As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and the impact on businesses becomes clearer, the government has announced its guidance for employers and business owners, and a package of measures to support small businesses through the pandemic.
In his first Budget, Rishi Sunak announced a new Coronaviurus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by British Business Bank, which will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.
Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will receive a full refund of the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee, providing 2 million small and medium sized businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the cost of large-scale sick leave.
There will also be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, worth a total of £2 billion.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities, which may enable businesses to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The government has temporarily increased the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value, meaning almost half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates for one year.
The decisions announced by the Bank of England on 11 March 2020 also mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses.
The Chancellor added to his Budget announcements during a press conference, as the impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is felt by businesses across the UK. Sunak pledged £330 billion of state-backed loans, as well as grants of up to £25,000 for each retailer and pub affected by a dramatic reduction in customers. An employment support package is also in the works to help employers maintain staff, as money coming in has dwindled as a result of self-isolation and social distancing.
You can also sign up for email alerts from the government regarding COVID-19.
If you are unsure as to how to proceed as an employer in the face of coronavirus, Acas has provided a useful guide which they are updating regularly as new information and government updates are released. The guide includes best practices for dealing with employees who are sick or self-isolating, what to do if an employee falls ill at work or if you need to close your workplace temporarily.