Covid-19: What Support Is Available For Small Businesses?

Covid-19: What Support Is Available For Small Businesses?

We at Cubefunder understand it can be difficult to know what coronavirus support is still available for your business as restrictions ease. We have gathered a list of coronavirus support schemes, designed to help you work out which ones are right for you and your business.

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – help to pay furloughed employees’ salaries
  • Business rates holiday and discounts for the tax year 2021-22
  • The Restart Grant
  • Business rates holiday for nurseries
  • Full refund on statutory sick pay due to Covid-19
  • Protection if you can’t pay your commercial rent
  • HMRC Time to Pay – its stance on collecting coronavirus tax debts
  • More time to file annual accounts with Companies House
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • SMEs are the backbone of our economy

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

If you have staff, including apprentices, you would otherwise have to lay off due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the furlough scheme gives employees 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500.

The CJRS has been extended until 30 September 2021, which was announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget.

But as of 1 July 2021, employers have had to contribute 10% to make up the 80%. In August and September, the employer contribution is 20%.

Employers still need to pay employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and pension contributions.

You can use flexible furloughing as well as full-time furloughing, and you can top up your employee’s wages if you want to. When on furlough, employees cannot do any work that makes money or provides services for you.

How can I get support?

Gov.uk says that claims can be made:

  • in respect of an employee for a minimum seven-day claim window;
  • in advance.

All employers with staff can claim support – you do not need to have used the scheme previously. You should be using a UK bank account and UK PAYE.

The application process involves:

  1. Identifying your employees as ‘furloughed workers’, which means staff who have to take unpaid leave;
  2. Working out how much you need to claim for using the government calculator;
  3. Telling the affected employees in writing they are now furloughed or flexibly furloughed.

 

Business rates holiday and discounts for the tax year 2021-22

All retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses can get a discount on their business rates in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These businesses include:

  • restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs;
  • shops;
  • live music venues, cinemas;
  • assembly or leisure properties, like sports clubs, gyms, spas;
  • hospitality properties, like hotels, guest houses, self-catering accommodation.

The business rates discount was 100% for April 2020 to March 2021 and the first three months of the 2021-22 tax year.

For the rest of the 2021-22 tax year (July to March), eligible businesses get 66% off their business rates, up to a total value of £2 million.

How can I get support?

You should speak to your local council about the business rates discount if it has not already been applied automatically.

You can also use the  government’s business rates calculator to find out what discount you will be getting.

 

The Restart Grant

The Restart Grant was a one-off payment of up to £18,000 designed to support businesses as restrictions eased.

The Restart Grant closed for new applications on 30 June 2021. The government advised that if you have not received your grant by 31 July 2021, you should get in touch with your local council.

 

Business rates holiday for nurseries

Nurseries are still eligible for a business rates discount, as the business rates holiday for retail, leisure, and hospitality.

The discount is 66% – capped at £105,000 – for July 2021 to March 2022, down from 100% previously.

To be eligible, the building needs to be occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register, and completely or mainly used to provide the Early Years Foundation Stage – care and education for children up to age five.

How can I get support?

We advise you to check with your local council if the discount has not been automatically applied already.

 

Full refund on statutory sick pay due to Covid-19

SMEs with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 will get a full refund from the government on 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee off sick with Covid-19. Any sickness you claim for needs to have started on or after 13 March 2020.

How do I get support?

You don’t need a doctor’s note from your employee, but they do have to either:

  • have had Covid-19;
  • be unable to work because they’re self-isolating;
  • or be shielding in line with public health guidance.

More details and the online repayment system for coronavirus-related SSP are available on the government website.

 

Protection if you cannot pay your commercial rent

The government announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak will be protected from eviction.

The government has extended its initial ban on business evictions multiple times, and it is now due to end on 25 March 2022.

The government says that businesses that can pay rent should continue to do so, as the ban is designed to protect businesses struggling the most. Rents also should start being paid as businesses open.

The long extension is designed to give commercial tenants and their landlords time to come to an agreement about how to repay the money built up during closures.

How can I get support?

Commercial tenants and landlords are being encouraged to come to voluntary arrangements on repayment.

A new code of practice was introduced in June 2020 by the government, designed to help struggling businesses and landlords work together on rent payment issues.

Gov.uk makes it clear that this is protection from eviction if you cannot pay your commercial rent right now, because of the pandemic. It is not a rent holiday, and commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent.

 

HMRC Time to Pay – its stance on collecting coronavirus tax debts

HMRC has given taxpayers the opportunity to defer tax payments and deadlines throughout the pandemic. For example, Self-Assessment taxpayers could delay paying their January 2021 bill in full to January 2022.

HMRC has announced that as the country reopens and economic activity resumes, debt collection activity will restart.

The tax authority will take an “understanding and supportive approach” to collecting debt, announcing that it will work with people to agree on a plan based on their financial position.

HMRC says that it will contact customers in the first instance to discuss their situation. It is important not to ignore this contact. HMRC might offer a payment plan, otherwise known as a Time to Pay arrangement.

But if taxpayers do not willingly discuss their situation and refuse to pay, HMRC says it will try to visit them – and then start enforcement action. Therefore, it’s important to be open and upfront about any debt.

How can I get support?

If you have a tax debt and HMRC tries to get in touch with you, make sure you speak to them. You can also proactively try to get in touch with HMRC about your tax debt.

HMRC’s dedicated coronavirus helpline is 0800 024 1222 but be aware it may take longer than usual to speak to an adviser. Decisions about any extra time you get to pay your bill will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

More time to file annual accounts with Companies House

If your business is registered with Companies House, you can use an online service to apply for an extension to the deadline for filing your accounts. Businesses granted this extension will not get the usual late filing penalty.

The service says, “you can apply for more time to file if something has happened that is out of your control, and you cannot file your company accounts on time”.

How can I get support?

You need to apply for the extension using the online system. It takes 15 minutes, and you should give a full explanation of why you are applying.

 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Employment and Support Allowance is for people with a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work. You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA if you cannot get Statutory Sick Pay and you or your child are ill or self-isolating because of coronavirus.

Once you have been assessed, you will be placed into one of two groups. The amount you will get depends on whether you can get back into work:

  • up to £74.70 a week if you’re able to get back into work;
  • up to £114.10 a week if you are unable to get back into work.

How can I get support?

The government website has details on eligibility and how to claim ESA.

 

SMEs are the backbone of our economy

Small businesses drive growth, provide opportunities for entrepreneurs, open new markets and create jobs for neighbours.
⠀⠀⠀
They’re rooted in the landscape where they grow, and they give back sustenance and vitality.

We believe small businesses should be encouraged to flourish. That is why when we reviewed the existing funding options for SME’s, we felt something new was required.
Our dedicated team really goes above and beyond to ensure our client needs are met.

Their plans are our sole focus and their success is our success.

 

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