Here is a summary of the reliefs announced by the Government so far. We will continue to update this page, our Social Media feeds and also circulate email newsletter briefings as information is released to us.
We’ve arranged the various reliefs below by income status (i.e. self-employed, business owner, employee, individual) but please do read through them all – as more than one relief may apply to your individual circumstances. For example; if you’re self-employed you may be eligible for business rates relief, increased tax credits, a mortgage holiday and a Time To Pay arrangement with HMRC to spread your due tax liabilities.
Another important note (and then we’ll let you dive into the detail below), is that if you’re experiencing a lull in your business activity or you’re isolated at home now, we would strongly encourage you to focus on getting your business and personal income records and finances up to date. Many of the reliefs available will rely on the most up to date figures you can provide, so it will be worth using any down-time wisely (as well as giving you something productive to focus on during these troubled times). We will be delighted to assist you in getting up to date, perhaps sooner than you ‘normally’ do in the tax year.
Self-employed, business owners, employees.
Mortgages – Lenders to provide mortgage payment holidays of at least 3 months for those facing finance issues as a result of coronavirus. Contact your mortgage provider directly to discuss.
Renters – We expect there to be similar assistance for renters. For now, Government have announced they will bring forward emergency legislation preventing renters who fall behind on their rent from being evicted. We expect further guidance on this to be announced this week – so watch this space.
Spread your tax liabilities – all businesses and people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can contact HMRC to discuss a Time To Pay arrangement – this is where settlement of your liabilities are spread over a reasonable period after the normal payment deadline. This will be particularly useful, at this time, for those businesses with Corporation Tax liabilities due or individuals under Self Assessment with an interim payment due on 31 July 2020. Do speak to us first, as we may need to prepare your latest set of accounts in order to quantify your liabilities but then we can advice you contacting HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 to discuss a Time To Pay arrangement.
Not eligible for SSP? You might not be eligible for SSP because you’re self-employed or your employment income is below the relevant limit. If so, you can apply for the ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit. This will be for people directly affected by COVID-19, or self-isolating to government guidelines, from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth day. Citizens Advice has a dedicated helpline for those claiming Universal Credit for the first time 0800 144 8444.
Already in receipt of Universal Credit? For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the minimum income floor will be temporarily relaxed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating. This effectively means self-employed claimants will be compensated for losses in income. If you’re not directly affected by COVID-19, the minimum income floor still applies, but if your income decreases or you’re loss making as self-employed, its worth contacting DWP on 0800 328 5644 or use your online account, to take a fresh look at your expected income. Remember if you make a self-employed loss say this month, DWP will take that as £NIL and also carry forward that loss against your next month’s positive income.
Businesses occupying property
Pubs and restaurants – you can temporarily switch to provide takeaways or deliveries without applying for change of use under planning regulations – this will help the business itself and also provide a useful food service for those at home self-isolating.
English retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – you will enjoy a 12 month holiday from business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
English retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises – a £25,000 grant will be provided, if your business property has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any other business paying little or no business rates but with business premises – could receive a small business grant of £10,000 to help with their ongoing business costs.
Guidance and Government funding on the business rates holiday and grants will be issued to and by each local authority in late March. You should be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
Loans – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance, with the first 6 months interest free (or rather the interest is covered by the Government!). Contact your bank to enquire.
Got business insurance cover? If your business has insurance cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure, this crisis should be covered. The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim. Unfortunately, most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Extra support for employers
Paying SSP to employees – employers can now reclaim up to 2 weeks worth of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to employees, with a COVID-19 sickness absence. Additionally, the SSP eligible period will now start on the first day of absence – NOT the fourth day. Employees do not need to give you a GP fit note but you should, as always, maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP. We can help trigger the SSP and reclaim if we already run your payroll, or provide guidance if you run your own. The Government is working to set up a prompt repayment mechanism for this SSP reclaim. Additionally, employers should be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19.
Remember Dean and Gina would be delighted to talk through your individual circumstances and how these reliefs might apply to you. We’re all working remotely at the moment, but are available on our usual contact numbers and emails during normal office hours.