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Interesting Times

Interesting times

Key information from the budget for small businesses and the self employed re COVID19

This wasn’t a post I ever anticipated writing. I’m a fitness professional and number cruncher not an expert of the financial impact of global pandemics.

It is fair to say that a large number of people as well as shitting themselves about the virus (hence I presume the run on toilet paper) the thing that it doesn’t seem to seem quite right to mention is what the financial implications to us individually will be.

But it is a massive concern to some people especially in fitness where the pay isn’t great that bills will not be able to be paid etc and this just adds to the anxiety.

So, should the worst happen financially here is the government advice from the budget. As it was rushed out there is some detail to follow but this is what has been advised so far. I would advise you to read it fully and google the hell out of all of it. Obviously nobody has had to do any claims yet so we are all somewhat in the dark – I’m just a humble accountant but that means I’m good at digesting information like this and if it helps one person – awesome! (as we say in Les Mills land)

Here are the key points that I think will affect the majority of us


Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.

(SSP is currently £94.25 per week)


Those who are not eligible for 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:for the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support

people will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate

contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.”


“New style’ ESA

Most new claims are for ‘new style’ ESA.

To get ‘new style’ ESA you need to have both:

  • worked as an employee or been self-employed
  • paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years – National Insurance credits also count

You cannot get ‘new style’ ESA if you’re getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from an employer. You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends. You’ll start getting ‘new style’ ESA as soon as your SSP ends.”

TLDR: you have to have paid NI to get ESA


Limited companies, businesses with premises, businesses who employ people:

There is a lot on the link above which I encourage you to read but the highlights are:

“The government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to 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″

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. Taken together with existing small business rate relief (which provides full relief for businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less), an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020 to 2021: “

“The government will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent.

“A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.”

“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 from 11 March 2020 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.”

I’m no expert on this I’m just someone that thought I know how to google information that will be helpful to others, I will try and keep you updated with new information as I come across it.


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