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Visit our business support webpages for information and advice on a range of topics, including how to grow your business.

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Offers of support

See what support businesses are offering to each other and local communities at this time on our offers page.

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Funding and support schemes

The government's Coronavirus Business Support homepage is the main information hub for business support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business, including financial support.

Sign up to get emails when new coronavirus business support information is added

Below you will find an overview of support currently available.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 30th 2021.

Employers must top up employees’ wages to make sure they receive 80% of their wages (up to £2,500) for the hours they are on furlough. 

How much do employers need to contribute for July claims?

You are now asked to contribute more towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages at the following levels:

  • For July claims - 10% up to £312.50

Claims for furlough days in July 2021 need to be made by August 16th 2021.

The government will contribute 70% of employees' wages, up to £2,187.50.

You can choose whether or not to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense.

Businesses still need to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions, You cannot claim for these.

How much do employers need to contribute for August claims?

For claims for August and September, you are now asked to contribute more towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages at the following levels:

  • August claims - 20% up to £625
  • September claims - 20% up to £625

The government will contribute 60% of employees' wages, up to £1,875, in both August and September.

You can choose whether or not to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense.

Businesses still need to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions, You cannot claim for these.

Did you miss the October 31st 2020 claim cut-off?

While HMRC says that you can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31st October 2020, they also say that they may accept late claims (for claim periods from 1st November 2020) if you have all of the following:

  • a reasonable excuse
  • taken reasonable care to try and claim on time
  • claimed without delay as soon as you were able to

See more information on late claims here.

If you have not claimed enough and / or need to amend your claim

If you made an error in your claim that has resulted in you receiving too little money, read the HMRC guidance on what to do next.

Furlough for caring responsibilities 

Your employees can ask to be furloughed because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school or childcare closing. You can place them on furlough and claim for them under the CJRS.

The fifth grant via the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now available.

Claim the fifth SEISS grant if you think that your business profits will be impacted by COVID-19 between May 1st 2021 and September 30th 2021.

The grant amount will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year from April 2020 to April 2021.

Deadline for claims - You must make your claim on or before September 30th 2021.

If you’re eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you to give you a date that you can make your claim from. It will be given to you either by email, text message, letter or within the online service. You can check a list of genuine HMRC contacts if you receive any suspicious texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC as this may be a scam.

Please note: claims made before your personal claim date will not be processed. You must wait for HMRC to give you your specific date from which you can claim.

Eligibility criteria

You must have traded in the tax years:

  • 2019 to 2020 - and submitted your tax return for 2019 to 2020 on or before March 2nd 2021
  • 2020 to 2021

And you must:

  • have trading profits of no more than £50,000
  • have trading profits at least equal to your non-trading income (if you also have a part-time job or pension, for example)
  • intend to keep trading in 2021 to 2022
  • reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to the impact of COVID-19 between May 1st 2021 and September 30th 2021

You can also claim a grant if you have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to COVID-19.

If you’re eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you in mid-July to give you a date that you can make your claim from. It will be given to you either by email, text message, letter or within the online service. You can check a list of genuine HMRC contacts if you receive any suspicious texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC as this may be a scam.

What information you need to make a claim

To make your claim, you’ll need to work out your turnover for:

  • a 12-month period starting between April 1st 2020 and April 6th 2020
  • either 2019 to 2020, or 2018 to 2019

HMRC will compare these figures to work out how much you’ll get.

How much you can get

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. If your:

  • turnover is down by 30% or more, you'll get 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, up to a maximum grant of £7,500
  • turnover is down by less than 30%, you'll get 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, up to a maximum grant of £2,850

How the grant is treated for tax and pension purposes

The grant is subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance Contributions. It must be reported on your 2021 to 2022 Self Assessment tax return.

The grant also counts towards your annual allowance for pension contributions. SEISS grants are not counted as ‘access to public funds’ and you can claim the grant on all categories of work visa.

Visit the SEISS webpage for the latest information on the fifth grant.

The Help to Grow programme will help small and medium-sized businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits.

