Coronavirus - How can we help you?

The Government is offering a lot of support and I thought it would be helpful to try to have one place to update you as to what support is available, and where, and ask if you needed our help. As a business owner you need to focus on your customers and staff – and you can leave us to update you on what information you need to know!


If you need our help just click on any of the email links, give us your phone number and email address and we will get back to you ASAP! Of course, this is an emerging issue and not all details are available for the various items of government support. Check back to see what changes periodically.

Government Coronavirus support (updated 3rd April 2020)
(...keep reading below for more detail)

 

  • Funding for 80% of wages, up to £2,500
  • Funding for 80% of self-employed profits, up to £2,500
  • Funding for SSP payments
  • Cash grant £10,000
  • Cash grant £25,000
  • Automatic planning for takeaway food license
  • Business rates holiday
  • Business interruption loans
  • HMRC time to pay
  • HMRC defer your VAT payment by 3 months
  • IR35 changes deferred to April 2020
  • Lenders give 3-month mortgage payment holiday
  • Renters get a 3-month payment holiday and can claim housing benefit and universal credit
  • Self employed claim ESA and universal credit
  • MOT certificates extended.
  • Note from 23rd March non-essential shop and business premises are closed.

 

JVCA Support

 How can we support you?

  • Cashflow forecasting to help you understand your finances
  • Claiming SSP on your behalf
  • Consultancy help and advice so you can get a grip on events
  • Financial/Virus Risk Assessment for your business
  • Access to funding
  • Cost minimisation review
  • Is there a silver lining for your business (and maybe we can help you to find it!) 
  • Help to keep your employees motivated when working virtually

 .... and just being there when you need us!

Click here to email us


Detail on the various topics of support is shown below:

 

1. Funding for 80% of wages, up to £2,500

(updated 3rd April 2020)

 

The coronavirus job retention scheme enables employers to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages for employees who are temporarily not working due to the virus.
The CJRS pays up to 80% of wages for up to £2500 per worker each month for 3-months

Which Employers are eligible?

  • Any UK organisation,
  • with employees can apply providing they have,
  • created and started a PAYE scheme on or before 28 February 2020, and
  • have a UK bank account

Note if companies are in a formal Administration then they can also access the scheme.

Which Employees are eligible?

  • Any employee who was on a PAYE payroll scheme on the 28th February 2020,
  • Including company directors
  • The employee must be put on furlough. Ie a formal written change to their terms and conditions of employment
  • The employee cannot undertake work for the organisation.

Note: employees who have been made redundant can be temporarily rehired and paid using JRS.

Note: employees hired after 28th February 2020 are not eligible.

Note: employees already on unpaid leave at 28th February 2020 are not eligible.

Note: Employees on Sick leave or who are self-isolating get SSP and can be furloughed once their sick leave/isolation ends.

Note: employees with more than one employer may be furloughed by one but not by the other.

How long can an employee be on furlough?

  • The job retention scheme runs from 1st March
  • The JRS is currently due to end on 1st June, but may be extended
  • The minimum period an employee can be furloughed for is 3 weeks.
  • An employee can be furloughed multiple times, ie furloughed for 3 weeks, do some work and then be re-furloughed.

What can a furloughed employee do?

They cannot do anything that provides their normal service or generate revenue for the organisation – furlough is effectively paying them not to work.

A furloughed employee can do volunteer work or training – as long as this does not provide a service or generate revenue for your organisation.

If an employee is required to do training whilst furloughed, then they must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for the time spent training even if this is more than the 80% of the JRS.

A company director may continue to carry out statutory duties, ie filing accounts, but cannot do anything that provides a service or generates a revenue for the business.

What can an employer claim for?

  • 80% of the regular wage, but not commissions or bonuses.
  • The employers national insurance charge on that 80%
  • The employers minimum auto enrolment pension contribution on that 80%

How do you work out the 80%

  • For salaried employees it is their actual salary as at 28 February 2020
  • For employees whose pay varies it is the higher of
    1. The same month’s earnings for the previous year
    2. Average monthly earnings for the 2019/20 tax year.
  • If an employee started after April 2019, then use a pro-rata for their earnings so far in the 2019/20 tax year.

How does an employer claim?

HMRC will have a new portal – but it is not yet available. 

When it is available you will need details from your PAYE scheme and pay calculations.

Employers will be able to submit at least one claim every 3 weeks

HR and employment law notes

Employment law continues to apply whilst furloughed.

Holiday entitlements continue as normal whilst an employee is furloughed.

Can carry over 2-weeks holiday to next 2-years.  Normal rules on not carrying holiday over to the next holiday year are to be amended.

National Minimum Wages does not apply to furloughed workers as they are not working but furloughed.

The minimum time for an individual to be furloughed is 3-weeks.  Employees can be furloughed multiple times.

Maternity/Paternity/Adoption leave and Pay: mothers must take a minimum of 2-weeks Maternity leave as per normal. Employees who qualify for SMP are still eligible for 90% of average earnings for the first 6 weeks followed by 33 weeks at the lower of 90% of weekly earnings or the statutory rate.

When deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

HMRC anti-fraud

I expect HMRC to audit a number of claims and to have a simple risk model to identify employers who have abused the system.

 

Guidance

You can read the governments guidance here  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

You can read the CBI’s guidance here  https://www.cbi.org.uk/articles/daily-coronavirus-webinar-job-retention-scheme-27-03-2020/
We have a Q&A information sheet available and a draft furlough letter for employers to use.  Email us for a copy on info@vowles.co.uk

2.  Funding for 80% of Self-employed profits, up to £2,500
The Chancellor announced the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) on 26th March 2020.  This package is a cash grant of 80% of self-employed profits capped at £2500 per month for 3-months. 

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have reduced trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
+ If you have not submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, you must do this by 23 April 2020.
+ To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.
+ Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering the 3-months to May 2020, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.
+ Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.  
+ NOTE:  You will access this scheme only through GOV.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.
+ Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the self-employed scheme but will be covered for their PAYE salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if they are operating a PAYE scheme. 
  • further information and details of the scheme will be shared shortly by HMRC
  • HMRC will use the average trading profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to determine the size of the grant
  • this scheme also applies to members of partnerships
  • before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans where they have a business bank account

Government guidance is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

 

 

3. Funding for SSP payments

 

SSP is from Day 1 of an absence rather than day 4 and the government will reimburse small employers for up to 2-weeks of SSP per eligible employee. This is organised via your PAYE scheme as normal, ie good record keeping is required!
This takes effect from 13 March 2020.
Eligible employers are those who had less than 250 employees at the end of February 2020.
The individual needs to go online to NHS111 and complete an online 'isolation note' to provide to the employer...and employers need to ask for this isolation note or a sick note.

 

4. Cash grant £10,000
(updated 3rd April 2020)

 

All business with a rateable value that means they benefit from small business rate relief or rural rate relief are eligible for a one-off cash grant.  This means a rateable value under about £15,000. The various local authorities are responsible for organising this. 

Some local authorities are requesting you to fill in an online form to claim this. Some are saying they will write to you.   Check your local authority web pages to see if you have to do anything or not.

+ Qualifying date for eligible business properties was 11 March 2020
+ One payment per ratepayer, paid to person/business whose name is on the business rates bills
+ Applies to business land and buildings but not car parks, parking spaces or buildings occupied for personal use.
+ Business that don't have a commercial premises are not included.
+ Future changes to the rating list of property, ie amending the rateable value do not affect the cash grant or eligibility for it, unless it is to correct a factual error.
+  Government Counter Fraud departments will monitor and audit the grants.
+ no time frame for when the local authorities will actually make payment (yet).

update 24th March: guidance published here  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874772/small-business-grant-fund-and-retail-guidance.pdf 
 
If you need to look up details of your rateable value then try this government resource  https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates

 

5. Cash grant £25,000

 

If your rateable value is between £15k and £51k, and you are in the appropriate sectors (retail, leisure and hospitality) then this is you and you get a £25,000 cash grant.
If you have a smaller rateable value, ie up to £15k, and are in these sectors then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £10,000 whether or not you get small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
The local authorities are responsible for this - check your authority's website for details.
See the guidance published as per note 4 above.

Also, if you run a pub or restaurant that serves food (or used to before you were closed) then you will be able to operate a hot food takeway service without going through the usual planning process.  You need to notify your local authority but you don't need prior approval.

 

6. Business rates holiday

 

This should be organised automatically by your local authority and is for the 12 months to 31 March 2021.

 

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector or a children's nursery.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation

More information on eligibility is set out in the expanded retail discount guidance.

Check your local authority's website for details, although you should not need to do anything it should be processed automatically and your 2020/21 rates bill re-issued.

 

7. Business interruption loans 

(updated 3rd April 2020)

 

The government is giving banks and other lenders financial support so that they can deal with issuing loans under the CBIL scheme– and:

1)  80% security guarantee should make them easy to get

2)  12-month interest holiday, paid for by the government
3)  Contact your usual bank (or get help from us!).

4)  The CBILs scheme will (initially) run for 6-months from 23rd March 2020

To be eligible for support via CBILS, the small business must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic
  •  self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the Covid19 virus.
Businesses from any sector can apply, except the following:
  • Banks and building societies
  • Insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • Public-sector organisations, including state-funded primary and secondary schools and further education establishments 

Key features

  • There is no guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme.
  • There is no guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme.  
  • There is no interest for the first 12 months - the Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the interest payments and any lender-levied fees.
  • You (the SME) will therefore benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
  • The loans are available to businesses whether or not they have not been refused a commercial loan.
  • The lenders have authority to decide whether or not to offer finance. If one lender turns you down, you can still apply to the others.
  • Interest rates are set at 3.5%+base for up to 3 years and 4%+base for longer (ie up to 7 years) (NB info from HSBC and not checked other banks yet)
  • For loans up to £250,000, business owners will not have to supply personal guarantees.
  • For loans of over £250k any personal guarantee must exclude recourse to your home and are limited to 20% of the outstanding balance.

 

Notes:

You might get a better interest rate by having a normal secured loan at 2%(ish)+base!

