Government Support For Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Small business owners are among those who may be particularly feeling the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In last week’s Budget, the Chancellor announced ways the Government was offering additional support.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria will be:

· This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.

· Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible.

· Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP because of COVID-19.

· Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.

· The scheme’s eligibility period will start the day after the regulations come into force.

The Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP. In the meantime, employers should keep adequate SSP records so claims can be made swiftly once the process is in place.

Business Rates

Business Rates retail discount will be increased to 100 per cent for one year and be expanded to leisure and hospitality sectors. The planned rates discount for pubs will also be raised to £5,000.

· Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

· Those eligible for the expanded retail discount or pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive it.

· The Government will provide an additional £2.2bn funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no rates. This will provide a one-off £3,000 grant to around 700,000 eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will give access to loans of up to £1.2m. The Government will provide fee-free guarantees of 80 per cent to give lenders continuing confidence to provide finance to SMEs.

This will support up to £1bn of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.

Extended payment facility for tax payments

Businesses and self-employed people with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you need advice or support call HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559.

We can help

British businesses have never before been subject to so many outside threats to their activities. Consequently, planning is absolutely key to survive the inevitable downturn and disruption.

If you’re a small business owner and need help or advice on any of these new Government measures, give Bracey’s a call today.