There are two key areas of this programme:

  • Help to Grow: Management - an Executive Development programme that could help you improve business performance and growth potential
  • Help to Grow: Digital - free online advice and money off software that could help you save time and cut costs

Discover more about the Help to Grow programme.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is now open to help businesses affected by COVID-19.

It can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including managing cashflow, investment and growth. It is designed to appeal to businesses that can afford to take out additional debt finance for these purposes.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is scheduled to run until 31st December 2021, subject to review.

Further details can be found here.

If you’re a VAT registered business, check if you can temporarily reduce the rate of VAT on supplies relating to hospitality, accommodation, or admission to certain attractions.

VAT on admission charges to attractions - check which attractions are eligible for the temporary reduced rate of VAT, which applies from 15th July 2020 onwards.

You should contact HMRC if you deferred VAT payments due between March 20th 2020 and June 30th 2020 and were unable to either:

  • pay in full by March 31st 2021
  • join the online payment scheme by June 21st 2021

How pay your VAT bill

Any deferred VAT outstanding after June 30th 2021 will be treated as debt and may be subject to a penalty.

Find out what to do to pay your VAT bill.

Contact the COVID-19 helpline for support.

You may be charged a 5% penalty or interest if you do not pay in full or make an arrangement to pay by June 30th 2021.

Read more information here >

The Buckinghamshire Additional Restriction Grant scheme is now closed.

If you need information about your application, please email: discretionaryfund@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

The Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme is also now closed.


Guidance for businesses as restrictions ease

Buckinghamshire Council has created a free 'Boost your Business' toolkit to help you tell people that you're open and to share reminders of the rules people may still need to follow at your premises.

Use the #WelcomeBackBucks hashtag on social media to get a promotional boost, with over 1 million people seeing #WelcomeBackBucks posts on Twitter so far, and 139,000 on Facebook.

The government has announced that England has moved into step 4 of its roadmap out of lockdown, as of July 19th.

For businesses, the updated guidance means that:

  • All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues are able to reopen.
  • All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events have been lifted.
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars are no longer required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.

Further key points for businesses from the step 4 guidance:

  • People are no longer instructed to work from home if they can, but a gradual return over the summer is recommended by the government
  • Organisations in higher risk settings are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household. There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.
  • Businesses are encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement.

For further details on what the beginning of step 4 means for businesses and venues, read the official guidance here.

Read the updated guidance that helps businesses operate safely and lawfully.

There are guides covering a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.

Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides the latest information on issues around workplace safety, including face coverings, testing and vaccinations.

Advice also includes carrying out a risk assessment and sharing this with staff. A risk assessment is part of the process businesses should go through before they reopen.

A toolkit to help employers share reliable and accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine is now available.

The resources are designed to help employers run an internal awareness campaign consisting of key messages, vaccine fact sheets, informative Q&A videos, posters and more.

Discover all of the toolkit resources here.

Fast, free rapid COVID-19 testing is available for people in Buckinghamshire.

There is no need to book a test slot. To get tested and/or collect home test kits, simply visit one of the test centres at a time that is convenient to you.

Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms but can still pass it on. Regular testing can help break the chain of infection.

The deadline for employers to register to order free rapid lateral flow tests for their employees has now passed.

Employers can still check their remaining options for getting their employees coronavirus tests.

Support and advice for businesses

Read about further support available for businesses and employees affected by COVID-19.

Workers are able to carry over any unused annual leave from 2020/21 into the next leave year.

Government regulations introduced in 2020 allowed up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried forward from 2019/20 into the next two leave years.

Read more information here.

Visit the government advice homepage for information on holidays, time off, sick pay and maternity and paternity leave.

You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week.

This includes if you have to work from home because of COVID-19.

How much you can claim

You can either claim tax relief on:

  • £6 a week from April 6th 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) - you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
  • the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount - you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts

This means that if an individual has had to, or will have to, work from home because of COVID-19 for:

  • at least one day between April 6th 2020 and April 5th 2021
  • at least one day between April 6th 2021 and April 5th 2022

...then they can claim £6 tax relief a week (£316 a year) for both tax years, without HMRC requiring them to prove they had increased costs.

If costs have been incurred above £6 a week, evidence will need to shown for this.

