Stay on top of your finances

From checking your credit report to finding the right credit products for you, stay in control of your finances with ClearScore.

Check your ClearScore

What help is available for small business owners during COVID-19?

Is your small business struggling financially due to COVID-19? The government has introduced a range of measures to support you.


Stay on top of your finances

From checking your credit report to finding the right credit products for you, stay in control of your finances with ClearScore.

Check your ClearScore

Setting up your own business can be hugely exciting and rewarding, but it also involves risk. Unfortunately, small businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis - particularly those who pay rent on premises and aren’t able to trade online.

It’s understandable to be worried about the future of your company at a time like this, and we’re here to help you navigate this strange period. Luckily, you’re not alone. The government has introduced a range of measures to support small businesses through this pandemic. Here, we’ll explain the options that might be available to you and how to apply for financial support if your business is struggling.

Through this scheme, you can access up to £5 million for up to 6 years to keep your business running. So far, 40 lenders are offering this scheme which is backed by the government.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any fees charged by the lender, so you won’t have any upfront costs to worry about.

Your business needs to be UK-based and have a turnover of less than £45 million to be eligible. (If you’re a large business, you can apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility instead.)

To find out more and to apply, visit The British Bank website.

If you can’t afford to keep your employees working during this time, you can furlough them and apply for a government grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs (up to £2,500 a month). The scheme is only for three months initially - beginning on the 1st March - but it could be extended.

Any furloughed employees will still be on your payroll during this time, which means they can (hopefully) continue to work for you again after the pandemic has passed.

Bear in mind that you can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020. (This might mean you have ex-employees getting in touch to ask if you can re-add them to your payroll so they can qualify for furlough, which they’re entitled to do.)

Any organisation with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. But you must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020, be enrolled for PAYE online, and have a UK bank account.

Want to apply for furlough? Learn more about the scheme and check back to find out when the online application system has opened here.

Check if you’re eligible for a grant

If your business currently receives either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR), you could get £10,000 under this scheme.

There’s no need to do anything just yet - the government will be in touch with you if you’re eligible.

Alternatively, if your business receives the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) you could be eligible for a cash grant.

If you have a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000, you’re eligible to receive £10,000. Or if you have a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, you’re eligible to receive £25,000.

You don’t need to claim yet - the government will be in touch with you if you’re eligible.

You could defer your tax payments

If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to postpone it until a later date to help with your cashflow.

You can defer your VAT payment until 31 March 2021, and HMRC won’t charge interest on the amount owed.

Find out more about how to defer your VAT payments here.

Can’t afford to pay your tax bill? Contact HMRC as soon as possible to find out what help is available to you. You can also phone the government’s coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222, but bear in mind lines are likely to be extremely busy as they have fewer advisers available.

Apply for business rates relief

The government has announced that some businesses won’t need to pay business rates for the 2020 - 2021 tax year. These include nurseries and businesses operating in retail, hospitality or leisure. So if you own a shop, restaurant, cafe, bar, pub or live music venue, for example, you could stand to make some savings.

You don’t need to apply for this support, your local council will apply the discount for you.

You can learn more here, including how much you could save using the business rates calculator.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they’re too ill to work. This is set at £95.85 for up to 28 weeks (or, if you’re self-isolating, you can receive this every day that you’re unable to work).

As a business, you can claim back up to 2 weeks’ worth of SSP if an employee is off sick due to coronavirus. Your business is eligible if it had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020.

The online service you’ll need to use to claim back SSP isn’t ready yet, but keep an eye on this page for any updates and be sure to keep a record of employees’ sick leave.

You’ve got longer to file Companies House accounts

Businesses are now able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their Companies House accounts. You can apply via the fast-tracked system and your application will be process in 15 minutes.

You must apply for an extension to avoid being charged a penalty fee. Find out and more apply online here. Remember to cite COVID-19 or health matters as your reason for extending.

Apply for self-employed income support

Under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, you’ll be paid 80% of your profits over the last three years (up to £2,500 per month).

To be eligible, you need to make the majority of your income from self-employment, and you’ll need to have filed your self-assessment tax return for 2019. If you haven’t done this by 23 April 2020, you won’t be able to claim, so it’s best to file your tax return now.

Find out more about claiming self-employed income support on the [government website] (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme), or read ClearScore’s article about how to navigate the COVID-19 crisis when you’re self-employed.

In this article

  1. Apply for The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  2. Apply for The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  3. Check if you're eligible for a grant
  4. You could defer your tax payments
  5. Apply for business rates relief
  6. Claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  7. You’ve got longer to file Companies House accounts
  8. Apply for self-employed income support

Frankie takes the often confusing world of finance and makes it clear and simple, to help you get your money sorted.