We'll update this page as new support and reliefs are announced by the Government, and once our team has reviewed the detail to understand what this means for you.

Latest Government support and reliefs 

HM Government - find out more and apply for business support

Use the index below to quickly navigate to the section of most interest to you:

Key areas

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Today (26 March), the self-employed of the UK were centre stage for the right reasons. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, a much-anticipated and very welcome lifeline of support, of which 95% of self-employed people will be able to benefit. 

What does the package look like for the self-employed?
  • Taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits over the last three years up to £2,500 per month
  • Open across the UK for at least three months and extended if necessary
  • Can claim these grants and continue to do business
Are there any restrictions?

It is recognised that this has been difficult to do in practice, with a very diverse self-employed demographic. There are some initial guidelines:

  • Not open to anyone with trading profits over £50,000
  • Only available to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment
  • You must be trading at the point of application (or would be, except for coronavirus) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
Are your trading profits less than £50,000?

In determining if trading profits are less than £50,000, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • Have trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018/19 of less than £50,000 and these profits make up more than half of your total taxable income
  • Have average trading profits in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 of less than £50,000 and these profits make up more than half of your average taxable income in the same period

If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return.

How do I access this scheme?

Access to funds is estimated to be from the beginning of June, although this may come sooner. HMRC will contact you directly and ask for a simple online form to be completed. The scheme will be backdated to cover the three months income up to May 2020 and the money will be paid straight into your bank account.

Anyone who missed the 5 April 2019 tax return filing deadline in January must submit their tax return before 23 April 2020 to ensure they are eligible.

Find out more on the Government’s website.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (£330bn of government-backed loans and guarantees) 

The Government has announced that any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. Should demand be greater than the initial £330bn, they will go further and offer even greater sums. This is designed to ensure that banks continue to lend to their customers.

On 3 April 2020 Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS) and an additional loan scheme for larger businesses:

What are the key updates to the CBILS?

  • All viable businesses will be able to access the loan scheme
  • The UK Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan
  • The UK Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payment and any lender-levied fees
  • For loans over £250,000, Personal Guarantee’s will be limited to just 20% of any amount outstanding on the CBILS lending after any other recoveries from business assets. Banks will look to put these in place at their discretion. This update will also apply to those loans already made available under the scheme.

Find out more on the Government’s website.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

This second business interruption loan scheme has been announced and is available for larger businesses who have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. It is expected to launch later in April.

This is fundamentally the same scheme as the initial CBILS, however there are some key eligibility differences.

  • Loans are made available up to £25m
  • Firms must have a turnover between £45m and £500m

Find out more on the Government’s website.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government will pay wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – every employer in the country will be eligible to participate in the scheme. Companies are advised to contact HMRC and apply for a grant to cover the wages for people who are in furlough (i.e. those who have been sent home from work due to the coronavirus outbreak and as long as they are not undertaking any work and will be brought back into work). The amount available is 80% of an employee’s salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, per employee. It can also be backdated to March 1 and will be open initially for three months. HMRC are working hard to get this up and running. It is thought that the first grants will be paid in the coming weeks and fully set up by the end of April. 

We've created an initial briefing note on this scheme based on the information available at the moment. Visit our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme page for more details.

Next quarterly VAT payment deferred

The next quarterly VAT payment due by businesses is to be deferred. Payments are deferred from now until end of June and companies will have until the end of the financial year to pay any deferred VAT. This is a direct injection of £30bn of cash to employers, equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.

Key points to note:
  • VAT returns are still required to be prepared and filed by the normal due date.
  • The deferment is applied automatically, there is no requirement for businesses to apply to HMRC.
  • If VAT is normally paid by direct debit, a business will need to cancel the direct debit with their bank to ensure a VAT payment is not collected.
  • Similarly, payments on account (if applicable) for VAT would need to be cancelled to ensure that payments are not collected.
  • This is simply a deferment and the amount of VAT deferred will still be payable to HMRC at a future date. Payment will be due by 31 March 2021 and further guidance is expected from HMRC soon as to how businesses can repay the VAT deferred.
  • HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred.
  • The deferment is optional and businesses who are in a position to pay their VAT liability as normal can choose to do so.
  • VAT payments due following the end of the deferral period need to be paid as normal.
  • It is not absolutely clear if the deferral applies to non-resident businesses with a UK VAT registration or only to UK businesses. We are proceeding on the basis that the deferral would also be available to non-resident businesses with a UK VAT liability.
  • Deferment is not available for VAT MOSS payments.
  • VAT refund returns should be processed and paid by HMRC as normal.

Find out more on the Government's website.

Income tax Payment on Account due 31 July 2020 deferred 

All taxpayers with a second self-assessment payment on account due on 31 July 2020 can choose to defer payment until 31 January 2021. If you have a direct debit payment in place you must cancel this with your bank. 

Find out more on the Government's website.

How to apply

There will be a nationwide advertising campaign from Monday 23 March to communicate the measures.

