Support for businesses

We have created this web page to act as an information point for all our clients – as measures are being regularly announced and details slowly start to become available, we hope this will help you to more easily keep up with developments and make sure you can access the support you need.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

*Latest Update*: This scheme has now been extended to 30 September 2021. Until 30 June 2021, employers will be able to claim the full 80% paid to their furloughed workers (but will not be able to claim National Insurance or pension contributions).

From 1 July 2021 the level of the grant will be reduced to 70% capped at £2,187.50, and for August and September 2021 the grant will be reduced to 60% capped at £1,875. Your employees must still receive 80% capped at £2,500.

For periods up to 30 April 2021, employees will be eligible for furlough if they were on the payroll and included in an RTI submission by 30 October 2020. After this date, employees will be eligible if they were on the payroll and included in an RTI submission by 2 March 2021. Flexible furlough will continue to apply for the extension.

It is no longer possible to claim for employees who are serving a contractual or statutory notice period.

The names of employers claiming are now being published by HMRC with an indication of the value of each claim in a banded range.

If you have any queries on the furlough scheme, please contact us.

Job Retention Bonus

The bonus scheme has now been withdrawn due to the extension of the furlough scheme. It is no longer clear whether a replacement scheme will be announced.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

*Latest update*: HMRC has now released details of the fourth grant (covering 1 February to 30 April 2021) which will become available later in April 2021. The grant is at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.

To qualify for the grant, the taxpayer must:

  • Either be currently trading but impacted by reduced demand, or temporarily unable to trade, due to coronavirus
  • Have submitted tax returns before 3 March 2021 for all relevant years
  • Have traded in both 2019/20 and 2020/21
  • Intend to carry on a trade in 2021/22
  • Have trading profits of £50,000 or less which are at least equal to non-trading income

The test in the final point will be applied first to 2019/20 and if it is not met, on an averaging basis over up to four previous years.

Taxpayers will be required to declare that they reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in their trading profits during the period covered by the fourth grant, and must keep evidence to show how their business has been impacted. HMRC recommend waiting until you have a reasonable belief before making your claim.

HMRC will contact eligible taxpayers in mid April with a personal claim date which is the earliest date that a claim can be made. Claims must be made on or before 1  June 2021.

Remember that the grant is subject to tax and NIC.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

*Latest update*: the Government guarantee period will be extended for up to 10 years to make it easier for lenders to extend repayment periods. The deadline for applying for all coronavirus related loans has been extended to 31 January 2021 and a successor loan scheme will be announced in the New Year.

Available from Monday 23 March, this scheme will be of fundamental importance for businesses. Many of the other measures announced will take time to set up and for repayments to be made – so this is an essential form of finance to keep business going in the meantime.

To qualify, businesses must have a turnover of less than £45m.

The scheme provides government-backed loans to enable such businesses to borrow more easily and at competitive interest rates.

Each business can borrow up to £5m on repayment terms of up to 6 years, and the loans are interest- and fee-free for the first 12 months.

Businesses should contact lenders directly, and a list of accredited lenders will be maintained on the British Business Bank website. A borrowing proposal will be required showing that the business would be considered viable were it not for the current pandemic.

Following reports of businesses struggling to obtain finance under the scheme, the Chancellor has taken the following action to maximise the support available:

  • Confirmed that all businesses affected by Covid-19 can access the scheme, not just those who are unable to secure regular commercial financing;
  • Stopped lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 – guarantees for loans above this amount will be limited; and
  • Made operational changes to speed up the approval process.

Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme

*Latest update*: repayment periods are now extendable from 6 to 10 years under the “Pay as you Grow” scheme. Business can choose to make repayments interest-only, and in cases of difficulty may be able to suspend repayment for up to six months without affecting credit scores. The application deadline has been extended to 31 January 2021.

Available from Monday 4 May, this scheme promises a faster access to loans of between £2-50k for small businesses.

There will be a simple online application process and the loans will be interest-free and repayment-free for the first 12 months.

A list of accredited lenders will be available from the British Business Bank in the same way as for CBILS.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Business with fewer than 250 employees (as at 28 February 2020) will be able to reclaim SSP from the government in relation to absences due to Covid-19 (illness or self-isolation) for up to 2 weeks per employee.

This will not be administered through the payroll, but a separate repayment mechanism will be set up.

Business rates and grants

All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will pay no business rates for 2020-21.

Nursery businesses in England will also have a rates holiday for 2020-21.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000.

All businesses which qualify for small business rates relief will be eligible for grants of £10,000 and should be contacted directly by their local authority (no need to apply for this).

We understand that the above measures will be automatically delivered by Local Authorities, with no need for businesses to formally claim them; however if you think you are eligible and have not heard anything do get in touch with them.

If you are not eligible for these grants, there are Discretionary Grants available from your local Council if you have been adversely affected by COVID19 and require additional support. A Kent and Medway COVID19 team has been set up and can be contacted directly on 03333 602300 to advise on the Discretionary Grants available in your area.

VAT, income tax and other tax payments

Update: VAT payments deferred to 31 March 2021 can now be spread over the financial year 2021/22 interest-free. To take advantage, businesses need to opt-in in the New Year. Self-assessment payments of tax due on 31 January 2021 will be eligible for a 12-month payment plan where the amount due is less than £30,000.

Any VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 need not be made, and businesses will have until 31 March 2021 to repay the accumulated liabilities. No interest or penalties will be levied. This applies automatically to all UK businesses. If you pay your VAT by Direct Debit you will need to cancel this or the money will be automatically taken! Don’t forget to reinstate the instruction after the deferral period.

There is a temporary reduced-rating of VAT in place for the hospitality and tourism sectors until 30 September 2021, followed by a rate of 12.5% until 31 March 2022.

Income tax payments on account due on 31 July 2020 are deferred until 31 January 2021 for all taxpayers. If you pay your tax by Direct Debit, you will need to cancel the instruction and then remember to reinstate it later.

We recommend that tax returns for 2019/20 are prepared as soon as possible after the tax year end so that future payments can be planned for, and any refunds due crystallised as soon as possible.

Finally, HMRC have a coronavirus helpline through which businesses can arrange extra time to pay any tax liabilities if they are in temporary financial distress as a result of the virus. Contact them before the liability becomes due on 0800 024 1222.

Filing deadlines

VAT filing deadlines are currently unchanged.

Companies House have automatically applied three-month extensions for accounts filing deadlines falling between 27 June 2020 to 5 April 2021 inclusive.