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Coronavirus: government support for construction businesses

Last updated: 2nd November 2020

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has put billions into a package of coronavirus support to help UK businesses with any difficulties they may face. You can find all the initiatives available for small and medium-sized construction businesses below.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

What is it?

Four direct cash grants – applications for the third grant will open from 14th December 2020. Applications for the first grant (worth up to £7,500) and the second grant (worth up to £6,750) have now ended.

As part of the coronavirus support included in the government’s Winter Economy Plan announced on 24th September 2020, the SEISS now includes two further grants.

Similarly to the previous grants, the third grant will be paid as a single instalment covering a three-month period (1st November 2020 to 31st January 2021). It will cover 40% of your average monthly trading profits, capped at £3,750 in total.

The fourth grant will cover the three month period from 1st February to 30th April 2021. The government’s releasing further details as to how much will be offered in the fourth grant and how it’s paid soon.

The third and fourth grants are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.

You can find more information on the SEISS extension in our Winter Economy Plan: The latest coronavirus government support for tradespeople blog post.

This scheme is equivalent to the coronavirus support available to people classified as ‘employed’ through the Job Support Scheme. If you receive the grant, you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment.

Who’s eligible?

Once applications open, you can make a claim for the third and fourth grants if you meet the eligibility criteria, even if you didn’t make a claim for the first or second grants.

Pound coins

Eligibility criteria for the first and second grants

Anyone who’s self-employed and meets any of the following criteria is eligible for the first and second grant:

  • They have a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or
  • They have an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

You must also:

  • Have traded in the 2018-19 tax year. And, you must have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for that year on or before 23rd April 2020.
  • Have traded in the 2019-20 tax year.
  • Intend to continue trading in the 2020-21 tax year.

Also, more than half of your income in these periods must come from self-employment. Members of partnerships are eligible for the scheme.

If you trade through a limited company or a trust, then you won’t be covered by the scheme. However, if you’re operating PAYE schemes then your salary will be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – which is part of the coronavirus support explained later in this blog post.

If you have less than three years’ worth of accounts, you will still be eligible as long as you have at least one year of accounts. If you have one year’s worth of accounts, the government will use that for your average. The same goes for two years’ worth of accounts.

If you don’t have a year’s worth of accounts, you should look at the other financial support that’s available. You can find details of the other coronavirus support on offer further on in this blog post.

Eligibility criteria for the third and fourth grants

You must be self-employed (including members of partnerships) and:

  • Meet the eligibility criteria for the first and second grants – you don’t have to have claimed them.
  • Declare that you’re actively trading and intend to continue to trade, but are are seeing lower demand due to coronavirus.
  • Have been previously trading, but are unable to do so now due to coronavirus.

How can I access it?

Applications for the third and fourth grant aren’t open yet. HMRC have said they’ll share more details about how to claim the grant in due course. We’ll share the info on this blog post as soon as it’s available.


Bounce Back Loan Scheme

Red closed sign on business door, reading "Closed due to COVID-19"

What is it?

A scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) by allowing them to secure a loan worth 25% of their turnover. Loans will be between £2,000 and £50,000. Your credit rating won’t be affected if you take out a loan.

The scheme’s design allows eligible small businesses to access financial support in a matter of days. No repayments need to be paid for the first 12 months of the loan, and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months as well. After 12 months, you’ll be charged a fixed 2.5% annual interest.

In the Winter Economy Plan shared on 24th September 2020, the government announced that loan terms can be extended from the 6 years initially offered, to up to 10 years. This cuts the monthly repayments by almost half.

The government has also stated that businesses can temporarily move to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months, up to three times. Repayments can also be paused entirely for up to six months, but only once and only after you’ve made six payments. 

The scheme is operating through a network of 11 lenders, which includes many of the main retail banks.

Who’s eligible?

Businesses based in the UK, that were established before 1st March 2020, are currently trading and have been negatively affected by coronavirus.

Your business must not have been ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31st December 2019. If you’ve already secured a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) as detailed in the following section, you won’t be able to claim under this one. But, you can transfer a CBILS loan of up to £50,000 into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme until 4th November 2020. To do this, you’ll need to speak to your lender.

How can I access it?

