We know that times are not always easy for plumbers and heating engineers – and the Coronavirus pandemic may affect small businesses and self-employed individuals very seriously.

At Williams we have always worked with our customers to help them through difficult times – it’s part of who we are. But we appreciate that we can’t solve every problem, so we have pulled together some useful information and links to organisations who can help if you, or your business, is in serious trouble.

Government support for your business

The UK government have brought in several measures that are designed to prevent small businesses from folding:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme whereby HMRC will cover part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off, up to £2,500 per employee per month. Guidance on how to apply for this will be issued shortly
  • deferring VAT – the March quarterly payment is being deferred to June 2020 and all you need to do is not pay it
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized businesses – you can claim back 2 weeks of SSP for any employee who is off sick because of Coronavirus. You need to keep a record of absences, but employees won’t need a GP fit note. The mechanism for repaying SSP hasn’t been sorted out yet but is expected soon
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. Your local authority will contact you in writing if you’re eligible
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for small and medium sized businesses; you need to contact your bank about this as the loans will be provided by them, but backed by the British Business Bank
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme – deferring any tax liabilities on a case-by-case basis. The HMRC dedicated hotline for this is 0800 0159 559

They have issued clear guidance on the above, including how you can claim any of the support for your business – though as some of these measures are only a few days old, in some cases the exact process hasn’t been laid out:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Government Support for self-employed individuals and employees

If you are self-employed then you are not eligible for sick pay – however you can apply for Universal Credit and/or New Style Employment or Support allowance – even if you’re prevented from working due to a risk to public health

The minimum income floor in Universal Credit will be temporarily relaxed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will be compensated for losses in income

New Style Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice for from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day

People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 (or self-isolating), without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre

HMRC have also said that personal Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021 without interest or penalty – this will be automatic so you don’t need to do anything.

If you are VAT registered, the same deferment of your next payment is available for sole traders as for companies – the March quarterly payment can be deferred to June 2020.

If you have any outstanding tax liabilities, talk to HMRC’s Time To Pay service about getting these deferred – they have set up a dedicated hotline on 0800 0159 559

If you’re struggling financially

Money Advice Service have some clear guidance on mortgage payment holidays:

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/mortgage-payment-holidays

Rainy Day Trust is a charity which exists solely to help people who have worked in the UK’s home improvement and enhancement industry, including tradesmen/women, apprentices and trainees

Turn2Us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. They have a useful benefits calculator on their website and have also issued guidance for self-employed people on how to access benefits

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Self-employment-and-benefits/Self-employment-and-benefits-Frequently-asked-ques

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/get-support/Benefits-and-Coronavirus

If you just want someone to talk to

You can get in touch with the Samaritans about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue feels.

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

MENtalk on Facebook is a group run by a trained counsellor and has many members who are self-employed 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MENtalkUK/posts/

MIND is a well-established charity that makes sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

Please note that this does not constitute legal or financial advice, and that support schemes may be updated or withdrawn at very short notice – valid as of 23rd March 2020