How/When can the different types of support be accessed?

Help with taxes – This is the deferment of taxes (income tax, corporation tax, Vat and PAYE/NICs) under the “time to pay” arrangements. The service can be accessed on the number below, but be prepared to wait for some time to get through. The number is currently continuously engaged so you will have to take your chances and/or be patient until even more resource is made available. If/when you do manage to get through, you should have tax details to hand as follows:

Income tax – your unique 10-figure tax reference (can be obtained from HMRC correspondence or notices) and NI number.

Corporation tax – your unique 10-figure tax reference number (can be obtained from a corporation tax notice from HMRC).

VAT – your VAT number.

PAYE/NICs – your employer PAYE reference and accounts office reference – these can be obtained from HMRC correspondence in connection with your payroll scheme.

Be prepared to specify which tax bill you wish to defer, how long you want to defer it for and details of the particular reason why you are unable to pay it. Current indications are that deferrals of around 6-9 months are being granted on presentation of a reasonable case.

HMRC Coronavirus Helpline
Telephone: 0800 015 9559
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm

To be totally clear, this initiative does not involve the writing off of any tax – you will have to pay it in the end but without the interest and penalties which would normally attach to late payment.

Business rates – The payment holiday for the year ending 31 March 2021 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will start with the payment due in April 2020. There is no need to apply for this as your local authority will process it automatically. The Government has said that the local authorities will be receiving guidance on how to do this by tomorrow (Friday 20 March) and if you have any query on how the relief will work or whether or not you qualify, you should contact the business rates department – details of how to do this are on the councils’ websites.

Cash grants – The grant of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from premises with rateable values up to £51,000 will be provided by your local authority. As in the case of the business rates holiday (see above) information will be provided to them by tomorrow (20 March) and you should contact the business rates department to progress a possible claim. If you are a small business that is already benefitting from small business rate relief (or rural rate relief), your £10,000 grant will be provided by your local authority – they will contact all eligible businesses about this once the Government has given them the guidance they need which should be happening next Monday (23 March) and funds will be made available in early April.

Government-backed loans – these “business interruption loans” are being made available to businesses through the British Business Bank, and should be available from sometime next week (week commencing 23 March). These are the (up to £5 million) loans that are being 80% guaranteed by the Government to give lenders confidence to make the loans, and which will also be interest free for the first six months – this interest will be paid to the banks by the Government. All major banks will be involved in this scheme, and more details can be found on the British Business Bank website ( ) including eligibility requirements, and details of the banks which are participating. If you want to take advantage of the scheme you will need to apply to your bank and should therefore contact them to find out how their process works. It needs to be stressed that the application will have to be supported by a robust business plan as in the case of normal loan applications, and will have to meet the bank’s usual lending criteria, other than those related to security requirements which should be relaxed because of the Government guarantee. At the risk of stating the obvious, these are loans which, unlike the grants referred to in the previous section, will need to be repaid to the bank – there is no question of a £5 million “handout”, just a relaxation in lending criteria and six months interest free.

Support for staffing costs – the Government funded Statutory Sick Pay has been in place since last Friday (13 March), so you can pay this to eligible employees (paid £118 plus pw) from day one of absence under the new regime for self-isolators as well as for those who are unwell, and have it refunded by the Government. We are waiting to hear from the Government how these refunds are going to be made to employers.

Author: Peter Hedgethorne, Director, Plus Accounting

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal, belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Plus Accounting. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

(19 March 2020)

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