The following support measures for businesses affected by COVID-19 were announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 12 March 2020 and were further extended in his Statement to the House on 17 March 2020:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Small and medium sized businesses will be entitled to reclaim up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
- Must employ less than 250 employees as at 28/02/20
- Will be required to keep records of staff absences and payments of SSP but will not require GP fit note from employees.
- Eligible period to commence from 13/03/20
- Repayment will be made as soon as possible after repayment mechanism has been set up.
- All businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors will be entitled to 100% Business Rates retail discount for the 2020/21 tax year.
- Properties below £51,000 rateable value will be provided with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help support cashflow and fixed costs.
- Relief will be expanded to leisure and hospitality sectors.
- For further information on eligibility for the relief and to apply to receive the discount, you should contact Cheshire East or Cheshire West and Chester Councils after 20/03/20, when the guidance for local authorities will be published.
Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) One-Off Grant
- If your business is eligible for SBBR or Rural Business Rate Relief you will be given a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet on-going costs.
- You do not need to apply but will instead be contacted by your local authority.
- It is anticipated that the grants will be issued from late-April onwards.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
- Delivered by the British Business Bank, the scheme is intended to support SMEs to access bank lending and overdrafts.
- To be eligible, the SME must be (i) UK based, (ii) have a turnover not exceeding £41m per annum, (iii) operate within an eligible industrial sector, (iv) have a sound borrowing proposal but insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements, and (v) confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 over the current and previous two fiscal years.
- The scheme will support loans of up to £5m per small business. There will be no interest due for the first six months and thereafter rates will be similar to current bank lending. The SME borrower will remain 100% liable for the debt.
- The scheme’s details, specification and eligibility criteria are currently being finalised. It is expected that the scheme will be up and running by the start of next week. For detailed information on CBILS and to keep up-to-date with developments, please visit the CBILS webpage on the British Business Bank’s website.
Support from HMRC
- Dedicated COVID-19 helpline – 0800 0159 559 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm)
- To enable businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice.
- HMRC will discuss specific circumstances to explore options available, which could include agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings and cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC.
It is anticipated that there will be a potential support package specifically for airlines and airports as well as identifying other specific opportunities to support the most affected sectors, including regulatory forbearance.
The Chancellor has also confirmed that there will be further measures announced in the coming days.
You can find further information in the Government’s COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses (Last updated 17/03/20).
You can keep up to date with the latest guidance here.