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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 seven 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); with guidance expected to be published by 20th March 2020.

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.
  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value (RV) between £15,000 and £51,000.

3. Support for businesses paying little or no business rates

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 your 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 is you’re 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

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.

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

Last updated: 13:45 Tuesday 24thr March 2020

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