Business Support Announced in the Budget and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If your business is suffering from cashflow difficulty as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak or a decline in normal trading patterns, our advice would be to contact us as soon as possible so that we can help discuss changes to your trade or working pattern to respond. Our helpline is open 9am to 5pm each day to provide assistance. Some of the common questions we are receiving are:

Will there be any opportunities to defer my tax payments for PAYE, Corporation tax, income tax and VAT?

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

Announced on the 20th March 2020 – HMRC are deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

What do I do about staff being off sick?

In the Chancellors speech on the 11th March 2020 it was confirmed that the Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay. It was also confirmed that soon employees will be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay from day one as opposed to day four for affected individuals. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) “will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice”. The extended SSP will be available for all of those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms.

At present, where it is a requirement for your employees to only qualify for Statutory Sick Pay after being ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non working days)  and a requirement to provide a sick note if you are off sick for more than 7 days in a row from a GP or hospital doctor or an Allied Health Professional – this new legislation as described by the chancellor should allow employees to be provided by the evidence by calling 111 directly with no unnecessary spread of the virus whilst obtaining the fit note physically at a GP practice or hospital.

Whilst We Wait For The Legislation.

Technically the legislation is not yet out yet but for the meantime, be assured that the Government has confirmed:

  1. Businesses with fewer than 250 employees as at the 28th February 2020 will be entitled to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  2. HMRC is working on building a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible to provide SSP repayments, however for the meantime – existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP so there will be a requirement to keep good records until HMRC enable the repayment process. We expect that this could take a few months by HMRC’s standards.
  3. Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  4. Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force.
  5. The Government will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors, and increase the planned rates discount for pubs to £5,000.
  6. Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be re-billed by their local authority as soon as possible
  7. Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount – We would advise making contact with your local council as soon as possible as it has been announced that public access to Thanet District Council has been suspended.

What Do We Suggest?

  1. Building a culture in your workplace where you encourage employees to say if they feel unwell or experience any symptoms – to speak up and to not feel pushed to come into work. But to contact NHS 111 as soon as possible, and to contact your workplace as soon as possible to help assess the risk prone to other members of staff/customers. It’s much better to stop the spread early, so that we can get Britain Back to Business in good time, rather than letting the virus spread more which could cause further disruption in future.

          We will get through this.

Whilst the legislation has not been launched yet – we will be in touch as soon as we have the detail of the legislation. In the meantime, for our payroll clients – here is a video on how to apply Statutory Sick Pay in Xero Payroll:

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