Last updated: 23 September 2020
With coronavirus leaving many people unable to work, or out of work, the government has set out some short-term measures to help people during this period.
Support for employed workers
If you're employed, most government support will come through your employer. HMRC will currently reimburse up to 80% of wage costs for workers who have been furloughed (granted a leave of absence) because their workplace has closed due to coronavirus. This scheme will run until 31 October 2020.
Support for self-employed workers
If you're self-employed, the government help includes:
- A taxable grant up to 80% of trading profits (up to the value of £2,500) for 3 months. You’ll need to fit the eligibility criteria to be able to claim this. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected, you must made your claim for this first grant on, or before, 13 July 2020.
- A second and final grant, which is an extension of the taxable grant above, can be claimed in August 2020. It’ll be worked out the same as the first grant and will be worth up to 70% of your average monthly trading profits. This will be paid in one instalment which covers 3 months’ worth of trading profits. This is capped at £6,570 in total. You’ll need to fit the eligibility criteria to be able to claim the second and final grant. You can still claim the second and final grant even if you didn’t claim the first one. If you make a claim for this you'll have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on, or after, 14 July 2020.
- Income tax payments due on 31 July 2020 are able to be deferred until 31 January 2021. If you need to defer a payment, there will be no interest, or penalties, for doing so in this time.
- VAT payments due before 30 June 2020 are able to be delayed until 31 March 2021. No payments need to be made in this period.
- Any VAT liabilities that have built up during the deferral period won’t need to be paid by tax payers until 31 March 2021.1
- The government will still pay VAT refunds and reclaims as normal.
Support for business
The government has also put measures in place to help businesses, including:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which allows employers to get help in paying employee salaries, if employees would have otherwise been laid off. It’s available for UK employers with a PAYE scheme until 31 October 2020.
- Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers were able to bring back members of staff for any amount of time or shift pattern from 1 July 2020. They’re still be able to claim for any hours that aren’t worked. The level of the grant started reducing from 1 August 2020.
- SMEs will be able to access a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package, which includes allowing them to reclaim SSP that's been paid for coronavirus absences.
- Businesses in the hospitality, leisure, retail and nursery sectors in England are entitled to a 12-month business rates holiday.
- SMEs may be able to apply for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) which is 100% guaranteed by the government. It helps access finance more quickly during the pandemic, allowing SMEs to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover (capped at £50,000). There’ll be no fees, or interest, to pay for the first 12 months. After this period, interest will be charged at 2.5%. Eligibility criteria apply.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) helps SMEs access loans and other types of finance up to £5 million. 80% of the finance is guaranteed to the lender by the government, with any fees and interest being paid for the first 12 months. Eligibility criteria apply.
- UK-based innovative companies who rely on equity investment and are facing difficulty due to the pandemic may be eligible for the Future Fund scheme. This is where the government provides convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million (subject to at least equal match funding from private investors). You can apply up to the end of September 2020. Eligibility criteria apply.
- VAT payments due before 30 June 2020 can be delayed until 31 March 2021. No payments need to be made in this period.
- If you choose to defer your VAT payment as a result of coronavirus, you must pay the VAT due on, or before, 31 March 2021.1
- The government will still pay VAT refunds and reclaims as normal.
Businesses may also be able to speak to HMRC and receive help via the Time To Pay service if they’re in financial difficulty with outstanding tax liabilities.
Some schemes are country/region specific and may differ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There may also be eligibility criteria.
Support for home buyers
England and Northern Ireland
The government has announced a Stamp Duty holiday from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021.
If you’re looking to buy your first property or move home, they won’t charge Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the first £500,000 of a property purchased – as long as the home you’re buying will be the only home you own.
This is a temporary measure and if you’ll own more than 1 property, a 3% extra Stamp Duty Land Tax will still apply.
This means that, during this time, if you buy your first, or only, property for £500,000 or less, you won’t have to pay Stamp Duty. If you buy a property for more than £500,000, or an additional property, you will pay significantly less in Stamp Duty.
The starting threshold for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) for residential property transactions will be raised from £145,000 to £250,000.
This will apply to all relevant transactions where the effective date is between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 (inclusive of these dates).
So, during this time if you buy your first, or only, property in Scotland for £250,000 or less, you will not have to pay LBTT. If you buy a property for more than £250,000, or an additional property, you will pay significantly less in LBTT.
Changes to the land transaction tax (LTT) rates and thresholds will apply to residential property purchases from 27 July 2020 to 31 March 2021. The starting threshold for LTT main residential rates will be set at £250,000.
This means those buying their only property costing less than £250,000 will pay no LTT and those buying their only property for more than £250,000 will make a saving of £2,450. These changes will not apply to those buying property as an investment, or those owning more than one property after the transaction.
Support for renters
If you’re a tenant and you think you may struggle to pay your rent in light of coronavirus, you need to speak to your landlord directly.
Emergency legislation introduced following the coronavirus outbreak means landlords won’t be able to start proceedings to evict tenants unless the tenant has missed more than 3 months of rent payments. This applies to private and social renters.
For more help and information on managing your finances through this time, visit our coronavirus guidance page.