As the Prime Minister announced plans this afternoon to “push down further on curve of transmissions” of the Covid-19 virus, cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants, theatres, nightclubs, gyms and leisure centres will all close as soon as possible today. 
 
Many small business owners are left wondering how much more extensive the measures will be and what help will be available to them. 
 
Here’s our best information at the moment: 
 
Insurance 
Businesses with cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. The government and insurance industry have confirmed that advice to avoid public places such as pubs and theatres is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met. However, standard business interruption insurance policies tend to focus on damage to property and will exclude pandemics. You will need to check your policy. 
 
Government measures 
Paying employees - The government says it will pay up to 80% of wages for workers at risk of being laid off in the current situation as part of a ‘coronavirus job retention scheme’. 
 
Chancellor Rishi Sunak says that employers will be able to apply to HMRC for payments of up to £2,500 per worker per month. The scheme will initially be open for three months and payments will be backdated to 1 March. 
 
Loans – it is now confirmed that the loan scheme announced earlier this week will be interest free for 12 months rather than the six months, as previously announced. 
 
VAT – the next quarter’s VAT will be deferred, so no payments will be due until the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay these bills. 
 
Retail and leisure businesses – business rates will be deferred for 12 months. If this applies to your business, you can estimate the business rate savings using the business rates calculator. Grants of up to £25,000 will be available for businesses with properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Your local authority will contact you. 
 
Small businesses - small business grant funding of £10,000 will be available for all businesses receiving of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be launched next week, providing loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank. There will legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers with fewer than 250 employees (as of 28 February 2020) to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19. 
 
Self-employed - tax relief will be available for self-employed people, who will be allowed to defer Self Assessment payments until January 2021. They will also be able to claim universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay, although this remains at £94.25 per week. 
 
Benefits - increases of £1,000 a year in universal credit payments were included in the announcements. The working tax credit basic element will also be increased by £1,000. 
 
Tax payments 
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, could be eligible to receive support with their tax through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. 
 
Accommodation 
Tenants - the Chancellor also announced £1bn of support for renters and emergency legislation will protect tenants from eviction. 
 
Mortgages - mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday, but borrowers should be aware that unpaid sums will be included when their repayments resume, increasing the monthly amount. 
 
 
You can see more detailed information on the www.gov.uk website
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