Government advice on employees, rate relief and grants




Who is this applicable to?
UK businesses.

What is this about?
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package for UK based companies with fewer than 250 employees (SMEs).

All SME’s will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

  • Have coronavirus.
  • Cannot work because they are self-isolating at home.
  • Are shielding in line with public health guidance.

Your claim amount should not be above the maximum €800,000 (approximately £698,000) of state aid under the EU Commission's temporary framework. This is when combined with other aid received under the framework. There is a lower maximum for agriculture at €100,000 (approximately £87,000) and aquaculture and fisheries at €120,000 (approximately £105,000).

What next?
The online service you’ll use to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is NOW AVAILABLE.

To use the online service you will need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you did not register online you will need to enrol for the PAYE Online service.

Find your lost Government Gateway user ID if you do not have it.

If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf. You can now claim for employees who are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus.

If you’re unable to claim online an alternative way to claim will be available. We will update this page with more information soon (date reviewed: 20/05/2020). (date reviewed: 20/05/2020).


Support for businesses through the coronavirus job retention scheme

Who is this applicable to?
UK businesses.

What is this about?
All UK businesses that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or befor the 19 March 2020 are able to access salary support to help maintain their workforce during COVID-19.

This is for employees you would otherwise have to let go who were on PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and had a RTI submission corresponding to them made to HMRC on or before 19th March. This scheme also covers employees made redundant between the period of 28/02/2020 and 19/03/2020, if you rehire them and place them on furlough. It is essential that you provide in writing confirmation to the employee that they have been furloughed. To be eligible for the scheme there needs to be a written record of your statement and your employee does not need to provide a written response but all communication pertaining to furloughing an employee must be kept for 5yrs.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, with a cap of £2500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. This scheme will run for six months from 1st March. For more info contact your employer.

If you wish to furlough an individual who is receiving SSP, the claim for cover of wages must not include the period covered by SSP receipt. If a furloughed individual becomes ill during their furlough period it is at the discretion of the employer to decide whether to keep them on furlough or or move them onto SSP. It is important to note that to claim furlough support there is a 3 week minimum furlough period.

If you wish to claim wages for an individual who took a a period of unpaid leave after 28th February, you can take them off unpaid leave and furlough instead. If you wish to claim furlough support for an individual who was on a period of unpaid leave before 28th Feb, you cannot access furlough support until the initial agreed period of unpaid leave ends.

If you have apprentices training with you they can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and can continue to train whilst furloughed. Apprentices must be paid at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage as appropriate for all the time they spend training, meaning you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim through this scheme and their wage due to training.

While employees are on furlough they are allowed to complete training for you as long as this training does not involve them providing services to or generating income for the company. While training employees must be paid at least the national minimum wage rate, which in most cases will be covered by the 80% government support. In the case that the training attracts a minimum wage entitlement above the furlough support received then you are required to pay the additional entitlement.

If your company receives public funding for staff costs you are expected to use this money to continue to pay your staff, rather than accessing the coronavirus job retention scheme.

It is important to note that while on furlough if contractually allowed, your employees are permitted to work for another employer.

What can you do now?
To prepare for accessing the coronavirus retention scheme you will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’. This is employees who you would otherwise have to let go. To be eligible for the scheme individuals must be placed on furlough for a minimum of 3 weeks.

To make a claim you will need the following:
  • Government Gateway ID and password (if you don’t already have one you can apply for one online)
  • Be enrolled for PAYE online (if you aren’t registered yet click HERE to enrol)
  • Details of how many employees are being furloughed
  • Details of each furloughed employee you wish to claim for (name, NI number, claim period and amount, PAYE number). If one or more employees does not have a NI number you should contact HMRC.
  • Your Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference, Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
  • Your organisation details (UK bank account details, registered name and registered address)

If you have more than 100 employees you will be required to provide additional information. You will need to upload details of each furloughed employee you wish to claim for (name, NI number, furlough start and end date, claim amount, PAYE number) in either XLS, XLSX, CSV or ODP format. This is the only information you should provide. Providing more or less information may delay your payment.

