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Coronavirus Support for Businesses

St Helens Chamber Business Support

St Helens Chamber is here to support local businesses. For advice and assistance please call us on 01744 742444  or email growthhub@sthelenschamber.com

Members of St Helens Chamber also have access to Chamber Protect – a dedicated support line to help with HR, Health & Safety Legal and Tax issues. If you are a Chamber Member you can contact the advice line on 01455 852037.

Government Assistance

Recovery Loans Scheme

Recovery Loan Scheme will take the place of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

Businesses of any size can apply for a loan between £25,000 and £10m until the end of 2021. Loans will have a Government guarantee of 80%. Asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10m will also be available. No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000 and, as before, a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security.

If your business has already borrowed from any of the other coronavirus loan schemes – namely:

  • the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

Recovery Loan Scheme is still open to you, although the amount you have borrowed under an existing scheme may in certain circumstances limit the amount you may borrow under Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme opened April 6th 2021 and will run until December 31st 2021, subject to review.

Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders. Full details can be found at the British Business Bank

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 2021. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working, but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. The government will also provide grants to cover Flexible Furlough, allowing businesses to bring employees into work on a part-time basis.

The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work.

Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.

For worked hours, employers will continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.

When making your claim you must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 30th October 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online
  • a UK bank account

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

Employers can use the calculator to work out how much they have to pay their furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees, how much they can claim for employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions and how much they can claim back using the new job retention calculator here

You’ll need the Government Gateway user ID and password you got when you registered for PAYE online.

If you do not finish your claim in one session, you can save a draft.

You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

From 1st July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

Apply here

Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Government has issued updated guidance on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Applications for the first, second, third and fourth SEISS grant have closed.

Claims for the fifth SEISS must be made by 30th September 2021. 

Guidance for claiming the grant will be available by the end of June 2021.

1. Who can claim
To be eligible for the grant you must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership.

1.1 When you must have traded
You must have traded in the tax years:
2019 to 2020 and submitted your tax return on or before 2 March 20212020 to 2021
You must either:

  • be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
  • have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

1.2 Your tax returns
To work out your eligibility for the fifth grant, we’ll first look at your 2019 to 2020 Self Assessment tax return. Your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income.
If you’re not eligible based on your 2019 to 2020 tax return, we’ll then look at the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.

1.3 Deciding if you can claim
You must declare that:
you intend to continue to tradeyou reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to reduced business activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to coronavirus from May 2021 to September 2021
You must keep evidence that shows how your business has been impacted by coronavirus resulting in less business activity than otherwise expected.

HMRC expects you to make an honest assessment about whether you reasonably believe your business will have a significant reduction in profits.

2. How the fifth grant is different
The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
We’ll provide more information and support by the end of June 2021 to help you work out how your turnover was affected.

2.1 How much you’ll get

3. When you can claim
Claims are now open.

If you’re eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you in mid-July 2021 to give you a date that you can make your claim from.

You’ll need your:

– Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number – if you do not have this find out how to get your lost UTR number

– National Insurance number – if you do not have this find out how to get your lost National Insurance number

Claims for the fifth SEISS must be made by 30th September 2021. 

Statutory Sick Pay

Small businesses and employers across the UK who have paid statutory sick pay to staff taking coronavirus-related leave will be able to claim back the money.

The scheme allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 members of staff, to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay for two weeks – worth nearly £200 per employee.

The new online service is being run by HMRC, and after making an application employers will receive the money within six working days.

To get the rebate, employers will need to go online and input simple information on the employees being claimed for.

The service can be accessed here.

Deferral of  VAT payments

The Chancellor has announced that he is deferring the next quarter of VAT payments, meaning no businesses will pay any VAT from now until the end of June. Business who deferred their VAT bills now have the option to pay back in smaller instalments under the New Payment Scheme. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, businesses will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

Businesses need to take steps to reinstate their direct debit mandates so that they are in place in time for payments due in July 2020 onwards. Any outstanding returns should be filed and three working data should be allowed to elapse before reinstating the direct debit mandate.

Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

VAT Cut

The Chancellor has announced that VAT will be cut from 20% to 5% for spends in the hospitality and tourism sector.

From 15th July until 31st March 2021, VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5%.

The Chancellor said the tax cut would apply to eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafés and pubs, accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as cinemas, theme parks and zoos. This excludes the sale of alcohol.

Click here to check if you can temporarily reduce the rate of VAT on supplies relating to hospitality, accommodation, or admission to certain attractions.

Apprenticeship support funding

The government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new Apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new Apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021.

These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16 to 18 year-old Apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – employers could receive up to £3,000 for hiring 16 to 18 year old Apprentices from August to January.

If you would like to register your interest in St Helens Chamber Apprenticeships, please contact our Workforce Development Team at workforce@sthelenschamber.com

Kickstart Scheme

The government has unveiled a new Kickstart Scheme to help young people secure jobs.

The Kickstart Scheme will help those aged between 16 to 24. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit in the age group who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The jobs must be new, additional jobs, with a minimum of 25 hours per week. Funding will be available for each six-month job placement and will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – employers will be able to top this wage up.

If you would like to register your interest in employing a young person, please contact our Workforce Development Team at workforce@sthelenschamber.com

Click here for more information on the Kickstart Scheme

For all additional grants and fully funded programmes go to St Helens Chamber Local Growth Hub

Click here for full details on all the Government support available

Click here for the latest advice and guidance from the British Chambers of Commerce