Applications are open until 31st January 2021. You can apply by filling in a short online form.

If you’d like more information on the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, head to Gov.uk.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The British Business Bank is offering coronavirus support

What is it?

A loan of up to £5 million for up to ten years. The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, making it an efficient way to get cash into your business at little to no cost. Of course, this depends on how much you borrow and how long for.

To help businesses that may be otherwise unable to repay their loans, the government has extended the term of a Business Interruption Loan to up to 10 years, as part of its Winter Economy Plan. The government is also setting up a successor loan guarantees programme, which will begin in January 2021.

Who’s eligible?

UK-based small to medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than £45 million per year. You’ll need:

  • A borrowing proposal that the lender would consider practical if not for the coronavirus pandemic.
  • To self-certify that you’ve been adversely impacted by COVID-19.
  • To not have been classed as a ‘business in difficulty’, if you’re applying to borrow £30,000 or more.

Use the British Business Bank’s CBILS SME Checklist to see if you may be eligible for a loan.

How can I access it?

Applications are open until Thursday 31st January 2021. To apply, contact your bank or one of the 100+ accredited finance providers. For more information on the scheme, visit the British Business Bank website.

The government will confirm the details of the successor loan guarantees programme shortly. We’ll keep this blog post up to date.


Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Stethoscope and clipboard on table - coronavirus support

What is it?

A new legislation which refunds businesses up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that they pay to each employee from 13th March 2020 due to coronavirus. It covers all types of employment contracts, from full-time to zero-hour, making it a great way to help you cover the cost of large-scale sick leave.

There is a weekly cap of £95.85 for each employee. Plus, you can’t claim for more than two weeks in total. If you usually pay more than the weekly rate of SSP, then you can only claim up to the weekly cap.

SSP is now payable, and therefore refundable, from the first day of illness if the sickness started on or after:

  • 13th March 2020 – if your employee has coronavirus, coronavirus symptoms or is self-isolating because someone in their household has symptoms.
  • 16th April 2020 – if your employee is shielding because of coronavirus.
  • 28th May 2020 – if the NHS or another public health body told your employee that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus.
  • 26th August 2020 – if the NHS told your employee to self-isolate before surgery. Most people are asked to self-isolate for three days before surgery. So, the day of surgery will be the fourth day of their period of not being able to work. SSP can’t be claimed for the day of surgery, or any other days when their absence from work isn’t due to coronavirus.

From 8th June, most people entering or returning to the UK are required to quarantine for 14 days, depending on the country that they’re travelling from. If an employee is unable to work during this period, they will not be eligible for SSP unless they meet one of the above criteria.

You can claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee, but not for the same period of time.

Who’s eligible?

Employers with less than 250 employees and a PAYE payroll scheme as of 28th February 2020. You can make a claim if:

  • You’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus.
  • You have a PAYE payroll scheme that was started on or before 28th February 2020.
  • You had less than 250 employees on 28th February 2020, across all of your PAYE payroll schemes.

How can I access it?

You must have paid your employees’ sick pay before you claim it back. Calculate how much you SSP you should pay them using the online calculator.

You’ll need to have records of all SSP that you want to claim back, including:

  • The reason why an employee couldn’t work.
  • Start and end dates of each sick period.
  • The SSP qualifying days when an employee couldn’t work.
  • National Insurance numbers of each employee you pay SSP to.

Once that’s all done, you can make a claim on Gov.uk.

Keep these records for at least three years after you claim. You’ll also need to print or save your state aid declaration from your claim summary. Also, you must keep your declaration until 31st December 2024.

Employees don’t have to provide you with a GP fit note. If you need evidence for your records, let your employees know they can:

  • Get an isolation note from NHS 111 online or from the NHS website if they live with someone who has symptoms of the coronavirus, or
  • Get a shielding note/letter from their doctor or health authority which advises them to shield because they’re high risk.

Keep up to date with the scheme on Gov.uk.


HMRC’s Time To Pay service

HMRC is providing coronavirus support

What is it?

Tax support for the self-employed or businesses of any size. HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances with you to explore:

  • Arranging an instalment arrangement.
  • Suspending debt collection proceedings.
  • Cancelling penalties and interest if you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.

