Coronavirus: A complete guide to the government financial support

14th May 2020
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As businesses around the country are facing increasing levels of uncertainty due to coronavirus, the UK government has unveiled a series of financial support measures to help them.

But what does this mean for your practice and your clients?

In this article, Sage has compiled comprehensive details on what financial support is available for your practice and clients and how you can access it, including the following:

We’re also speaking to decision makers at small and medium-sized businesses to gather their views on coronavirus, how it’s affecting their companies, and the support being provided by the government.

You’ll find the survey results in our infographic, which will be updated weekly:

Coronavirus: The view from businesses

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme​

What is it?

A number of employers around the country had to lay off staff due to reduced revenues and the closure of their business premises due to coronavirus.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been set up to support those employers and help them continue to pay wages of staff who would otherwise have been let go.

Who can claim?

All UK businesses, including charities, are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. There is not a cap on the number of workers who can be selected for the scheme.

What does the scheme cover?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wages, up to £2,500 per employee per month. Businesses can top up salaries if they wish.

Workers need to be currently in the business – and not have been laid off or made redundant – to access the scheme.

If required, they can take on other jobs with other businesses; doing so will not impact on this cover – but they can’t do any work for the employer who claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The scheme is available until October 2020.

It means any of your employees who are not actively working for you due to the current disruption to the economy still receive a salary and your business can retain their services in the long term.

Find out how to apply for the scheme on the Sage blog

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

What is it?

Self-employed people or members of a partnership in the UK can claim a grant for the lower of £2,500 or up to 80% of their average taxable profits per month across the last three financial years (or two/one years if you’ve been in business for less than three years).

This is similar but not identical to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The grant lasts for three months, as of the announcement in March 2020.

Who can claim?

Self-employed people or members of a partnership in the UK are eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

More than half your taxable income must come from self-employment (including partnership income), you need to have traded (through your own business or as part of a partnership) in the 2019/20 tax year and intend to continue to trade in the 2020/21 tax year.

You also need to either still be trading or had intended to still be trading but changed your plans due to coronavirus.

Finally, your trading profit (either in 2018/19 or the average of the tax years you worked during tax years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19) must be less than £50,000.

HMRC needs to have your 2018/19 tax return to start the grant process – this needed to have been submitted before 23 April 2020 to get this grant.

You also should only claim it if you’ve genuinely lost out due to coronavirus disruption.

You can use HMRC’s online tool to check whether you are eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. You will need your National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference, while your Government Gateway details must be up to date.

If you are eligible, HMRC will tell you the date that you can make a claim.

Read the full guide to learn more on what the scheme covers, and how you can apply for it.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

What is it?

A loan scheme offering support to eligible businesses that have been negatively affected by coronavirus. The scheme is being delivered by a number of accredited lenders.

Who can claim?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in the UK are eligible for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. Another eligibility clause is that your business was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.

Notably, if your business is already claiming funds via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, you won’t be eligible for this loan scheme.

However, if you have received a loan up to £50,000 via that scheme and want to transfer it to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, you have until 4 November 2020 to arrange this.

In addition, the following businesses are not eligible for this scheme:

  • State-funded primary and secondary schools
  • Grant-funded further education institutions
  • Public sector bodies
  • Banks, insurers and reinsurers (not including insurance brokers)

For more info on this scheme visit the Sage blog

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

What is it?

A loan scheme that has been set up to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are struggling with cash flow because of revenues that have been deferred or lost due to the coronavirus outbreak. The loans are being offered on generous terms to support SMEs.

Who can claim?

Any UK-based business that has a turnover less than £45m is eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Businesses are eligible if they have been disrupted by coronavirus and need to self-certify that this is the case.

You can get more insight on the scheme covers, in the full guide

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

What is it?

loan scheme that has been set up to help large businesses that are struggling with cash flow due to revenues being deferred or lost due to coronavirus.

Who can claim?

To be eligible, businesses need to have an annual turnover that is more than £45m (the initial £500m limit has been removed), and business activity has to be based in the UK.

The scheme is open to businesses that have been affected by coronavirus and can’t secure regular commercial funding.

Companies from all sectors can apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, however the following are not eligible:

  • Banks and building societies
  • Insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • Public sector organisations (this includes primary and secondary schools)
  • Employer, professional, religious and political membership organisations
  • Trade unions

We’ve included more details on the scheme in the full article

Statutory Sick Pay Reimbursement

What is it?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid by employers to employees who are off work because of sickness. The government has said it will reimburse employees who must make payments in light of coronavirus.

Who can claim?

Businesses based in the UK that employ fewer than 250 UK employees as of 28 February 2020 are eligible to have Statutory Sick Pay reimbursed.

For more info on what the scheme covers, and how you can apply for it, visit the Sage blog

VAT deferral​

What is it?

The chancellor has announced that businesses are able to defer VAT payments for a three-month period in 2020.

