COVID-19 Update from Balance Accountants
First of all we hope that you and your family are all safe and well.
Here at Balance Accountants we are working pretty much as usual although most our staff are now working from home. We have been working very hard to support our clients during these very difficult and trying times, providing advice and information to those who have contacted us. In order to contact us, you can still call on the office landline and speak to our receptionist, Lynda who will arrange for the appropriate staff member to contact you ASAP.
There is a lot of information in the media regarding government assistance for businesses, employees etc and some of that information is, at best misleading and sometimes totally incorrect. We thought therefore that we should let you know what financial support is available and how it is accessed:
- VAT deferment—any VAT due between now and the end of June can be deferred. You will still need to complete and submit your VAT return but then just do not make payment. There is no application or notification required just don’t pay. You then have until 5 April 2021 to pay the outstanding VAT.
- Self assessment income tax—Any tax due on 31 July this year can be deferred until 5 April 2021. Again no application or notification needed, just don’t pay it.
- Business Rates relief for businesses operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector plus nursery businesses—the government has stated that businesses in these sectors will not pay business rates in the 2020/21 tax year. This is automatic and doesn’t have to be claimed. Your Local authority should cancel your business rates bill so you have no action to take in order to obtain this relief.
- Cash grants for, businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors–Cash grants are available to businesses in these sectors—again, they do not have to be claimed but should be generated by your local authority based upon their register of rateable values. The grants are £25,000 for properties with a rateable value between £15,000-51,000 and a grant of £10,000 for properties where the rateable valuation is less than £15,000.
- Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates–The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. Once again, you do not need to claim this, your local authority will contact you.
- Support for employers who pay statutory sick pay to employees–employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
- Job retention scheme—All UK employees will be able to access funds to continue paying part of their employee’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off due to the Corona Virus crisis. You will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
You will need to continue to pay these employees as usual and then claim the 80% reimbursement from HMRC via their online portal—unfortunately this portal will not be in place until at least the end of April but reimbursements can then be claimed for wages back to the beginning of March. You will have the option as to whether or not you make up the additional 20%.
- Business interruption loans —these will be provided by your bank, guaranteed by the government and interest free for the first 12 months. You will need to contact your bank in order to obtain these and there will obviously be information that they will require in support of your application.
- Self employed—nothing yet in place for the self employed but a government announcement is to be made today on this matter. There is talk of legislation to be introduced in Parliament along the lines of paying self employed people a monthly amount based upon 80% of profits as per the average of the last 3 years’ profits declared on their tax returns (but we will have to wait and see what is announced today).
- Rent protection—we are aware that there is currently legislation to be passed through parliament which will make it illegal for landlords to evict commercial property tenants for non payment of rents over the next 3 months.
These are the financial support packages as we currently understand but there will most likely be further developments in the near future and we will do our best to keep you informed of these developments.
One thing is for certain, although the various packages are very welcome, there will be significant delays in putting together the mechanisms to roll them out so don’t expect to be receiving funds in the near future.