The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a big impact on the world including personal health, lifestyles, as well as for business and livelihoods. With the near future looking to be a slow process for many to get back to something near normality, the UK Government has provided some much-needed support for businesses and the self-employed to ensure they can support themselves and or their staff during this trying time.

Support for small business and workers

On the 17th March 2020 the Chancellor, Rushi Sunak, the UK Government offered support to small businesses including a range of offerings. This is a filtered list of support available for e-commerce based businesses.

The specific support currently available is as follows:

This list may be updated and changed without notice, so please check the government’s website for the most up to date information.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Support to help continue paying partial salaries to employees who would otherwise be laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • HMRC to reimburse 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500.
  • Will cover backdated pay to March 1st 2020 and continuing for 3 months at present.


  • For employers with PAYE schemes.
  • Applies to workers who have been asked to stop working, but are to be kept on payroll (furloughed workers).

How to apply

Claim through the government website.

VAT and income tax payments deferment

VAT payment deferment

As a UK VAT registered business, you will be able to defer your VAT payment if due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 for 3 months.

You have the choice to:

How to apply

Apply through the government website.

Income tax payment deferment

If Income Tax Self-Assessments payments are due on 31st July 2020, these may be deferred until 31st January 2021. Deferment is optional.

  • Eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020. 
  • You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible.
How to apply

No application required. This will be automatically offered.

Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

Legislation to allow SME employers to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sicknesses due to COVID-19.

  • It will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP for each employee who has been off work due to coronavirus.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should still maintain records of absences and SSP. A GP fit note will not be required, but an isolation note from the NHS 111 online would be useful.


  • Eligible to UK-based employers with less than 250 employees as at 28 February 2020.

How to apply

The Rebate scheme is in development. This will be updated.

Small business grant funding

A small business can receive a one-off grant of £10,000 if it’s in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR).


  • UK businesses
  • Your business occupies a property
  • Receiving SBRR or RRR as of 11 March 2020.

How to apply

  • Your local council will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This temporary scheme offers loans of up to £5 million, and up to 6 years, for SMEs through the British Business Bank.

  • The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments or any lender-levied fees.
  • The government will guarantee 80% of each loan.
  • There are 40 accredited lenders offering the scheme including major banks.


  • UK based businesses with no more than £45 million per year.
  • Your business meets other British Business Bank criteria.

How to apply

Open for applications through your bank or the British Business Bank.

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Support for all businesses and self-employed in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities. Arrangements to be agreed on a case-by-case basis.


  • Pays tax to the UK government
  • Have outstanding tax liabilities

How to apply

Call the helpline if you’ve missed a tax payment or are about to miss your next payment due to COVID-19. Helpline: 0800 0159 559

Support for the self-employed

On the 26th March 2020 the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced support specifically for the self-employed.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Receive a taxable grant of 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500.


  • Self-employed including members of partnerships who have lost income due to the coronavirus.

How to apply

Claim a grant through the scheme on the government website.

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Please see HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

About us

Unicorn Accounting can provide accounting support through our team who have operated fully remotely from day one, so you can ask us more about how our operations can help your business work from different locations as well as our core expertise in ensuring accounting efficiency for e-commerce businesses. Get in touch with our team to find out more.

Stay safe and wash your hands.