Coronavirus- 20 March 2020
27th March 2020
In these unprecedented times, when you may be facing significant operational, staffing and financial challenges resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak and the Government's efforts to combat it, we acknowledge that you will be finding it hard to keep track of news and details that could be vital in keeping your organisation afloat and that support your staff.
On Friday 20 March 2020 the Chancellor announced the UK Government's latest measures to financially support businesses and employers affected by economic turmoil resulting from its efforts to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
The announcement on 20 March follows previous statements in the UK Budget on 11 March, and a further statement on the Government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak on 17 March. There have also been announcements by the Scottish Government from the Finance Secretary and Economy Secretary that are specific to Scottish businesses.
This is a fast-moving situation and further details will emerge in the coming days but the key points from the Government's announcements currently are:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government has introduced a scheme that will allow employers to retain employees that would otherwise be laid off or not working. The UK Government will reimburse up to 80% of gross wages per employee - up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month - of 'furloughed workers' initially for a period of three months backdated to 1 March.
This will operate through submitting particular information online to HMRC with specific details not yet available but is expected to be announced by HMRC soon.
All employers, large and small, charitable or profit-making, are eligible to apply. It is considered unlikely that the first payments to businesses will be before the end of April and banks are being encouraged to assist in the meantime to support businesses with immediate cashflow concerns. See also below regarding the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme.
Deferral of Tax and VAT payments
This has been introduced automatically with no requirement to apply. VAT Liabilities that are due to be paid between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 will be deferred until the end of the 2020-21 tax year (5 April 2021). VAT refunds will still continue to be paid.
Self-Assessment payments on accounts due by 31 July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021.
Support for Sick Pay payments
Refunds will be available for organisations with 250 employees or fewer who have paid Statutory Sick Pay as a result of Covid-19.
Business Rates (Non-Domestic Rates)
Non-domestic rates are a devolved matter so Scottish businesses should refer to the Scottish Government announcement. There are a few measures and these relate to the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
Businesses in the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors will receive a 100% non-domestic rates relief. Grants of £25,000 will be available to businesses in those sectors if the Rateable Value of their property is between £18,000 and £51,000.
Grants of £10,000 will be available to all businesses that are eligible for non-domestic reliefs through the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.
This will be administered through the appropriate Local Authorities and further detail will be on your local Council website or will be coming very soon.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Further detail should be available from Monday 23 March from the British Business Bank on government-backed loans. Eligibility is based on certain criteria and turnover of the applying organisation must be under £45 million per year. The loan will be interest free for the first 12 months.
The following link should prove useful:
Time to Pay service
The government's Time To Pay service is available to businesses and the self-employed with tax liabilities that are struggling to pay tax bills can apply to defer payments. This will be considered by HMRC case-by-case. HMRC's helpline for this service is 0800 0159 559.
The following is a link to the Government's website and their Guidance to Employers and Businesses About Covid-19. Please note that the section on Business Rates relates to England only. There is also a link below to the Scottish Government website regarding non-domestic rates support for Scottish businesses. This is correct as at 20 March 2020, the situation of course may change.
Many businesses and organisations are facing uncertainty of a kind unseen before and in the coming days there will be further clarity on some of these Government initiatives that should alleviate some of that uncertainty and we hope you find the summary and links above helpful.