Please find below updates from the government websites as of today, Monday 16th March 2020. We’ll update as and when new information becomes available.
New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced and the following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year:
- 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
- £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
- 6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
- a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020
The Finance Secretary is also expected to contact all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.
In addition, the U.K. government has brought forward legislation to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
- 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
- the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP
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. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline for advice and support. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC have made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The Scottish Government business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
As always, we are on hand, please get in touch with your usual Drummond Laurie contact in the first instance.