This is clearly a concerning time for many clients, businesses and their families. No doubt you are keeping up-to-date with the Government's advice and daily response to the Coronavirus, and whilst people are trying to operate as normally as they can under these conditions, we are experiencing unprecedented times which if not already, are going to have an impact on all businesses and our day-to-day living.

So just to reassure you, we are continuing to operate and are here to support you, with no changes to services provided other than temporarily suspending any physical face-to-face meetings in accordance with the Government's advice to avoid non-essential and unnecessary social contact.

This page has been created to keep you informed and updated with any announcements from the Government that may be of relevance or beneficial to you and your business.

Wednesday 11th March 2020

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with 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 on 0800 024 1222, open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm.

Tuesday 17th March 2020

IR35 reforms in the private sector delayed

In an unexpected U-turn, the government has announced that its planned reforms to IR35 legislation will be delayed for a year. The reforms, which will affect contractors who work in the private sector, were due to be implemented on 6th April 2020 but will now come into effect in April 2021. The delay should come as welcome news to contractor clients who work in the private sector.

Changes for pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants will be granted fast-track planning permission to serve takeaway hot food and drinks. This measure is intended to help these businesses survive at a time when customers have been advised to stay at home.

Retail, hospitality and leisure industry business rates

Clients in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries that pay business rates will not have to pay these rates in the 2020/21 tax year and will potentially be eligible for a £25,000 grant. Nursery businesses will also benefit from a 12 month business rates holiday for the 2020/21 tax year. Businesses do not need to apply for these grants; their local authorities will contact them directly if they are eligible.

Small business rate relief (updated Wednesday 25th March)

Clients with smaller businesses that operate from properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or less (making them eligible for small business rate relief) will be entitled to a grant of up to £10,000 each. This is an increase from the £3,000 grant announced in last week’s Budget. The grant will also be available to businesses that qualify for rural rate relief. Businesses do not need to apply for these grants; their local authorities will contact them directly if they are eligible.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (updated Friday 20th March)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, announced last week in the Budget, has now been extended to offer loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first 6 months. At the moment, we aren’t privy to a huge amount of information about what the scheme will entail. However, the government’s website currently refers to it as a scheme to “support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance”. The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be delivered by the state-owned British Business Bank and according to the bank’s website, the loans should be available from 23rd March.

Support for the self-employed (updated Friday 20th March & Thursday 26th March)

Sadly, no specific support has been announced for the self-employed, who cannot access the Statutory Sick Pay reclaim announced in the Budget. We’re monitoring developments closely and, as always, we’ll let you know if the situation changes.

Mortgage holidays

Residential mortgage borrowers in financial difficulty due to COVID-19 can apply for a three month payment holiday from their lender if they are up-to-date with payments and not already in arrears. It is important to remember that borrowers still owe the amounts that they don't pay as a result of the payment holiday. Interest will continue to be charged on the amount they owe.

Wednesday 18th March 2020

Rent and buy-to-let mortgage holidays

Buy-to-let mortgage borrowers in financial difficulty due to COVID-19 can apply for a three month payment holiday from their lender if they are up-to-date with payments and not already in arrears. Tenants (private and social renters) can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their landlord. No one can be evicted from their home or have their home repossessed over the next three months.

Thursday 19th March 2020

Interest Rates

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee decreased the Bank of England base rate to 0.1% from 0.25%.

Clarification of key workers

Following the announcement on 18th March to close all schools, colleges and nurseries except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, the Government published details of who these key workers are.

Friday 20th March 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (updated Thursday 26th March, Wednesday 15th April, Friday 17th April & Tuesday 12th May)

All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that were in employment on 28th February and would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wage cost up to a cap of £2,500 per employee backdated to 1st March 2020 as applicable up to 31st May, however this will only apply to furloughed employees whom are legally not allowed to undertake work for their employer during this period. HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement setting up a system which is expected to be up-and-running by the end of April.

