Coronavirus financial and business support for vets

We recognise that this period of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic will likely have an impact on the finances of veterinary practices and individuals. We've collated all the available support and guidance that veterinary business and individuals can take advantage of to ease the strain of coronavirus. 

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Lobbying for further support

Alongside the financial support measures announced by the government we have been lobbying for further support to help veterinary businesses through these difficult times. We know these government measures don't go far enough to offer support for essential veterinary businesses. We are working hard to change this, and with your help we are starting to see a positive response to our requests. 

We're urging the veterinary community to continue to write to your local politicians using our template letter. You can also support our aims by signing our joint petition with the British Dental Association which is calling on the government to extend business rates relief to human and animal healthcare providers, including vet practices. 

Sign our petition

Support for employees 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open to all UK employers starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Covid-19. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period. If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by Covid-19, you can furlough employees. This means you can apply for a grant that covers part of their wage costs, as follows:

  • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

Please note the scheme closes to new entrants on 30 June. If you’d like to place an employee on furlough for the first time, this has to begin by 10 June in order to complete the three-week furlough period by 30 June.

From 1 July employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift patterns, while still being able to claim the grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours; employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. This is only open to people who are already using the scheme. Further details about this will be released soon.

See more on the GOV.UK website about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating, they’ll be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You cannot claim for employees while they’re getting SSP. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness. If you want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, you are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

Furloughed employees retain their right to SSP. This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least SSP. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary.

Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP through the Statutory Sick Pay rebate scheme. If employers keep the sick furloughed employee on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furloughed scheme. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Statutory Sick Pay rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

You can claim for furloughed employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) if they are unable to work from home and you would otherwise have to make them redundant. Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.

If an employee is furloughed, they can still request and take their holiday in the usual way. Furloughed workers must get their usual pay in full, for any holiday they take. If they are normally entitled to take bank holidays, then this applies during furlough.

Members can access the BVA legal helpline for further information.

Support for self-employed

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme only covers employees. There is a separate Self-employment Income Support Scheme for the self-employed or members of a partnership. This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. HMRC will pay the grant directly into your bank account, in one instalment.

To qualify you must:

• have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19. If you have not submitted, you must do this by 23 April 2020.
• have traded in the tax year 2019-20
• be trading when you apply, or would be except for Covid-19
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
• have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to Covid-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. The online service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. HMRC will aim to contact you by mid May 2020 and will make payments by early June 2020. HMRC are currently setting up a system for reimbursement. Once more details of the system become known,  we will provide an update The Chancellor has indicated that the system may not be up and running until June 2020.

Directors who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme. We’re working hard to secure support for vets paid through dividends, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP - and MSP, AM or MLA where appropriate using our template letter.

If you are a director and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme. If you’re getting less work or no work because of Covid-19, you can also:

apply online for Universal Credit
apply for ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance, if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

You do not need to go into a Jobcentre Plus office to apply or get a payment.

In Scotland there is a Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund. You need to apply in your Local Authority area. You may only apply to this fund once. You will be asked to provide documentary evidence of your status and eligibility for the grant. Local authorities will then determine whether you meet the criteria, which has been set by the Scottish Government. Successful applicants will receive a one-off payment of £2,000.

Support for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

If you’re an employer who pays more than the current rate of SSP you can only claim the current rate amount.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

• have coronavirus
• cannot work because they are self-isolating at home

Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim.

The online service you’ll use to reclaim SSP is not available yet. HMRC will announce when the service is available and this guidance will be updated.

Defer your VAT payment

Defer your VAT payment if you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to:

• defer the payment until a later date
• pay the VAT due as normal

If you’re in temporary financial distress because of Covid-19 more help is available from HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme.

If businesses are due to pay a self-assessment payment on account by 31 July 2020 but the impact of the coronavirus causes you difficulty in making payment by that date, then you may defer payment until January 2021.

Business grants 

England

The government will provide Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. This grant is currently unavailable to veterinary practices. We're working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP using our template letter.

