Support for Business from the UK Government - 19th March 2020
You may have heard the announcements about the government’s proposals to help businesses affected by Covid-19. They include a package of measures to support businesses including:
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, details of which can be found here: - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19
The exact details of how these schemes will work are still being developed but it looks likely that the grant funding and rates holidays will be offered by the local authority and that they will contact those businesses eligible for support directly, once the government has made this funding available to local authorities, expected to be some time in April.
More details of the Business Interruption Loan Scheme are available by following the link at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/ It is likely that that businesses’ own banks will offer the loans but we have no details of the terms under which they will be offered. We do know that the scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’, but the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
Regarding SSP, the government have confirmed that SSP will be payable to employees from Day 1 of their sickness absence due to Covid-19 rather than on the 4th day. Employers who employ fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
- the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
So although it looks as if businesses will be able to reclaim some SSP, the mechanism by which the claim will be made has not yet been announced.
We’ll keep our clients posted as soon as we learn more details.
If you have any specific or urgent concerns in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on your business and how this may be mitigated then please contact us and we will do all we can to assist you.