The novel coronavirus has had a devastating effect across the UK in recent weeks. As more people become sick, businesses are seeing their staff numbers drop. As more people are advised to stay at home, businesses are losing customers. As more people panic-buy from large supermarket chains, smaller businesses become overshadowed and forgotten about.
Although the situation across the country is uncertain, your business doesn’t need to suffer – there are ways to get help. Some of the following measures have been outlined in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring budget, which was put forward on March 11th. However, there are other ways to help businesses which have since been unveiled. Here are 4 ways in which your business can get help from the government at this difficult time.
A £350bn aid package has been put in place for UK businesses
During the budget, the UK government revealed details on a financial aid package worth £350 billion which will be used to aid businesses who will struggle as a result of the coronavirus. The package includes several parts:
- £330 billion in loans
- £20 billion in other aid
- Business rates holiday
- Grants for retailers and pubs
After making the package available, The Chancellor of the Exchequor said that “Any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms.” If you are unable to pay your rent or your salaries, it may be useful to contact HMRC to see if you are able to take out a loan using this package.
HMRC opened a telephone support line
This week we reported in a Daily News story that HMRC have demonstrated their sense of social responsibility by opening up a telephone support line. The purpose of this is to advise self-employed individuals and businesses who are concerned they may not be able to submit their VAT payments on time due to the coronavirus.
HMRC has put in place 2,000 experienced call handlers who will be available to offer advice to those who cannot pay taxes on time. For those unable to pay, HMRC will discuss the following options:
- agreeing an instalment arrangement
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately
If you feel you will not be able to pay your tax on time, do not panic – the government is prepared for the disruption the virus will cause to businesses. You can call the new helpline number on 0800 0159 559.
Small businesses will be eligible for cash grants
In the spring budget it was also announced that the 700,000 smallest businesses in the UK will be eligible to receive a cash grant of £10,000 to help them to pay business costs and rent bills. For small businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000, grants of £25,000 will be available.
Although the government has not yet clarified how to obtain these grants, the Federation of Small Businesses are trying their best to obtain more information on dates and mechanisms. They have said that the grants must be made available very soon.
The business interruption loan scheme means loans of up to £5m
In the budget, the chancellor announced that the business interruption loan scheme would be extended so that small and medium businesses can benefit from this. Under the scheme, businesses will be able to request loans of up to £5 million without having to pay interest for the first six months.
The chancellor has clarified that local retail banks on high streets will be delivering these loans, and that business owners will be able to request a business interruption loan from their local bank from Monday 23rd March.
We are also here to help you!
We hope the new services put in place by the government will make dealing with the effects of the coronavirus easier for your business. However, if you still feel like you are struggling to keep track of your financial records or complete your tax returns on time, please do not hesitate to call us or send us an e-mail – small businesses are our speciality, and we offer services in accounting, bookkeeping and tax compliance.
We hope that you stay well and safe and we are thinking of everyone who has been affected by the virus.