COVID-19 Update for BGC Members
Please click here to find out how to access the various support initiatives from the Government – this information is regularly updated
The key measures are:
- a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery 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
- 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
Bank of England letter issued Wednesday 25th March
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, and Andrew Woolard, the CEO of the FCA, have written to the CEOs of the UK Banks on the subject of COVID-19 and bank lending.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
EligibilityAll UK businesses are eligible.
How to access the schemeYou 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.
Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
Government 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.
VATFor VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
EligibilityAll UK businesses are eligible.
How to access the schemeThis is 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.
Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
- eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible
EligibilityYou are eligible for the scheme if:
- your business is UK based
- your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020
How to access the schemeA rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.
Support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates
Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businessesOn 23 March the Government issued Guidance: Further businesses and premises to close available here. In England, as announced on Monday 16 March, the government will provide a business rates holiday for businesses and premises in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. This includes the businesses and premises in scope for closure listed in the document. This will apply automatically to your next business rates bill in April 2020.
How to access the schemeThere 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.
You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.
Further guidance for local authorities is available in the expanded retail discount guidance.
Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businessesThe Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. We do not believe betting shops or casinos are eligible.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.
There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.
EligibilityYou are eligible for the scheme if:
- your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
- your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria
How to access the schemeThe scheme is now open for applications. All major banks are offering this scheme.
To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.
The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.
If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.
Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.
This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.
It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
EligibilityAll non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.
How to access the schemeThe scheme is now available for applications.
More information is available from the Bank of England.
Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
EligibilityYou are eligible if your business:
- pays tax to the UK government
- has outstanding tax liabilities
How to access the schemeIf you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
If you’re worried about a future payment, please call us nearer the time.
Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Because some elements of business support are devolved, the measures you can access may differ if your business is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Businesses in ScotlandView the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Scotland.
Businesses in WalesView the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Wales.
COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businessesGuidance for employees, employers and businesses in providing advice about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is here
To view the most up to date health information on COVID-19 please click here
Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading
This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
You can only leave your home:
- to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
- to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary
If you do go out, you must stay at least 2 meters away from other people.