You might only need an overdraft - Some banks are not offering CBILs overdrafts.

HSBC are currently asking for a PG with only a 10% recourse for loans over £250k

Is this suitable for startups - probably not as one of the requirements is that you already have a viable business.  Visit www.startuploans.co.uk for potential startup loans.

As with any kind of formal borrowing, you will need:

  • Your books fully up-to-date
  • Up-to-date management accounts
  • Projections and forecasts for the business
One of the big positives from the revamp is that the guarantee and security guidelines have been updated by the British Business Bank. Nobody wants to think about their business going bust – but if the worst comes to the worst you are protected by the scheme.
 

If you are thinking of accessing the CBIL scheme or a commercial loan scheme or any other type of borrowing, please get in touch as we can help you through the process.

 

8. HMRC time to pay

 

If you have a tax bill ring the HMRC virus support line and they will give you easy terms to pay or defer your tax bill.
HMRC's dedicated helpline number is 0800 0159 559

HMRC are also being nice on penalties! Penalties related to late payment and interest may be waived if you have payment issues as a result of the virus.

 

9. HMRC defer your VAT payment by 3 months and Income tax payment by 6 months

 

No VAT needs to be paid this VAT quarter (from 20 March to 30 June 2020). Of course it will then fall due later and you have until 5th April 2021 to pay this deferred VAT – at which point a time to pay arrangement might be handy.
Note that VAT deferral is automatic, you do not need to apply.   However, if you pay by direct debit you need to cancel the DD at your bank or it will still be collected!

Also note, that the VAT return itself still needs to be done on time.


Similarly if you have a 31 July Income Tax Payment to make then it can be deferred to January 2021- at which point your normal January 2021 tax bill will also be due!
Note that deferral is automatic and that no penalties or interest for late payment will be charged for the deferral period.

 

10. IR35 changes deferred to April 2021

 

If you are a freelancer then this works for you – if you have work!   The Off Payroll Working rules will now come into affect for private sector businesses from 6 April 2021. 
If you don't know what this means then it probably doesn't apply to you.

 

11. Lenders give mortgage payment holiday

 

A great cash boost to anyone with a mortgage. You will still owe the money to your lender, it is just a payment holiday and so your mortgage term is effectively extended by 3 months.
This applies to households with residential mortgages and to landlords with buy to let mortgages.
If you have other debts (credit cards, etc.) you should contact your lender as most of them are offering flexible support, ie payment holidays.

 

12. Renters, claim housing benefit and universal credit

 

Tenants can apply for a 3-month payment holiday from their landlords.
If you are a renter and you don’t have a paying job. Claim universal credit and housing benefit now! It takes a little while to process so don’t delay but start it today.
Local Housing Allowance will pay for at least 30% of market rents. 
Landlords will not be able to start evicting tenants for non-payments for at least a 3-month period.  At the end of this period, landlords and tenants are expected to work together to put in place a repayment plan for the backlog.

This is clearly not great news for Landlords!  so make sure you match the rent holiday with a mortgage payment holiday to avoid cash flow difficulties.

 

13. Individuals can claim ESA and universal credit

 

If you as an individual are struggling financially then please claim Universal Credit or employment support allowance (ESA). 

If you literally have no money then claim for emergency funding and you should get help.

Note that this is means tested and you don't get paid if you have £16,000 of savings or more.

Don’t delay, start your claim now as it takes a while for anything to happen.  Over recent weeks there has been a 10 fold increase in the number of claims so the system is creaking under the strain.

Universal Credit
The minimum income threshold for Universal Credit will be temporarily removed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, providing compensation for any income losses. Universal Credit will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, with no need to attend a job centre.  Go online to NHS111 and get an online virus 'isolation note' if you are self-isolating.  you can email this to the job centre as part of your claim.
At present, single claimants under the age of 25 are eligible for a monthly entitlement of £251.77, while those aged 25 and over can claim £317.82.

Employment and Support Allowance
ESA will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth day. At present, single claimants under the age of 25 can claim up to £57.90 per month, while those aged 25 and over can receive up to £73.10 

Tax payments
If you have a 31 July Income Tax Payment to make then it can be deferred to January 2021- at which point your normal January 2021 tax bill will also be due!

 

14.  MOT certificates extended
If your car, motorcycle or light van's MOT expiry date was due on or after Monday 30th March then it will be automatically extended by 6-months.   This will happen automatically.

If you have a lorry, bus or trailer then they are extended by 3-months from 21 March 2020, for certain vehicles you need to apply for this.

If your road tax is due, you can tax your vehicle straight away.

Note that you still have a responsibility to keep your vehicle in a safe and road-worthy condition.

You can check your MOT history to see when your MOT expiry date has been extended.

Government guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020

 

15.  Non-essential shops and business closed
From midnight on 23rd March non-essential business premises are to be closed.  Note that this is a government prohibition order and therefore enforceable with unlimited fines!

What is essential and what is non essential?  check out the government guidance here:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

If you stay open then you must:
+ Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and
+ Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
+ Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.


If you need help or support then please email info@vowles.co.uk  or visit our contact page