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Support for Businesses
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Updated: Tuesday 14 July 2020

VAT Cut for Hospitality – Guidelines

Further details have been published by the UK Government and HMRC regarding the temporary reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions.

This cut in the VAT rate from the standard rate of 20% to 5% will have effect from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021. The guidance confirms the cut applies to “hot takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages”.

The cut does not apply to cold-takeaway food “which is normally of a type that’s always standard-rated” (such as crisps, sweets and some beverages including bottled water).

For more details please read the HMRC Guidance: “Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furloughing Staff)

Please see the seperate page for details of this scheme. 

Business Rates Relief

  • All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.

    You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses: 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 COVID-19 advice will be treated as occupied.

The Scottish Government is working with Scotland's 32 Councils to make sure this relief is administered in the most effective way.

Help with Non-domestic rates

The Scottish Government has provided new information regarding help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus (Covid-19). Click here for information on rates relief 

Deferring payment of non-domestic rates

If you're struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill you should contact your local council and ask them about your payment options.The Finance Secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.

Small Business & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants

This scheme was at the beginning of May to provide grants for additional properties, and once again extended from Monday 8 June 2020 to extend the maximum  cumulative rateable value of multiple qualifying properties to £500,000.

  • A £10,000 grant is available to non-domestic ratepayers that hold one or more properties within retail, hospitality or leisure, with individual rateable values not exceeding £18,000, and the cumulative rateable value for all properties no more than £500,000.
  • A £25,000 grant is available to the ratepayers of properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with property with a rateable value between £18,001 - £51,000.

In addition to the 100% grant on the first property, ratepayers will also be eligible for a 75% grant on each subsequent property that meets the criteria for each grant. Applications are open now through your Local Authority and all should have update their websites with the revised details.

It has also been confirmed that the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes will close for new applications on 10 July.

Click here to find out how to apply

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

CBILS is a new initiative launched by the government and coordinated by the government owned British Business Bank. It is a lending scheme for small and medium sized businesses who are experiencing disruption due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Loans of up to £5m for a maximum term of six years are available to help businesses struggling with their cashflow. Businesses looking for shorter term finance can also access overdrafts and invoice finance for a maximum of three years through CBILS.

Visit the British Business Bank website for more details and how to apply

Bounce Back Loans scheme

Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders, the Chancellor announced on Monday 27 April.

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
  • loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form

The scheme has been designed to ensure that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days

The government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. The loan should reach businesses within days, providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

Please note: you can only access these loans if you are a customer of a bank authorised to administer them.

The scheme is now open and you can explore the scheme in more detail and apply here. .

Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system may be deferred until January 2021.


For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.


All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

The Government has brought forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

Anyone whose first day of sick leave due to COVID-19 was 13th March 2020 or later gets Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one of the absence. But they still have to qualify by earning at least an average of £118 per week right now, and £120 per week from 6th April 2020.

Addtionaly, staff who can no longer take their full annual leave entitlement can now carry this over the next two leave years. 

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

For information on any of the measures above

A new website has been created to keep businesses up-to-date with the latest guidance across a comprehensive range of important areas relating to COVID-19.

Click to access this website.