The past week we’ve been updating our clients and posting on our social media all the updates the government have issued over the week to help businesses during this pandemic. There’s lots of new terms like furlough and various grants, loans and funds available that we’ve given a round up of here.

If there’ something specific you need to know or if you’d like more information on anything included here just get in touch with our Bev via hello@vibrantaccountancy.co.uk

Vibrant’s FAQ roundup

During lockdown should I close my business?

With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, the government are not asking any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on wherever possible. And indeed not everyone can work from home to deliver their product or service to their customers. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services. The government have been clear on who essential workers are and there’s advice on how to implement social distancing in your workplace.

More guidance is available here

What happens if I need to pay staff sick pay?

Statutory sick pay (SSP) can be paid from Day 1 in certain conditions as a result of COVID19. SSP relief package has been announced for SMEs which looks like this:

  • SMEs (with less than 250 employees as at 28 February 2020) can reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 (this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee)
  • A rebate scheme is being developed. Awaiting the legislation to be passed
  • Employers should maintain a record of staff absences and payments of SSP, but instead of a sick note you should request they obtain an isolation note can be obtained by visiting NHS111 online here and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website here

Do I have to pay my business rates?

A 12 month business rates holiday has been announced for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses available – plus estate agents, letting agents and bingo halls.

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. For Derby based businesses see the LA link below and there’s a link to the government issued information below too.

There is no action for you. To calculate your estimated business rates see here https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates

What’s the ‘small grant’ for and how do I apply?

Small grant funding of £10,000 is for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural relief. This is to help your ongoing business costs.

Small business rates relief is if your property’s rateable value is less than £15,000. Check with your local authority as to the claiming mechanism but the majority will approach you. If your business is eligible you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply. Funding will be provided in early April. The grant will go to the person who according to the billing authority’s records was the ratepayer

More information is available here

What’s the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Fund and is this relevant to me?

For those in the retail, hospitality and leisure business operating from smaller premises, then grants are available depending on the rateable value of their property

  • Rateable value up to £15,000 -£10,000 grant
  • Rateable value £15,001-50,999 -£25,000 grant

Most councils will contact you, but its worth checking their website as some councils have requested further information to speed up the claim.

When will these grants be available?

These are expected to be provided in early April.

What’s the loan scheme from the government?

SME’s can obtain funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (available from the British Business Bank) if they have a <£45m turnover.

  • The government will guarantee 80% of the loan
  • Note personal guarantees are likely to be needed and bear in mind your fiduciary duties
  • 12 months interest free (interest will be met by the government) some banks are offering a capital repayment holiday too
  • Up to 6 years for finance from £25k to £5m
  • Funding available from 23rd March 2020
  • Support for larger firms through COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility > £45m turnover
  • All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.

I’ve heard the term Furlough what does it mean?

Furlough wasn’t a UK word until recently (!) and refers to temporary laying off your staff. This is relevant here, because the government is then providing a grant to support the wage cost of those that have been furloughed.

Under the government’s job retention scheme employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed employees’ (where you put your employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs. That’s up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic employer pension contributions on that wage.

This funding will be available to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, including charities. The scheme is expected to be up and running by the end of April 2020 and has initially been set to cover 3 months.

If you furlough your employee(s) they cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue, it doesn’t matter if they are part time, full time or on a zero hours contract. All employment types can access the job retention scheme; the details of the information you need to make a claim are here

I’ve heard I can defer my VAT bill, what’s the details on this?

The VAT deferral applies from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 and no VAT payment is required during this period. All UK businesses are eligible.

It’s an automatic offer, no application is required. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/2021 tax year to pay any liabilities accumulated. If you pay by Direct Debit (DD) please cancel your payment if you wish to take advantage of this deferral.

VAT Refunds and Reclaims will be paid as usual.

Should I file my accounts late to Companies House?

We’d need to talk to you specifically about your business to offer our expert advice. However here’s the information issued by the government:

  • Companies House filings can be delayed due to coronavirus
  • But apply before the deadline!
  • It’s a 3-month extension of your filing date.
  • Businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply to Companies House to request an extension to file their accounts, reports and confirmation statements

There’s more information here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-more-time-to-file-your-companys-accounts

I’m self-employed what help can I get?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

You can apply if you’re self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and:

    • You submitted a tax return for the year 2018/19
    • Traded in the tax year 2019/20
    • Are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19 interuption
    • Intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21
    • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your trading profits must less than £50,000 and more than half of your income comes from self-employment. For further details see here

What is meant by self-employed?

    • A person is self-employed if they run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure.
    • Self-employed workers aren’t paid through PAYE, and they don’t have the employment rights and responsibilities of employees.