Northern Ireland

Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the COVID Small Business Grant where a grant of £10,000 will be issued This is for all businesses with a NAV up to £15,000 A Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme is also operating, where a grant of £25,000 will be provided to qualifying companies in these sectors with a rateable value up to £51,000. This grant is currently unavailable to veterinary practices. We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP and MLA where appropriate using our template letter.

Wales

The Welsh Government is working in partnership with local authorities to deliver the grants to qualifying businesses. A £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for small business rates relief (SBRR) in Wales with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. The Welsh Government announced a £400 million emergency funding pot, providing:

  • Grants of £10,000 for microbusinesses employing up to nine people. This includes sole traders employing staff. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply by mid-April.
  • Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium-sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply from early April.
  • Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales. This element will be open to qualifying businesses within the next few weeks.


A grant of £25,000 is being made available for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000. This grant is currently unavailable to veterinary practices. We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP and AM using our template letter.

Scotland 

A one-off grant of £10,000 will be be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme relief or Rural Relief.

The Scottish Government has recently announced additional support for business. The package includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund which will provide an additional £45 million for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland. This fund will be managed by the Enterprise Agencies.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. This grant is currently unavailable to veterinary practices. We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP and MSP using our template letter.

You can also get this grant if you applied for Business Growth Accelerator Relief, Disabled Relief or Fresh Start but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

Rates Relief

England

100% Business rates relief has been announced for businesses in retail, hospitality, leisure, and nursery. The Government has provided guidance to local government stating it does not consider providing relief to veterinary practices “to be an eligible use for the purpose of this relief.” We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP using our template letter.

Northern Ireland

All NI businesses will pay zero rates for the four months (April, May, June, July). This automatically reduces your rates bill by 25% for the year, in addition to any existing rate reliefs. This applies to all businesses and does not need to be repaid.

Wales

Welsh government has provided a 100% Business rates relief has been announced for businesses in retail, hospitality, leisure.

Welsh government guidance notes that veterinary practices are not considered as retail, leisure or hospitality use for the purpose of rates relief in Wales. However, it will be for local authorities to determine if hereditaments are similar in nature to those listed for Wales’ Non-Domestic Rates relief scheme. veterinary practices “to be an eligible use for the purpose of this relief.”

We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP and AM using our template letter.

Scotland

New regulations introduced to the Scottish Parliament confirm a 100% rates relief for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors for the whole of 2020-21. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents.

Veterinary practices are not eligible for this relief. We’re working hard to secure this for veterinary businesses, but we need your help to amplify the message. We urge you to write to your local MP and MSP using our template letter.

SME Business Interruption Loans 

The Bounce Back Loan scheme has been designed to help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

You cannot apply to the Bounce Back Loan scheme if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

The Scottish Government has set aside a further £100 million fund to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to Covid-19. This fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes.

The Welsh Government has announced a new Economic Resilience Fund which aims to fill gaps within the support schemes already announced by the UK Government. The £500 million initiative includes a new £100 million Development Bank of Wales fund for companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic, providing loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates. You can check your eligibility using the Covid-19 Support Eligibility Checker.

Large Business Interruption Loan 

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

This is intended to give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest. Government expects the scheme to be delivered through commercial lenders.

The government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on 6 individual loans for businesses that would be otherwise unable to access the finance they need.

Lenders will still be expected to conduct their usual credit risk checks. This scheme allows lenders to specifically support businesses that were viable before the Covid-19 outbreak but now face significant cash flow difficulties that would otherwise make their business unviable in the short term.

The new scheme will launch later this month and will support a wide range of businesses to access finance products including short term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. Businesses would remain responsible for repaying any facility they may takeout.

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

The Welsh Government has announced a new Economic Resilience Fund which aims to fill gaps within the support schemes already announced by the UK Government. The £500 million initiative includes a new £100 million Development Bank of Wales fund for companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic, providing loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates. You can check your eligibility using the Covid-19 Support Eligibility Checker.

Rent protections

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of Covid-19 will be protected from eviction. These measures will mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment up until 30 June

We're here to support you. 
Contact us via our dedicated Covid-19 email:

[email protected]