Antoinette Sandbach - Eddisbury Liberal Democrats

COVID-19: Further support measures for businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus

Below are details of the latest support measures announced by the Government for businesses and individuals affected by COVID-19.

You can find information on the measures previously announced and links to the relevant guidance via the following links:

Information given is correct as at 9.00 a.m. on 27 March 2020. 

 

Businesses 

  • The COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses has been updated to include the further support measures which have been announced in the last few days.
  • The Government has also now issued detailed guidance regarding:
    • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including eligibility criteria, the position for those currently on or soon to start maternity or paternity leave, employee’s obligations as a furloughed worker and rights if they do not wish to become a furloughed worker.
    • the deferral of VAT, including confirmation that you will still need to submit your VAT Return on time even if you are seeking to defer the payment and that the deferred VAT must be paid by 31 March 2021.
    • which expenses are taxable if your employees are working from home due to COVID-19.

Companies House – Extension to file accounts

  • Business can now apply to Companies House for a 3-month extension to file their accounts.
  • Apply online here – the application should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
  • Applications citing COVID-19 issues will be automatically and immediately granted.

Further sources of information

  • Be the Business, which was launched by Government in 2017 to looks at how to improve the UK’s productivity crisis, has set up a dedicated COVID-19 business support page bringing together details of the support available, advice across key themes and links to further sources of information.
  • The Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales have a comprehensive COVID-19 section which includes useful tips and guidance.

 

Individuals  

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

  • The Government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 a taxable grant worth up to 80% of your average profits over the last three years, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • For those who have been trading for less then 3 years, the Government will consider the accounts that are available, i.e. one or two years.
  • To be eligible for the scheme, you should:
    • have a trading profit of less than £50,000 in the 2018/19 tax year or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 over the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years;
    • have earnt more than half of your income during the relevant tax year(s) from self-employment;
    • already be self-employed (i.e. registered with HMRC and have been issued with a self-assessment tax return for 2019). Anyone who missed the filing deadline on 31 January, will have 4 weeks from today in order to submit their tax return
  • You will not be eligible if:
    • your trading profit exceeds £50,000 or your income is derived from both employment and self-employment.
    • you have been trading for less than a year but will instead be able to apply for benefits;
    • pay yourself by dividends. However, if you are the Director of a company and pay yourself a salary through PAYE, you may be able to apply under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Those who are eligible, will be contacted by HMRC and will then need to complete an online form
  • The scheme will be open for 3 months, with an option to extend if needed.
  • The support will be paid straight into bank accounts as a single lump sum covering all 3 months. It is expected that payments will start in June 2020.  
  • You can find further information on the scheme and check your eligibility here.

Support for individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector

  • The Arts Council will be making £160m of emergency funding available to support individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector.
  • The funding will be available for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers, who can apply for grants up to £2,500, and organisations who are not National Portfolio Organisations, which can apply for grants up to £35,000, which have a track record in publicly funded culture.
  • Detailed guidance on the different funds, including eligibility criteria and timetable, will be published on 30 March 2020 and potential applicants will need to register with Grantium by 3 April 2020.
  • For the current information on the artists, creative practitioners and freelancers fund, please visit the Arts Council’s website here.
  • For the current information on the organisations fund, please see here.

 

Benefits

Working Tax Credits

  • Working Tax Credits payments will be increased by £1,045 to £3,040 per year from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021.
  • The amount a claimant or household will benefit from will depend on their circumstances, including their level of household income.
  • If you claim Working Tax Credits, you don’t have to take any action or contact HMRC - the increase in your payments will start automatically from 6 April 2020.

Hardship Fund - Council Tax Reductions

  • The Government has issued guidance to local authorities regarding use of their allocation from the £500m hardship fund announced in the Budget to deliver relief to Council Tax payers in their area.
  • All recipients of working age Local Council Tax Support (‘LCTS’) for the financial year 2020/21 should receive a further reduction of £150 in their annual Council Tax bill.
  • If you currently receive working age LCTS, there is no need to apply for the further reduction. The Council will confirm your eligibility and automatically rebill you. 
  • It is expected that the reduction will be applied as soon as possible from 6 April 2020, with recipients being rebilled as quickly as practicable.
  • Local authorities will have discretion as to how to use any remaining grant, with possible measures including:
    • Council Tax Relief using existing discretionary discount/hardship policies
    • provision of support outside of the Council Tax system through Local Welfare or similar schemes
    • offering a higher level of Council Tax reduction for working-age Local Council Tax Support recipients whose annual liability exceeds £150
  • You can read a copy of the guidance issued to local authorities here.

 

Updated/Detailed Guidance

  • The Government has now issued detailed guidance regarding:
    • landlords and tenants, confirming the 3-month moratorium on issuing possession proceedings and the suspension of all ongoing housing possession claims.

Further sources of information

  • The Government has launched the UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp.  The automated ‘chatbot’ service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus and further reduce the burden on NHS services.  To use the free service, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.  
  • The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has a useful COVID-19 hub providing information and advice for the self-employed and links to useful sources. They are also posting regular updates on their Twitter account (@teamipse)
  • The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also has a dedicated COVID-19 section which is being constantly updated with advice and guidance.  They are also posting regular updates on their Twitter account (@fsb_policy).  In addition, there is a free webinar at 2.00 p.m. today discussing the financial help available for SMEs and the self-employed.  You can register here or watch it on demand later following this afternoon’s live broadcast.
  • Contact, the charity for famililes with disabled children, has put together a very comprehensive guide to all the latest coronavirus information and guidance, including advice on caring for children with health needs during the outbreak, financial and welfare support and coping with self-isolation and social distancing measures.   All the latest news and updates can be found on their Twitter account (@contactfamilies)

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