Government support for businesses impacted by COVID-19

The Government has announced a range of measures to support impacted businesses.

17 March 2020

Concept of solution and domino effect.Slightly de-focused and close-up shot. Selective focus.
As of 17th March, the Government updated the package to support businesses through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This includes:

  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs. The government is bringing forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.
  • For businesses that pay business rates - a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • For businesses paying little or no business rates - a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. This will be provided through Local Authorities.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Launching w/c 23rd March, this provides lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give them further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme. These can be agreed with HMRC on an individual basis and will allow businesses to make affordable payments over a defined period – effectively deferring the tax liability. Agreements are typically a few months long – anything over 12 months is rare. HMRC will also consider cancelling penalties and interest.

More detail on each of the above measures is set: