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  • Gary Smith
  • April 7, 2020
  • 4 min read

Government Coronavirus Support for Business

Government support for business: What’s available and am I eligible?

Does your business qualify for coronavirus help? To help you make sense of what’s available, here’s an overview of the financial support measures that have been introduced by the UK government over recent weeks, including information on eligibility and how to apply.

Easier to miss, but just as relevant to business owners and small business accounting, Companies House has also announced new guidance on filing and reporting dates. It’s important to note that automatic three-month extensions are available for filing company accounts – but you must apply for this before the company’s filing deadline to avoid a penalty. Rest assured, we’ve also included an explanation of what COVID-19 means for your company accounts filing and tax obligations towards the end of this guide.

SME Business Support

Business rates holiday

What is it?

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Who is eligible?

The relief is available to businesses based in England, and applies to properties which are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, bars or pubs, cinema or live music venues, assembly or leisure properties (e.g. sports clubs), and hospitality.

How to apply

The discount will be applied automatically to your next council tax bill, without you having to take any action.

Further information

Business support grants

What is it?

Two funding grant schemes, the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG).

Who is eligible?

SBGF. Businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief under the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000. Businesses will receive one grant per eligible property.

RHLG. Businesses in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses with a property with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. Premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for the scheme. Businesses will receive one grant per eligible property.

How to apply

The schemes are administered through local authorities, and eligible businesses will be contacted directly by their LA to arrange payment.

Further information

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

What is it?

A scheme designed to help small and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19 to access financing of up to £5 million.

The scheme is delivered through a panel of approximately 40 commercial lenders, with the government-owned British Business Bank providing those lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans for businesses that would otherwise be unable to access the finance they need.

Who is eligible?

The business must be based in the UK and have an annual turnover of up to £45 million. (Alternative arrangements for businesses with turnover between £45 million and £500 million are offered under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.)

In their applications, prospective borrowers essentially need to be able to show that their business would be viable, were it not for the coronavirus pandemic.

How to apply

This involves sourcing accredited lenders via the British Business Bank and then approaching lenders directly. The terms and amounts offered will vary between institutions, and the BBB states that ‘if one lender turns you down, you can still approach other lenders within the scheme’ (it is not clear whether it is possible to approach multiple lenders simultaneously).

Further information

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

What is it?

A mechanism enabling employers to furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage, up to £2,500 a month, in addition to Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions.

Who is eligible?

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, staffing agencies and public sector organisations. You can claim for employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020. When on furlough, an employee must not work for on behalf of the employer or any linked organisation.

How to apply

A new online portal will be set up by HMRC for administering the furlough scheme. Based on current information, this is expected to be available at the end of April.

Further information

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

What is it?

This rebate scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP payable to current or former employees for periods of coronavirus-related sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

Who is eligible?

The scheme is open to employers who had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 and had a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before that date. The repayment covers up to 2 weeks from the first day of absence through coronavirus, including instances where employees are self-isolating. Employees do not have to supply a sick note to make a claim.

Further information

Company filing

The standard filing deadline for a private company is nine months from the company’s accounting period end date. Usually, failure to file company accounts on time will mean that the company is handed an automatic penalty.

Companies House has confirmed that companies who are unable to meet their deadline due to COVID-19 will be granted an automatic and immediate three-month extension. However, companies must actively apply for this extension – and do so before the company’s filing deadline.

Guidance on how to apply for more time for filing is available here.

More widely, HMRC has also set up a phone helpline to support business owners and self-employed workers concerned about meeting their payment obligations.

This includes agreeing Time to Pay arrangements, along with possible suspension of penalties and interest payments. Further details are available here.

Helping you through challenging times

From preparation of budgets and forecasts for funding applications and company tax return advice, through to assistance with payroll admin, we are committed to providing you with exactly the small business accounting assistance you need as you negotiate the crisis.

To explore your options, speak to MJH Accountancy today.

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