Things are changing at a very fast pace so it may be that as I write this, on the morning of 18th March 2020, it quickly becomes out of date.
However me and my team at CheapAccounting.co.uk felt it important to get something out there to our clients and the rest of the Freelancers, Side Hustlers, Small Businesses and Self Employed communities.
We’re going to focus on what applies specifically in this area.
Please DO NOT shoot the messenger if you don’t like what is available or feel it doesn’t go far enough!
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If you operate through a limited company and pay yourself a salary above the Lower Earnings Limit then you can receive limited funding towards sick pay.
Emergency legislation is being brought forward for employees who are self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19). They will be able to get SSP from the first day they are off work. This will begin from 13 March and will be funded by the government for 14 days for small business with up to 250 employees.
The amount available is £94.25 per week until 5th April 2020 and then £95.85 per week thereafter.
You receive funding for just TWO weeks SSP and this will be treated as income received in your accounts reducing your costs resulting in more profit to be taxed.
SSP is claimed through your payroll. So have a word with your accountant or whoever runs your payroll to claim this if it applies and you are eligible.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) For the Self Employed (Sole Traders)
If you pay Class 2 National Insurance you should be entitled to ESA from day 1 of self-isolation.
You have to make an application to get this. The form that you need to complete can be found at:
Time to pay your tax
HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline for those who will struggle to pay taxes such as Corporation Tax and VAT. They can set up an instalment plan giving you time to pay, as well as cancel any fines and penalties. So it’s super important to engage with them.
Before you call spend some time working out your cashflow so that you can present a realistic payment plan that you know that you can keep. HMRC will support you through this but tend to be less than sympathetic if you come up with a payment plan and do not keep to it.
The number to call is 0800 0159 559.
Full details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19
Business Interruption Loan
The Business Interruption Loan Scheme should be available from next week; so more details to follow. This will be delivered by the British Business Bank as well as high street banks. The Government will guarantee 80% of the loan in the event that it doesn’t get repaid.
First indications are that a loan of up to £5m can be obtained with no interest for the first 6 months.
This is a loan and will need to be repaid.
If you need loan funding then the first port of call should be your bank from next week.
For those with a mortgage your providers should give you a three month payment holiday. This may help with immediate cashflow. There is nothing available yet on how to apply for this. So the advice would be to contact your mortgage provider as your first port of call.
There is nothing available yet for renters.
There are a variety of other measures that have been announced but little else yet that is applicable for Freelancers, Side Hustlers, Small Businesses and the Self Employed. For example the £10,000 grant is for those who are in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief. So unlikely to apply to many Freelancers, Side Hustlers, Small Businesses and the Self Employed. Other measures have been announced for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector although again most of the measures are aimed at larger businesses.
For up to date news check the GOV.uk web site. Do check you ONLY use that web site as there are scammers out there jumping on the opportunity to con people out of money. So stay internet safe and only use GOV.uk.
It’s worth watching the daily 5pm update from the Prime Minister if you are able to do so as new measures will be announced there.
Just to re-iterate that this is a fast-changing landscape where new measures are being announced as needed. All we can do is to tell you what is available.
If you are experiencing severe financial difficulty then the first point of contact should be your bank and mortgage lender.
During this time of isolation and social distancing the key measure I bring is to try to remain positive. These are uncertain times. We are in this for the long haul and we need to get through it. It’s easy to say but stressing and moaning will get us nowhere.
Focus on the things that you can control. Address any immediate problems. Have a plan to keep boredom at bay.
Keep checking our blog for updates and for money saving suggestions along with hints & tips of things that you can do to ride out these difficult times.
Stay safe and well.
Health comes first ….. nothing else will matter if we don’t have that!