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Identified as a new coronavirus strain in patients in the Hubei Province of China in November last year, COVID-19 has now spread across the globe. Hospitals, businesses, communities, families and individuals are trying to cope with a rapidly changing situation. We're using this hub to share resources for bookkeepers.

 Last updated: 14 May


 

Stay at home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home


Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others



Government Support for Businesses and Self-Employed

 

Businesses and the self-employed are asking bookkeepers for advice on maintaining cashflow; dealing with staff issues, tax payments, business rates, etc. The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, but new guidance is being issued daily. 

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for all UK employers: the government will reimburse 80% of the salary of retained workers (who would otherwise be laid off) up to a total of £2,500 a month, backdated to March 1st and opened on 20 April for at least three months. Update 12 May - furlough period extended to end of July in its current form but then due to become more flexible until the end of October.
    Read more
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme: a taxable grant for self employed and members of a partnership, worth 80% of the trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. Update 13 May - HMRC website now open for claims - check date at which individuals can apply through the eligibility checker
    Read more
  • VAT payment deferral for UK businesses: the government is deferring the next quarter of VAT payments from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
    Read more
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for UK SMEs: businesses with fewer than 250 employees can reclaim up to two weeks' of Statutory Sick Pay per employee paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note Note: the claim process is still not open but full records should be maintained to simplify the process once available
    Read more
  • 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businessesBusiness rates are a devolved tax and different rules can apply in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
    Read more
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. Business rates are a devolved tax and different rules can apply in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
    Read more
  • Grants of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000 in England. Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
    Read more
  • Nursery businesses in England can access a business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year
    Read more
  • CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) for UK businesses with a turnover of no more than £45 million per year will now be 12 months interest-free, starting Monday 23rd March 2020
    Read more                                    
  • Coronavirus 'Bounce back' Loan announced on 27 April and available from 4 May. The scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow up to up to 25% of their turnover, with a cap of £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. More details to follow.

  • Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility: the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. Larger businesses now also have access to CLBILS (Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme)
    Read more            
  • HMRC Time To Pay Scheme: all UK-tax paying 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. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
    Read more
  • Self-assessments tax payment deferral: payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021
    Read more
  • Insurance claims: businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc. is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
  • Gender pay gap reporting deadlines suspended for this reporting year (2019/20)
  • £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities
    >
    Read more

 

The government has extended the eligibility cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 19 March 2020. This change should mean that thousands more workers can be furloughed.

Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 (the day before the scheme was announced). This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.

 

Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


Because some elements of business support are devolved, the measures you can access may differ if your business is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Businesses in Scotland

View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Scotland.

Businesses in Wales

View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Wales.

Businesses in Northern Ireland

View the latest guidance on coronavirus for businesses in Northern Ireland

 

ICB Helpline

You can call ICB on 0203 405 4000 to speak to our technical experts on employment and HR related issues, as well as VAT and general tax. You can also call us just to hear a friendly voice on the end of the phone. We are here for you and all of our staff are continuing to work from home.


ICB TV

Join our new daily broadcast from the comfort of your own home. We're answering your questions and discussing the latest announcements and how they affect your business and the businesses you work with.

Click here to find out more or select ICB TV from the right hand side menu 

If you or your clients cannot pay their tax bill

Call the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline sooner rather than later:

Telephone: 0800 024 1222
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm


If you are worried about loss of income

Whether you are currently in or out of work, whether employed or self employed, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit. Your income may be affected due to working less, no longer working, self-isolating, or caring for someone who is sick. You may be able to receive:

1. Sick Pay
2. Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
3. Contributory Jobseekers Allowance
4. Universal Credit
5. Council Tax Support
6. Rent Rebate (Northern Ireland)
7. Help with your rent
8. Help with your mortgage
9. Free School Meals

From 6 April the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit are being extended for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.


For more information click here

 


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furloughed workers

ICB Job Retention Scheme details, templates and FAQs

If an employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to avoid redundancies by accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as announced on Friday 20 March. The scheme enables the employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of an employee's usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

The employer could choose to fund the 20% difference between this payment and the salary, but does not have to.

To qualify for this scheme, the employee should not undertake work while they are furloughed but they can undertake work for another employer, carry out voluntary work or training. 

While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

Employers must discuss becoming classified as a furloughed worker with their employees. If an employee's salary is reduced as a result of these changes, they may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Employees you can claim for

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 or before February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

Eligible individuals who are not employees

As well as employees, the grant can be claimed for any of the following groups, if they are paid via PAYE:

  • office holders (including company directors)
  • salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)
  • limb (b) workers

You can use the scheme for employees that were made redundant, or stopped working since 28 February as long as you rehire them and put them on furlough with their permission.

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

To be eligible for the grant employers must confirm in writing to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.

Employees hired after 28 February 2020 can be furloughed but only if an RTI submission to cover pay for the employee was made on or before 19 March 2020.

This means that those who were monthly paid cannot be furloughed and any salary reclaimed. We understand that HMRC are looking into this and we await further details.

You do not need to place all your employees on furlough. However, those employees who you do place on furlough cannot undertake work for you.

