Coronavirus: employer and business questions answered

COVID-19: Managing business finance, tax, rates and insurance

Find answers to common business questions on topics including, managing finance, claiming insurance and finding help with business rates and tax payments.


What support is available for businesses affected by coronavirus?

Our quick-reference guide highlights the support available, who is eligible and how to apply.

See Coronavirus: Support for businesses and employees in Northern Ireland (PDF, 545K)

I am self-employed, what support is available for me?

To find out about the help available for self-employed individuals dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 disruption to business activities - see Coronavirus: Support and advice for the self-employed.

Is there any help available with late payments?

If you are a small business (under 50 staff) who has not been paid by a business larger than you, you can contact the Office of the Small Business Commissioner or call the Office of the Small Business Commissioner on Tel 0121 695 7770 - office hours are Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm who can offer advice and offer help with late payment issues.

They also have information advice and guidance on their website on dealing with unpaid invoices which is available and relevant to all sizes of business.

If you are a business who does not meet the conditions for the Office of the Small Business Commissioner to intervene in your case, you can pursue the debt recovery through the courts. The Office of the Small Business Commissioner website tells you how to do this.

See more on:

ensure customers pay you on time
recover debt through court

What if my business is experiencing cashflow pressures?

The government has introduced a number of measures to assist businesses. See business support for those affected by COVID-19

If you think you may need additional finance, your first port of call should be your finance provider - whether that’s a bank or another lender. The sooner you approach them the better - they will help you where they can, and will point you toward alternative sources of finance who may be able to help even if your current provider can’t. See managing financial difficulty.

There are many finance providers out there, so take some time to look into alternative options and shop around. See borrowing finance for your business.

If you are seeking finance from banks and cannot find a suitable lender, there are three online finance platforms designated by the government that can seek out suitable providers. The lenders on these platforms may be able to offer you funding.

For further information, see Coronavirus: Advice if you're experiencing cashflow pressures.

I cannot afford my tax bill/ I cannot make a tax payment/ how do I contact HMRC?

If you cannot afford your tax bill or cannot make a tax payment you should contact HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) Payment Support Service helpline on 0300 200 3835, which is open Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 8.00 pm; Saturday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, excluding bank holidays.

For those who are unable to pay due to Coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore

● agreeing an instalment arrangement
● suspending debt collection proceedings
● cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

Contact HMRC if you cannot pay your tax bill on time or call the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline - Tel 0800 024 1222 (Monday - Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm).

What help is available for business rates?

An emergency £100 million rates package has been announced to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19.

See COVID-19: Emergency rates package for businesses.

What insurance entitlements do I have against coronavirus?

Many businesses are unlikely to be covered as most business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property, which will exclude pandemics. Some businesses may have purchased a specific add on relating to notifiable diseases, but some of these will still specify damage to the building.

Some businesses may have purchased supply chain or denial of access cover which may meet their needs in this case. You should check with your insurance provider.

Can I make a claim on my business insurance?

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemic.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published a Q&A in relation to business insurance and COVID-19.

How can I get a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan?

The new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme launched on Monday 23 March, delivered by the British Business Bank. It will support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

See Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and find a list of accredited lenders and partners for the scheme.

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

How can I access the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility?

The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will provide additional help to firms to bridge through Covid 19-related disruption to their cash flows.

Further details, including on how to access this funding will follow in the coming days, and the scheme will be available from the week commencing 23 March.

Read more on the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

How can I get a Coronavirus Business Support Grant?

A grant of £10,000 is to be made available to all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme. Another grant of £25,000 is to be provided to companies in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 up to £51,000.

Further details on these two grants are due to be announced soon. See Coronavirus: Business Support Grant Schemes - we will update this page once further details are made available.

I cannot file company accounts on time with Companies House

If Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts, you should act before your filing deadline.

See Coronavirus guidance for Companies House customers

How can I get access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

HMRC will cover up to 80 per cent of small business staff wages, up to £2,500 per employee.

HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

See Coronavirus: Support available through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

How do I defer my VAT payments?

Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments will be deferred for 3 months.

This will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

See Coronavirus: Deferred VAT payments.

How do I defer my Self-Assessment payments?

If you’re self-employed, the Self- Assessment payment on account, that is ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

See Coronavirus: Deferred Self-Assessment payments.

How can I access the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme?

This scheme allows the self-employed individuals or members of partnerships to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months.

For details on eligibility and how to apply - see Coronavirus: Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).