IMPORTANT NOTE re blogs on COVID-19
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE MAY NO LONGER BE CURRENT. During the coronavirus pandemic, important news and announcements are being made daily. Official advice can change from one day to the next. We are doing our best to keep our COVID-19 information up to date on these two pages - but we recommend you check any information with official government, NHS or other responsible sources before acting on it.
Just before the Budget, we published our thoughts on what impact we should expect from the current pandemic. Coronavirus business help has moved on significantly since then and the government has announced a whole raft of measures to help SMEs and the self-employed. Indeed, there have been so many changes that it is hard to keep up to date.
To help you understand what help and support is available for your business, we’ve created this round-up of important information. We’ll be letting you know of further changes during the coming weeks and months, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t already (you can sign up on our blog home page).
1. IR35 changes are being delayed
You may have seen our recent post on the IR35 changes that were due to be introduced in April this year. If so, you’ll be glad to know that the government has just announced an IR35 delay in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision is part of the government’s package of measures to support businesses and individuals over the coming months. The main thing that you need to know is that the IR35 reforms will now be introduced on 6 April 2021.
2. Help for retail, hospitality and leisure industry businesses
If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure industry, then you qualify for a 12-month business rates exemption.
Also, if your business’s rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000, you can get a £25,000 grant.
Enquiries about business rates need to be directed to your local authority. Guidance for councils on the business rates holiday is being published on 20 March.
3. Coronavirus business help for SMEs that pay little or no business rates
If your business is eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief, your local authority will provide you with a one-off grant of £10,000. You don’t need to apply – your local council will contact you.
4. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This scheme will be available during the week beginning 23 March. Delivered by the British Business Bank via participating providers, it offers loans of up to £5m that are 80% backed by government. Government will also cover the initial 6 months of interest payments.
To qualify, your business must:
- Have a turnover of £41m or less
- Operate within an eligible industrial sector (see restrictions, below)
- Have a strong borrowing proposal, but insufficient security.
Full sector restrictions are published here (PDF file). Finance terms range from three months to ten years, depending on the type of loan.
5. Insurance claims
If you have insurance cover for pandemics and / or government-ordered closure, you are now able to make a claim. Unfortunately, very few businesses will have this kind of insurance – but do check your policy carefully.
6. Sick pay refunds
If you are paying employees who are ill with COVID-19, government will refund up to two weeks’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Details of repayment mechanisms will be published in due course.
7. Tax support
If you have problems paying current or outstanding tax bills, contact HMRC’s Time to Pay service. There is a dedicated helpline available at 0800 0159 559.
8. We’re here to help you
While the above measures are positive, we know that many businesses are facing a tough time. We are here to help, so if you have any worries or concerns, please contact us.
We’ll also be publishing a post on what COVID-19 means for your personal finances. Check our blog regularly for information, or subscribe to our newsletter.
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.