The service also includes a new dedicated helpline. Over 2,000 call handlers are on hand to offer you practical help and advice.

Who’s eligible?

The self-employed and businesses of all sizes that pay tax to the UK government and have outstanding tax liabilities.

How can I access it?

The helpline number is 0800 024 1222 and it’s open 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday except on bank holidays. You can find more information on Gov.uk.


VAT and Income Tax Self-Assessment deferrals

Self-assessment tax form, calculator and glasses on a table - coronavirus support

What is it?

VAT payments that were due between 20th March and 30th June 2020 were deferred until the 2021/22 financial year. On 24th September 2020, the government announced the New Payment Scheme. This allows businesses to make 11 smaller, interest-free VAT payments until the end of March 2022. This is instead of paying a lump sum at the end of March 2021, as the government had previously stated.

Find out more about the New Payment Scheme on our Trade Advice Centre.

If you chose to defer your VAT payment, then you need to:

  • Set up a new Direct Debit in enough time for HMRC to take payment.
  • Continue to submit VAT returns on time.
  • Pay the VAT in full, on payments due after 30th June 2020.

All income tax self-assessments that were due on the 31st July 2020 have been deferred until 31st January 2022. As long as you pay in full by that date, you won’t have to pay interest or any penalties.

Who’s eligible?

All businesses that had a VAT payment due between 20th March and 30th June 2020 were eligible for the VAT deferral. The Income Tax Self-Assessment deferral applied to the self-employed.

How can I access it?

Both deferrals are automatic offers – so you don’t need to apply. You’ll need to opt into the 11-payment repayment scheme. HMRC says they’re sharing the opt-in process in early 2021. We’ll keep this blog post up to date.

To pay your Self-Assessment bill now, use the online service.


The Job Retention Bonus

What is it?

As part of the Government’s plan for Jobs 2020, announced on 8th July 2020, there is a new financial bonus available to employers. Businesses who bring furloughed staff back to work, and keep them working until 31st January 2021, will be able to claim a £1,000 taxable bonus.

Who’s eligible?

To qualify for the bonus, employers will need to:

  • Have furloughed an employee and made an eligible claim for them through the Job Retention Scheme (detailed earlier in this blog post).
  • Continuously employ the employee starting from the end of the claim period of your last Job Retention Scheme claim for them, until 31st January 2021.
  • Pay the employee at least £1,560 (gross) in total throughout the tax months of 6th November – 5th December 2020, 6th December 2020 – 5th January 2021 and 6th January – 5th February 2021.

You must pay the employee at least one payment of taxable earnings (of any amount) in each of the above tax months.

How can I access it?

You can’t claim the bonus until 15th February 2021. The government’s planning to share details of the application process by the end of January 2021. Find out more about the Jobs Retention Bonus on Gov.uk.


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Tradesperson putting gloves on

What is it?

A government grant to help employers pay the wages of employees that are on their payroll but can’t work during the coronavirus outbreak – also known as furloughed employees. There’s a cap of £2,500 per employee per month, and it will be backdated to 1st March. On 31st October, the government announced that the scheme will continue until December 2020 and be replaced by the Job Support Scheme thereafter.

In June and July, the government paid 80% of an employee’s wages (up to £2,500) for the hours that they were on furlough each month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions (ER NICs) and pension contributions.

In August, the government continued to pay 80% of wages (up to £2,500) for the hours that the employee was on furlough. However, employers had to pay the associated ER NICs and pension contributions.

In September, the government paid 70% of wages, up to £2,187.50, for the hours that the employee was on furlough. Employers continued to pay the associated ER NICs and pension contributions. Plus, they topped up the employee’s wages to ensure that they received 80% of their usual wages (up to £2,500).

In October, the government paid 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875, for the hours that the employee was on furlough. Employers paid the associated ER NICs and pension contributions. They also topped up the employees’ wages to ensure that they receive 80% of their wages (up to £2,500).

In November, the government will pay 80% of wages, up to a cap of £2,500, for the hours that the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay the ER NICs and pension contributions. According to the government, this will mean employers only have to pay 5% of the total employment costs on average. The scheme is more generous in November than it was in October.