Read more information on this here.

Test and Trace Support Payment

People self-isolating will be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if they:

  • Have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • Are employed or self-employed
  • Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
  • Are currently receiving:
    • Universal Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Housing Benefit
    • Pension Credit

Learn more about these payments here.

Discretionary payment

A £500 discretionary payment is also available for, among others, individuals who:

  • have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • are employed or self-employed; and
  • are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result.

For the full list of people potentially eligible for a discretionary payment, visit the Buckinghamshire Council website.

These schemes will last until 31st March 2021.

Read government guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Visit this page to find collections of articles aimed at:

  • employers
  • training providers
  • end-point assessment organisations

For company accounts filing deadlines that fall after 5th April 2021, companies can still apply for a 3-month extension.

Companies that are eligible and cite issues around COVID-19 in their application will be granted an extension.

Companies that have already had their accounts deadline extended may not be eligible, as the law only allows a maximum filing period of 12 months. It’s important to check if you’re eligible for an extension and to apply for an extension before your deadline. You must file your accounts on time or you’ll receive a late filing penalty.

There are other non-COVID-related reasons for getting an extension. Read more about these here.

Companies House temporarily paused its strike off processes from 21st January 2021 so that companies and creditors would not be adversely affected by processing delays at Companies House.

As of 8th March 2021. it has resumed the process to dissolve companies who’ve applied for voluntary strike off, and those it believes are no longer carrying on business or in operation.

Removal from the register occurs if Companies House finds there is reasonable cause to believe a company is no longer carrying on business or in operation, for example, if:

  • company documents are outstanding, and Companies House has had no response to its letters
  • letters sent by Companies House are returned undelivered
  • the company has no directors

Read more information about the strike off process and what to do if you want to remain on the register.

Find out how to prepare for changes to the off-payroll working rules if you engage contractors working through their own limited company.

These reforms to off-payroll working rules were delayed by 12 months and will now come into effect on 6th April 2021, when the:

  • rules for engaging individuals through personal service companies or other intermediaries are changing
  • responsibility for working out if the off-payroll working rules (IR35) apply will move to the organisation receiving an individual’s services

The rules, sometimes known as IR35, make sure that workers who would have been an employee if they were providing their services directly to the client pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as employees.

Read more about the changes here, and get more detailed guidance here.

A series of workshops has been created to help Buckinghamshire's creative and cultural sector to successfully emerge from the pandemic. Learn more here >

The workshops support the Bucks Cultural Leaders programme, which began in February 2021.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is reminding businesses that “a fire in an unattended commercial property could have devastating repercussions for the business, the local community and any residents in the same building or nearby.

“It is important to ensure safety and maintain preventative measures for these premises while the country responds to COVID-19. It could be as simple as a quick visit to check that commercial smoke detection and alarm systems are still working. Where possible, in line with government guidance, make a visit."

They list several actions that businesses can take to ensure fire safety measures are carried out.

Read the full article here.

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until March 25th 2022.

Read more information on this here.

How to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant as criminals take advantage of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Action Fraud has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Government guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who:

  • continue to work
  • have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Read this guidance here.

HMRC has produced guidance to help you find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to COVID-19.

Who is affected? You could be affected if any of your employees are working from home due to COVID-19, either because:

  • your workplace has closed
  • they are following advice to self-isolate

Who is not affected? Furloughed workers who are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Read this guidance here.

HMRC support can be found here for those struggling to pay their taxes.

You can also use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the support schemes available to businesses.

The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance to support employers facing difficult decisions and circumstances. Read this guidance here.

Guidance setting out how employers can meet their automatic enrolment (AE) duties as they navigate the effects of the pandemic can be found here.

The temporary adjusted right to work checks will now end on August 31st 2021. From September 1st 2021, employers will revert to face-to-face and physical document checks. Learn more about right to work checks here.

If you have previously taken out loans through The Prince’s Trust and your business is facing financial uncertainty, you can access additional support and advice by contacting the Growth Company Business Finance (GCBF). They will discuss your individual circumstances and agree an approach, and if the business remains viable, the option of a second loan can be explored with you.

Read more information here.