Who can claim?

All UK businesses are eligible for the deferred VAT payments. ​

Find out more in the full guide

Income Tax deferral for self-employed individuals

What is it?

The chancellor has announced that all individuals who pay Income Tax on the profits from their self-employment are able to defer any payments due by 31 July 2020 until the end of January 2021.

What will the scheme cover?

It covers Self Assessment Income Tax payments. They are usually due on 31 July. However, in this case, those payments are now deferred until 31 January 2021.

How you can apply for it

There is no need to apply for the Income Tax deferral as it is an automatic offer. You do not need to make an Income Tax payment by 31 July 2020 if you do not wish to – you now have an extended deadline of 31 January 2021. Income Tax refunds will be paid by the government as usual.

Grants and loans for SMEs focused on research and development

What is it?

A £750m funding pot for small and medium-sized business that are driving research and development (R&D), which was announced by the government and Innovate UK in April 2020.

Who can claim?

The targeted support is for the most R&D-intensive small and medium-sized businesses.

What will the scheme cover?

The funding will be available via Innovate UK’s grant and loan scheme.

Of the financial support, grants and loans will be made available for Innovate UK’s existing customers. Meanwhile, £175,000 of support will be offered to approximately 1,200 businesses that are not currently in receipt of funding from Innovate UK.

How to apply for it

The first payments will be made by the middle of May 2020. Payments will be made to Innovate UK customers that have opted in for the funding. Details for businesses that are not customers of Innovate UK will be revealed in due course.

Future Fund

What is it?

A £500m loan scheme aimed at high-growth businesses, which was launched by the government in April 2020. The Future Fund has been created to ensure eligible businesses can access the investment they require to keep functioning.

Who can claim?

High-growth businesses that are unlisted UK registered companies. In the past five years, they must have previously raised a minimum of £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors.

Read more in the full guide

HMRC Time to Pay

What is it?

Time to Pay is an existing HMRC scheme that allows businesses in financial distress to receive more time to settle financial obligations to HMRC. However, they must show that they have a reasonable ability to make their payments in the future​.

Who can claim?

All UK businesses are eligible for HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme.

Further details can be found in the full guide

£10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme

What is it?

A scheme offering a one-off £10,000 grant to eligible small businesses. Note that the requirements to receive the grant will depend on where your business is in the UK.

Who can claim?

The Small Business Grant Scheme covers 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses. Your business must occupy a property in order to receive the grant. There are regional requirements to be aware of:

England: Your business is eligible if you already receive small business rate relief and/or rural rate relief.

Scotland: Your business is eligible if you’re in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief.

Wales: If your business has a rateable value that’s less than £12,000, you are eligible.

Northern Ireland: If your business have a net annual value that’s up to £15,000, you’re eligible for the scheme.

See more details on the Sage blog

£25,000 Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

What is it?

A scheme offering a one-off £25,000 grant to eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Note that the requirements to receive the grant will depend on where your business is in the UK.

Who can claim?

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme covers businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector. There are regional requirements to be aware of:

England: Your business needs to have a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000​ to be eligible.

Scotland: To be eligible, your business needs to have a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.

Wales: Your business needs to have a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000 to be eligible.

Northern Ireland: To be eligible, your business needs to have a rateable value up to £51,000.

Learn more on the scheme in the Sage blog

Business rates holiday

What is it?

Businesses in several eligible sectors (highlighted below) do not have to pay business rates for 12 months, covering the 2020/21 tax period. This will support them as they work to maintain property payments and cover ongoing costs.

Who can claim?

The business rates holiday is applicable to companies in the retail, hospitality, leisure or early years sectors. It has been extended to estate agents, letting agencies and bingo halls that have also been impacted by coronavirus and required to close.

The requirements may differ depending on your location (such as for Northern Ireland where the business rates holiday is for three months – April, May and June 2020). Here is more information for ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Get more details on the scheme in the full guide

Charity sector funding support

What is it?

Funding support for charities that are supporting vulnerable people, providing key services or working in the heart of local communities.

Who can claim?

Frontline charities that need support during the coronavirus outbreak are eligible for charity financial support.

Learn more on what the scheme covers, and how you can apply for it, in our full guide

Ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

What is it?

A legal ban on landlords evicting commercial tenants solely due to missing a rent payment due to coronavirus.

Who can claim?

All businesses renting property who are unable to pay their rent due to coronavirus.

What will the scheme cover?

Rent will be due as normal, however this moratorium on evictions prevents landlords from enforcing the eviction of a commercial tenant for the next three months.

How you can apply for it

No action should be required as the courts will not process any claims for commercial evictions during this time​.

Conclusion on financial support

With a series of comprehensive financial support measures on the table , it’s worth looking at which ones your business is eligible for and taking steps (where required) to get the help you need so you can stay on top of cash flow and revenues, while also continuing to support your staff.