Your Business

Most businesses are prepared for a ‘rainy day’ but few business owners could have foreseen the unfolding events and fall out of recent weeks.

The usual rules of running a business, employing staff and securing and delivering to existing and new clients are suspended by the daily updates from government on social distancing, furloughing staff, business cash grants and much more.

Safeguarding employees

The majority of businesses, small, medium or large, whether self-employed sole traders and partners or limited companies, have had to make new working practice decisions to safeguard employees who can maintain their roles and furloughing others to provide longer term employment security. Each change encompasses a wide range of legal and best practice parameters:

Advice for employers and employees

ACAS have a guide covering:

  • Staying at home and social distancing
  • Vulnerable people and those at high risk
  • Self-isolation and sick pay
  • If the workplace needs to close temporarily
  • Using holiday
  • If an employee needs time off work to look after someone
  • If someone has coronavirus symptoms at work
  • Good practice steps for employers
  • More coronavirus advice

Download the ACAS guide by clicking here.

Mental Health at Work

The website, Mental Health at Work has a range of coronavirus toolkits for each business type and has documents, guides, tips, videos, courses, podcasts, templates and information from key organisations across the UK. The information is curated by Mind, and funded by The Royal Foundation. For more information click here.

Tax management

PAYE, VAT, Corporation Tax, personal Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax … each is due for payment at a defined frequency and date. Many businesses are suffering major disruptions to their cashflow and facing difficult decisions about prioritising who gets paid to secure their businesses future. These challenges have been recognised by government and a raft of special measures instigated to give flexibility to payments due:

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

All businesses and 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. You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

How to access the scheme

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. HMRC prefers if you call nearer to the payment you believe you will miss.

There is a new HMRC dedicated helpline for the self-employed and SME’s: 0800 024 122


There are temporary changes to the VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cashflow. For more information click here.

VAT Reduction

From 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.

Corporation and Personal Income Tax

The deadlines for paying your tax bill are usually:
31 January: for any tax you owe for the previous tax year (known as a balancing payment) and your first payment on account for the coming year.
31 July: for your second payment on account. You can now delay making your second payment on account. If you choose to do so, you have until 31 January 2021 to pay it. For more information click here.

Additional Financial Support

Additional capital sources may be available to your business through packages of special measures, grants and government banked borrowing facilities, via online portals listed below.

Bounce Back Loan

This scheme is the latest step in a package of support measures launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000
  • loans will be 100% government backed for lenders, and businesses can apply online through a short form
  • The interest is fixed at 2.5% pa and effectively interest free for the first 12 months.

To apply, see further information about the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

HarperLees would urge you to also review your Business Life Cover and Ill Health arrangements. These loans are repayable and the death or long-term illness of a business owner could bring hardship on the survivors or family. We will be delighted to assist with the review.

Business Support Grant Funding

Support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This support takes the form of two grant funding schemes: the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, both delivered by Local Authorities. If you are eligible, your Local Authority will be in touch with you to arrange payment. It’s a simple process to apply online, and payment should go direct to your business account in about a week. For more information click here.

Brentwood Borough Council Grants

This scheme is aimed at certain businesses and charities who have ongoing fixed commercial property-related costs but were not eligible for either the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund or the Small Business Grant Fund. It offers grants of up to £10,000 (£25,000 in exceptional circumstances) and is open for application until Sunday 7 June 2020.
Full details can be found here

Business Rate Relief

To check if your retail, hospitality or leisure business is eligible for business rates relief click here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

There is a step-by-step guide for employers to find out if you are eligible to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (‘furlough’). To find out how much you can claim, download the HM Government document by clicking here. For more guidance about how much you can claim click here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Extension

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 31 October.

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May. Full details can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus

This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.

To be eligible, employees will need to:

  • earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January.
  • have been furloughed by you at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • have been continuously employed by you up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

Updates on CJRS scheme – 9 July 2020

Further updates were also issued to the CJRS Scheme

Claiming for employees furloughed on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June

You need to claim by 31‌‌‌ ‌July for employees furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for periods ending on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌June.

Get ready for changes from 1‌‌‌ ‌August

You will no longer be able to use a CJRS grant to cover National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions for furloughed employees from 1‌‌‌ ‌August. You can submit your August claim in advance, from 20‌‌‌‌‌‌ ‌July.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme

To find out if you can reclaim employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay click here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

You can use this scheme if you are self-employed or a member of a partnership in the UK and have lost income due to COVID-19. For more information click here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILOS)

This scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to access finance of up to £5 million. To view information from The British Business Bank which is 100% government owned, but independently managed to help British businesses, click here. To view government guidance, click here.

For specific guidance on working safely, please refer to the range of sector specific guides issued by HM Government on 10 May 2020.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The self-employed/partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus can now apply for a SEISS grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits. Those eligible will receive a government grant worth up to £7,500 and can expect the money to be in their bank accounts within 6 working days of a completed claim. 

Claims must be made  on a specified date between 13-18 May, based on the individual’s Unique Tax Reference number, which can be checked on HMRC’s online checker.

Support Schemes

The government has put together a business support finder to help you identify the COVID-19 financial support schemes your business may be able to access. This helpful tool is very easy to use and can be found here.

COVID-19 Support Extension

The chancellor announced further details for the Covid-19 support extension for employers and the self-employed. A second grant will be available in August for the self-employed. For companies, the full details have been published for the continuation of the Furlough scheme.

Reopening Timetable

HM Government announced a further update on the re-opening timetable which can be summarised as:

1 June 202015 June 2020Remaining Closed
Outdoor Markets, Car ShowroomsAll other retailersOthers – including Hairdressers, beauty salons, and the hospitality sector will remain closed

Businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.  You can access the latest Government guidance ‘working safely during COVID-19 in shops’ here

Read more on our Wellbeing HUB