Government assistance to businesses

Tax Helpline

There is a new helpline to offer help and support to any business or self-employed individuals that are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19. HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances with a view to:

  • agreeing an instalment payment plan;
  • suspending debt collection proceedings; and/or
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties.

The helpline number is 0800 0159 559 and it is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm.

COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – loans up to £5 million

The scheme is expected to be available from 23 March 2020.  There are a wide range of finance options available including:

  • Loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Invoice finance facilities
  • Asset finance facilities

To be eligible the business must be:

  • based in the UK,
  • with turnover less than £45 million
  • operate within an eligible sector – see link to SIC codes
  • confirm they have not received more than EUR 200,000 in state aid in the preceding two years
  • have a sound borrowing proposal but insufficient security – this may have just been amended to “considered viable in the longer-term”

The banks involved in the scheme are here.

We don’t know how this will work, does the business have to produce the last set of accounts before COVID 19 started to impact the business? If the business was viable at that date would that mean the business qualifies as a “sound borrowing proposal”.  No one could put together a business proposal now that will look sound (unless you make loo roll!) This has already been amended to “viable in the longer term”.

Chancellor’s other measures

Providing business rates support and grant funding by:

  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday;
  • increasing grants to small business eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.  The council will determine the amount and contact the ratepayer;
  • other £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

Clients may wish to contact their banks next week and set up a facility that can be drawn on, should the current situation persist.

For those of you that work through a limited company and are director’s.  Please be aware that trading whilst insolvent (i.e. the company cannot meet its liabilities) is a serious offence and can lead to prosecution of the directors.  If you take out loans to “tide you over”, please be cautious.