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BHS Approved Centre FAQs – Government Business Support

24/03/2020 

Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation. Please bear with us while we make these changes.

The Government has set out a package of temporary and timely measures to support businesses in the UK through this period of uncertainty caused by COVID-19. These FAQs aim to help provide you with details of the support available and how to access it. Where devolved legislation dictates the measures in place for each nation, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland will be answered separately. It is intended as a summary only and you are advised to read the Government advice in full before making any decisions for your business.

Q. What types of support are available?

A. There is a package of measures to support businesses, which includes:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

Q. Where can I find more details of the Government’s advice?

A. The link is below. The advice is quite detailed and includes the support available for both individuals and businesses.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873676/Covid-19_fact_sheet_18_March.pdf

Q. What if I have to close my business and have no work for my employees? Should I lay them off?

A. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Q. What do I need to do first if I want to use this scheme?

A. You will need to:

  • Look at what your requirements for employees now are. If you would need to make employees redundant as you have no work for them and you are unable to pay them you can require them to take a “leave of absence”, this is called a furlough
  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).
  • The BHS will update this document with a link to the portal as soon as it is available.

    Q. How long will this scheme last?

    A. The scheme is designed to protect jobs and people’s income during the Coronavirus pandemic. It will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and will be open initially for at least three months.

    Q. Will this scheme pay all the wages of furloughed workers?

    A. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

    We will update this document as soon as we have more details of the reimbursement system.

    Q. I am really worried about not being able to pay my VAT bill, is there any support available for this?

    A. VAT payments will be deferred for three months. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

    Q. How do I access the VAT deferral scheme?

    A. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

    Q. I also have income tax self assessment payments to make, is there any assistance for these?

    A. Payments due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer and no applications apply. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period. If you are in financial distress and have an outstanding tax liability you may be eligible for further support, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline 0800 0159 559. This is HMRC’s Time to Pay Service.

    Q. If my staff are off sick because of the virus do I need to pay them?

    A. Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19. This includes employees who need to self-isolate.

    Details for employees: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

    Q. I am also struggling to pay my business rates because of the impact of Covid 19. Is there any help available?

    A. The Government has introduced a business rates holiday for leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Local Authorities should automatically apply this to your business rates invoice, they will do this as soon as possible.

    For businesses in Scotland: To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21. https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-guidance/

    The Scottish Government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts) https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-relief/.

    It has also introduced a one-off grant for some businesses. These reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. It will be possible to apply for the grants from April 2020 and they will be available to 31 March 2021.

    For businesses in Northern Ireland: Businesses will benefit from a rates holiday and will pay zero rates for the next three months. Further details can be found here https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/news/covid-19-ps100m-emergency-rates-package-businesses

    For businesses in Wales: The Welsh Government has announced a package of support including rate relief for some businesses with a rateable value below £51,000. A grant of £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 and a grant of £10,000 to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. Further details can be found here: https://businesswales.gov.wales/government-support-businesses

    For more information about the support for businesses in the Republic of Ireland please follow this link.

    Q. My income has really declined due to COVID-19, are there any grants available for my business?

    A. The Government are providing cash grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

    • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000
    • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

    You do not need to do anything. Your Local Authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

    Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to your Local Authority.

    Q. My business rates bill is very small, is there anything available to support my business?

    A. The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

    You do not need to do anything. Your local Authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

    Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to your Local Authority.

    Q. I think I may need to borrow money to support my business during the COVID-19 outbreak. How can I access a loan?

    A. A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch this week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

    You should talk to your bank or finance provider as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

    The full rules of the scheme is available here:

    https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

    Please note that the lender has the authority to decide whether to offer you finance. If it can do so on normal commercial terms without having to make use of the scheme it will. If one lender turns you down, you can still approach other lenders in the scheme.

    Further business guidance can be found here:

    https://thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/covid-19/

    https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

    Q. Will my insurance company cover me for loss of income?

    A. You should read your insurance policy and check with your insurer or broker. However, most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

    Downloadable resources

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