Finance: How can I manage tax and reporting?
HMRC Coronavirus Helpline
HMRC has recognised that many self-employed are likely to struggle with income levels/cashflow in the coming months and so they have been quite proactive in saying that they will look at all cases of hardship when it comes to paying taxes. Typically, this will involve agreeing to defer an element, or all, of tax due until a later date or to accept phased payments. Please refer to HMRC’s website:
If you cannot pay because of Coronavirus
Call the HMRC Coronavirus helpline:
HMRC Coronavirus Helpline
Telephone: 08000 241222 (Opening hours are from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday)
It is worth also looking at your own business cashflow to see what you can do to delay payments out or to chase up payments which are due to you. Take a look at our finance and cashflow guidance sheet at: https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/03/coronavirus-keeping-the-cash-flowing
Extension to filling accounts with Companies House
If Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company, from the 25 March 2020, businesses can apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts. Read more here.
Defer payment of Business Rates
Business rates have been suspended for businesses in the Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Retail sectors, as well as nurseries and this is being coordinated locally via the Local Authority.
You can use the business rates calculator to estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year.
Find contact details for your Local Authority's Business Support or Business Rates team here.
Additional guidance can also be seen here.
Defer Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax payments
HMRC will be deferring VAT for three months until June 2020, as well as Income Tax payments for the self-employed until the 31st January 2021. The deferral will take place automatically and no applications will be required.
For companies and self-employed individuals who are in temporary financial distress because of the virus and might have outstanding tax liabilities, support might also be available through HMRC’s Time to Pay offer
Employees: What is the guidance on Statutory Sick Pay?
Statutory Sick Pay guidance
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available for eligible for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with government advice.
This is payable from day 1 instead of day 4.
Small and medium sized businesses can *reclaim up to two weeks SSP paid to staff that are absent due to COVID-19. Employers must maintain records of staff absence - employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
If the employer requires evidence, for those isolated exhibiting coronavirus symptoms an isolation note can be obtained from NHS 111 online. If living with someone who has the symptoms, you can get a note via the NHS website
*The Government is currently developing a rebate scheme and will provide further details once the legislation has passed.
Self-employed individuals who are not eligible for sick pay can apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance
Advice and guidance: Where can I find the latest advice about Coronavirus?
UK Government COVID-19 Business Advice
The latest guidance for employers and businesses is available on the UK Government website. On the 25th March the government also launched a WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Service. To access the service, users will have to add the following number (07860 064422) to their contacts and message the word "hi". More details about the service can be seen here.
Following government guidance on fraud control during emergency situations, the NorthWest Regional Organised Crime Unit is encouraging the public to be extra vigilant and cautious, as there has been a resurgence of fraudulent government websites trying to capitalise on the emergency measures and schemes being announced to support businesses and individuals. Full guidance can be seen here.
NHS guide to Coronavirus
FCO Travel advice
Exporting: What support is available for exporters?
Support for exporting businesses
Businesses that export goods or services and have been impacted by COVID-19 can access three schemes for support.
Export Working Capital Scheme - Access to capital finance for export--related projects.
Export Insurance Policy - Insurance from UK Export Finance to manage risk in challenging markets.
Direct Lending facility - A loan from UK Export Finance for overseas buyers to finance the purchase of capital goods and/or services from UK exporters.
Employees: How do I access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month per employee.
Finance: What finance is available?
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan will support SMEs with access to finance including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance from £1k to £5 million for up to 6 years. The scheme will be delivered by 40 accredited commercial lenders and government-backed by the British Business Bank.
Find out more information about the scheme here.
For a full list of finance and support schemes for your business, see here.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme
England based businesses in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector will be able to access a cash grant per property, based on its rateable value. Properties with a rateable value below £15k will be eligible for a grant of £10k, whereas businesses whose rateable value is between £15k - £51k will receive a grant of £25k.
This will be managed by the local authorities who will be contacting eligible businesses.
Further guidance on business support grant funding including eligibility criteria can be seen here.
Funding for small businesses that already pay little or no business rates
The government will be providing additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates. This Scheme will provide a grant of £10k to firms receiving small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will be managed by the local authorities who will be contacting eligible businesses.
Further guidance on business support grant funding including eligibility criteria can be seen here.
Support for larger firms
HM Treasury and the Bank of England will be supporting larger firms through the COVID19 Corporate Financing Facility, by buying short term dept and enabling them to finance short-term expenses such as wages, suppliers etc.
More information on the scheme can be seen through the Bank of England’s website.
Employees: What support is available for the self-employed?
