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COVID-19: the latest support for businesses

Measures have been put in place by the Government to support businesses through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Here are the initiatives announced so far, many of which may help your business...

1. Support for Businesses paying sick pay to employees

To help relieve the pressure of paying employees sick pay, the Government will be introducing a scheme for small and medium businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The Government will work with businesses over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for businesses as soon as possible.

How it will work:

  • Businesses with fewer than 250 employees (as of 28th February 2020) are eligible.
  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee absent due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses can reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses should maintain records of employee absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.

2. Support for businesses paying business rates

To help reduce your business outgoings, the Government will be introducing a business rates retail holiday for the 2020/21 tax year for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. All enquiries about the businesses rates holiday should be directed to the local authority (Ipswich Borough Council).

How it will work:

  • Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019/20 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority (Ipswich Borough Council) as soon as possible. If you believe your business qualifies and you have not heard from Ipswich Borough Council by Friday 3rd April, you can contact them via email: or click here to complete the online form.

3. Small Business Grant Funding

To help small businesses meet their ongoing business costs, the Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support those paying little or no business rates (due to Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR)). This scheme is expected to be operating by early April and will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or RRR.

How it will work:

  • If your business is eligible for SBRR or RRR, your local authority will contact you directly.
  • If you think you are eligible and you haven't heard from your local authority, click here to complete the online form.

4. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ will be launched week-commencing 23rd March 2020 to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

How it will work:

  • The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
  • The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
  • Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

5. Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible for support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s existing ‘Time To Pay’ scheme.

How it works:

  • If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis.

6. Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and Government-ordered closures should be covered. Check your existing insurance policy, and terms & conditions, as they are all different; contact your provider if you are unsure.

How it works:

  • Pubs, clubs, theatres, social venues etc can make a claim. This is because the Government advised the public to avoid these businesses on 17th March 2020.

7. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

*Update Weds 15 April*

The full details can be found by clicking the above link but the key headlines are that the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20‌‌ April 2020 and the only way to make a claim is online.

Also note that claims will be paid within 6 working days.

To help protect jobs, the Government are implementing a scheme that will see businesses supported with 80% of the wage costs of employees unable to work or would have been laid off due to COVID-19.

How it will work:

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed employees wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC are working urgently to set up this a reimbursement system.
  • Staff must have been on the company’s payroll as at 19th March 2020 and would have been at risk of redundancy if not furloughed; they must consent to furlough; and the period of furlough must be for a minimum of 3-weeks (presently, to 30th June 2020)

Advice and support from Government is changing daily, therefore we will be keeping this page as up to date as we possibly can. Please check the official Government pages as well:

Government support for businesses

Guidance for employers and businesses

Guidance for employees

8. Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

How it will work:

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

VAT Deferral

Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020

How it will work:

  • All UK VAT-registered businesses are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required
  • UK Registered businesses will not need to make VAT payments normally due with VAT returns during this period
  • Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay

Deferral of Self-Assessment

The Self- Assessment payment on account, that is ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021.

How it will work:

  • If you are due to make a self- assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020 then you are eligible for the deferment.
  • The deferment is intended to assist self-assessment taxpayers, including those who are self-employed, who are suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment of your July 2020 payment on account until January 2021.
  • 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 coronavirus and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you will receive 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 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

How it will work:

  • You will be eligible 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 properties 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
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.
  • Eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to Ipswich Borough Council.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

How it will work:

  • It is likely the scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders. The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans for businesses that would be otherwise unable to access the finance they need

Business Rates Holiday for Nurseries

Nurseries in England* do not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

How it will work:

Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills. For more information please check the guidance on

Last updated: 20th April 2020

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