Find out more and apply on the Government's website.

The Chancellor made a plea to all business to review all options before considering making anyone redundant.  

Assistance with Cash Flow

Many businesses do not want to take in further debt so the UK Government has announced measures to assist with cash flows and other measures to help business continuity. This support takes the form of:

  • A 12 month business rate holiday in England for all business in retail, hospitality and leisure, irrespective of their rateable value (Initial exclusions to this, which included estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls, have now been removed. Find out more). In addition to this, businesses in those sectors, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, are entitled to an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help with rent costs. 
  • The smallest businesses in England, those currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or rural rate relief who are in the most exposed sectors will be able to access grants of £10,000.
  • For those businesses in certain exposed sectors which do have an insurance policy that covers pandemics, the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy.
  • Emergency planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as take-away businesses immediately.

Find out more and apply on the Government's website.

In Scotland, the Finance Secretary announced measures for Scottish businesses.

In Scotland, the Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop has also significantly improved the package of reliefs and grants available for Scottish business in line with the UK announcements, to include:

  • 100% relief for all retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses (previously it was only applicable to properties with a rateable value of less than £69,000) from 1 April 2020. Find out more.
  • Businesses eligible for small business rates relief or rural rates relief will now be eligible for a £10,000 grant. This now includes self-catering accommodationCheck the Scottish Government’s website for a link to your local council’s application page. 
  • A £25,000 grant for those leisure, retail and hospitality businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000. Each business can only claim for one non-domestic property in their portfolio. Check your local council website for details of how to apply from 24 March.
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020.

Positively Kate Forbes, the Finance Secretary, confirmed that the reliefs announced by the Economy Secretary will automatically apply to rates bills from 1st April 2020.

A Scottish specific helpline for business has been set up, open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm to address business queries. Call: 0300 303 0660

Find out more on the Scottish Government's website.

Not sure what your rateable value is? Find out on the Scottish Assessors website.

Hospitality – pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres 

Cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants were ordered to close from the evening of Friday 20 March 2020, or as soon as they practically can this evening. They will however be able to provide takeaway food services. Theatres, cinemas, gyms, shopping malls are to follow suit. 

These measures will be reviewed monthly. 

The Chancellor recognises the impact on those businesses in the hospitality sector, as the public are warned to avoid close social contact and only to go out if necessary. As many businesses look at ways to continue trading through alternative ways, there have been concerns about insurance policies not being valid. The government has now said, "for those venues which do have a policy that covers pandemics - the government action is sufficient to allow them to make claims”. 

For the smaller businesses in the hospitality sector who don't have insurance, the government will provide cash grants of £25,000 per business. Check your local council website for details of how to apply from 24 March.

Find out more on the Scottish Government's website.

Special help for airlines and airports 

The aviation industry has been one of the sectors affected early on, as travel restrictions have been put in place. The government outlined their initial plans to look at how they can support the industry. Scottish businesses in the aviation sector will receive 100% rates relief for 2020-21. Find out more on the Scottish Government's website.

Support for the Fishing sector

On Wednesday 25 March the Scottish Government announced an initial support package of £5 million for the fishing and seafood industry. This will include onshore processing firms.

Owners of vessels under 12 metres in length will receive an initial payment of 50% of two months average earnings administered by Marine Scotland. As many fishermen in this sector have lost their livelihoods almost overnight this is a positive and much needed boost.

We await to hear if similar support will be announced for the rest of the fleet as they battle against the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Three month mortgage holidays and eviction halts

The UK government announced that mortgage lenders will provide three-month mortgage holidays for those that need them during the pandemic. UK banks have assured the government they will be flexible and understanding. RBS, NatWest and First Direct have already announced assistance for people affected by coronavirus, but you should contact your bank directly to discuss your personal situation.

For tenants, the UK Government's Coronavirus Bill contains legislation to place a ban on all eviction proceedings for the next three months. In Scotland, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill has extended this to six months.

Continuing to do business internationally 

Britain is not the only country announcing financial packages for businesses. Many countries have announced similar measures, which may be beneficial for businesses that operate internationally. 

  • Italy - the government has promised to "inject liquidity" to generate €340bn ($383bn) cash flows 
  • Spain - Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his government will spend €200bn ($220bn), in the largest spending package since Spain became a democracy 40 years ago. "The state will absorb the shock," he said 
  • France - on Tuesday Paris created a €45bn ($50bn) package to support businesses and workers. Another €2bn ($2bn) has been earmarked for small restaurants or tourism companies. That adds to the €500bn ($547bn) package promised on Monday. 
  • Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel promised €550bn ($603bn) in government-backed loans 
  • US - President Trump will ask Congress to approve a $850bn package 
  • Japan - the country is preparing a package of up to $193bn, that could include cash payouts to households 

For more information about how Johnston Carmichael can support you and your business during this time, please get in touch with your usual contact or another member of our team. As announcements are made, we will be updating our guidance to offer you practical help and support.