Government resources for businesses and the self-employed
Coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
The fund has been set up to assist small businesses with high fixed property-related costs. The business will need to apply to the local council and demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The grant fund is only available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees and they must have been trading on 11 March 2020.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
You can advise clients that businesses can apply for a temporary loan, overdraft, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5m, for up to 6 years.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
- On 25 June 2020, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (the Act) received royal assent. It came into force on 26 June 2020.
- The measures introduced by the Act will relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate.
- The guidance outlines how the measures introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act will affect public limited companies (PLCs) and Societas Europaea (SEs) filing accounts with Companies House.
- The Act will also introduce changes to the insolvency regime.
- Companies and other types of business registered at Companies House will get more time to file accounts.
- If your company is eligible, we’ll update your filing deadline automatically. You do not need to apply for an extension.
- There are changes for public companies with a filing deadline between 26 March 2020 and 29 September 2020.
- The Bill will introduce a new moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue. It will also introduce a new restructuring plan sanctioned by the court that will bind creditors to the plan.
- Directors will still need to meet their filing obligations with Companies House. Late filing penalties will still be applied if accounts are filed late.
- The Monitor is appointed to oversee the moratorium. They will need to file notices with Companies House during the moratorium.
- Further information and guidance at liquidation and insolvency guidance.
- A restructuring plan does not take effect until a copy of the court order has been delivered to Companies House. It will then be registered against the company.
For more information, see Applying for a moratorium under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. It will help businesses across a range of sectors to pay wages and suppliers, even while experiencing severe disruption to cashflows. This scheme will operate for at least 12 months and as long as is needed to relieve cash flow pressures on eligible firms.
Deferred VAT payments
You can advise clients that a UK VAT registered business that has a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, may choose to:
- defer the payment until a later date; or
- pay the VAT due as normal.
HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred.
Eat out to help out
Launching on 20 May, the Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-registered companies ranging from £125,000 to £5m, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes.
HMRC’s Time to Pay service
You can advise that if a business cannot pay their business tax bill on time because of COVID-19, they may be able to delay it without penalty.
Job Retention Scheme
You can register employees who are eligible to receive this funding on behalf of your clients.
- Clients’ can ask their employees to stop working but keep them on their payroll with the help of the Scheme (up to £2,500 per month).
- The employer can, if they wish, make up the remaining 20% but are not required to.
- For June and July the scheme will remain the same with 80% contribution from government.
- The employer can, if they wish, make up the remaining 20% but are not required to.
- For June and July the scheme will remain the same with 80% contribution from
- From August, the government will pay 80% of salary but will ask the employer to pay NI and pension contributions
- From September, the government will pay 70% with employers having to pay 10%
- From October, the government will pay 60% with employers paying 20%
- The scheme will close at the end of October.
- HMRC have added a 'save and return' option. This means that you can now return to a partially completed claim, rather than having to do it all in one go.
- The funds should be paid within six working days after an application has been submitted, provided your claim matches records that HMRC hold for your PAYE scheme. It is therefore imperative that you ensure all information submitted is correct including complete National Insurance numbers to avoid delays.
- HMRC also recently published two of our recorded webinars about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on our YouTube channel, which provide an overview of the scheme, and a detailed explanation about how to make a claim.
Changes to the CJRS from 1 July 2020
From 1 July, you and your clients can claim a more flexible grant for any employee you have previously received a CJRS grant for, and who now returns to work on reduced hours. You can also continue to claim for employees who stay fully furloughed.
You can find guidance on eligibility and how to claim for flexibly furloughed employees by searching for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.
What you and your clients need to do next
- claim for periods ending on or before 30 June, by 31 July – this is the last date you can make those claims
- agree the hours and shift patterns that you want employees to work from 1 July
- pay employees’ wages for the time they’re in work and apply for a job retention scheme grant to cover the remainder of their usual hours for which they are still furloughed
- claim for further furlough periods as needed – the first time you will be able to make a claim for days in July will be 1 July.
Live webinars offering more support on changes to the scheme and how they impact you and your clients are available to book online – go to GOV.UK and search 'help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus'.
The guidance also covers:
What to do if you or your clients have overclaimed
Some employers have contacted HMRC to let them know that they have claimed too much. If this applies to you or your clients, then all you need to do is tell HMRC when you next claim so you can pay it back. You will be asked when making your claim whether you need to adjust the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You do not need to take any other action but should keep a record of this adjustment for six years.
If you or your clients have made an error in a previous claim but do not plan to submit further claims, you need to contact HMRC to let them know, so that HMRC can tell you how to repay the money.
Claiming for 100 or more employees?
You can use the new template to claim for periods starting on or after 1 July to ensure your claim is processed quickly and successfully.
You can find this template by searching 'download a template if you're claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.
Updated guidance on military reservists
HMRC guidance now confirms you and your clients can furlough an employee who is a military reservist returning to work following a period of mobilisation ending after 10 June – even if they haven’t been furloughed before. Search for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK to find out more.
Paying employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions
A condition of the CJRS grant is that you pay the related PAYE tax, NICs and pension contributions due on wages. Until 31 July you can continue to claim these for the hours the employee is on furlough. From 1 August employers will no longer be able to claim for NICs and pension contributions.
If you think you or your clients may struggle to pay your PAYE tax and/or NICs from August, please contact HMRC as soon as possible, before they start action to recover the unpaid debt as HMRC may be able to give you time to pay.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund
If you are business in England in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector with property rateable values of under £51,000 on 11 March 2020. If you’re an eligible business, your local council will contact you and provide details of how to claim.
You can help and support clients by advising them that self-assessment payments have been deferred until January 2021 with no interest or penalties being charged.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
As accountants do not have access to SEISS, you can support your clients by helping them to:
- understand the eligibility criteria; and
- apply for, or informing them of, the Government Gateway.
Clients can apply for a Government Gateway account in time
There is no requirement for your clients to wait for any pins or codes to be sent to them through the post to register for a Government Gateway account, or the SEISS grant service.
- Clients will be able to verify their identity using details such as their passport or driving licence.
- It should take a minimum of 10 working days from application to issuing Government Gateway access
SMEs in administration and liability to pay furloughed staff
A interesting article for a number of SMEs and those you have been furloughed. Administrators are liable to pay employees of in-distress companies even if they are furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Small Business Bounce Back Loan Scheme
You can advise clients that if required they can apply for this fast-track finance scheme providing loans.
- Small businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
- Businesses can access cash within days.
- Loans are interest free for the first 12 months.
- Businesses can apply online by completing a short and simple form.
- Loans have 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders.
Statutory Sick Pay
You can help and support clients by advising that as employers they can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay rebate paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
Self-Employed and Freelancers
There is support for self-employed and freelancers who are eligible to receive a grant worth 80% of their average monthly income over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 a month.
Taxable expenses and benefits
Guidance on when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC
Tax-free childcare and 30 hours free childcare
HMRC published new guidance for parents applying for, or already receiving, tax-free childcare and/or 30 hours free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.
- To help make sure critical workers can continue to access the childcare they need to enable them to work, even if their circumstances have changed during coronavirus, HMRC has made some temporary changes.
- The guidance explains how the changes may affect parents who are: on furlough; not able to work or are working less; self-employed and critical workers earning more.
Tax rules on waiving your income or donating to charity
HMRC advice for people choosing to give up their income to support their business or donate to charity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Workplace testing – guidance for employers relating to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) issues from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
To compliment government guidance on returning to the workplace the ICO have published separate guidance to help UK employers to operate in compliance with GDPR requirements.
The guidance is broken down into question and answers, with ten Q & A’s in total. It sets out practical steps for businesses focused on the following points:
- Legal considerations for testing employees in the workplace
- How to demonstrate compliance
- Record retention in relation to covid-19 testing
- Ensuring employees are able to exercise their information rights.
Other useful resources
- Applying for more time to file your company’s accounts
- Small Business Grant Funding
- Government guidance and support for business
- Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
- Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
- Business Rates Holiday for Nurseries
- Fraud control in emergency management: COVID-19 UK Government guide
- Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails
- Disagree with a tax decision
- Tax avoidance promoters targeting returning NHS workers (Spotlight 54)
- Opening schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June: guidance for parents and carers
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for businesses and employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for individuals and businesses in Scotland
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for individuals and businesses in Wales
- COVID-19 Guidance: Information for NI Businesses & Employers
A dedicated HMRC helpline for businesses and self-employed individuals who have difficulty with paying their tax due to COVID-19 promised at Budget 2020 is now in operation. The number of the helpline is 0800 0159 559.
The helpline can assist with:
- setting up a time to pay arrangement,
- suspending debt collection proceedings, and
- cancelling late payment penalties and (unusually) interest.