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UK & US Government Advice

Below, we have pulled together governmental resources for retailers in the United Kingdom and United States. You’ll find country-specific financial support and guidance for retail businesses.

UK Government Advice

Latest information on UK business support

Find out how the UK government is supporting businesses like yours, with details on all coronavirus financial support schemes and other relief measures.

US Government Advice

Latest information on US business support

Take a look at this list of US federal and state government relief programs and measures that are available to support your business during this pandemic.

UK Government Advice

Resources for UK employers & employees

Read about the UK government’s advice on employee heath, statutory sick pay, how to limit the spread of the virus in your workplace and more.

UK Government Advice

Latest information on UK business support

Published: 23rd March 2020 - Updated 12th May 2020

Below, we have detailed how the UK government are supporting retail businesses like yours in the wake of COVID-19.

Up to £330 billion worth of loans will be made available to support UK businesses. Small and medium sized businesses (SME’s) will be able to access loans via the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, whereas larger businesses will be able to access loans backed by the Bank of England.

For SME’s, the loans available will now be up to £5m, compared to the £1.2m originally announced in last week’s budget. To support you further, the first six months of these loans will be interest free.

To alleviate cash flow problems, grants of up to £10,000 will also be made available to around 700,000 businesses that qualify for Small Business Rate Relief.

The government are deferring VAT and Income Tax payments from 20th March 2020, until 30th June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible, and no applications are required as it is an automated offer. For more information, have a read of this.

A statutory sick pay relief package for SME’s has been announced.

A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been announced. Read below for further information about the criteria and eligibility for application.

The Self Employment Income Support Scheme is live and available for you to check your eligibility. Read further information below.

As of 4th May 2020, the government has announced the availability of “bounce back” loans for small businesses. Read more information below.

Bounce back loans

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the launch of a further financial support initiative, “bounce bank” loans. This initiative will specifically offer a lifeline to small businesses in the UK through the coronavirus crisis, in the form of quick and easy-to-access loans.

As of Monday 4th May 2020, small businesses will be able to apply via a simple seven question online form for bounce back loans of up to £50,000. Under the scheme, companies can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 (a maximum of 25% of their turnover), for up to six years. Once the loan has been accepted, businesses can expect to receive the cash within days.

The loans are 100% government backed, covering the cost of any fees or interest for the borrower for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first year to allow businesses to continue to trade and get back on their feet.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – What is it and how can you access it?

In a bid to protect UK jobs during the coronavirus outbreak, the government have announced that they will pay 80% of wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

This support will help ease the financial burden of COVID-19, by enabling you to continue paying your employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible for this support.

In order to access the scheme, you will need to:

Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify your employees of this change. You should also note that changing the status of employees remains subject to employment laws and, depending on their contracts, may be subject to negotiation.

Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal, which is now live as of 20th April 2020. Click here to begin your claim.

If you require short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

On Thursday 26th March 2020, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor, announced a new scheme to support the UK’s self-employed affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme will allow those eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the following three months. This timeframe may be extended if the government deems it necessary.

You can now check whether you’re eligible to make a claim using this online form. If you are accepted, you will be assigned a date between 13th and 18th May 2020 to complete your claim. HMRC will check the claim and make payments for successful claims from the 25th May 2020.

Who is eligible for the income support scheme?

You are a self-employed individual or member of a partnership in the UK
You have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19 (this must be completed by 23rd April 2020)
You have traded in the tax year 2019-20
You are currently trading when you apply (or would be but can’t due to COVID-19)
You intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
You have lost trading and/or partnership profits due to COVID-19

In addition to these eligibility requirements, your self-employed trading profits must not exceed £50,000 and more than half your income must come from self-employment.

According to the government, this is dependent on one of the following conditions holding true:

Your trading profits (or partnership trading profits) in 2018-19 are less than £50,000 and these profits constituted over half of your total taxable income in the same tax year
Your average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 are less than £50,000 and again these profits must have constituted more than half your average taxable income in the same period

Further support for UK retail businesses include:

Receiving a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months, regardless of the size of your business.

Being eligible to receive a grant of up to £25,000 if your business has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Time to Pay arrangements are available to businesses in the event that there are issues with cash flow or paying relevant taxes to HMRC.

As the team at Thomas Westcott have highlighted, it is likely that there will be further announcements on this and we’ll update this page accordingly.

UK Government Advice

Resources for UK employers & employees

Published: 20th March 2020

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor, will be launching a huge rescue package for British companies and their workers later today to help prevent the coronavirus crisis from spiralling.

While we wait for this imminent update and what it means for our wider community, we have put together a number of government resources to support you through this time.

Guidance for employers

What you need to know
What to do if an employee develops COVID-19 symptoms
Travel arrangements for sick employees
Statutory sick pay
Lay-offs and short-time working
Certifying absence from work
What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone
Limiting the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
Keeping your workplace clean and free from waste during COVID-19
Handling post or packages

Further resources

Advice for UK HR professionals during COVID-19
UK lay-off and short-time working provisions during COVID-19

Guidance for employees

Staying at home
Working from home

Statutory sick pay

Further resources

Coronavirus and your wellbeing
Temporary changes to the Mental Health Act during COVID-19
How working parents can prepare for COVID-19 closures

US Government Advice

Latest information on US business support

Published: 24th March 2020 – Updated: 2nd April 2020

The US government and state governments have been rolling out the country’s COVID-19 plans, relief measures and programs to support those impacted by the virus.

Below, we have listed the Federal Government Relief Programs:

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

In response to the growing financial needs of small businesses, the federal government has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 billion stimulus package.

We have detailed the specific assistance programs designed for American businesses, including the National Law Review and Paycheck Protection Program, in our dedicated blog.

Small Business Administration

As the impact of COVID-19 is felt more deeply each day by small businesses across the country, the SBA has launched a series of small business debt relief and loan programs. These aid efforts are a reflection of the recent CARES Act and include:

Paycheck Protection Program

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance

SBA Debt Relief

SBA Express Bridge Loans

You can read further information about each program here.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service are extending the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

This relief is automatic and taxpayers – individuals and corporations – do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify. This relief does, however, only apply to federal income returns and tax, and not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax.

For more information on this IRS filing and payment deadline extension read this, or alternatively visit the Federation of Tax Administrators site for links to each state tax agency’s website.

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This page has been created to provide you with all the support and guidance you need as an online retailer, in the wake of COVID-19. To ensure this page is as useful as it possibly can be, please don't hesitate to let us know what information you’d like to see or any specific concerns you have, so that we can gather the most helpful resources for our community.