Deferred VAT for 3 months

Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during the period of 20th March 2020 to 30th June 2020 and will be given until 31st March 2021 to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. Businesses who normally pay by direct debit should CANCEL THEIR DIRECT DEBIT with their bank if they are unable to pay and this should be done in sufficient time so that HMRC does not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of their VAT Return.

Deferred Income Tax under the Self-Assessment system for 6 months

Income tax payments due by 31st July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (updated)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, announced last week in the Budget, and referred to previously will now be offered on loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first 12 months (previously 6 months). These loans are still expected to be available from 23rd March 2020.

Further support for the self-employed (updated) 

Subject to meeting the usual eligibility criteria the self-employed will be able to claim Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees currently £94.25 per week.

Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

The Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element has been increased by £20 per week for 1 year, on top of the planned annual uprating. The Minimum Income Floor included in Universal Credit will be temporarily relaxed for the duration of the outbreak.

HMRC Late Payment Interest

HMRC interest rates for late payments will be revised following the Bank of England’s second interest rate reduction to 0.1%. HMRC interest rates are linked to the Bank of England base rates and as a consequence of the change, HMRC interest rates for late payments will decrease.

These changes will come into effect on:
  • 30 March 2020 for quarterly instalment payments
  • 7 April 2020 for non-quarterly instalments payments
Repayment interest rates remain unchanged.

Information on the interest rates for the payments will be updated shortly.

Business Sectors ordered to close from midnight

Full list of sectors affected :
  • Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes
  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls
  • Museums and galleries
  • Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours
  • Casinos and betting shops
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms

Wednesday 25th March 2020

Companies House 3 month extension period

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

Business rates holiday extended

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of COVID-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020/21.

Thursday 26th March 2020

Student Loan Plan 1 interest rate reduction

From the 7th April 2020, the interest rate applied to all Plan 1 Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) student loans will reduce from 1.75% to 1.1% as a result of the reduction in the Bank of England base interest rate.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

Those people already self-employed with trading profits of less than £50,000 in 2018/19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 where more than 50% of their income in these periods comes from self-employment, will be eligible to apply directly for a taxable grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month for 3 months backdated to 1st March, whilst continuing to do business. Claims will be made using a simple online form, expected to be available from the beginning of June and payments will be made in one single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

For any self-employed person who missed the Self Assessment tax return filing deadline on 31st January 2020, they will be allowed a further 4 weeks from 26th March to submit their tax return so as to ensure they do not miss out on support.

Details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Detailed guidance for employers and employees on the coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme.

Wednesday 15th April 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cut-off dated extended (updated)

Thousands more employees will able to receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) after the eligibility date was extended to 19th March 2020, the government announced today. To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on 28th February 2020, but the eligibility date has now been extended to 19th March 2020 – the day before the scheme was announced.

Employers will be able to start submitting their claims to HMRC online from 20th April 2020

Friday 17th April 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended (updated)

The Chancellor has extended the furlough scheme by one month which means that UK employers will now be able to furlough employees until 30th June 2020 and claim 80% of their wage cost from HMRC up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month.

Monday 20th April 2020

Government launches new Coronavirus business support finder tool

A new ‘support finder’ tool will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Monday 27th April 2020

Micro Loan Scheme

From Monday 4th May, small businesses will be able to apply for these new Bounce Back Loans for 25% of their turnover, starting at £2,000 up to a maximum of £50,000, with no repayments due during the first 12 months and the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

These loans will be provided with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders and there will be no forward-looking tests of business viability; no complex eligibility criteria; just a simple, quick, standard form for businesses to fill in. For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.

Tuesday 12th May 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until October (updated)

The Chancellor has announced that the furlough scheme will remain open until the end of October 2020 with furloughed employees continuing to receive 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month. The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July 2020 and changes to allow more flexibility for employees to return to work will come in from the start of August 2020.

More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May 2020.