The UK is now on lockdown and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is officially a pandemic. Many tradespeople are wondering what it means for them and their business. Plumbers, electricians, engineers, gardeners, builders and more are looking to the government for financial support to help reduce the impact that Coronavirus is having on their livelihood.
With the situation changing on a daily basis, tradespeople are constantly trying to navigate new guidelines, restrictions and support. In this guide, we are sharing everything we know about the current Coronavirus support for tradespeople.
The Impact Of Coronavirus On Tradespeople
The UK government are changing their advice and guidance in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic on a regular basis. They have moved from a contain phase to a delay phase and now have placed the country on lockdown. Everyone is to stay at home with only a very limited number of exceptions. Where tradespeople sit within these exceptions is questionable.
Tradespeople such as plumbers, heaters and electricians work hard to serve their local communities. Many work across both domestic and commercial environments. Consequently, there are some serious implications of offering these services during the pandemic. Some considerations to bear in mind include;
- Personal safety and your own wellbeing: As a tradesperson, you are likely to be working in a range of different environments and coming into contact with many different people. You should always remember that it is your right to choose not to work in an environment if you feel like it is unsafe. You should remember that your own safety and wellbeing should always be your highest priority.
- The safety and wellbeing of your customers: As well as your own safety, you should also be considering your customer’s health. Guidelines state that if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of Coronavirus, then you must all self-isolate for 14 days.
- Insurance cover, including public liability: Many businesses are wondering if their insurance policies will protect them. Every insurance policy is different, but it is vital to look into your individual policies and consider the implications it could have on you.
Can I Claim On My Business Insurance?
Every business will have a slightly different insurance policy in place, and some may provide cover in the current situation.
Most business insurance policies do not cover Coronaviruses losses, despite including business interruption cover. This type of cover is to cover damage to business premises or equipment, such as by flood or fire. Many of these policies will not include cover for forced closure by authorities.
We recommend tradespeople to get in touch with their business insurance policy providers to find out if they have cover.
What Support Is There For Tradespeople During Coronavirus Pandemic?
With the information on the Coronavirus pandemic changing very frequently, it is hard to keep up with the support that is available for tradespeople. We’ve compiled this list of everything currently available to small businesses and tradespeople. We will update this list with new information as it is available.
As from the 17th March 2020;
New measures are now in place to protect businesses throughout the Coronavirus outbreak. The Chancellor announced a new package of government-backed initiatives to support businesses. These include:
- Statutory Sick Pay: Small and medium sizes businesses are able to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for any employees who are sick because of COVID-19. Your business can claim a refund of up to two weeks SSP for each employee that is off sick or self-isolating due to Coronavirus.
- Cash Grants For Small Businesses: There are £10,000 one-off grants available to small businesses that experience disruption due to Coronavirus. They are available to any business that currently gets Small Business Rate Relief or has a rateable value of less than £15,000. More information is available on the government website.
- Benefits For Self Employed: Many self-employed tradespeople are unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from an employer, meaning they have no guaranteed income in the event of getting sick or having to self-isolate. The government are now allowing these individuals to claim either Universal Credit or Employment And Support Allowance.
The Minimum Floor Income for Universal Credit will be relaxed, meaning that those not working due to Coronavirus and government advice are able to claim. More details on Universal Credit is available on the government website.
Employment and Support Allowance is open to those who are self-isolating due to COVID-19, and you can claim £73.10 a week. More information on Employment and Support Allowance is available on the government website.
As from the 20th March 2020;
On the 20th March, Rishi Sunak announced further measures to protect businesses. These include:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Whether you are working as a tradesperson employed by a company or operate your own business and have employees to pay, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can help. The government will support businesses by paying up to 80% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: This scheme was announced on 17th March but adjusted on 20th March to be interest-free for 12 months. This is a new loan scheme that is available for businesses with a turnover of £45 million or less. Organisations are able to borrow up to £5 million with no loan charges. This scheme became available on 23rd March 2020, and more information is available here.
- Income Tax And VAT Deferred For Self Employed: If you are working as self-employed with your own trade business, then you can benefit from deferred tax payments. Self-Assessment Income Tax bills due in July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021. The same goes for those businesses that are VAT Registered. You can postpone VAT payments from March 2020 to June 2020. There is nothing to do to make the most of these benefits, the government have already applied these changes automatically.
As from the 26th March 2020;
On the 26th March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced measures to support self-employed workers. These measures were delayed due to being a complex process to calculate. However, from June there will be support for self-employed workers who have suffered a loss of income due to Coronavirus;
At the beginning of June, self-employed individuals who are eligible for a taxable grant will be contacted by HMRC.
Eligible self-employed individuals will be;
- Claimants where more than half of the household income comes from self-employment
- Those with a trading profit less than £50,000 in the tax year 2018-2019 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Self-employed people who have set up since April 2019 will not be eligible for the taxable grant.
This also doesn’t cover directors of their own company. For directors, they will need to apply for the Job Retention Scheme.
Eligible individuals will be able to receive a taxable grant of up to 80% of the average profits from the three previous tax years. This will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months.
If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you and invite you to apply online. Do not apply to HMRC until you are invited to. At this stage, you will need to prove to HMRC that you have suffered financially as a result of the Coronavirus. Those who receive tax credits will have to declare this in the claim.
While the scheme offers a grant for up to three months (paid in one instalment), this may be extended if necessary.
As of 28th April Tradespeople Now Eligible For Coronavirus Tests
Tradespeople and other essential workers, such as carers who must leave home for work, are now able to access Coronavirus tests. Care home staff are now able to receive tests regardless of if they have any symptoms, while those who travel outside of the home to work, such as tradespeople, will be able to access tests if they display symptoms of the virus.
Currently, this test roll-out is only in England. However, it is expected that the rest of the UK will follow suit.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, explains; “From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe.”
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