The government announced a package of measures in the budget to support businesses through the coronavirus crisis. The Chancellor recognised that many businesses will be affected by an interruption in trading and loss of staff due to illness or self-isolation. We would summarise the measures as follows –
Statutory Sick Pay
This is currently paid to employees from the fourth day of illness and is funded by the employer, many of whom receive an annual employment allowance of £3,000 to compensate for such expenditure.
To support affected employees, SSP will be paid from day 1 of the illness for those who contract the virus or are self-isolating in-line with government advice.
Those who are self-isolating will soon be able to obtain a sick note to cover this for their employers by contacting NHS 111, instead of visiting a doctor.
Employers will be able to recover the SSP they have paid under the above circumstances, rather than fund it themselves. The rules for that are as follows-
- You must be a small or medium sized business (Less than 250 employees)
- The refund will cover up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who have been off work due to COVID-19
- This will commence the day after the extension of SSP to self-isolators,which comes into force shortly
The government will work with employers to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible, as existing systems are not designed for employer refunds of SSP. Bear in mind then, until we learn more, that employers will have to wait for the refunds.
Extra support for the NHS
The government are committed to provide whatever extra resources are required to tackle the virus. They have also provided a £40 million fund for rapid research into COVID-19.
Help for the self-employed
Those who are not eligible for SSP can now more easily claim for benefits. For the duration of the outbreak, the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be relaxed for those suffering or self-isolating. The claims will be possible without visiting a Job Centre.
The Contributory Employment & Support Allowance (£73.10 per week for the over 25’s) will be claimable from day 1 rather than day 8 as it is now.
Business Rates discount
- 100% retail discount to be applied for 1 year and expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
- Pubs will receive an increase in the planned rates discount to £5,000
- Small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief will be able to apply to their local authority for a £3,000 grant
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
If businesses need loan support through the crisis, the banks will be encouraged in the next few weeks to provide loans and overdrafts to affected businesses, which will be guaranteed at 80% by the government.
Time to pay outstanding tax liabilities
All businesses in financial distress can call a dedicated HMRC helpline to discuss spreading their tax on a case by case basis. 2,000 extra call centre staff will be provided. The number to call is 0800 0159 559.
OUR CORONAVIRUS PREPARATIONS
We at Bayliss Ware have been making plans, should it become necessary to self-isolate/close the office in the face of the crisis. In order to maintain as much of a service as possible, we have already temporarily leased further laptops for staff if advised to work at home and arranged for our IT support team to set them all up so they can dial into their PC’s in the office to fully access our systems. In the meantime, we would ask all our visitors to confirm in advance if they have travelled recently or come from a badly affected area. We would also appreciate them washing their hands when they arrive. We may stop shaking hands on arrival and bump elbows instead! We will keep you informed of the extent to which our services may be affected by newsletter.