Help for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic

Mar 16, 2020


By Lyndsey Hall


For the most up-to-date information and announcements, visit our COVID-19 Updates page

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and the impact on businesses becomes clearer, the government has announced its guidance for employers and business owners, and a package of measures to support small businesses through the pandemic.

In his first Budget, Rishi Sunak announced a new Coronaviurus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by British Business Bank, which will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will receive a full refund of the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee, providing 2 million small and medium sized businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the cost of large-scale sick leave.

There will also be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, worth a total of £2 billion.

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities, which may enable businesses to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

The government has temporarily increased the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value, meaning almost half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates for one year.

The decisions announced by the Bank of England on 11 March 2020 also mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses.

The Chancellor added to his Budget announcements during a press conference, as the impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is felt by businesses across the UK. Sunak pledged £330 billion of state-backed loans, as well as grants of up to £25,000 for each retailer and pub affected by a dramatic reduction in customers. An employment support package is also in the works to help employers maintain staff, as money coming in has dwindled as a result of self-isolation and social distancing.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances and make a claim, you can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline here.

You can also sign up for email alerts from the government regarding COVID-19.

If you are unsure as to how to proceed as an employer in the face of coronavirus, Acas has provided a useful guide which they are updating regularly as new information and government updates are released. The guide includes best practices for dealing with employees who are sick or self-isolating, what to do if an employee falls ill at work or if you need to close your workplace temporarily.

If you’d like to speak to your advisor about the support available to you at this time, please do get in touch with us on 0114 274 7576 or email


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