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
On the 26th of March, the government announced the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This scheme provides those self-employed individuals or partnerships a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years, with a cap of £2,500 per month. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
More information can be seen here.
If you are self-employed you are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.
Advice and guidance: Does my business have to close or is it considered an essential service?
Businesses and premises which will remain open
If a business is not on this list, it can remain open*. However, government has instructed that where possible employees should work from home. If this isn’t possible due to the nature of the work, it is advised that employers actively implement social distancing practices.
More specifically, the government has advised that factories and construction sites can remain open, and that take away and delivery facilities should remain open with social distancing measures in place. These should also be implemented at public and retail premises ensuring the advised 2m distance between customers and shop assistants, as well as an organised queue control outside shops so that only a small group of customers is in the store at any given moment. Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines.
*It is important to also note that on the 25th March the government updated the list, announcing the closure of further businesses and premises. As of 2pm on 21 March 2020, the closures from the original list from 20th March are now enforceable by law in England and Wales, and the government will seek to extend the law to cover the updated list. Businesses that do not comply will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines. The first point of review for these measures will be in three weeks.
Advice and guidance: Can my child/children be considered for a childcare place?
Guidance and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings
Only children with at least one parent/carer listed on the government’s critical worker list as well as vulnerable children should be considered for a childcare place. However, this is not compulsory, and parents/carers can choose to have their child/children remain at home.
For more details, see the relevant government website
Advice and guidance: I am not a key worker, can I still go to work?
Guidance relating to work travel
At the moment government guidance is saying that people can go to and from work, and that this isn’t just key workers. Employers therefore have a duty of care to ensure their employees’ health and safety by implementing all social distancing measures necessary to minimise risk and where possible facilitate working from home.
Advice and guidance: Can tradespeople carry out work in people’s homes?
Work undertaken by tradespeople to continue
Repairs and Maintenance can continue to be provided as long as the tradesperson does not exhibit any symptoms. Health and Safety guidelines ensuring a 2m distance from all occupants should still be enforced. No work should be carried out if either the tradesperson or the occupants are exhibiting symptoms. This should also not take place, if the household is isolating or shielding an individual.
Advice and guidance: Will my business be evicted due to late rent payments or inability to make payment completely?
Protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments
Government has announced that it will safeguard commercial tenants from evictions due to inability to pay rent because of COVID19 and its impact on the business for the next three months.
For more information, please see the government’s website.
Advice and guidance: Are my business premises safe?
Statement from Chief Inspector Zac Fraser Greater Manchester Police (24th March)
Chief Inspector Zac Fraser, Greater Manchester Police released a statement on the 24th March informing businesses of the plans implemented across the region to ensure the safety of businesses and citizens. He also provided information on actions and measures that can be taken by businesses to assist the police.
Actions being taken by the Greater Manchester Police
- Increased police patrolling during night hours (9pm – 7am)
- Dedicated specialist Public Order Commander on standby in the event that contingency plans need to be enacted
- Close work with the CityCo Business Crime Reduction Partnership to identify individuals and groups with a history of targeting businesses in the region
- Dedicated Inspector working closely with Manchester City Council's Anti-Social Behaviour team to ensure plans are in place to manage any increase in anti-social and criminal behaviour
Actions businesses can take to maximise security
- Remove any cash or high value items from your premises and store into secure storage/stock areas
- If able to, retain your own security companies as the police can respond more effectively when CCTV is being monitored in live time and better information is provided
- Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity relating to sexual or criminal exploitation. Do also report any hate crime incidents through the relevant online portal or via 101.
Employees : How do I switch my workforce to remote working?
Growth Company Guide to Remote Working
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Growth Company has developed a guide providing detailed information on five key areas you should consider when switching your workforce to remote working.
Access the guide here.
Employees: How can I support my employees with their mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak?
Advice to support mental health during coronavirus outbreak
To support the workforce with their mental health and well-being, employers can utilise the overall guidance and easy-read guide which was released by the government on the 26 and 30 March respectively. The NHS has also provided a useful directory of mental health helplines, as well as created a page dedicated to well-being whilst staying at home which can be shared with employees. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also created a “Coping with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak” poster which employers can share with remote working employees and/or put up in the workplace if this is to remain open.
For parents, there are also resources to help them better communicate the current situation and ensure the mental well-being of their children. These include UNICEF’s dedicated Coronavirus portal, Young Minds’ blog, and WHO’s relevant poster. For children under the age of 7, parents can also use this book, to discuss and better understand their different emotions to the current situation.