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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed from FSB

FSB is the UK’s largest business support group. As a not-for-profit organisation, they campaign on behalf of small businesses and the self-employed, ensuring that their voice is heard by Government, politicians and key decision makers across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Chancellor announces additional measures to help businesses and the self-employed impacted by COVID-19

On the evening of Friday 20 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced additional measures to help smaller businesses and the self-employed affected by COVID-19. The Government also has said it will announce further measures to support self-employed people over the coming days.

The new measures announced on 20 March are:

  • Suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed: self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees
  • Taxes – next self-assessment payments deferred to Jan 2021 for the self employed
  • The introduction of a new job retention scheme will cover up to 80 per cent of wage costs (details to be confirmed) backdated to 1 March for a period of three months or longer, if needed, for small businesses, charities and not for profit organisations. Grants due to be available to business within weeks.
  • The business loans that were previously announced will be available from Monday 23 March and will now be interest free for 12 months (was 6 months)
  • Deferring the next quarter of VAT through to the end of June (those payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year)
  • Universal Credit – standard allowance to rise over the next 12 months by £1,000 

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Business Rates and Cash Grants

In Northern Ireland

  • 3 month rates holiday for all businesses, which effectively means a further 25% discount off your bill
  • The issuing of rates bills will be deferred from April until June
  • Small firms who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme will receive a £10,000 grant
  • Providing a £25,000 grant to companies in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 to £51,000.

Cashflow and Lending

  • Supporting liquidity amongst large firms, so they can pay their small suppliers, salaries and rents
  • Supporting SMEs via banks to underwrite loans of up to £5m (formerly this was up to £1.2m); and with the first 6 months of that finance interest free (i.e. that the Government will pay for)
  • The Development Bank of Wales is currently offering all business customers a 3 month capital loan repayment holiday. More information can be found here: https://developmentbank.wales/coronavirus-support-welsh-businesses
  • Confirming with lenders to provide mortgage payment holidays of at least 3 months for those facing finance issues as a result of coronavirus (there was later confirmation of future help for those that rent; but that remains unclear)

For the full article and more information regarding business claims and self-employed, click here.