News article

Coronavirus: Summary of additional support announced for businesses and the self-employed

20 March 2020


Further business measures announced to support those affected by COVID-19

On 20 March, the Chancellor announced new steps to provide support for businesses affected by the coronavirus.

These measures include:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferral on VAT payments
  • increase in the Universal Credit allowance
  • extension to the interest-free period for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

What support is available?

  • UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job.
  • All employers – small or large, charitable or non-profit - will be eligible for the scheme.
  • HMRC grant will cover 80 per cent of a retained worker's wage, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month.
  • The Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March.
  • The Scheme will be open initially for at least three months, to be extended if necessary.

Eligible: All UK employers, irrespective of business size or sector. 

Read more on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

VAT payments

What support is available?

  • VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred - ie those payments for the period from 20 March to 30 June 2020.
  • Taxpayers will be given until January 2021 (the end of the tax year 2020/21) to pay any VAT liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.
  • The government will continue to pay VAT refunds and VAT reclaims as normal for eligible claims.

Eligible: All VAT-registered businesses and self-employed.

Read more on deferred VAT payments and deferred Income Tax payments.

Universal Credit allowance

What support is available?

  • The standard rate in Universal Credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April. 

Eligible: Self-employed individuals.

See Coronavirus (Covid-19) and benefits.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

What support is available?

  • The loan will be interest-free for 12 months, rather than the six months announced at the Budget.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be available from Monday 23 March.

Eligible: UK-based small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with a turnover of no more than £41 million per annum.

Read more on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

For further information, download the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme FAQs for SMEs (PDF, 224K).

More details on these new steps to support businesses and the self-employed will be published when the information is available.

Further announcements will be made on the support available to larger and medium-sized companies to access credit.


First published 20 March 2020