Financial Measures Available to Community Pharmacy during COVID-19

24 Mar 2020

Following the announcement by the Chancellor for businesses, there are a number of financial measures available to community pharmacy during COVID-19. Here we outline all the support available, eligibility and how to access it so you don’t miss out on valuable business support.

 

1.Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Details: You will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.

 Eligibility: Less than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

 How to apply: A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

 

2.Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS)

Details: The temporary BILS is available through 40 commercial lenders (and backed by the government-owned British Business Bank)

It will support small/medium business owners with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities.

For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.

Eligibility: Your business must be UK based, with a turnover of no more than £45 million per year.

Additional British Business Bank criteria: You will need to have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.

 How to apply: To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (details available here)

 

3.Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

Details: VAT will be deferred for 3 months (from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020) with no penalties or interest for late payment charged in the deferral period.

Payments due as part of Income Tax Self-Assessment on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021.

 Eligibility: All UK employers

 How to apply: No application needed – this will be automatically applied.

 

4.Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

Details: Support is available for your tax affairs through the HMRC Time to Pay Service. These can include agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings, and cancelling penalties and interest.  These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

 Eligibility: Your company must pay tax to the UK government and have outstanding tax liabilities.

 How to apply: If you have already missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

If you’re worried about a future payment, please call nearer the time.

 

5.Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Details: Support available to continue paying part of your employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month

Eligibility: All UK employers

How to apply: A system is being developed by HMRC

 

6.Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

Details: The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.

 Eligibility: UK incorporated companies, including those with foreign-incorporated parents and with a genuine business in the UK; companies with significant employment in the UK; firms with their headquarters in the UK.

The Bank of England will also consider whether the company generates significant revenues in the UK, serves a large number of customers in the UK or has a number of operating sites in the UK.

How to apply: The scheme is now available for applications.

More information is available from the Bank of England

 

7.Small Business Grant Scheme

Details: There are 2 schemes available from your Local Authority:

  1. The Small Business Grant Fund, which give one-off grants of £10,000 to all eligible businesses.
  2. The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, which offers grants of £10,000 to businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000 and a grant of £25,000 to businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000

Eligibility: Small Businesses Grant – all businesses in England that occupy a property and who are in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and/or Rural Rates Relief (RRR). In Scotland, all businesses that get Small Business Bonus Scheme relief and/or Rural Relief

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant – all businesses in England that operate in retail, hospitality and/or leisure (this includes pharmacies). In Scotland pharmacies are not specifically listed in the eligibility/ineligibility criteria.

Recipients eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund will not be eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

The government has recently issued further funding to top-up this scheme, with the intended recipients those who were not previously covered by the business grant funds scheme

How to apply:

You do not need to do anything in England. The council will contact you in due course to explain how to apply for this.

However, if you are concerned that you should have been eligible for this and don’t receive a letter from your council, then you can make contact with them to check.

If you are unsure who your local authority is you can search here: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council.

In Scotland you will need to complete an application available on your local council website. More information for Scotland is at www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/

‘the government has recently issued further funding to top-up this scheme, with the intended recipients those who were not previously covered by the business grant funds scheme’

More information is available at https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/cash-grant-for-retail-hospitality-and-leisure/

and https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/small-business-grant-funding/

For members in Northern Ireland:

£10,000 grant available to Northern Ireland businesses currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), subject to some exclusions.
SBRR is automatically applied to business properties with a rateable value below £15,000, though some exclusions to SBRR apply. Business with multiple premises will only be eligible for one grant of £10,000 in total.

Small Business Grant Scheme https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/node/23015

 

8. Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (taken from the gov.uk website)

Details: Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019-20 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

Eligibility:

You will be eligible if:

  1. Your business is based in England, AND
  1. Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those that are wholly or mainly being used:
  2. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,
  3. for assembly and leisure; or
  4. as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

How to apply:

  1. There is no action for you. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills. For more information please check the guidance on gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance)
  2. You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator (https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates)
  3. You can find your local authority on gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council)

When can I access it?

This will apply to your business rates bills for the 2020/2021 tax year. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill. They will do this as soon as possible.

For members in Northern Ireland:

In NI the Regional Rate has been adjusted downward to offset the change in the total rateable value due to Reval2020. A further 12.5 per cent cut has now been made in the Budget announced 24 March. This will effectively see an 18 per cent reduction on the 2019-20 figure. This is intended to benefit all business ratepayers and help with the economic recovery needed on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. All business ratepayers will benefit from a three-month business rate holiday. This is to help SMEs with the significant cash flow difficulties they are facing during the pandemic. This will be shown as a 25 per cent discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.

 

9. Community Pharmacy eligible for small business loan

Small businesses are able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 through the new scheme available next month. The government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during these first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. Businesses will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders.

Eligibility:

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

·         banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)

·         public-sector bodies

·         state-funded primary and secondary schools

Businesses who have also claimed under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) are also not eligible to apply.

How to apply:

There are details on how to apply through this site:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May via a short and simple online form– no further details have been given as yet.

If businesses have already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, they can arrange this with their lender until 4 November 2020.

 

Devolved Nations Additional Support

Some aspects of business support are devolved. For business support outside of England, please read below:

Scotland

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • Extension of the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022

Further help:

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Also, you can visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-individuals-and-businesses-in-scotland

 

Wales

  • A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant ihas slightly different eligibility criteria – £10,000 will be given to to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less and £25,000 given to all businesses with a rateable value of £12,001 and £51,000.
  • 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.

Further help:

The business Wales helpline number is 0300 060 3000. Open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm. Also you can visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-individuals-and-businesses-in-wales#businesses

 

Northern Ireland

  • £10,000 small business grant to be issued immediately for all businesses with a NAV up to £15,000
  • All NI businesses will pay zero rates for the next three months (April, May, June 2020) in addition to any existing rate reliefs. This applies to all businesses and does not need to be repaid.

Further help:

The Invest NI Helpline is 0800 181 4422. You can also visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-guidance-information-for-ni-businesses-employers