COVID-19 UPDATE March 13, 2020

We have recently sent out a newsletter covering the main points from the Budget. We are still waiting for further details on a majority of the announcements. However, we know there is a lot of concern about the impact of the Corona Virus (COVID-19). The government has announced the following measures to support businesses experiencing increases in costs or financial disruptions:

• Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
• Not eligible for SSP
• Business Rates
• Business Interruption Loan Scheme
• Outstanding Tax Liabilities

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP will now be available for eligible employees (earning over £118 per week) diagnosed with COVID-19 or for those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government advice.
Employers can reclaim SSP paid for sickness due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
• The refund will cover up to two weeks of SSP per eligible employee
• Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible
• Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
There is currently no mechanism for the repayment. The government have said they will work with employers to set this up.
If we prepare your payroll, you will need to provide any periods of absence due to COVID-19 with your wage figures. We will calculate the SSP and once announced provide advice on how it is recovered.

Not eligible for SSP
Self-employed or people earning below £118 per week, can claim a Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
• Contributory Employment and Support Allowance is available for the self-employed, affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from day one at the rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25.
• Universal Credit and access to advance payments upfront can now be claimed, without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre, if they are advised to self-isolate.
For help or assistance with Contributory Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2).

Business Rates
Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value under £51,000 will receive a discount on business rates of 100% for one year – they should pay no business rates.
Businesses that qualify for 100% Small Business Rates Relief will be eligible for Small Business Grant Funding of £3,000 via local authorities.
From 1st April 2020 and for a period of one year, a business rates discount of £5,000 will be available for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000.
Local authorities should re-issue rate demands for eligible businesses automatically. If not, or if they are unaware that you operate in the relevant sectors, you will need to call your local authority

Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of up to 80% on each loan. The government will not charge banks or businesses for this guarantee and the scheme will support loans up to £1.2 million in value.
This should make it easy to obtain loans and overdrafts from banks or other financial institutions.
If your business needs financial support through this difficult period, please contact your GJA client manager and they will make an introduction to a local broker who will assist you with finding the most suitable source of finance.

Outstanding tax liabilities
HMRC have set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline for advice and support for businesses and self-employed people in financial distress due to outstanding tax liabilities. Time to pay arrangements should be available.
HMRC dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559

More details will be available in due course. In the meantime please contact your client manager, if you require further assistance