To be able to make a claim, employers will need to:

  • Put the employee on furlough for a minimum of 7 consecutive calendar days.
  • Report the hours that the employee worked during the claim period, as well as the usual hours they’d be expected to work in the same period.

If you want to, you can top up your employees’ wages past the 80% total and £2,500 cap. For any hours that the employee works, you’ll need to pay them as usual (as per their employment contract). You’ll also be responsible for the tax and NICs due on those amounts.

Employers can claim for the hours that their furloughed employees aren’t working. This is calculated by reference to their usual hours worked within the claim period.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end in December 2020. It will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme, which is explained in our Winter Economy Plan: The latest coronavirus government support for tradespeople blog post.

Who’s eligible?

All UK employers that have a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme. You don’t have to have previously used the scheme to be eligible.

You can claim for any furloughed employees if:

  • They were added to your PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30th October 2020.
  • You made a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for the employee to HMRC before 30th October 2020.

You can claim for any employee regardless of their type of contract.

How can I access it?

The government hasn’t yet confirmed when claims can be made for employees on furlough during November. For claims for June to October, you can submit your claim online on Gov.uk – you can find more info on what you’ll need to start your claim and what to expect afterwards there, too.

The government has also delayed the introduction of IR35, which is a new tax legislation requiring contractors that are employees in all but name to pay broadly the same tax as direct employees. The legislation will now begin in April 2021.


Job Support Scheme

Tradesperson wearing a mask and carrying a ladder into a customer's home

What is it?

A government grant to top up the wages of staff who are working less than normal hours, due to decreased demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The amount of grant that an employee will get will be calculated based on their normal salary. They can receive a maximum of £697.92 per month.

Employers will still need to pay their staff for the hours that they do work. For each hour not worked, the government and employer will each pay one third of the employee’s lost salary. The employer will need to pay the government’s contribution initially, and then they’ll be reimbursed in arrears. In total, the employee will receive 77% of their pay, where the government contribution hasn’t been capped.

The Job Support Scheme will replace the Job Retention Scheme detailed above from December 2020.

Employers can claim both the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus (part of the coronavirus support explained earlier in this blog post) at the same time, so their employees will have extra job security during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who’s eligible?

Employees that are working at least 33% of their usual hours. Employees on redundancy notices won’t be eligible.

All small and medium-sized UK businesses will be able to apply for the grant for their employees, even if they hadn’t used the previous furlough scheme. To be eligible, businesses must:

  • Have a UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man bank account.
  • Be enrolled for PAYE online.
  • Have created and started using a UK PAYE scheme on or before 23rd September 2020.

How can I access it?

The government’s sharing further guidance soon – we’ll keep this page up to date. For similar coronavirus support in the meantime, refer to the Job Retention Scheme detailed earlier in this blog post.


Small Business Grant Fund

What was it?

A one-off £10,000 grant that was included in small business rate relief and rural business rate relief, to help you meet your ongoing business costs. The Small Business Grant Fund is now closed.

Who was eligible?

Businesses with a property that receive small business rate relief or rural rate relief (as of 11th March 2020).

I think my business was eligible, what can I do if I didn’t receive the Small Business Grant Fund?

You should have received your grant by 30th September 2020. If you think you were eligible but you haven’t yet received the grant, contact your local council.


For more information on the recently-announced government coronavirus support for small businesses over winter, check out our Winter Economy Plan: The latest coronavirus support for tradespeople blog post.

To help you keep your business in good shape during these uncertain times, the team at Rated People are working hard to keep new job leads coming in. So far, we’ve even seen a rise in demand for gardeners, painters, carpenters and more – take a look at the latest job leads.

For additional information on each of the coronavirus support services available, head to Gov.uk.


Note: If there’s a lockdown announced in the regional area(s) that you work or live in, in addition to the national lockdown, the government says that you must follow all instructions from the relevant local authority.

Note: The government has confirmed that there is no limit to the group size when you are meeting or gathering for work. But, workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-secure guidelines – follow the government’s guidance on how to return to work safely.

Further coronavirus support from Rated People:

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Graham, self-employed people are eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. You’re also able to get help with your tax by deferring your Income Tax Self-Assessment and the HMRC Time to Pay support service.

      Hope this helps!

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