The Rural Payments Agency provides the latest Information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the pandemic. Visit this page for updates.

If an employer cannot afford to pay their employees' redundancy pay, they can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) for financial assistance.

If approved, the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments directly to the redundant employees on the employer’s behalf.

Read the government guidance, including eligibility criteria, here.

To support the organisations and people working in arts and culture, the Arts Council are delivering a number of funding and support schemes. Find out more >

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) provides information on a range of issues, including:

  • grants and funding
  • health, safety and environment (HS&E) tests
  • apprenticeships
  • Construction Training Directory

Read more information here.

eBay has announced a raft of measures to support business sellers during the COVID-19 outbreak, including:

Read more information here.

Discover the support on offer from the following:

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) launched the Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service to help landlords and tenants negotiate payments.

The independent service aims to provide a timely dispute resolution for both parties, allowing tenants to have a safe space to share their payment issues and for landlords to outline their requirements for any concessions to be agreed.


Support for the self-employed

Find advice and support for self-employed people, including those getting less work or no work due to COVID-19.

The fifth grant via the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now available.

Claim the fifth SEISS grant if you think that your business profits will be impacted by COVID-19 between May 1st 2021 and September 30th 2021.

The grant amount will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year from April 2020 to April 2021.

Deadline for claims - You must make your claim on or before September 30th 2021.

If you’re eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you to give you a date that you can make your claim from. It will be given to you either by email, text message, letter or within the online service. You can check a list of genuine HMRC contacts if you receive any suspicious texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC as this may be a scam.

Please note: claims made before your personal claim date will not be processed. You must wait for HMRC to give you your specific date from which you can claim.

Eligibility criteria

You must have traded in the tax years:

  • 2019 to 2020 - and submitted your tax return for 2019 to 2020 on or before March 2nd 2021
  • 2020 to 2021

And you must:

  • have trading profits of no more than £50,000
  • have trading profits at least equal to your non-trading income (if you also have a part-time job or pension, for example)
  • intend to keep trading in 2021 to 2022
  • reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to the impact of COVID-19 between May 1st 2021 and September 30th 2021

You can also claim a grant if you have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to COVID-19.

If you’re eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you in mid-July to give you a date that you can make your claim from. It will be given to you either by email, text message, letter or within the online service. You can check a list of genuine HMRC contacts if you receive any suspicious texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC as this may be a scam.

What information you need to make a claim

To make your claim, you’ll need to work out your turnover for:

  • a 12-month period starting between April 1st 2020 and April 6th 2020
  • either 2019 to 2020, or 2018 to 2019

HMRC will compare these figures to work out how much you’ll get.

How much you can get

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. If your:

  • turnover is down by 30% or more, you'll get 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, up to a maximum grant of £7,500
  • turnover is down by less than 30%, you'll get 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, up to a maximum grant of £2,850

How the grant is treated for tax and pension purposes

The grant is subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance Contributions. It must be reported on your 2021 to 2022 Self Assessment tax return.

The grant also counts towards your annual allowance for pension contributions. SEISS grants are not counted as ‘access to public funds’ and you can claim the grant on all categories of work visa.

Visit the SEISS webpage for the latest information on the fifth grant.

Filing tax returns

HMRC did not charge Self Assessment customers late filing penalties if they filed their tax return online by 28th February 2021.

Businesses will now pay a late filing penalty of £100 if their tax return is up to 3 months late. You’ll have to pay more if it’s later, or if you pay your tax bill late.

Paying your tax bill

Tax still needed to be paid by 31st January 2021. Interest is charged from 1st February 2021 if your payment was late.

Businesses will also be charged a late payment penalty if they haven’t paid in full by 1st April.

Get Self Assessment information here >

Did you defer your Payments on Account?

Self Assessment taxpayers were given the option of deferring payment of their July 2020 Payment on Account until 31st January 2021.

If you deferred this payment, you may have had the below three payments to make on 31st January 2021:

  • your deferred July 2020 payment on account (if it remains unpaid)
  • any 2019 to 2020 balancing charge
  • your first 2020 to 2021 payment on account

Not filed your 2019-20 Self Assessment return yet?

If you have not yet filed your 2019 to 2020 Self Assessment return, or if you need support meeting your Self Assessment liabilities, read HMRC's information and advice here.

From May 28th 2020, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, and people with whom they have been in direct contact or within 2 metres of for more than 15 minutes.

There is specific guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for the self-employed, which can be found here.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.

If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.

You can find further guidance on the service here.

 

NHS COVID-19 App

From Thursday 24th September if you run a business or organisation with a physical location that is open to the public, you should display a poster with a QR code for users of the NHS COVID-19 App to ‘check in’. To make and print your QR code poster please use this link.

Here is a list of venues that should display the QR codes includes:

  • All hospitality venues, like pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • All council buildings
  • Leisure and culture venues
  • Close contact’ businesses, like hair salons and nail bars
  • Places of worship
  • Community halls and venues

Self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 because they took time out to have children will be able to claim for a payment under the scheme.

Read more information here.

The Film and TV Charity offers financial support for people in the industry. Open funding programmes are updated here.

They also provide mental health support to those in the industry, including counselling and legal advice, via a 24/7 support line: 0800 054 00 00.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has a coronavirus support hub full of advice, webinars and frequently asked questions. Visit the IPSE support hub here.

Those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. More details on how to claim can be found here.

Changes to Universal Credit for self-employed people

The government has temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes.

It has suspended the Minimum Income Floor for Universal Credit, meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

People applying for Universal Credit will now be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, helping to speed up their claim. Read more information here.

Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information or view the government's webpage on self-employment and Universal Credit.

If you want to know how COVID-19 affects the Minimum Income Floor, you can read the latest information about COVID-19 and claiming benefits, including Universal Credit.

The government's 'Understanding Universal Credit' homepage is here.

Talk to your existing finance provider to see what they can do to help you manage existing debt. If you have an existing loan or asset purchase (for example a lease or hire purchase agreement), you could ask for a repayment holiday. You may also need a new or increased overdraft facility, or to secure additional finance.

Talk to your customers, especially large customers, and ask if they can pay your invoices more quickly. Some firms have already started doing this.

All self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0241 222. (This number has replaced the original number set up for this purpose, but calls to the old helpline number will be redirected to the new number automatically.)

Discuss preparations with your clients now, particularly about working remotely.

Check your contractual obligations, particularly with regards to unforeseeable circumstances that prevent you from fulfilling your contract.

Check to see what health or income protection insurance you might have in place.

From 1st October business owners that complete a self-assessment tax return can apply for additional support to help spread the cost of their tax bill using the “Time to Pay” scheme, which could allow them to make monthly payments up to a twelve-month period instead of a one-off charge.

This is one of the measures that HMRC has implemented to help ease the financial burden that businesses may be experiencing due to Covid-19.

The online payment plan option was already available for tax payments of up to £10,000 , this threshold has been increased to £30,000. HMRC estimates that up to 95% of businesses that complete a self-assessment tax return could be eligible to use this facility.

In order to set up your own self-serve Time to Pay arrangements, you must meet the following requirements:

  • you need to have no:
    • outstanding tax returns
    • other tax debts
    • other HMRC payment plans set up
  • the debt needs to be between £32 and £30,000 
  • the payment plan needs to be set up no later than 60 days after the due date of a debt

Customers using self-serve Time to Pay will be required to pay any interest on the tax owed. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021. For further information visit the self-assessment website.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is for the self-employed and members of partnerships whose trade/business has been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The scheme was extended from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in 2 lump sum instalments each covering a 3 month period. The third grant will cover a 3 month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021.

The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This is an increase from the previously announced amount of 55%. The Government are providing the same level of support for the self-employed as is being provided for employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has been extended until March 2021. The Government has already announced that there will be a fourth grant covering February 2021 to April 2021.

The Government will set out further details, including the level, of the fourth grant in due course. The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.

Read more here >

Check if you're eligible by using HMRC’s online checker. You'll need your:

Your tax agent or adviser can also check your eligibility on your behalf, but they must not make the actual claim on your behalf.

Some people may not be eligible for the scheme. Read this guidance for more information.

