COVID-19: Government business support mechanisms
This includes details of the various support packages that have been launched recently for businesses and their employees.
Government support mechanisms
The Government has created a website which provides details of the various support packages which is available here: Business Support Website.
Please note that the measures have largely been introduced to support established businesses and there is currently no dedicated support package for start-ups. There have been calls for the Government to step in as traditional sources of funding dry up, as is the case in some other European countries. We will monitor developments on this.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme information - The scheme will help SMEs access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The scheme will be operated through accredited lenders and will be backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank. British Business eligibility information is available here. There has been some criticism in the way banks are demanding personal guarantees be put in place as part of the loan agreement.
- Corporate Financing Facility information - The Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This is intended to support companies which are fundamentally strong but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze. The scheme is accessible via your bank.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme information - Any UK employer with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary (80% of wages) for those that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis. The scheme will be accessible via an online portal which will be launched soon.
- Small Business Grant Funding information - Additional funding is available for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. A one-off grant of £10,000 is available for eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible.
- Support for Businesses Paying Tax information – Businesses and the self-employed who are in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs via HMRC’s ‘Time To Pay’ service. The service is accessible via the HMRC website.
- VAT deferral information – VAT payments will be deferred for all businesses for 3 months between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.
- Statutory Sick Pay Rebate information – This enables SMEs to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus, covering up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work due to coronavirus. The rebate scheme is being developed and details on how to access will be made available soon.
Returning to work
The Government, in consultation with industry, has issued new guidance to help businesses in the UK get back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.
The guidance clarifies the types of businesses that can operate and how they can run the business safely during coronavirus pandemic.
It is broken down according to type of workplace rather than sector, as many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. And with eight sets of guidelines in total, it is important that businesses understand that they may need to look at several publications according to their circumstances.
It sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points:
- Work from home if you can
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with workers or trade unions
- Maintain 2 meters social distancing wherever possible
- Where people cannot be 2 meters apart, manage transmission risk
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
The guidance has been developed following a national consultation with input from 250 businesses, unions, industry bodies, the devolved administrations, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. It develops best practice on the safest ways of working across the economy, providing people with the confidence they need to return to work.
For more information on how to make the workplace Covid19 secure, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19