Chancellor Unveils New Measures for Businesses and Workers

By PPA Staff

23 Mar 2020

Today the Chancellor unveiled a raft of new measures to further help businesses and workers who are suffering the economic impact that the Coronavirus is wreaking on our lives and industry. These further built on measures that he announced on Tuesday, and the previous Wednesday in the Budget.

Key resources:

  • HMRC have created a dedicated COVID-19 helpline regarding tax issues: 0800 0159 559
  • For broader information you can call the Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565(Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
  • BEIS have created a page with key COVID-19 related business information, which can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Any business will be eligible for this retention scheme, which will cover 80% of employees wages up to £2,500 p/m. Employees will be kept on the company payroll even if they are not working. This will also cover backdated wages to March 1. The Chancellor has announced that this scheme will run for at least 3 months and will be extended if necessary. More information can be accessed through HMRC and the first payments are expected by the end of April.

VAT deferred until June

VAT payments for the next quarter have been deferred, meaning businesses will not have to pay VAT from now until the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the Tax Year to repay.

Tax deferral through Time to Pay service

There is a provision for businesses to defer tax, with each individual case being considered on a case-by-case basis. For more information you can call the HMRC COVID-19 helpline.

Statutory Sick Pay Relief for SMEs

Employers with fewer than 250 people will be able to reclaim two weeks of SSP (£94.25 p/w) per employee for any employees who are off work because of Covid-19.

Statutory Sick Pay for the Self-Employed

The minimum income floor for the self-employed has been lifted, meaning that they will be able to access Universal Credit at the rate of SSP for employees (£94.25 p/w).

Self-Employed Self-Assessment Deferral

Self-assessment income payments have been deferred until January 2021.

Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:

This is a temporary loan scheme, primarily supporting SMEs with accessing bank lending and overdrafts.

You are eligible if:

·Your business is UK based, with a turnover of no more than £41m p/a

·Your business meets other British Business Bank eligibility criteria

The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan and will not charge businesses or banks for the guarantee. The scheme will support loans up to £5 million, and businesses can access the first 12 months interest free (Government will cover the first 12 months of interest). Here is the list of accredited lenders and partners.

The scheme will be available from early next week, commencing 23 March 2020. In the meantime you may wish to speak to your bank about this and/or call the Business Support Helpline.

A scheme for medium and large businesses will be announced next week.

Interest Rates Cut

The Bank of England has further cut interest rates to 0.1%. Last week the rate was cut from 0.75% to 0.25%.

Business Rates

Business rates have been abolished for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, or those who qualify for small business rate relief.

CMA Covid-19 Taskforce

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new taskforce to tackle the issues brought up by Covid-19. So far much of what they have announced surrounds food and critical medical production (both through relaxing competition law to allow for more efficient production and preventing price gouging) and other emergency measures. However, we are aware that some of our members would like to see a relaxation of competition laws in our industry as well so as better to work collaboratively through this crisis. We will be monitoring updates in this area and will let you know of any relevant developments.