What help and support has the government made available?
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven governments to take drastic action to support their economies. Our Government has followed suit announcing stimulus that is expected to cost north of £30bn.
Here is an outline of the help and support that as been made available, whether you are self-employed, abusiness owner or an employee.
COVID-19 support for individuals
HMRC have set up a Coronavirus helpline for people struggling to pay their tax. The new phone number is – 0800 024 1222. There is also the potential to agree payment of tax (e.g. income tax) in interest free instalments. Those who cannot pay because of COVID-19 should contact the helpline. Furthermore, self-assessment payments due 31 July 2020 have been deferred until 31 January 2021 – interest and penalty free
All employed individuals
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), commonly known as ‘furlough’ can provide a grant to an employer of 80% of the costs of an employee’s wages up to £2,500 per month plus NIC’s and minimum employer’s pension contributions. The scheme is available until October 2020 and phased reductions in the level of support will apply from July onwards
Individuals employed via their own limited company
Dividends are not covered by the CJRS and as such these do not count as salary. The grant is based on salary as at the 28th February 2020 and as such, it is impossible to change the pattern of remuneration retrospectively
Through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) the self-employed (including partners), the majority of whose income is derived from self-employment, can secure a taxable direct grant of 80% of their average profit for the three tax years ending with the 2018/19 tax year or a shorter period (even just the 2018/19 tax year) if three years’ accounts are not available. This is subject to a maximum payment of £2500 per month. To qualify, the 2018/19 profit or average profit for up to three years ending with 2018/19 must not exceed £50,000. The grant to run for three months and payment (representing a cumulative three months’ rights) is expected in June. Claimants can continue to work and generate profit. All CJRS and SEISS earnings count towards ‘earned income’ for the year and as such they must be factored into any annual allowance pension calculations
Property and housing
For those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday. This will apply to residential as well as buy to let mortgages thus supporting landlords who are no longer receiving rent
Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place. No new possession proceedings through applications to the Court to start during the crisis
Those who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. No business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months
Getting financial support to ease pressure on cashflow now:
The Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme (CBILS). This facility helps employers to protect jobs. To help businesses to that are losing revenue or seeing cashflow interrupted, the UK government is working with banks and lenders to offer immediate financial support. You may have seen reports that businesses have not been able to secure a CBILS loan and that business owners have been required to give personal guarantees. The big 4 banks have confirmed that they will not require personal guarantees for CBILS loans of under £250,000.
Visit the British Business Bank website for full information about the scheme and accredited lenders
Getting financial relief: A range of payment holidays and deferments that can protect your cashflow
A range of additional measures to assist you with your cashflow have been announced, including:
- Deferment of VAT payments for 3 months
- Statutory Sick Pay relief for small and medium sized businesses (‘SMEs’)
- HMRC ‘Time to Pay’ Scheme for businesses to defer PAYE and NI payments
- Grants for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses
- Business Rate relief
Visit the official government website for information on how to apply for these reliefs:
Get a grant (not a loan) to pay your staff: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The government wants to ensure businesses can pay their staff now, retaining their workforces so that both they and the economy can get back to work ASAP. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can provide a grant to keep your people on and pay them at little or no cost to you, so you can get your business back on track when this crisis has ended. The scheme is available until October 2020 and phased reductions in the level of support will apply from July onwards
If you do not have the work available for your employees, you can avoid the difficulty and expense of making redundancies. Instead, you can ‘furlough’ employees and get support from the government to pay them. This means you:
- Don’t need to make them redundant
- Won’t have to make redundancy payments, which will apply if you do lay off staff
- Can secure your business for the future by retaining the talent and human resources you will need to get back to normal business when this crisis has concluded
Visit the official government website for information on how to apply for your grant.