The Coronavirus outbreak has already had a huge impact on businesses in the UK, with companies from a wide range of industries losing clients, closing down operations and even having to lay off staff. However, the government has recently announced a series of measures that they will put in place to help UK businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In this article we discuss the various ways in which these measures can help small businesses during this difficult time. We explain the type of support that will be available to your business and how these temporary measures will affect your company’s finances.
What small business support is available during COVID-19?
The Chancellor has put a variety of measures in place in order to help support small and medium sized businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak. These measures briefly comprise of the following:
- Statutory Sick Pay relief for SMEs.
- Business rates holiday for certain industries.
- Grant funding for firms who currently receive rural rate relief or small business rate relief.
- Grant funding for companies in retail, hospitality or leisure who have a property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
- A new loan scheme designed to support larger businesses.
- A more flexible lending facility.
Can I reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to coronavirus?
The new legislation will allow owners of small- and medium-sized businesses to reclaim any statutory sick pay that was paid to employees who were absent from work due to COVID-19. Assessment for SSP reclaims will be based on the following criteria:
- You’re an employer with less than 250 employees (from 28th February 2020).
- All records of employee absence and SSP payments should be recorded.
- Staff will not be required to obtain notes from their GP.
- The refund will cover SSP payments for a period of up to 2 weeks for any eligible member of staff who has been absent due to the Coronavirus.
It’s important to note that eligibility for the reimbursement of these payments will begin the day after new regulation on the extension of SSP to people staying at home come into effect.
Is my business eligible for financial support during Coronavirus?
The type of financial support you’re eligible for will depend on a range of factors, such as the industry you’re in, whether or not you currently pay business rates and the value of your premises.
Your business pays business rates
If you pay business rates, you will be eligible for the following, as long as you meet the criteria provided:
- If your company operates in the hospitality, leisure or retail industry and your premises has a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000, your business will be eligible for a £25,000 grant.
- Business rates retail holiday (if your company operates in retail, leisure or hospitality in England). This will apply to the 2020-2021 tax year.
- If your company received the retail discount in the 2019- 2020 tax year, you will be rebilled by your local authorities.
If you have any questions about the reliefs mentioned above you should contact your local authority who should be able to advise you further.
Your business doesn’t pay business rates (or pays very little)
- If your business is currently eligible for SBRR (small business rate relief) or rural rate relief you will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000.
This funding will commence from the beginning of April. You don’t need to apply, your local authority will contact you.
What is the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is a government-backed scheme delivered by the British Business Bank that will provide SMEs with loans or credit (of up to £5 million in value) on attractive terms.
The scheme is set to launch the week commencing 23rd March 2020 and will give lenders an free 80% guarantee on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims). It was put in place in order to entice lenders to continue to provide funding to small- and medium-sized businesses during this uncertain time. From next week, businesses will be able to access the first 6 months of finance with no interest whatsoever (as that will be covered by the government).
We hope this article has been useful in providing an overview of the financial options available to your small business during the Coronavirus pandemic and wish you the very best of luck.