Help for businesses affected by the coronavirus

Following last week’s unprecedented Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced further measures to help businesses cope with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

At a glance:

HMRC Coronavirus Helpline 0800 0159 559 / 0800 024 1222

The Business Support helpline 0300 456 3565

Applying for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (‘CBILS’)

Job Retention Scheme – how it will operate

Job retention scheme for employers affected by coronavirus – HMRC guidance

Statutory Sick Pay – an employer’s guide

HMRC Summary of measures for businesses affected by Coronavirus


  • The Job Retention Scheme was announced for employers, encouraging them to avoid making redundancies in the light of coronavirus. HMRC covers 80% of salaries via a grant, effective from 1 March 2020 and is capped at individual salaries of £2,500. Employers should identify affected workers as ‘furloughed’ (granted a leave of absence), notify them of this change and notify HMRC of the staff member and their salary details when applying for the grant. Important to note that workers are not ‘laid off’ as part of being furloughed. We will provide details of this once the scheme is up and running. There is no limit on the funding for this scheme. HMRC is currently setting up a new online portal to make the claim and we expect details shortly to come through. Details of how the scheme will operate here.
  • Companies can apply for a 3 month filing extension for their accounts if impacted by coronavirus. This must be done before the original filing deadline and an automatic 3 month extension will be granted.
  • An automatic 3 month extension is granted to to companies with a filing date between 27/6/20 & 5/4/21. The Confirmation Statement filing deadline has been extended from 14 days to 42 days; this is automatic and companies do not need to apply for it.
  • VAT payments are postponed for the next three months until 30 June 2020. The VAT will then be due at the end of the 2020/21 financial year i.e. 31 March 2021 for monthly payers or quarterly payers 31 March 2021, 30 April 2021 or 31 May 2021. There has been no mention of interest charges on any deferred VAT. Businesses should apply to suspend their direct debits via their VAT online account, then reinstate the DD in due course. All returns must still be filed on time and this postponement only applies to UK businesses and not foreign businesses with a UK VAT registration. More info on this here.
  • £330bn of low interest government-backed loans has been made available to all businesses to ease cash flow pressures when covering rent, suppliers, payroll expenses and stock.
  • SMEs can now borrow up to £5m under the ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ (‘CBILS’), up from the £1.2m limit announced in last week’s Budget. These are delivered by the British Business Bank with the government paying the first 12 months of interest. Loans can be applied for from 23rd March 2020 and the BBB advises approaching one of the 40+ accredited lenders with their proposal. See our separate page on CBILS for what info you’ll need and other useful advice.
  • All retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England are exempt from paying Business Rates for a whole year and enquiries should go through the local authority.
  • The 700,000 small businesses already eligible for 100% business rate relief and Rural Rate Relief will receive a grant of £10,000 to help with business costs. This was previously capped at £3,000 in last week’s Budget.
  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of between £15,000 but less than £51,000 will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000.
  • Banks have agreed a 3-month mortgage holiday for individuals hit by the coronavirus.

We are expecting and hoping for further support to businesses and individuals which gets cash to the front line quickly and will update you on these as and when we hear about them. These could include changes to employer NIC and further help for individuals who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus.

We’d also urge you to check your insurance wording as pandemics are often excluded from cover.

Help for businesses announced in the Budget 2020

SME employers with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded up to 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per employee providing certain conditions are met. These include adequate record keeping and that the sickness is coronavirus related.

Some small businesses affected by coronavirus will receive a 100% Business Rates discount for 2020/21. Relief has also been extended to the hospitality and leisure sectors. Pubs can claim a Business Rates discount up to £5,000, providing the pub has a rateable value below £100,000.

Time to Pay – The HMRC has a dedicated help line (0800 0159 559) with 2,000 experienced call handlers for those affected by the virus. Businesses and the self-employed will get extra time to pay their tax liabilities, with late payment penalties and interest waived during the affected period.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme – businesses will be able to access funding and overdrafts via this government backed initiative with the scheme supporting loans of up to £1.2m in value.

Help for individuals    

SSP will be available from day 1 of corona-related sickness absence or for those self-isolating.

Employers will relax the requirements around sick notes.

For those ineligible for SSP, it will be easier to access Employment & Support Allowance and the Universal Credit and this is claimable by those self-isolating or directly affected by the coronavirus.

Help for public services

The National Institute for Health Research will receive funding of £30m to carry out research into the virus and its effects. An additional £10m is available for diagnostic testing.

If your finances have suffered as a result of the coronavirus, we can help you understand what help you are entitled to. Please get in touch to discuss your options. [email protected]  or call 01527 558539.

businesses affected by coronavirus