Citizens Advice Cornwall has produced this factsheet to help businesses with common queries about coronavirus-related issues:
CORONAVIRUS – IF YOU HAVE TO LAY OFF STAFF:
Employers can use the Government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay staff while there’s no work to do. Your staff need to have been on your payroll on 19 March 2020 and be paid through PAYE. This includes staff who are:
- casual workers
- on a zero-hours contract
- on a temporary contract
- an agency worker
- an apprentice
If an employee stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, they might still be able to get paid through the scheme if you rehire them.
When an employer applies to the scheme, staff are paid 80% of normal pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. This will continue until the government ends the scheme or your employee returns to work.
Employers can claim money to pay staff for any time they were sent home after 1 March 2020.
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme only covers staff who are not working. If employees are working from home they should be paid by you as normal.
CORONAVIRUS – IF YOU’RE SELF-EMPLOYED
If your income has dropped because of coronavirus, you might be able to get money from the government.
You could get 80% of your average profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This is called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
If you’re eligible, you can get money to cover until at least the end of June 2020.
Check if you can use the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
You can get the grant if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership.
Your self-employed profits must be less than £50,000 per year and they must make up more than half of your total income. The government will look at your tax returns from the last three years to see if you’re eligible – if you’re not sure you can check on GOV.UK.
You’ll also have to:
- have lost profits due to coronavirus
- have submitted your tax return for the tax year 2018-19 – you need to do this by 23 April 2020 if you haven’t already
- have earned self-employed income in the tax year 2019-20
If you don’t think you’re eligible, you can check what benefits you can get: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/coronavirus-check-what-benefits-you-can-get/
Check how much you’ll get
You’ll get 80% of your average profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
HMRC will calculate your profits based on any tax returns you’ve submitted over the last three tax years. You’ll get one payment to cover the whole length of the scheme.
What to do next
You can’t apply for the scheme yet – HMRC will contact you if they think you’re eligible. They’ll tell you when you’ll get it – it might not be until June 2020.
If you need money while you’re waiting, you can check what benefits you can get.
If your company pays people through PAYE
If you need help while you’re waiting for money through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you might also be able to use the Business Interruption Loan Scheme on GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme
THE SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUND / THE RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE GRANT
These schemes are administered by Cornwall Council. You can find the latest information about these grants here:
GOVERNMENT BOUNCE BACK LOAN SCHEME
Small businesses will benefit from a new fast track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders:
- businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
- loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.
For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/small-businesses-boosted-by-bounce-back-loans
IF YOUR SMALL BUSINESS CAN’T AFFORD ITS ENERGY BILLS
There are steps you can take if you’re finding it hard to pay your small business’s energy bills.
What you should do depends on if:
- you’re already in debt to your supplier
- you’ve been sent a bill you can’t afford
- you’re regularly struggling to pay your bills
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier
It’s important to act quickly – your energy supply could be disconnected within 30 days if you don’t make arrangements to deal with the debt.
If you’re disconnected, you’ll normally have a disconnection fee added to the money you owe. You’ll need to pay another fee if you’re reconnected.
Call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline – 0808-223-1133 – they can help you resolve the problem with your supplier. You’ll need to give information about how much money you owe – it’s worth gathering any bills or letters from your energy supplier before you call.
If you need more help…
If you need more advice about dealing with your energy bills, contact the Consumer Helpline 0808-223-1133. They can give you unbiased advice about small business energy contracts and your rights.
FURTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES:
FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESSES:
CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PERSONNEL AND DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE: