First and foremost, we hope you and your family are safe and well!
We know that many of you are concerned about a great number of things right now including how to keep your businesses afloat and how to do the right thing by your staff. That’s why we’re speaking to insurers on a daily basis to get you the answers you need so that you hopefully have one less thing to worry about.
Take a look at the information we’ve put together on this page or try using the buttons below to jump between the relevant sections:
Updates from insurers
We are delighted to announce that a number of our insurers have agreed some policy updates to help ease the burden many are feeling at this difficult time. This is for our existing customers. You will shortly be receiving a detailed update from us based on your individual insurer but the summary is:
An extended period of cover for your unoccupied premises
In normal circumstances, most insurers offer standard cover for unoccupied premises for a period of up to 30 consecutive days. However, the good news is that some insurers have already confirmed that they are now offering extended cover beyond their standard 30 consecutive days at no extra cost and with no need to contact them unless you’re currently aware that your premises will be unoccupied for longer than the extended period.
Extension conditions apply in respect of some insurers, so please keep an eye out for our follow up email about your policy.
Cover for home working
The great news on this is that many of our insurers are also extending existing policy cover to provide the same level of protection you currently enjoy so you can carry out normal business activities at your home and the homes of your employees.
Conditions apply in respect of some insurers, so please keep an eye out for our follow up email about your policy.
Cover for changes in business use
If you have made changes to your business due to the impact of COVID-19 e.g. closed your restaurant but are now operating as a takeaway or are changing manufacturing to support production of ventilators for the NHS, several of our insurers have confirmed that they will look to offer risk management guidance and support, subject to the existing terms and conditions of your policy.
Following our discussions, they have also agreed to be flexible and, where possible, not charge any additional premiums. You should get in touch with us directly to discuss this if you haven’t done so already.
Coronavirus Customer Guide
There’s so much information for you to absorb that sometimes it can be hard to focus on what the real priorities are. That’s why we created this guide. In it you’ll be able to find out what help is available, how you can access it and most importantly how to prioritise what you need to do to ensure you stay healthy, look after your employees and protect your businesses. You can access the guide here.
Financial support available to small businesses
There’s a lot of information on available financial support and how to keep employees safe/how to clean workplaces safely at the following links:
The Society of Insurance Broking have also published guidance on coronavirus and business interruption which you may find helpful:
1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (all UK employers are eligible) – rather than lay your staff off, you can get support to continue paying 80% of an employee’s salary (capped at £2500 a month) if that employee would otherwise have been laid off. You’ll need to:
a. designate those affected employees as “furloughed employees”;
b. tell the affected employees; and
c. tell HMRC about these furloughed employees through a new online portal HMRC is setting up
When deciding whether you can furlough an employee you will still have to comply with employment law.
2. Deferring VAT and income tax payments (all UK businesses are eligible):
a. VAT payments will automatically be deferred from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 for all UK businesses. You do not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
b. For income tax self-assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021. It will be done automatically. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
c. HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals in temporary financial distress as a result of coronavirus which have outstanding tax liabilities.
If you cannot pay your tax bill because of Coronavirus, please call the HMRC Coronavirus helpline on 0800 1015 9559.
3. Reclaiming statutory sick pay (UK based businesses are eligible) – the government will allow SME’s and employers to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to coronavirus – up to 2 weeks per eligible employees for employers with less than 250 employees. Further details of the rebate scheme will be provided shortly once legislation has passed.
4. Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses (businesses based in England are eligible) – this will be introduced for the 2020 to 2021 tax year and you don’t need to do anything. If you got the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year you will be rebilled by your local authority. This covers properties wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
5. Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure grant of up to 25k per property – the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme (businesses based in England are eligible):
a. businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000;
b. businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000
You don’t need to do anything to get this – your local authority will write to you if you’re eligible for the grant. Guidance for local authorities will be provided shortly.
6. Nursery businesses that pay business rates (businesses based in England are eligible) – a business rates holiday is to be introduced for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. You don’t need to do anything – it will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020 (your bill may need to be reissued).
7. If your business pays little or no business rates (businesses based in England are eligible) – the government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will give a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. You don’t need to do anything – your local authority will write to you if you’re eligible.
9. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (UK based businesses are eligible) – this supports SMEs with access to working capital including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses won’t face upfront costs and will get lower initial repayments. The scheme is open for applications – talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers: www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
All major banks are offering this scheme. If you currently have a loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to aid cash flow.
Following an update on 3rd April 2020, the Chancellor has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, are now eligible to apply if they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees. For loans over £250,000 personal guarantees are limited to 20% of amounts outstanding after recoveries of other assets and cannot be on principal homes.
10. Bounce Back Loan Scheme
On Monday 27th April 2020 the Chancellor announced that small businesses can benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders.
Under the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, small businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months.
The scheme will launch on the 4th May 2020 and will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under CBILS.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan
11. Future Fund
On Monday 20th April 2020 the Chancellor announced a new scheme which will issue convertible loans to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Future Fund will provide government loans to innovative UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund
Support for the self-employed
1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
This new scheme is available to people who are self-employed or a member of a partnership and who have lost income due to coronavirus.
This scheme will pay 80% of your average profits over the past 3 years – tax years 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 (if you are eligible and haven’t submitted returns for 2018-19 you now have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement (26th March 2020) to file returns by the 23rd April. Ref: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme).
The scheme will pay up to £2,500 per month for three months (this may be extended if needed) but only if your average annual profits are £50k or less. HMRC expects to start making the first payments by the beginning of June 2020 and you will apply using an online form. If you are eligible HMRC will pay the grant straight into your bank account.
2. What can the self-employed get in the meantime?
HMRC has changed the welfare system so people who are self-employed can now access Universal Credit in full. They have also made sure that most people can access the business interruption loans.
HMRC also say that a self-employed person can be entitled to a combination of Universal Credit and new style Employment Support Allowance and Local Housing Allowance and Child Benefits to see them through the next few months.
For more information please go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Support for charities
On the 8th April 2020 the Chancellor announced a £750 million package of support for frontline charities to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.
As part of this UK-wide package of support, £360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis. In addition to this, £370 million will be allocated to smaller charities – including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England, and through the Barnett formula for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – that will support those organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak to those in need.
The Chancellor also announced that the government will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on 23 April, starting with a contribution of at least £20 million. For further information visit:
Business support finder
The government has launched a new ‘support finder’ tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine the financial support available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.
The simple online questionnaire takes minutes to complete and signposts you to relevant government financial support – including loans, grants or other schemes – for which you may be eligible.
The support finder tool can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
- Most insurance policies do not cover loss of earnings/profit as a result of coronavirus. At The Insurance Octopus, we are working with insurers to see what support, if any, can be offered to customers.
- If you have any coronavirus enquiries regarding your insurance policy, please email [email protected]. We will respond as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your continued loyalty. Stay safe.
Chief Executive Officer
Will there be any change to your opening hours?
Not at this time, we’re following the government guidance and our key priorities are to make sure we can continue to support you and look after our employees.
I’m self-employed. What help is available for me?
The government has announced a package which will be available from June specifically for people who are self-employed, called Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme. HMRC will directly be contacting individuals who are eligible for the scheme and you will be invited to apply online. More information is available to view at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme.