What support is available for businesses to cope with financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic?

March 26, 2020


The Government has introduced a package of temporary measures to support businesses through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employers to claim a reimbursement for 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries from the Government for the next three months, with payments backdated to 1 March 2020. The Government is expecting the first grants to be paid to employers within weeks and the Scheme should be in full force by the end of April. Further details on the Scheme are yet to be released, but current information from the Government is available here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/

Deferral of VAT and Income Tax payments

The Government has agreed that businesses will be able to defer VAT payments until 30 June 2020. Income Tax payments will also be deferred until January 2021. This is an automatic offer, which means that businesses do not need to apply for the deferral of these payments. Further information can be found here:


SSP relief for SMEs

Legislation will soon be implemented allowing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who employ less than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absences due to COVID-19. The relief will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been unable to work because of the coronavirus. The Government has promised to set up the SSP relief scheme for employers as soon as possible.

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

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rates relief for the financial year 2020/21. Also, all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will be eligible for a £10,000 grant.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now available for small businesses across the UK who are experiencing cashflow problems due to the pandemic. This Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million and provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on each loan without charge.  Further information can be found here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

HMRC Time to Pay Scheme

Any business in the UK with cash flow issues may be eligible to receive support through the Time to Pay agreement with HMRC. The Scheme will allow businesses to repay their outstanding tax liabilities in monthly instalments over an agreed period of time. Any business concerned that it will not be able to pay an outstanding tax payment due to the financial strains caused by the Coronavirus crisis should contact HMRC’s dedicated helpline as soon as possible: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

It is important that you keep checking the Government website for the latest information on the support available for employers during this unprecedented time: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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