Coronavirus: Help for businesses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Updated on 10 September 2020

The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is having far-reaching financial impacts on individuals and businesses across the UK, and indeed across the world. This page tells you about the help offered by the devolved governments for businesses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

It is important to note that the devolved governments only have powers over some taxes and social security. Therefore, in many cases, the measures introduced by the UK government will apply to businesses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

For information about self-employment and paying tax, see our self-employment page. For employers, see our information for employers page.

union jack pound coins (c) Shutterstock / Melinda Nagy
(c) Shutterstock / Melinda Nagy

⚠️ We are working hard to ensure this guidance is up to date – however, you should bear in mind that things may change as the Government respond to the ongoing situation.

What is the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund?

The Scottish Government announced the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund as a means of supporting self-employed individuals in Scotland who are not eligible for the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), because they started self-employment on or after 6 April 2019.

The fund provides £2,000 grants for the newly self-employed facing hardship, who are excluded from the UK SEISS.

The funding scheme opened for applications at the end of April 2020 and must be made through the appropriate local authority. Recipients should have started to receive funds from early May.

What is the Start Up Grant?

The Welsh Government announced the Start Up Grant fund as a means of supporting self-employed individuals in Wales who are not eligible for the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), because they started self-employment on or after 6 April 2019.

The fund provides £2,500 grants for the newly self-employed, who have experienced a drop in turnover and who are excluded from the UK SEISS.

The funding scheme opened for applications on 29 June 2020. These must be made through the appropriate local authority.

There is more information, including an eligibility checker tool, on the Business Wales website.

What support is there for small businesses?

Northern Ireland

  • Hardship Fund: This aims to assist businesses in Northern Ireland with fewer than 10 employees. It is available to businesses (including social enterprises and charities) that do not qualify for either the Small Business Support Grant Scheme or the Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant Scheme. Applications closed on Friday 12 June 2020.
     
  • Small Business Support Grant: The scheme provides a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses that are currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief, subject to some exclusions. The deadline for registrations was 20 May 2020.
     
  • Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant: The scheme provides a one-off grant of £25,000 to ratepayers in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors who pay rates on a property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000. The deadline for registrations was 20 May 2020.
     
  • Business Rates: There is a business rates holiday for four months (April-July 2020) for all business ratepayers, except for the public sector and utilities. Businesses in certain sectors do not have to pay any business rates in the financial year to 31 March 2021, including hospitality, tourism, leisure and childcare. The Regional Rate was adjusted downward to offset the change in the total rateable value due to Reval2020, and a further 12.5% cut was made, meaning an effective 18% reduction compared to the 2019/20 figure. In addition, the small business rate relief scheme continues to apply with the three levels of relief available.
     
  • Sports Hardship Fund: The fund provides small grants of £2,000 to sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector. This is only available to those organisations unable to receive support from other government coronavirus mitigation funds.
     
  • Fishing industry: the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is providing three months of financial support to fishing businesses. The support is being delivered by monthly payments, which vary depending on the size of the vessel.

Scotland

  • Small Business Support Grant: The scheme provides a one-off grant of £10,000 to small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief; a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme, but who applied for Nursery Relief, Business Growth Accelerator Relief, Disabled Relief or Fresh Start; a one-off grant of £10,000 to charities in receipt of any Charitable Rates Relief or Sports Relief, but otherwise eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme. An extension to the scheme provides a 75% grant on all subsequent properties. The scheme closed to new applications on 10 July 2020.
     
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Support Grant: The scheme provides a one-off grant of £25,000 to businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors for properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000. The scheme closed to new applications on 10 July 2020.
     
  • Business Rates / Non-Domestic Rates: There are a few automatic reliefs to support businesses in 2020/21, including a 100% non-domestic rates relief for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors; a 1.6% non-domestic rates relief for all properties across Scotland (this effectively reverses the planned inflationary increase for the year); and a 100% non-domestic rates relief for Scottish airports, organisations providing handling services for schedules passenger flights at Scottish airports and Loganair airline. There is also information available on mygov.scot.
     
  • Small Business Bonus Scheme: This provides some relief from non-domestic rates for 2020/21 to businesses if the combined rateable value of all their business properties is £35,000 or less, and the rateable value of individual properties is £18,000 or less. The relief available depends on the rateable value.
     
  • Bed and Breakfast Hardship Fund: The fund aims to support bed and breakfast businesses and other small serviced accommodation businesses that operate using a personal rather than a business bank account. It offers a one-off payment of £3,000.
     
  • Seafood fishing: The scheme offers financial support to businesses with registered fishing vessels. The level of support depends on the length of the vessel.
     
  • Aquaculture: Hardship payments are available to businesses that make a full-time living from shellfish growing and trout farming.

Wales

  • Small Business Support Grant: The scheme provides a grant of £10,000 to all small businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less; a grant of £10,000 to all ratepayers eligible for charitable relief and Community Amateur Sports Club Relief operating in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors occupying properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. The scheme closed to new applications on 30 June 2020.
     
  • Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grant: The scheme provides a grant of £25,000 for businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000. The scheme closed to new applications on 30 June 2020.
     
  • Business Rates: For 2020/21 there is an automatic 100% non-domestic rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sector – for businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or less.
  • Economic Resilience Fund: The fund aims to support businesses, social enterprises and charities that are not eligible for any other Welsh Government coronavirus grant support schemes. Applications for funds closed at the end of June 2020.
     
  • Fishing industry: There is a grant available for businesses that own and operate Welsh-licenced fishing vessels. The grant is based on the size of the vessel. In order to apply, eligible businesses must first register with Rural Payments Wales.
     
  • Cultural Recovery Fund: The fund aims to support a wide range of organisations and individual freelancers operating in the cultural and heritage sector. Applications for funding open on 14 September 2020. The fund will pay out non-repayable grants; the size of the grant will depend on eligible costs. There is an eligibility checker that can be accessed prior to making an application.

I have received a grant from one of the devolved government support schemes. Is it taxable?

If your business has received a grant from one of the devolved government coronavirus support schemes, such as the newly self-employed hardship fund, a small business support grant or a hospitality, leisure, tourism and retail grant, you should treat it as taxable income of the business.

This means that if you are self-employed or a partner in a partnership, the grant will be included in the calculation of taxable profits and you will be subject to income tax and Class 4 National Insurance contributions on it, as part of your taxable profits.

If you run your business through a limited company, the grant should be included in the calculation of profits subject to corporation tax, and the company will pay corporation tax on the grant, as part of its taxable profits.

What if I am receiving tax credits?

If your business is a self-employment and you have received a grant and you are receiving tax credits, you will have to include the grant as part of your income for your tax credits claim purposes.

Although we know that these grants will be taken into account as income for tax credit purposes, it is currently unclear how that will be done. We are seeking an answer from HMRC about this and we will publish an update in due course.

What if I am receiving universal credit?

If you are self-employed and you have received a business grant and you are receiving universal credit (UC), it is our understanding that the grant will be treated as self-employed earnings in the UC assessment period in which it is received. Self-employed UC claimants must send their earnings information to the Department for Work and Pensions after the end of each assessment period.

You usually need to report payments into and out of the business in the assessment period – that includes the total amount of income your business received. You will also report any expenses paid out in that assessment period along with any payments of tax, National Insurance contributions and any money you paid into your pension. Although the grants are taxable, you can only deduct any tax actually paid in that assessment period for UC purposes.

The grants will be treated as self-employed income in the assessment period that they are received and will not affect any UC received in earlier assessment periods, even if your business had been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak during those assessment periods. In other words, it will not affect past UC entitlement.

However, it is possible that receipt of the whole amount of the grant in one UC assessment period will trigger something called ‘surplus earnings’ and as a result, it may affect your UC in subsequent assessment periods. We will be adding more information about surplus earnings shortly – in the meantime you can read the information on our Revenuebenefits website for advisers.

Where can I find more information and help?

Northern Ireland

The NI Business Info website provides guidance for businesses in Northern Ireland affected by the coronavirus.

The Invest NI website also provides advice on supporting your business during this difficult time.

Scotland

The Scottish government website provides general information and guidance about the coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes health and travel advice, including for overseas visitors to Scotland.

The Find Business Support website has information on the support available to businesses in Scotland.

The Scottish government launched a helpline, which provides businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on the coronavirus.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, between 8.30am and 5.30pm.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660.

Revenue Scotland are the Scottish tax authority, with responsibility for the devolved taxes – Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax. There is information on the changes to Revenue Scotland’s operations in response to the coronavirus on their website.

Wales

The Welsh Government website provides general information in Welsh and English on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and this information is updated on a regular basis.

The Business Wales website has information on the support available to businesses in Wales.

The Welsh Revenue Authority have responsibility for the devolved taxes – Land Transaction Tax and Landfill Disposal Tax. There is information on the changes to the Welsh Revenue Authority’s operations in response to the coronavirus on their website.

More information on Coronavirus guidance
Information for employers Taking money from your pension
What is the Job Retention Scheme? Help with paying your tax
Employees: illness or self-isolation Information if you are a student or are repaying your student loan
Employees: work changes Accessing money in childcare schemes
Employees: universal credit and pay High Income Child Benefit Charge: What to do if your income falls?
Redundancy explained School closures: family members might be able to claim state pension ‘babysitting’ credits
Support for limited company directors Childcare support and benefits for children
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Inheritance tax exemption
SEISS parental extension Support for Carers
Self-employment and paying tax Carer’s allowance: can you claim?
Self employment: Illness or self-isolation Volunteering and job opportunities
Self-employment: work changes Scams: please be vigilant!
Help for businesses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales Dealing with HMRC during the coronavirus outbreak
Taking money from your savings Tax guides

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