I have been in constant contact with the Chancellor to impress upon him the seriousness of the situation for businesses in my constituency. Yesterday, the Prime Minister and Chancellor announced a raft of economic measures to support business during these incredibly challenging times. The package of measures to support businesses includes:
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
- Businesses that have insurance cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Full details can be found https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses and once it becomes clear how businesses can access the various grants and loans facilities, which should be early next week, I will communicate further.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
All UK businesses are eligible.
How to access the scheme
You will need to:
- designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
All current COVID -19 announcements and advice by the Government can be found https://www.gov.uk/search/news-and-communications?topical_events%5B%5D=coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response.
Everyone in Government is extremely aware how critical the situation is and as further announcements are made, I will be updating my social media platforms to reflect them at: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kit.malthouse/, Twitter https://twitter.com/kitmalthouse, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kit_malthouse/
Last Updated 20th March.