in self-employment, limited to £2,500. This will be based upon an individual’s last three years of tax submissions. HMRC will be in direct contact with those who are eligible, and require them to complete a simple online form in order to apply.

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000. This means that 95% of people who earn the majority of their income from self-employment will be covered. 

The scheme will run for three months, with possible extensions if necessary, and the businesses of those who receive support will still be able to operate while it is in effect. The Government is working to get the scheme up and running so that payments can be received by the beginning of June.

Those with outstanding tax returns should submit them in order to help the scheme function smoothly. To help with this, the Government has extended the deadline for those who did not submit their tax returns in by January by a further four weeks.

 

Those who are self-employed may also wish to visit the website of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which has a designated advice section for those experiencing difficulties as a result of Covid-19.

Self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. In addition, the next self-assessment payments will be deferred until Jan 2021.

 

For employees

Sick pay
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) page for more information.

SSP start date
We are legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.

Proof of sickness
If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

If you’re self-employed or not eligible for SSP
If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

 

Furloughed workers
If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary. Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.

 

Claiming benefits
Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

From 6 April we are increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for 1 year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

 

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home
You are now able to claim Universal Credit, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

 

If you are self-employed

Please find below a link to guidance from the Government on the new self-employment income support scheme, including eligibility, and how and when you can access the scheme. For further information click here.

You are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.

To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

 

Support for rent costs
You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit.

From April, we are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

 

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries

The Government has introduced further social distancing measures as of 20th March and in order to further reduce social contact, has told the following businesses across the UK close:

• Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.
• Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars and nightclubs.
• Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls and bingo halls.
• Museums and galleries.
• Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours.
• Casinos and betting shops.
• All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational. We will change planning regulations so that restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not current offer delivery and hot food take away are able to do so. These measures will be put in place and then reviewed on a monthly basis to consider their effectiveness and compliance in light of changing circumstances.

UPDATE: Non-essential shops will be able to re-open from June 15th. This includes fashion shops, charity shops, tailors, betting shops, car dealerships, gift shops, chemists, food retailers, and indoor and outdoor markets.

For further information click here.

 

Support for charities

Charities are playing a vital role in the national effort to tackle Coronavirus. The Chancellor announced a £750 million package of support to ensure charities can meet the increased demand as a result of Coronavirus, as well as continuing their day to day activities to support those in need.

£360 million will be directly allocated to key charities providing important services during this crisis. It will be allocated by Government departments and includes up to £200 million for hospices and support for victims charities and vulnerable children charities.

£370 million for small to medium sized charities will be distributed through a grand from the National Lottery Community Fund, ensuring funding gets to the heart of local communities.

 

MOT Testing

We are granting a 6-month exemption for MOT testing, enabling vehicle owners to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities.All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

Free car parking for NHS and social care workers

We are providing free car parking for our NHS and social care workers. These workers will be able to park in on street parking bays and council owned carparks without having to worry about cost or time restrictions.

 

Business Rates

Guidance on properties previously excluded from the relief, but that have been forced to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions, that will now be eligible for the relief can be found here.

 

Annual Leave

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. 

The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.

This will mean staff can continue working in the national effort against the coronavirus without losing out on annual leave entitlement.

The changes will also ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.

 

The Government has launched a portal for the registration of offers of help:  

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business

  

There is a BEIS Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565

For further information on business support, please visit this link:

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

 

Testing capacity and testing kits 

The Government has asked for industry involvement in the manufacture of COVID-19 testing capacity and testing kits. 

The specifications for that support can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-coronavirus-covid-19-tests-and-…

If your business is able to support, please register that capability here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business

 

Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board Grant Fund

Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority business board has launched a £2.3 million grant fund for companies struggling during this challenging time.

The Covid-19 Capital Grant Fund will offer sums from £2,000 to £150,000 for new capital investment projects, such as buying new kit, building new extensions, updating production lines, IT infrastructure and upgrading logistics.

This immediate capital investment will help firms to adapt and prepare them for business post COVID-19.

To see if you qualify for this scheme and to apply please visit: capitalgrantscheme.co.uk

 

More information on help available can also be viewed here.