UK Government response to Coronavirus COVID 19 - Support for businesses
As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire, GFirst LEP is committed to bringing you the most relevant and important information as quickly as possible direct from the Government.
16 March 2020
Public safety is the government’s top priority in its response to COVID-19 and it is taking firm and comprehensive action, consistent with the best scientific evidence. As well as being focused on safety and the public health response to the outbreak, the government recognises that people will be concerned about the effect it will have on their livelihood, and business will be concerned about reduced demand, potential disruptions to supply chains and export markets, and to their workforce during this temporary period.
The Budget announced a £12 billion plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses, whose finances are affected by COVID-19. This includes a £5 billion COVID-19 response fund to ensure the NHS and other public services receive the funding they need to respond to the outbreak as the situation develops, and recover and return to normal afterwards. For individuals it includes extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for those advised to self-isolate, and those caring for others who self-isolate, and support through the welfare system for those who cannot claim SSP, as well as a hardship fund.
The Government will support businesses that experience increased costs or disruptions to their cashflow. This includes expanded Business Rates reliefs, a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support up to a further £1 billion lending to SMEs, a £2.2 billion grant scheme for small businesses, and a dedicated helpline for those who need a deferral period on their tax liabilities.
Small business grant scheme
The Local Economies Contingency Team is working at speed to operationalise the announcement in the budget that the government would provide £3,000 cash support to all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief in recognition of pressures they will face as a result of Covid-19.
What is HMG announcing?
Providing £3,000 cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) (c.725k businesses) and Rural Rates Relief (c.3k).
£2.2bn of funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief.
Why are they doing this?
The Government recognises that many small businesses pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), but still face cost pressures at this time. To support those businesses, the government will provide £2.2bn of funding for Local Authorities in England.
Who will benefit?
This funding will only benefit those with a premises. It excludes small businesses and the self-employed who do not occupy property (e.g. cleaners, handymen, freelancers).
For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent. Most properties that are eligible for SBRR will have a lower rateable value, and so this will represent an even greater proportion of their annual rent.
By how much?
This will provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs
Other support for businesses announced in the budget
Business Rates Relief
Building on previous commitments and in an exceptional response to the coronavirus, the Government is increasing the retail discount on business rates to 100% and expanding so it includes retail, hospitality and leisure properties, such as museums, theatres, gyms and hotels (for businesses with a rateable value under £51k). This exceptional step will save businesses a further £1 billion. Local Authorities will be fully compensated for these Business Rates measures.
British Business Bank (BBB) guarantees for Business
To help give lenders greater confidence to continue providing SMEs with finance throughout this period of uncertainty, the Government is launching a new, temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme initially worth up to £1bn through the British Business Bank. The new scheme will launch in a matter of weeks. The BBB will publish the list of lenders that provide Coronavirus Interruption Business Loan Scheme loans.
While we haven’t got the full detail worked through yet, there is some info already on our site about CBILS that you could include in the info on the Growth Hub, for SMEs, intermediaries, and those looking to become CBILS providers. The links are:
- For SMEs - What is CBILS and am I eligible? https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/
- For SMEs and Advisers / Intermediaries - https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/efg-for-advisors-smes/
- To find accredited lenders and partners - https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/efg-accredited-lenders/
- For accredited lenders - https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/enterprise-finance-guarantee-efg-delivery-partners/ which includes info on how to become a delivery partner
SME Statutory Sick Pay Compensation
The Government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay. Through the emergency legislation, employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak.
Time to Pay (HMRC)
HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.
Online resources for businesses and employers
- Guidance on advice to provide to staff including: how to help prevent spread of COVID-19; what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting; advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas; and advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID19
- Information on the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19
- Travel advice
- ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work
Government is also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity, developing an understanding on the potential impacts to their supply chains, customers or other factors critical to their operations.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, which we are monitoring carefully. The situation is kept under constant review and any change in guidance will be based on scientific evidence. The Government's approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England. Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.