Owner-Managed Companies

Many owner managed company director/shareholders pay small salaries and the balance of income as dividends. The scheme does not extend to dividends. Only the salary is relevant to the scheme. Such companies must have been paying a salary through a payroll to be eligible for a grant. As it satands at present, those directors who are paid annually must also have submitted an RTI return by 19 March to be eligible.

National Minimum Wage

Furloughed workers must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below the National Living Wage/National Minumum Wage. The only exception is if they are required to carry out training for their job whilst on furlough at which point they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW and even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Making a claim: The online system for claiming became operational on 20 April

You’ll need to claim for:

  • 80% of your employees’ wages (even for employee’s on National Minimum Wage) - up to a maximum of £2,500. Do not claim for the worker’s previous salary.
  • minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on the subsidised wage

Grants will be prorated if your employee is only furloughed for part of a pay period.

Claims should be started from the date that the employee finishes work and starts furlough, not when the decision is made, or when they were written to confirming their furloughed status.

The way you work out your employees’ wages is different depending on what type of contract they’re on, and when they started work. If you need help in calculating this then either check with your software provider or use the online calculator on the gov.uk website. Note that this is currently only available for those employees whose income does not vary.

The portal is now fully functional and as of 27 April, the first payments to businesses have been made. Meanwhile there is lots more information, including what records you'll need, on gov.uk here: 


> ICB Job Retention Scheme details, templates and FAQs



Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your taxable profits after reliefs and allowances, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

You must have been trading as self-employed in 18/19 and 19/20 and intend to keep trading in 20/21. You must have submitted an 18/19 tax return but, if yours is outstanding, there was an extension to 23 April by which date you must have submitted the return to enable a claim to be made.

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment. HMRC will look at the average of your last three years of total trading profits up to and including 18/19 if you have been trading that long.

If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you are not eligible for this grant but you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

Make a claim:  Update 11 May HMRC are contacting those who are eligible for the scheme.On 4 May, HMRC released an Eligibility Checker that requires the entry of a UTR and NI number which will then return a date from which claims can be made. As it stands are present, agents can use the checker but are not allowed to actually submit a claim which must be done by the individual through their own Government Gateway login. Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Note: the actual claims process includes a declaration that the individual's profits have been, or are expected to be, affected by Covid-19. We do not yet know what might happen if claims are made, and at a later date, it seems that profits have not been affected.

The Chancellor has said that the first payments should be made at the beginning of June. Self-employed people who have lost income because of COVID-19 and need immediate support should be able to access the following support in the mean time:


Universal Credit for the self-employed

If you are self-employed (or otherwise ineligible for SSP) you are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.

To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on staying at home, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

From 6 April the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit are being extended for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

If required you can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre. 

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit 

If you live in Northern Ireland, go to Universal Credit in Northern Ireland


Support for rent costs

You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit.

From April, there is an increase to Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.



Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

HMRC will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

VAT

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Eligibility

All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

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.

Income Tax

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

Eligibility

If you are self-employed you are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.



Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate

HMRC will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers 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. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based
  • your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

How to access the scheme

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.


Support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates


Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

HMRC will introduce 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.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Further guidance for local authorities is available in the expanded retail discount guidance.



Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under will receive a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the grant if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Find your local authority.



Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

We will introduce a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Further guidance for local authorities is available in the nursery discount guidance.



Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates Updated 26 March

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.

Eligibility

Eligibility requirements and claim procedures differ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but businesses have to occupy property to qualify. Premises that have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19 will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR
  • you are a business that occupies property

How to access the scheme

Grants will be paid automatically by local authorities. Businesses will not need to apply for them (except in Scotland).

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Find your local authority.



Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria

How to access the scheme

The scheme is now open for applications. All major banks are offering this scheme.

To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.

The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.



Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.

It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

Eligibility

All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.

How to access the scheme

The scheme is now available for applications.

More information is available from the Bank of England.

CLBILS

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will support large businesses, with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million, to access loans of up to £25 million.

Eligibility

You’re eligible if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million
  • is unable to secure regular commercial financing

You must also have a borrowing proposal which the lender:

  • would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
  • believes will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

Businesses with a turnover of less than £45 million may be entitled to other government support.

Exceptions

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

Further detail on eligibility will be confirmed later this month.

How to apply

The scheme will launch later this month. We anticipate it will be available through a range of accredited lenders.

Once the scheme has launched, there is likely to be a big demand for facilities. You should consider applying via the lender’s website in the first instance. Telephone lines are likely to be busy and branches may have limited capacity to handle enquiries due to coronavirus.



Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

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.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Eligibility

You are eligible if your business:

  • pays tax to the UK government
  • has outstanding tax liabilities

How to access the scheme

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 024 1222.

If you’re worried about a future payment, please call us nearer the time.

 



£750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities

 

  • £750 million pot for frontline charities across the UK – including hospices and those supporting domestic abuse victims
  • £360 million direct from government departments and £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund
  • government will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month – pledging a minimum of £20 million

 

More coronavirus advice

If you live in Scotland or Wales, keep up to date with your government’s coronavirus advice on:

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