There are a few things that you will have to calculate before you can make your claim:
  • The total amount being paid to furloughed employees
  • Your total NICs
  • Your total pension contributions, up to 3%

Examples of how to calculate the above can be found HERE and you can use the HMRC calculator to collect the figures you will need to apply HERE.

Now that you have gathered the above information you are ready to make a claim. If you do not finish your claim in one session, you can save a draft but you must complete your claim within 7 days of starting it.

You will need to submit the information regarding furloughed employees and their earnings to HMRC through a new HMRC online portal. You can access this and start you claim HERE.

What next?
Initial six months of scheme
You will receive a claim reference number after you have completed the claims process. You should retain this information along with your claim calculations.

If your claim is approved you will receive payment for the claim amount into your account by BACS within 6 working days.

You must keep a copy of all records for six years, including:
  • the amount claimed and claim period for each employee
  • the claim reference number for your records
  • your calculations in case HMRC need more information about your claim

You will need to inform your furloughed employees that you have made a claim and they do not need to take further action.

You must also pay your employees wage if you have not already.

If you need help with the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme you are able to contact HMRC in the following ways:
You cannot make more than one claim during a claim period - you should make your claim shortly before or during running payroll. It is for you to decide the length of your claim period. In deciding what your claim period is, you should think about how frequently you run your payroll.

We will monitor guidance in this area and update this page with any changes (date reviewed: 01/06/2020).

After initial six months of scheme (post-July)
After initial 6 months of scheme (Post July) From July 1st you can bring back any employees previously furloughed to work part time and still be able to claim for their contractual hours not worked. You are responsible for paying their wages for the time they are working. You will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. Staff can also remain on furlough full time.

The scheme is closing on June 30th to new entrants and so to continue to get support for individuals into the scheme change employees will have had to be on furlough for 3 weeks prior to this date, the last date you can do this to meet the criteria for continued support is June 10th.

The first time you will be able to make claims for days in July will be 1 July, you cannot claim for periods in July before this point. 31 July is the last day that you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 30 June.

From July, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period.

In July the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. You are not required to pay anything towards this.

In August the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. You will be responsible for ER NICs and pension contributions.

In September the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. You will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

In October the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. You will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. 

We will continue to monitor this and update as official government documents are released (date reviewed: 01/06/2020).



Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

What can you do now?
If you’re an employer who pays more than the current rate of SSP you can only claim the current rate amount.The scheme covers all types of employment
  • contracts, including:
  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

What next?
We will let you know when the scheme will end. Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020.
(date reviewed: 25/04/2020).

Rate relief

Business rate relief

Who is this applicable to?
English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish businesses.

What is this about?
Certain businesses in England and Wales will receive a holiday on their rates.

England Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Government guidance has stated that leisure properties such as sports clubs, gyms and spas are included in this scheme. You can estimate the business rate relief using the business rates calculator.

Wales All retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or below will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief in 2020-21. This relief will be available from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021. You can access guidance here on Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief in Wales.

The Welsh Government are also providing non-domestic rates relief to eligible small businesses. 
  • eligible business premises with a rateable value of up to £6,000 will receive 100% relief; and
  • those with a rateable value between £6,001 and £12,000 will receive relief on a tapered basis from 100% to zero

Scotland Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief. To get this relief, a property has to be occupied. Properties that have closed temporarily due to the government's coronavirus advice will be treated as occupied.

Northern Ireland If your club, society or organisation involves the provision of sports or recreation services you may be able to apply for an 80% reduction in normal rate through the Sports and Recreation Rate Relief scheme. This relief is available to premises that meet all of the following criteria:
  • occupied for the purpose of a prescribed recreation
  • occupied by a not-for-profit club or society
  • the club or society does not employ any person to engage in any recreation for reward

There is a four-month rates holiday for Northern Ireland non-domestic ratepayers (excluding public sector and utilities).

