Now, more than ever, it’s essential to focus on what you can do for your business, rather than what you can’t. Before making drastic decisions, you should know all the options available to you. On Friday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, set out a package of temporary measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Here, we provide an outline summary of these initiatives along with key advice for retailers.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salaries for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Businesses will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change.
Businesses should submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed, and their earnings, through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details).
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.
Advice to Retailers – if you have to lay off staff, let HMRC know so they can reimburse the staff.
Deferring VAT Payments. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Advice to Retailers – It’s automatic, with NO ACTION REQUIRED by you.
Deferring Income Tax Payments. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
Advice to Retailers – It’s automatic, with NO ACTION REQUIRED by you.
Statutory Sick Pay Relief Package for SME’s. This measure will allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for absence due to COVID-19. This measure will provide a refund for up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19, and applies to employers with less than 250 employees. It’s important that you maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online. A rebate scheme is being developed. We will update you in due course.
Advice to Retailers – start maintaining records of staff absences and payments of SSP now, so you’re ready to claim them back!
12-Month Business Rates Holiday for all Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses in England. We expect to hear more from the Government on the rate exemptions and will update you as soon as we hear more. But for now, we understand the Government will provide a 100% discount on occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. This should apply to: shops, sports grounds and clubs, sport and leisure facilities, with the exception of property “that is not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public”.
Member-only golf clubs will need to take further advice.
Advice to Retailers – start to talk to your Local Authority and ensure you don’t pay rates for 2020/21.
Small Business Grant Funding of £10,000 for all Business in Receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief. The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little, or no, business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR).
This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Advice to Retailers – if this is relevant to you, talk to your Local Authority. The scheme will be available from local authorities in early April.
Grant Funding of £25,000 for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.
Advice to Retailers – If this is relevant to you, talk to your Local Authority.
HMRC Time To Pay Scheme – All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
If you have missed a tax payment, or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. This is a relatively simple process, although no doubt HMRC will be battling with very high call volumes. Visit the website for more details, or call HMRC on 0800 0159 559.
In the past they may have expected some evidence of need, such as cash flow forecasts etc, however the expectation now is that they will be granted quickly and easily.
Advice to Retailers – Cash is King. Having the money in your business and a debt with HMRC is the smart choice. If this is relevant to you, get in touch with HMRC now!
Insurance. Businesses that have insurance for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. When the government and insurance industry confirmed, on 17 March 2020, the advice to avoid pubs, theatres and other social venues, this is sufficient to make a claim, as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
Advice to Retailers – talk to your insurance provider, and find out if you have cover for pandemics and government-ordered closure.
<<Breaking news 24 March>> Further changes to Government advice around insurance policies. Those businesses which have an insurance policy covering government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank. Please see our article on the CBIL Scheme here. We will keep you updated as we know more.
Advice to Retailers – Read our article. Pull together historical financial information, your original budget for 2020/21 and your revised budget given the COVID impact and talk to your Bank! XPOS can provide much of the information you’ll need.
New Lending Facility from the Bank of England to Help Support Liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. May be less relevant to our customers – we will find out more in due course.
XPOS is about helping our retail customers grow a successful business and nothing's changed on that front. We are 100% committed to working with you throughout the Coronavirus outbreak: Firstly, to provide the tools and advice to help you continue to run the shop business over the next few months; and also to ensure your business can take-off ‘with aplomb’ as soon as the current restrictions are lifted!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information or further help. Use the CHAT button on our website, call or email email@example.com