Updated 21st March 2020. 3pm.
If you are struggling financially then the below is a guide as to the main help available and how to claim it, this is our simple interpretation of the current legislation which at present is changing daily, I suggest you contact the relevant bodies to confirm the position at time of application.
In the first instance I suggest you call the HMRC Business support helpline on 0300 456 3565 but bear in mind this line will be extremely busy.
IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYER
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee off work due to COVID-19 will be refunded by the government in full.
If employee wants to social distance and not come in to work, then this is unpaid or can use holiday. If employee is not in vulnerable category, then employer may discipline if feels necessary.
Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.
If you have to lay off workers, you must pay £29 a day for 5 days in any 3-month period, so a maximum of £145.
The Job retention scheme will be launched by way of a grant to cover 80% of retained employees’ wages to a maximum of £2500. Employers will need to contact HMRC for help to cover the costs of employees who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll rather than being laid off.
IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE
Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 for those affected by coronavirus.
The SSP is for people earning an average of £118 per week, the rate is £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice.
IF YOU ARE SELF EMPLOYED
Those who are not eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
You can apply for Universal Credit if you have low income or out of work, this must be done online using the following link.
You’ll get your first payment around 5 weeks after applying online if your application is successful. When you apply, you can ask for an advance if you need help sooner.
Contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
You can apply for contribution-based ESA if you’ve been employed or self-employed and paid National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 years. National Insurance credits can also count.
This is for people directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating according to Government advice, or who are caring for a child who’s ill or been told to self-isolate.
The amount won’t be affected by either you or your partner’s savings or income, though if you get a private pension worth more than £85 per week it’ll be reduced.
During the time your claim is assessed, the amount of ESA paid out is:
up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25
up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
When the claim has been approved, you may get slightly more
If you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years you may be able to get income-related ESA.
You cannot get income-related ESA if you have savings or investments worth over £16,000.
To apply, you can either:
Call the helpline on 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2)
Download and print the ESA1 form and send or take it to your local Jobcentre Plus, link is here.
Already claiming benefits?
If you already get benefits like tax credits or housing benefit, and you’re off sick due to coronavirus, Citizens Advice says you may be entitled to more money to make up for the loss of earnings. It’s also worth using the benefit checker link here to see if there’s anything else you’re entitled to.
Banks are currently offering the following help for those in need:
Waiving fees for missed payments
Offering reduced payments
Offering mortgage holidays
If you are financially struggling you may be able to apply for a mortgage holiday, assuming you’re not in arrears or missed payments before.
This means that most banks should offer a three-month ‘holiday’, allowing customers a temporary break from having to make mortgage payments during this time.
So, let’s imagine you have 19 years and three months left on your mortgage. For the next three months you wouldn’t pay anything. Then when your mortgage repayments resume, the total you owe would be spread over the following 19 years – so you would see a very small uplift in future payments.
You will still pay interest and it shouldn’t affect your credit score.
To apply for this benefit, I suggest you speak to your lender at the earliest opportunity, the more warning you give, the more breathing space you’ll have if you do get into financial difficulties.
Many banks will help those struggling to repay personal loans, I suggest you contact your lender to discuss, most banks will help with waiving fees for missed payments, offer reduced payments and offer payment holidays
BUSINESS RATES SUPPORT
The government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from April 2020 for a year.
A £25,000 grant will be provided to the same sector businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rate able value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility should be directed to the relevant local authority from next week.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANT
The Government will provide funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates. This grant is £10,000 for each eligible business. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority – they do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to local authorities in early April.
BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will launch next week to support primarily small and medium sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free; details will be released on 23 March 2020.
IR35 off-payroll rules were delayed till April 2021 to provide some relief to businesses.
Insurance – 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 possible exception will be government ordered closures which may be covered under a pub or theatre policy.
Outstanding tax liabilities – All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Self-employed tax – the next self-assessment payments due by 31st July will be deferred to January 2021
Working tax credit – the basic element increased by £1000 for the next 12 months
VAT payments – will be deferred until the end of June
Please note this is initial guidance only and advice must be sought on application.
Information correct as at 21 March 2020
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