It goes without saying that the past few weeks and days especially have been turbulent for absolutely everyone in the UK and worldwide. We are amidst a global pandemic with the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus. 
Employers, employees, huge corporations and small businesses alike are all affected by this new illness, and nobody knows exactly how it’s going to pan out over the next few days, weeks or months. For now, all you can do is take the right precautions i.e. self-isolate if you or anyone in your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus, practice good hygiene, avoid large social gatherings and – if possible – work from home. 
 
Full details of the government’s official response and advice can be found here
 
Your business may be affected – but there are measures you can take to help decrease the effect that the coronavirus outbreak has on it. 

Temporary measures for the self-employed affected by COVID-19 

As you’ll have seen in our Budget blog post from last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out some temporary measures to assist business owners and self-employed people during this chaotic period. 
 
This includes a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs, Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs which will also be extended to the leisure and hospitality sectors, small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief, and finally a coronavirus business interruption loan to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. 
Please get in touch with us if you’re not sure whether you qualify for any of these schemes, and we’ll help you apply if needs be. Full details of each of the schemes can be found here

More details of the statutory sick pay relief package 

The government is bringing in legislation which allows SMEs to reclaim SSP paid for any sickness due to COVID-19. As this is likely to affect many business owners, it’s important you understand how the statutory sick pay (SSP) package will work for you if you require it. 
 
Essentially, any sick pay you pay to employees who are out of work for a period of up to fourteen days due to coronavirus will be eligible for a refund from the government. This is available to any businesses with fewer than 250 employees. As an employer, you should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. The government has said it will work with employers over the coming months to set up the refund system for employers as soon as possible. 

HMRC tax payment helpline 

A new HMRC helpline has been launched to help businesses concerned about paying their taxes due to coronavirus. Some options are agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings and cancelling penalties and interest where you run into administrative difficulties contacting HMRC or paying them directly. If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice on 0800 0159 559 and the helpline is open Monday to Friday 08:00-20:00 and Saturday 08:00-16:00. There are likely to be call queues and delays – so patience is a virtue! 

Need urgent advice from us? Book a call 

We understand how scary and uncertain this time is for you, so we are here if you need to speak to us. If you're a client of ours and you need urgent financial advice, please do not hesitate to book a call here
 
 
 
 
Written by 
 
Nicola J Sorrell - 
Effective Accounting 
 
Founder | Xero Champion | IR35 Expert 
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