The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
The Bank of England has temporarily reduced the Bank Rate to 0.1 per cent. It has taken further measures to help ensure that this rate reduction will translate through to the real economy and that capital will be available for new lending. As the virus progresses, and it’s impact understood, further updates will be provided.
Keeping the workplace safe
This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
Work from home, if you can
All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or
This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and
equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk
assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish
what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.
Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain two metre distances
between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk throughs,
opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating
workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in
contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each
Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
Support for Business
The package includes measures to support businesses including:
- a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying 80% their employees’ salary (up to £2,500 per month) for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- the Coronavirus Future Fund issuing convertible loans to innovative companies, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.
- Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Detailed information is provided in this guide, which will be updated as new measures are introduced.
If you are a business looking for support, use this business support finder to see what is available for you and your business. Click here to access the business support finder.
Support for the Self-employed
What is it?
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will 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% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:
- Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
- Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
- File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
- Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021;
- Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions: Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19; Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
How do I access it?
Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.
HMRC are publishing guidance on the scheme, available here. This guidance will continue to be updated.
When can I access it?
HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020. This time is necessary to ensure that the scheme is both deliverable and fair. In the interim the self-employed will still able eligible for other government support including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans.
I’m worried about paying my tax – is there any help?
Yes, there are 2,000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm – 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:
- agreeing an instalment arrangment
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest