Business support

Key updates for business

Business sector

Also contains information for workplaces.
View the Independent Practitioner section
for related materials affecting freelancers and sole-traders or micro-firms.

Also view Local Government section for announcements on retail trading restrictions.

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) – first published 3 April 2020. Produced from Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, and HM Revenue & Customs. It is broken up into sections:

  1. Paying your employees
  2. Paying sick pay
  3. Paying tax
  4. Business rates relief
  5. Business support grant funds
  6. Support for the self-employed
  7. Support for small and medium-sized businesses
  8. Support for large businesses

Benefits and tax

Universal Credit, SSP and claiming benefits during a Coronavirus period

Universal Credit
Check if you are eligible for Universal Credit under the new arrangements, Gov.uk

Statutory Sick Pay and isolation documentation

Online isolation certification system – reduces pressure on GP surgeries (20 March 2020). Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

Statutory Sick Pay – guide for employers with updated information during the coronavirus outbreak, Gov.uk

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme relating to coronavirus
UK Government guidance on claiming back statutory sick pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID19), Gov.uk, 3 April 2020
The scheme will repay employers only the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

The guidance states: “repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus or cannot work because they are self-isolating at home.”

Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Information Added about employees who have transferred under the TUPE regulations, 25 May 2020.

Working Tax Credits
Increase to working tax credits (Gov.uk, 23 March 2020) – “Working Tax Credits payments will be increased by £1,045 to £3,040 per year from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021. The amount a claimant or household will benefit from will depend on their circumstances, including their level of household income.”

Taxation

HMRC – coronavirus tax helpline 

UK Government advice on what to do if you can not pay your tax bill online during the coronavirus outbreak – includes a HMRC coronavirus helpline

Companies House – Coronavirus: if your company is unable to file accounts with Companies House on time due to the restrictions associated with tackling coronavirus 

Taxable expenses for employees home working during the coronavirus restrictions, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) 26/3/2020. This gives information on which expenses should be declared for tax if your employee works from home due to the pandemic.

Business Support Schemes

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) – first published 3 April 2020. Updated 7 April 2020.

Working groups

Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, launches working groups to ‘help unleash Britain’s growth potential’, 8 June 2020. The five new business-focused taskforces, will be led by ministers, and form part of the UK Government’s plans to help the economy.

The groups are:

  • the future of industry
  • green recovery
  • backing new businesses
  • increasing opportunity
  • the UK open for business
Business Support grant funding
  • Documentation for Business Support grant funding – this guidance sets out the eligibility criteria, and the operation and delivery of the two funding schemes: the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).
    • First published 1/4/2020.
    • Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • Business Support grant funding – this guidance sets out the details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). Gov.uk from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 1 April 2020
  • Guidance on business suppport grant funding
    • Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
    • Updated 1 May 2020 with information on tax.
    • Guidance on business suppport grant funding – update, 30 March 2020, version 3. This guidance is for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). This is version 3 and has updates on State Aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, new annexes on state aid, Spotlight, and post payment checks, clarification on the eligibility of charities.

Business Support Service

Loans

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

These loans were announced on 4 May 2020 by HM Treasury. According to the statement on Gov.uk, “Britain’s small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000… with the cash expected to land within days.”

Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Loans will be 100 per cent UK Government backed for lenders. The UK Government has ” agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans.”

The scheme is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. You can not apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), but can request a lender to transfer a loan to the Bounce Back Loans scheme until 4 November 2020 (information correct at 4/5/20).

Apply for a Bounce Back Loans – more details and online application form on the British Business Bank website

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was announced in the UK Budget in March 2020. It is being delivered by the British Business Bank. The scheme will support businesses in accessing bank lending and overdrafts. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme opened on 23 March 2020. (Gov.uk, 23 March 2020).

Loan scheme expanded to include large businesses, 22 April 2020. The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme is in addition to the COVID Corporate Financing Facility. The guidance released by HM Treasury states:

  • All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for UK Government-backed support
  • Firms with turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million from lenders.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • Claim wages through the CJRS – Gov.uk, first published 20 April 2020. Last checked – was updated 12 June 2020 (more below on changes from 1 July 2020)
  • Advice from HMRC on steps to take before you calculate your CJRS claim, Gov.uk first published 12 June 2020. It advises employers to
    – decide the length of your claim period
    – find out what to include when calculating wages
    – work out your employees’ usual and furloughed hours before you calculate how much you can claim.
  • Calculating how much an employer can claim on CJRS scheme, first published 12 June 2020
  • Examples of case studies to calculate CJRS, first published 14 May 2020. Last update identified 12 June 2020
  • The UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live on 20 April 2020. Businesses can claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.
    • Employers can apply online ‘to claim cash grants worth up to 80 per cent of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker.’(HM Treasury)
    • Applications can now be made for the Government’s furlough scheme
    • As at 20/4/20, 5,000 HMRC staff will operate the scheme – which is expected to help thousands of firms across the UK
    • Employers can apply for direct cash grants through HMRC’s new online portal – with the money expected to land in their bank accounts within six working days
  • Step by step guide for employers on Job Retention Scheme, HMRC, 17 April 2020. A new YouTube video has been added about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including flexible furloughing (26 June 2020)
  • HMRC statistics on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, first published 12 May 2020. Also includes statistics on the self-employment support scheme and the VAT-deferral scheme
  • For employees with temporary National Insurance number, guidance confirmed on 22 June 2020 that employers should ring the HMRC.

This scheme will change from 1 July 2020 (details below from Gov.uk):

  • first time you will be able to make claims for days in July will be 1 July, you cannot claim for periods in July before this point
  • 31 July 2020 will be the last day that you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 30 June
  • detailed guidance on the changes. Gov.uk, first published on 12 June 2020
Coronavirus self-employment income support scheme
Sustainable Innovation Fund
  • Sustainable Innovation Fund – first published on Gov.uk 27 June 2020. The Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) ‘keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive’, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

    The government investment is “to support innovations ranging from AI systems managing city traffic flows to the latest reusable packaging materials. Research and development (R&D) intensive businesses urged to apply for funding to turn ingenious ideas into new technologies.”

    It is also aimed at encouraging more environmentally-friendly actions. “In a move to support people across the country to establish more ‘climate-positive’ behaviours, businesses and start-ups could also make use of the fund to develop smart sustainability-focused projects – from apps encouraging people to cut down their food waste to sustainable biodegradable packaging.”
  • This funding, delivered through Innovate UK, is part of a wider £750 million package of grants and loans announced in April 2020 to support innovative firms. There is also the £500 million Future Fund, which provides match-funding to private investors, and was launched on 20 May 2020.

Application: Businesses can apply for support through the Sustainable Innovation Fund by visiting the Innovate UK website from Monday 29 June 2020.

Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

The Discretionary Grant Fund supports small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.

Apply for the Coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, 29 May 2020. Last updated 8 June 2020.

CCFF

COVID Corporate Financial Facility (CCFF), Bank of England (23 March 2020) – for companies, and banks acting on behalf of companies wanting to participate in HM Treasury and Bank of England’s CCFF.

Business and premises closures and business rates

Other coronavirus-related guidance for businesses from UK Government

Information on business and premises to close as part of social distancing Gov.uk, 23 March 2020. This provides guidance on the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises as part of the UK Government’s further social distancing measures.

Ministers from the UK and Welsh Governments on business (27 April 2020)

Information letters from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government., Gov.uk, 9 April 2020. The letters will be issued at intervals and relate to the 2020 Budget business rates measures in response to COVID-19, extension of the discount, nursery discount 2020/21, and monitoring data request for local authorities.

Letter to those working in the retail sector from the Secretay of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma. 8 April 2020. Links to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales added 16 April 2020.

Letter to the manufacturing sector from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma. 8 April 2020.

Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP’s article for a national newspaper, 5 April 2020. On behalf of the UK Government, he thanked workers and businesses for their support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Letter to the UK construction sector, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 31 March 2020. Updated 16 April 2020 with information for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Updated guidance to employers and business. Includes guidance for local authorities on administering the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. This contains details of the expanded retail discount guidance. 24 March 2020

Statement on the additional support

Source: Gov.uk, Publication: 23 March 2020

Chancellor’s statement on additional measures to support business

Source: Gov.uk, HM Treasury 17 March 2020

International Chamber of Commerce and World Health Organization call for action by the private sector to help tackle COVID-19

Source: ICC and WHO, 16 March 2020

Business advice specific to devolved government and Channel Islands

Advice for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland

Advice for businesses in Scotland, Scot.gov

Support for businesses in Wales, Wales.gov

Advice for businesses in Jersey, gov.je

Business associations

Gov.uk list of coronavirus business support organisations and trade associations. First published 3 April, updated regularly.