During this time of uncertainty, it is important that every business owner, whether a director or partner or self-employed owner, has access to all the support and guidance available. Reassurance is essential at this time, and for many concerned business owners, there is some form of assistance available.
Here we are summarising the main sources of help for employers and the self-employed, together with links to further information so that you have access to the most up to date information from official sources. You can also check our LinkedIn feed where we are sharing useful updates as they are released.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Businesses that cannot maintain their current workforce due to severe disruption by the coronavirus are able to furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80 per cent of their usual monthly wage costs up to £2,500 per month together with the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.
To qualify, employers must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020; enrolled for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.
It is expected that the online service for claiming will be available by the end of April 2020, and the scheme will initially run for a period of three months, although it may be extended.
Since the scheme was announced, there have been numerous calls for clarity on various points, leading to the information having been updated. It is important to keep up to date with the current stance via the official Government channel, because further calls for clarity have been made which may lead to more updates.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The SEISS has been launched by the Government to support self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships worth 80 per cent of their average profits from tax returns filed for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, up to a value of £2,500 per month. The scheme will initially run for three months. The first payments are expected to be made at the start of June 2020.
To be eligible for the scheme, individuals must be self-employed or a member of a partnership; have trading profits of less than £50,000 with more than 50 per cent of total income coming from self-employment; have lost profits due to COVID-19; have traded in 2019-20 and be currently trading at the time of application (or would be except for COVID-19), and intend to be trading during the next tax year. A tax return must have been filed for 2018-19, the deadline for which is 23 April 2020.
There is no need to apply for the scheme; HMRC will use data on 2018-19 tax returns already submitted to identify those who are eligible.
Again it is important to stay up to date with current information on the scheme and you can do this via this Government link:
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) Scheme
The CBIL has been launched to support small to medium sized businesses with an annual turnover of up to £45 million by providing access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years. The financial support is intended for businesses that are losing revenue or facing cashflow issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders and backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank.
Originally, CBIL was not available to smaller businesses, but that has since changed.
For the most up to date information, check the following official links:
Deferral of VAT payments
Temporary changes to VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 have been announced with a view to helping businesses manage cashflow during this time.
There is no need to do anything other than not pay the VAT due, although if payment is made by Direct Debit then this will need to be cancelled. No interest will be charged or penalties levied by HMRC. It is important to be aware though that VAT returns must still be submitted to HMRC by the usual deadlines.
You can read about the temporary changes and keep up to date here:
Statutory annual leave in the UK will mostly have to be used during the current leave year. Furloughed employees can still request and take their leave in the usual way, including taking bank holidays.
During the coronavirus situation however, it may not be possible for employees to take their holiday during the current year. The Government has therefore introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to four weeks’ paid leave over a two-year period. This applies to any leave that the employee does not take due to coronavirus, for example if they are self-isolating or too ill; if they have been temporarily laid off or furloughed or because they have had to continue working.
If an employee no longer wishes to take the time off that they had booked, perhaps because their trip was cancelled, then it is the employer’s decision as to whether the time must still be taken. Employees will need to seek their employer’s permission should they wish to change their holiday dates.
More information on annual leave courtesy of acas can be found here:
In addition, employers may find the acas coronavirus webinars helpful, details of which can be found here:
Whatever you are concerned about as a business, please be assured that the Office Assistants team is here to help and support you. If you are an existing client and haven’t yet heard from us with relevant guidance, that will happen soon. In the meantime, you are welcome to contact us for tailored advice.