Support for businesses paying sick pay

Legislation is to be brought forward to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness due to COVID-19.

The eligibility criteria for this scheme is:

  • 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 and payments of SSP, 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 those staying at home 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

Support for businesses that pay business rates

A business rates holiday will be introduced for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Also a £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,0000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.

There will be additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR). Furthermore, one-off grant of £10,000 will be provided to businesses currently eligible for SBBR or rural rate relief.

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank is set to launch next week. This will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. Lenders will be provided 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 guarantee will come with no charge and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. The government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

Businesses paying tax

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 can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline if you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19: 0800 0159 559


Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.


Sick Pay

SSP will be paid from day 1 as opposed to day 4 for those affected by Coronavirus.

Mortgage Payments

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 3 month mortgage payment ‘holiday’ for people hit hard by coronavirus.

Universal Credit

If the whole family has to stay at home and there is no income coming in, you can apply for Universal Credit.

‘Keep up to date with the news as more support may become available. This page will be updated as and when new information is announced.’

Quote from Nigel Holland