What can you do now?
England You do not need to take any action. Your local council will apply the discount automatically.

Wales Rate relief for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses will be administered through the business rates system. You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will contact you.

Small business rate relief is administered by local authorities and is automatically applied to the bills of eligible ratepayers.

Scotland You do not need to apply for this relief. It will be applied to your bill by your local council.

Northern Ireland You must apply to Land & Property Services (LPS) for Sports and Recreation Rate Relief. You can start your application by clicking HERE.

You do not need to apply for the rates holiday. This is automatically applied so rate bills are deferred until July 2020.

What next?
England You can contact your local council if you’re not getting a relief you think you’re entitled toby clicking HERE.

Scotland Contact your local council by clicking HERE if you're not sure if you're eligible or if you need more information.

Northern Ireland Four-month rates holiday for Northern Ireland non-domestic ratepayers (excluding public sector and utilities).

Rate bills for 2020-21 were due to be issued in April 2020. This means that no rates will be charged for April, May, June and July 2020.

Ratepayers do not need to request to have their rate bill deferred until July 2020. This will happen automatically.

When rate bills are issued in July 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between July 2020 and March 2021.

Current monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be automatically updated to collect payments between July 2020 and March 2021.



Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

Who is this applicable to?
English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish businesses.

What is this about?
A range of grants are available through local councils to support your business during Covid-19.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) Scheme aims to support businesses in England, operating in our sector with cash grants of up to £25,000 per property.
According to English government guidance this grant is available to:
  • Sports grounds and clubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Gyms

English businesses in our sector with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000 through the RHLG scheme.

English businesses in our sector with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000 through the RHLG scheme.

English businesses in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000 through the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF).

Grant income received by a business is taxable therefore the Small Business Grants, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants will be subject to tax if the business makes an overall profit once grant income is included.

A Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund has been set up to support businesses that are not eligible for the small business grant fund or the RHLG scheme. Businesses can receive a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000. Businesses must be based in England with fewer than 50 employees and have been trading on March 11th. For specific eligibility criteria click HERE. This is to support businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. You can still apply for this if you’ve applied for the  Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

The Scottish Small Business Support Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant have closed.

In Wales, the retail, leisure and hospitality grant scheme and small business grant scheme has now closed.

The Welsh Government have closed the Economic resilience fund to allow the government to consider how best to support businesses.

The Welsh government funding pot to support all ratepayers eligible for charitable relief and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) relief within the retail, leisure, and hospitality sector with a £10,000 business support grant has now closed for new applicants.

Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland the grant scheme which provided £10,000 to all small businesses who apply and are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme (e.g. all businesses with a Net Annual Value (NAV) up to £15,000) has now closed.

The Northern Ireland Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure grant scheme which provided a one-off grant of £25,000 has now closed.

In Northern Ireland sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector could access a £2,000 grant through the Sport NI and Department for Communities sport hardship fund. Applications for this have now exhausted the current budget and so new applications have been suspended. Sport NI will honour all eligible applications currently in our system that were submitted before the scheme closure.

The NI Micro-business Hardship Fund is now closed for applications.

What can you do now?

English businesses do not need to do anything to apply for the grants. If you are eligible your local authority will write to you, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process. All enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority. Councils will aim to make payment within 10 working days.
To apply for the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, you should visit your local councils’ website.

The Scottish Small Business Support Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant have closed. We will continue to update this page with any changes.

All existing COVID-19 support grant schemes in Wales have now closed for new applicants. We will continue to update this page with any changes.

Northern Ireland
All existing COVID-19 support grant schemes in Northern Ireland have now closed for new applicants. We will continue to update this page with any changes.

What next?
We will monitor guidance in this area and update this page with any changes or new schemes (date reviewed: 13/07/2020).


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