When you make your claim, you’ll need your:

  • Government Gateway user ID and password - if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility online
  • bank account number and sort code you want HMRC to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)

You’ll also have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

HMRC will work out if you’re eligible and how much grant funding you may get. If your claim is approved, you’ll receive your payment within 6 working days. HMRC will send an email when your payment is on its way. You can check the status of your payment here.

You must make your claim yourself

Your tax agent or adviser can also check your eligibility on your behalf, but they must not make the actual claim on your behalf as this will trigger a fraud alert, and you will have to contact HMRC. This will cause a significant delay to you receiving your payment. You must make the claim yourself.

If you receive the grant, you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

Filed your 2018-19 tax return after 23rd April 2020? If you did not submit your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019 on or before 23rd April 2020, you will not be able to claim. Read more information here.

Did you amend your tax return after 26th March 2020? If you amended a submitted return after 6pm on 26th March 2020, any changes will not be taken into account when working out your eligibility or amount of the grant. Read more information here.

How HMRC works out total income and trading profits

HMRC has detailed how it will work out your income and profits if you're self-employed or a member of a partnership in the UK and have lost profits due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Read this guidance here.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. The grant will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions but does not need to be repaid.

People using the SEISS will be able to:

  • continue working, including taking on an employment role
  • access Universal Credit and the SEISS (The government advises that you can make a claim for Universal Credit while you wait for the grant, but any grant received will be treated as part of your self-employment income and may affect the amount of Universal Credit you get.)

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
  • Filed a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have to do so by April 23rd 2020.
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID-19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income comes from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true: having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income; OR having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

Please note: You will access this scheme only through GOV.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.


Webinars and videos in support of your business

We have a wide range of webinars currently being run by Buckinghamshire Business First and our members that are designed to provide practical support and help to businesses during this time. See this list of webinars here.

Visit our webinar library to watch previous webinars

We are archiving our previous webinars on our website, so you can watch recordings of them at your convenience. Watch them here >

You can also watch these webinars again on our YouTube channel.

Are you running a webinar? If you are running a webinar that provides COVID-19-related support to other businesses.

Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available to them at this time.

Webinar topics include:

  • the Job Retention Scheme
  • the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
  • the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate scheme
  • running your business through the COVID-19 pandemic
  • helping your employees deal with the economic impact of COVID-19

See the list of webinars here.

Watch HMRC videos with support on the above topics

HMRC has created a playlist of videos with more information on the support avaialble from government schemes. Watch the videos here.

Sign up for email alerts about webinars

You can sign up for email alerts about live and recorded webinars, YouTube videos and online guidance.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has launched a series of nearly 100 expert-led webinars to provide support to businesses throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Businesses can register online and access all of the recorded webinars here.

Watch recordings of previous webinars

A selection of past DIT webinars are available to view online. Watch them here.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is running a series of virtual events designed to help you navigate current challenges and achieve future growth.

Learn more about these events here.

Watch recorded government webinars on a range of topics, including:

  • tax deferrals
  • changes to right to work checks
  • changes to filing reports and accounts
  • loans fo small businesses
  • grant funding
  • support for wages

View the playlist of webinars here.

Acas is delivering a series of free webinars on COVID-19-related subjects, providing practical advice for employers.

Subjects include:

  • Coronavirus – an advisory webinar for employers
  • Furlough leave: the HMRC Job Retention Scheme

Check to see when the next webinars take place.

You can also watch recordings of previous webinars on the same homepage.

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), an Innovate UK partner, has listed all of its upcoming online events in one place. These feature support on COVID-19-related issues, but also cover topics such as:

  • women in business
  • tools for growing your business
  • business models for reducing waste going to landfill

See the list of events here.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is running daily webinars on how coronavirus is impacting the business community, and what your business can do to mitigate the impact.

As well as these webinars, there are many other online events promoted on the CBI website on a wide range of topics related to helping your business through these times.

See the full list of online events here.

View webinars on issues affecting freelancers and the self-employed from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

View the webinars here.


Insurance information

The Association of British Insurers has produced a Q&A to help businesses understand their insurance cover during the coronavirus outbreak. Read the Q&A here.

Businesses are advised to check with their insurance policy provider to understand whether or not they would be covered for damage that occurs at their property if it has been left unattended for a period of time.

The risk of fire, water damage or theft could increase with a prolonged absence from the site, and although lockdowns and closures force individuals to be away from their premises, some insurance policies can contain clauses about the maximum amount of time a property can be left unoccupied for.

A conversation with your policy provider should identify what you need to do to comply with your policy.

A recent court ruling on Business Interruption Insurance (BII) means that COVID-19 claims should be paid out successfully in most cases.  The verdict will provide relief for many small businesses and help them to rebuild and move forward.  
We recommend that individual policies and terms should be closely reviewed as the judgement states that most, but not all disease clauses provide cover. 

Anyone who is unsure about their cover should speak to a legal professional such as Blaser Mills who will be able to review policies and help reach the best possible outcome.

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19.

However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government-ordered closures and pandemics, or government-ordered closures and unspecified notifiable diseases, should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Notifiable diseases are certain infectious diseases that registered medical practitioners have a statutory duty to notify the ‘proper officer’ at their local council or local health protection team about when they come across a suspected case. The government keeps an updated list of notifable diseases. On 5th March 2020, the government added COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases.

Many insurers use diseases on this list as triggers for the activation or exclusion of insurance cover. For example, insurers’ policies that cover notifiable diseases will typically only cover a specific subset of notifiable diseases (such as Cholera or Anthrax) that the insurer will reference in the policy documentation. These policies will exclude any notifiable disease not on the insurers list, as well as future/unknown diseases (such as COVID-19). The price that the insurer charges for the policy is modelled against the risk posed by this set list of diseases.

Some businesses will have purchased add-ons for their insurance that cover for ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. These policies effectively cover any disease listed as a notifiable disease, enabling the business to claim for losses for all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point the policy is written.

The effect of the government adding COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases is to ensure that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover are able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions in their policy.

The government asked a number of different businesses and venues to remain closed from 21st March 2020 onwards.

Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for COVID-19 losses to make a claim (if the only barrier to them making a claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government had ordered businesses to close).

However, most businesses’ commercial insurance policies (including for denial of access) are unlikely to offer cover for COVID-19. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Businesses with event cancellation policies that include unspecified notifiable disease extensions should be able to make a claim for the necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption of their event for reasons beyond the control of organisers and participants (subject to the other terms and exclusions of their policy).

Insurance for major events is often bespoke to the specific event, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their insurer or broker.


Support for charities & ways for charities to help others

Take a look at the information and support available for charities, voluntary and community groups and social enterprises.

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value between £15,001 and £50,999. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of up to and including £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.

Are charities eligible? Charities with premises with a rateable value of £50,999 or less on 11th March 2020 that would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates Expanded Retail Discount Scheme, had that scheme been in force for that date, are eligible for the grant. Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11th March 2020 had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the grant.

How to access the scheme?

Fill out an online application form through the district council website relevant to your business/s:

If you have any query with this, please contact your relevant area office:

PLEASE NOTE: You should apply for this grant directly to the council, as above. We have been made aware of online offers to apply for the grant on behalf of organisations in return for a fee. This is not necessary and there is no advantage, only the loss of the fee.

Eligibility: To be eligible for a grant, companies and traders must have been liable for business rates on 11th March 2020. If this criteria is not met, there is no entitlement to relief.

Buckinghamshire Council update (May 22nd 2020): Buckinghamshire Council has paid out £76.6 million in coronavirus business grants to 5,868 small local businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Buckinghamshire Council is processing applications as they are received and carrying out necessary checks to verify entitlement. Payments are then being made within five working days unless there are queries that require further clarification. New applications are arriving daily and the Buckinghamshire Council team is working hard to process the remaining requests as quickly as they can.

If you have a business and haven’t applied yet, you can check your eligibility and apply at: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/businessgrant.

Read Buckinghamshire Council's FAQs on this grant funding.

Read the government guidance on the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, which includes a Q&A on eligiblity and other factors of interest.

Grants will be provided in respect to each property (hereditament); therefore businesses with multiple outlets would receive more than one grant and may receive grants from separate local authorities.

