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Coronavirus - business support

Government schemes and guidance to support businesses

The Government has announced a number of schemes to support businesses. Regular updates are being made, so please check the Government’s website for the most up to date advice. We have created a helpful graphic which outlines the various business support available. A printable version is available below.

If your business is eligible for a grant, we will contact you – you do not need to apply.

We have set up a dedicated page of information for you relating to the grants available.


Council tax and business rates payments can be deferred for two months for those who need it, please see our news item on how to register for this:

To defer your business rates payments please email businessrates@wiltshire.gov.uk or telephone 01249 706290.

This scheme has been extended by a further four months and will now remain open until the end of October 2020. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of the current salary, up to £2,500 and this will continue until the end of July. From the start of August, furloughed staff will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed employees. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the Government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. More specific details around the implementation will be published by the end of May 2020.

No business will pay VAT from now to mid-June 2020. Businesses will have until the end of financial year (April 2021) to repay VAT bills.
A major new scheme to support liquidity amongst larger firms has been launched by the Bank of England. It will help bridge Coronavirus disruption to a firm’s cash flow through loans. This scheme will operate for at least 12 months.

All eligible businesses with a turnover of more than £45 million per year will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million will be able to apply for up to £50 million of finance.
The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders. The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus.
This scheme will help SMEs to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The Government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme is now available and will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. There is no complex criteria, just a simple online form. Most loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

This scheme supports businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the scheme will support loans of up to £5 million. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free. Loans are now available from 40 accredited lenders.

The Government has announced a new £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by COVID-19, made up of funding from the Government and the private sector. Launching in May, the fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the Government, with private investors at least matching the Government commitment.
The targeted and tailored help aims to ensure some of the most dynamic sectors, ranging from tech to life sciences, are protected and can continue to develop innovative new products and help the UK economy grow.

SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans. Initially open until the end of September 2020, the scheme will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme.
Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. The first payments will be made by mid-May 2020.

The Government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Through the emergency legislation, employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim 2 weeks of SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak. The online claim service is not yet available and HMRC will announce when the service is available.

The Government has introduced a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:
  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
We will send you a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.

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.

The minimum income level has been suspended, meaning self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay.
All Self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.

This income support scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. It will be open for an initial three months and may be extended if needed. HMRC aims to contact those eligible for the scheme mid-May 2020 so they can apply and will make payments by early-June 2020. The online claim service is now available. HMRC is contacting self-employed people who could be eligible for this scheme so they can apply.

  • Be self-employed or a member of a partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • Have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
    o Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
    o Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

Self-employed people can also use the online checker which will quickly confirm whether you are eligible and will provide you with a specific date from which you can make a claim.


Protection from eviction

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. In the meantime, tenants are encouraged to reach voluntary arrangements with their landlords about rental payments due.

The Government is increasing the retail discount on business rates to 100% for 12 months which has been expanded so it now includes retail, hospitality and leisure properties, such as museums, theatres, gyms, pubs, shops, music venues, restaurants and hotels.

If your business has received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year we will send a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.
HMRC may be able to help those in need regarding their tax liabilities, by providing a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.

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.

The Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains, particularly in non-service sectors such as manufacturing and construction, and helps businesses to continue trading with each other during coronavirus knowing they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.

The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the Government aims for agreements to be in place with insurers by the end of May 2020. The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover COVID-19 economic challenges and will provisionally last until the end of the year. 
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 and other establishments 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.

A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. We are aware that £2 billion is being made available by Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion by NatWest. Other lenders may also be launching schemes and businesses must satisfy themselves of the terms and conditions of this before agreeing to loan agreements. Please check with your lender or bank.


Further details can be found on HM Government FAQs business support page


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Last updated: 18 May 2020 | Last reviewed: 18 May 2020