Legal Small Business Advice

Covid-19: Support from UK Government FAQs

12 Oct 2020

In these difficult times, it's important to be relentlessly focused on providing excellent service and support to our local businesses. To help, here is an FAQ on the most frequent questions we have been asked so far.

1) Am I self-employed or employed?

Directors are office holders, and therefore are employees of the business. In this situation you’re not self-employed.

2) I'm self-employed - what support is there for me?

The Government will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to COVID-19.

This will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits (from the last three tax years (2016-17 to 2018-19) April up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

You cannot apply for this scheme yet, and instead HMRC will contact you if eligible and invite you to apply online. Payments will start from June at the earliest.

3) How can I continue to pay staff during the next months?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ (not self-employed workers) salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of 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.

You will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change

  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (We will provide more information in the next few weeks)

4) What is a furloughed worker?

We understand that “furloughed workers” are “workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak” per GOV.UK news story.

5) What happens if I don’t have any employees or want additional support?

If you are a director with no employees you can furlough yourself. However, you won't be able to do work for the company in the period.

The grant will be based on 80% of previous salary submitted to HMRC (this period hasn't been communicated yet by the government), and you will need to be on the payroll during February 2020.

Additional support for businesses can be claimed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This loan will help to cover business costs and wages (while you wait for the Job Retention Scheme payments).

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, will launch from 23 March 2019, to support primarily 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.

Please let us know if you need help applying for these loans by getting in touch with us on 0207 043 4000  or

6) Should I pay staff who are sick or self-isolating?

You should pay at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This is £94.25 until 5 April, then it increases to £95.85. The government will create legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. Key points are as follows:

  • The 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

  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, 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

  • The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

When this comes into force, we will let you know.

7) What if I can't pay my business taxes?

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.

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.

8) What support is there for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses?

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. The government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be re-billed by their local authority as soon as possible.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be:

  • shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues.

  • Hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme?

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. 

9) Other support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses?

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

10) How to access the scheme?

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

Give us a call on 0207 043 4000 to see how we can help you get the business support you need. Learn more about our small business accounting services, or try our instant accounting quote tool.