Here we are listing all the updated information with Covid-19 and your business. Read the points below that apply to you but please note that Local Authorities and Banks are also waiting for Government advice, for example on Cash Grants.
We have listed in simple terms the following.
- Laying off your employees.
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail.
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief and grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rate able 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
- 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.
Furloughed workers (Grant lease of absence, lay off and allows workers to return to their jobs)
One of the most heart wrenching items you will need to do in all this, is the conversation with your staff, explaining their rights and what you may have to do too. The possible decision between telling them that a percentage of their wage is all you can pay or laying them off.
If your business cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, you may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies. (see below paragraph)
If you intend to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you will need to discuss with your employees becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that your staff are kept on your employer / business payroll, rather than being laid off. To qualify for this scheme, your employees should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow you to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
Your employees will remain employed while furloughed. You could choose to fund the differences between this payment and their salary, but you do not have to.
If the salary of your employee is reduced as a result of these changes, they may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit. The Government intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.
Please note that the employee can not claim this payment, it will come through the business.
This will also apply to Directors of a limited business.
How do I access the scheme? You will need to:
- designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
- submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments
HMRC will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible. How do I access the scheme? – This an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. If you are self-employed you are eligible.
How do I access the scheme ?- once again this is an automatic offer with no applications required.
Important to note – that no penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period. HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.
Read more about Time to pay on our previous posts. https://www.britishfloristassociation.org/uncategorised/florists-time-to-pay-and-ssp/(opens in a new tab)
Business rates holiday for retail.
The Government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:
- your business is based in England
- your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
How do I access the scheme? – there is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
You are eligible if:
- your business is based in England
- you are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR
- you are a business that occupies property
Cash grants for retail.
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in retail a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses in these sectors with a rate-able value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rate-able value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.
You are eligible for the grant if:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- for assembly and leisure
- as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
How do I access the scheme ? – You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Please contact your insurance company if you have any concerns. For BFA members you can ring Bridge Insurance – Floriguard on 0161 – 236- 6969. Tho office is open and Annette and Dean are happy to help any BFA members with their concerns. Of course more information will be available should Government recommendations change.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch this week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
You are eligible for the scheme if:
- your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year (i think most of us eligible for that!)
- your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.
How do I access the scheme? – The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.
You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow. The scheme will be available from this week beginning 23rd March.
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