Coronavirus – support for businesses

Q What support is available for businesses to deal with coronavirus?

The Welsh Government announced a £1.4bn business support package on March 18 to help companies across Wales.

  • The new package provides retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales with a year-long business rates holiday in 2020-21;
  • A grant of £25,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000;
  • A £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for small business rates relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Payment mechanisms for the grant are being finalised with the aim of it being automatic. The Welsh Government is setting up a fund specifically for self-employed people affected by coronavirus. We will provide the details as soon as we get them.

 

Q Does this match the support available in England?

Yes – this matches the measures the Chancellor announced this week for businesses in England, and provides a much-needed boost for small businesses in Wales, which are at the heart of our economy and are struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Q Is this the only support available to businesses in Wales?

This £1.4bn package extends the emergency £200m rates relief support we were able to announce on March 17. The Development Bank of Wales is offering all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday to help them manage the financial fallout from the virus. Extensive advice and support is available from Business Wales – https://businesswales.gov.wales/ or 03000 6 03000. The childcare offer will continue to be paid to local authorities and childcare settings, which currently receive payments for children in their care, even where services are disrupted. The UK Government has announced a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This will be available to businesses in Wales via the British Business Bank. The HMRC Time to Pay scheme applies in Wales https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc Economy Minister Ken Skates is holding an emergency meeting of the Council for Economic Development and will meet banks on March 19 to discuss what further support businesses will need to manage the coronavirus outbreak. We are working on a package of further support for small businesses, which will not benefit from the schemes already announced. We are absolutely committed to providing the support and assurance the business community needs. A small taskforce is being set up to look at wider support needed for the economy during the recovery phase.

 

Q What support is available to businesses who have to pay sick pay?

The UK Government is bringing forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to coronavirus. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • This refund will cover up to two 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
  • The 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.

 

Q Is further support needed from the UK Government?

We believe the UK Government needs to be more ambitious in its support for business. The First Minister wrote to the Chancellor setting out a range of UK-wide interventions he could take to support the economy during the coronavirus outbreak (a copy of the letter is available via the @FMWales Twitter account). We believe the UK Government should be considering a National Insurance holiday and financial support for wages.

 

Q Where can businesses get help and advice?