COVID-19 - What We Know So Far


As you will be aware, The Chancellor has set out temporary measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

We thought it would be convenient for you all to use this document to outline the details.  As the details are changing almost daily, we will update this document as and when we have the details.

The measures are detailed below;


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


Employers can claim 80% of the salary for up to £2,500 per employee, per month and backdated from 1 March 2020, and open for at least three months. To claim Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers will need to submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal.


Furloughed is when employers ask employees to take a temporary leave of absence due to the needs of an employer but kept on the payroll.


Further information on the portal will be added when details of the online portal are released.



Claiming benefits

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

From 6 April the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for will increase by £20 per week for one year, this is on top of planned annual uprating, it applies to all new and existing Universal Credit  and tax credit claimants.

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home you can now claim universal credit and get advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.


If you are self-employed


You can claim universal credit providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.  This is £94.50 a week. 


You can also access support for rent costs.  You can check your availability for this, it is available for people in and out of work.




Deferring VAT

VAT payments will be deferred for 3 months. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.  All UK businesses are eligible.  This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

We would assume that the returns still have to be filed and will get clarification on what happens if your VAT is paid by Direct Debit.


Deferring Income Tax

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.  If you are self-employed you are eligible.  This is an automatic offer with no applications required.


Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

Legislation to allow UK small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 is being introduced.  This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.  Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible, the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020

You should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If you require evidence from your employee, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.


A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England


You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England and in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.  These are, shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues, for assembly and leisure, as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

You don’t need to take any action. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

There will also be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.  You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England, occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.


Cash grants for businesses with property.

small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief, rural rate relief and tapered relief will receive a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs.

You are eligible if your business is based in England, and you are a small business and already receive Small business rate relief and or rural rate relief.  Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

A grant for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors of up to £25,000 per property.  You are eligible for the grant if your business is based in England and is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues, for assembly and leisure or as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

As with the smaller grant you do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.




Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) 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. 

You are eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year and meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria (credit score, can you afford it etc..).

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The scheme will be available from early next week commencing 23 March.


Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.  This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.  It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

All UK businesses are eligible and it will be available early in week beginning 23 March 2020.  More information is available from the Bank of England.


Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.  You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.



Businesses that have 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 as long as all other terms and conditions are met.

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.



MOT’S for cars, vans and motorcycles due from 30 March 2020


From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months. This is being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

You do not need to do anything to extend your vehicle’s MOT expiry date if it’s on or after 30 March 2020. However, you must Keep your vehicle safe to drive.

Your vehicle will be automatically given a 6-month MOT exemption. This will extend your current MOT expiry date by 6 months.


Example Your vehicle’s MOT was due to expire on 3 April 2020.


This will automatically be extended to 3 October 2020. You will need to get your MOT by this date.


You can check your MOT history to see when you have been issued an exemption. It will not be updated straight away, so keep checking back if your new due date MOT is not yet showing.


You will not get a paper exemption certificate.


If your vehicle tax is due, you can tax your vehicle as soon as your MOT due date has been updated.

If your vehicle’s first MOT is due

Your vehicle will be automatically given a 6-month MOT exemption from the date its first MOT was due.

If your first MOT was due before 30 March 2020 and your vehicle did not pass

Your vehicle will not get an extension to its MOT due date.

Your vehicle will need to pass an MOT before you can drive it again.

The government is allowing MOT centres and garages to remain open. So you can still get an MOT if you need your vehicle:

·         to shop for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as 

          infrequent as possible

·         for any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

·         to travel to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from


Keeping your vehicle safe to drive

You must make sure your vehicle is safe to drive (‘roadworthy’). It can be unsafe even if your MOT expiry date has been extended.

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

You should still take your vehicle to be repaired at the nearest open garage. The government is allowing them to remain open.



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