Coronavirus - support for businesses and employers

We are monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and want to ensure Liverpool businesses are kept fully aware of the full range of support available to them. 

Business rates discounts and 'holidays'

The government is temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates. 

A business rates retail holiday will be introduced for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Government will also introduce a business rates holiday for nurseries for 2020-2021 tax year.

Business rates - annual bills

In Liverpool, annual business rates bills were issued before new discounts and holidays were announced and unfortunately they do not include these reductions. Where appropriate, new bills will be issued as soon as possible and they will include any discounts that may reduce your bill.

We appreciate that the coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on business. If you are struggling to pay your business rates please email business.unit@liverpool.gov.uk. You can also use our online services to tell us of any changes.

Small business cash crant

There will be a £10,000 cash grant for small businesses available to 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities, and worth a total of £2bn. It is hoped the funds will be available from April and we are waiting for further clarity on how this will be managed.

Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All employers can access support to help them continue paying salaries of employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this outbreak.

This scheme is for businesses, charity or non-profit organisation and will be a grant not a loan. It has been set up to cover an initial three-month period but will be extended if necessary. It is designed to: cover up to 80% of the salary of anyone not working, but retaining their job, as a result of coronavirus - up to £2,500 per month and pay wages back dated to 1st March 2020.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme will allow people to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. This may be extended if needed. The scheme covers 95%of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

You cannot apply for the scheme yet and HMRC will contact you if you are eligible. See GOV.UK for more information on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Any self-assessment payments ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31st July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021. See GOV.UK's business support website for more information about deferral of payments.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan and the scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Locally, Merseyside Special Investment Fund will be managing the delivery of the scheme which is expected to go live shortly

Deferring VAT and income tax payments

Valued Added Tax payments for all UK businesses will be deferred for three months.

If you’re self-employed, income tax payments due in July 2020 under the self-assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Arts Council England funding

Arts Council England announced it will offer individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector new financial support during this crisis, including:

  • A total of £90m for National Portfolio Organisations
  • A total of £50m with grants of up to £35,000 for organisations that are not in receipt of regular Arts Council funding
  • A total of £20m with grants of up to £2,500 for individual artists, creative practitioners and freelancers

View more information on the Arts Council England website

Rent support for businesses

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.

The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. It will last until 30th June 2020, with an option for the government to extend if needed.

Insurance cover

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs and theatres is sufficient to make a claim.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so 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.

Statutory sick pay

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay (SSP) per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave. This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as possible. Further details will be provided on how to access the scheme when the legislation has been passed.

DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally

This support is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus. It includes:

  • DIT support for UK business trading internationally
  • financial support for business trading internationally

DIT can also support businesses by providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products, offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity.

British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus can contact DIT’s dedicated business support team by emailing COVID19@trade.gov.uk.

This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses that trade internationally to understand how best the department can support them.

Financial support for exporters

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions.

Help from UKEF can be gained if:

  • your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
  • you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control

UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services.

UKEF has over £4bn of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus to help cover these risks.

To find out if UKEF covers your region, email customer.service@ukexportfinance.gov.uk.

Supply chains affected by coronavirus 

If your supply chain has been affected by coronavirus, DIT can help you to find alternative suppliers. The department has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will be able to advise you on the options available.

If you have an advisory or professional services firm that can help UK companies to find alternative suppliers, email COVID19@trade.gov.uk with the subject line 'Supply chain support'.

Covid Commercial Financing Facility

The Covid Commercial Financing Facility is a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England will help companies which make a material contribution to the UK economy to bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. Up to 12 months support is on offer.

Time to Pay arrangement

A dedicated helpline has been set up by HMRC to support businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs.

Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you run a business or are self-employed you can call HMRC on 0800 0159 559.

Help with workforce issues

Should a business find themselves in the difficult position of having to lay off staff during this unprecedented period, Liverpool City Council's – Liverpool in Work team can offer assistance, email liverpoolinwork@liverpool.gov.uk. 

Bank of England measures

The Bank of England has announced a comprehensive package of measures to help UK businesses bridge across the economic disruption that is likely to be associated with coronavirus.

Private lenders

A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by coronavirus. Banks that have so far announced making funds available include £2bn from Lloyds Banking Group and £5bn from NatWest.

Companies House

Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. 

Further advice and support

  • Local Growth Hub: Call 0151 233 5914/0151 233 5916/0151 233 5919/0151 233 5913
  • National Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565