Charities and benevolent and philanthropic organisations can apply for funding that seeks to address the consequences of COVID-19 for disadvantaged women and girls.

The Tampon Tax Fund can support projects which directly benefit disadvantaged women and girls, tackle violence and support their mental health and wellbeing.

Read more information here.

Community Impact Bucks has produced a COVID-19 webpage in order to filter and interpret the huge amount of available information to help local charities, voluntary and community groups, and social enterprises.

This includes guidance for groups organising the community support for people affected by COVID-19:

Heart of Bucks has compiled a list of funding, support and resources for:

  • charities
  • voluntary and community groups
  • individuals and families
  • sports
  • arts
  • young people
  • businesses

See this directory of support here.

Heart of Bucks is running a fundraising campaign, with the funds generated from the Bucks Coronavirus Response Appeal going to support people and charities in Buckinghamshire who are most affected and vulnerable at this time of crisis. Read more information here.

The Clare Foundation has collated a list of resources and support services for charities, businesses and people in the Buckinghamshire community who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Read more information here.

LEAP is committed to helping to support the coaches, leaders, volunteers and organisations who make sport and activity happen across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

LEAP has compiled a list of funding opportunities, advice and inspiration for deliverers, clubs and physical activity organisations.

Read more information here.

Action4Youth provides positive, often transformational experiences and activities which inspire children and young people. 

Visit their website for more information on the support they provide.

The Charity Excellence Framework has compiled a list of COVID-19 funding streams and toolkits available to access. Read more information here.

There is further information available here.

Guidance to help with running your charity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Topic covered include:

  • Can our charity assist with COVID-19?
  • How do I get support to pay my charity staff?
  • Can I use reserves and restricted funds to help my charity through the crisis?
  • Can I cancel or postpone my charity’s AGM or other key meetings?
  • Can I use video, teleconferencing and the internet in place of face-to-face meetings?
  • What do I need to report to the Charity Commission?
  • Keeping people safe
  • Reporting accounts and finances

Read more information here.

Charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.

£360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.

£370 million will also be allocated for small and medium-sized charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England.

The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational in the coming weeks.

Read more information here.

Read about the plans of the Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs) to maintain services for CICs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

More information can be found here.

Grants of up to £10,000 to help smaller charitable organisations affected by COVID-19 are available. Organisations with a charitable purpose and charitable activities, which had an income of £1million or less in their last financial year, can apply. Read more information here.

Please note: as of April 8th 2020, applications for this fund had been paused. Keep checking the above link for further updates.

The Charities Aid Foundation also has a COVID-19 hub for the latest funding and resources to help charities and other social sector organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has announced a £3 million fund for organisations redistributing safe surplus food to those who need it during the coronavirus outbreak.

All food redistribution businesses and charities will be encouraged to bid for grants over the coming month, including those whose volunteer programmes have been affected by social distancing measures or those that cannot access their usual commercial support network. Read more information here.
 

Other organisations also have resources that may help charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis:

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50 million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The £50m fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000. It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature. Read more information here.

The Police Property Act Fund is a joint fund managed by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Chief Constable and is distributed to local community and voluntary groups.

The Fund is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, which includes seizures from criminals and is distributed twice a year.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Thames Valley Police brought forward the latest funding round to support organisations that are working with the local community and helping people through this challenging time.

Read more information here.

Buckinghamshire Council has set up a special fund to allow local councillors to support volunteer and community groups in their area by applying for grants for them.

Registered not-for-profit organisations and charities can apply for grants of up to £2,000. For groups who aren’t registered, the funding can be paid to the local parish or town council or a local charity on their behalf.

The grants are for groups helping to meet the needs of vulnerable residents or who are carrying out activity to enable people to stay at home, e.g. local groups delivering food.

You can only apply for the crisis funding through your local councillor. Find yours here.

Grants of up to £50,000 are now available for community-based organisations providing mental health services in England. Read more information here

Update: As of 13th May, applications for this fund had been paused. Keep checking the above link for any updates.


Contact our Business Support Team

If you need to speak to one of our advisers, call 01494 927130 or email BusinessSupport@bbf.uk.com.