Government Support and Benefits for People, Small Businesses During COVID-19By Ankur Pramod
As the days go by, COVID-19 is continuing to wreak havoc and is causing more and more businesses worldwide to shut their doors to customers. Not all businesses can have their employees work from home and, therefore, at times like these the economy takes a big hit.
For marketing agencies that are helping small businesses thrive, this can impact your business as well, which in turn can dent your clients’ business operations.
However, all is not lost.
Governments worldwide have taken a number of steps to provide immediate and decisive relief to people and small businesses that are facing hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here’s a look at how different countries are working towards the benefit:
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced on March 18, 2020 that the government will initiate economic measures to help people and companies sustain themselves during such tough times.
The aid plan has been designed to provide relief and assistance worth $82-billion to Canadian people and businesses through wage subsidies, direct supporting income, and tax deferrals.
People who do not have any paid sick leave, and are either sick, quarantined, or at home taking care of others, can avail emergency benefits of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.
Under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program, the government will pay a taxable benefit of up to $2,000 per month to eligible workers for a period of up to four months.
Canadians who have lost their jobs, or have been forced to work a reduced number of hours due to COVID-19, can avail benefits under the Emergency Support Benefit program that promises to provide up to $5 billion in support.
As a relief to support Canadians with their tax payments, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has extended the tax return filing deadline until June 1, 2020. For businesses, the deadline has been extended until after August 31, 2020.
For families that may require additional financial assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canadian government is providing a one-time special payment subsidy. Under this plan, the average boost in income for singles and couples would be close to $400 and $600 respectively. Further, the government is also proposing to increase additional child support by $300 per child.
Small businesses, facing a loss in revenue due to COVID-19, can receive a temporary wage subsidy for three months in order to prevent them from laying off their employees. The subsidy would be up to 75% of the worker’s salary, which can be up to a maximum amount of $1,375.
Under the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), numerous small and medium businesses would be able to receive additional aid in the excess of $40 billion from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).
To enable Canadian businesses to continue lending capital from banks and mortgage lenders, the government will buy up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools under the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP).
The Canadian government announced bank loans of up to $40,000 to qualifying small businesses under the Canada Emergency Business Account to counter the COVID-19 impact. For the first year, these loans would be interest-free.
In addition to that, EDC, in collaboration with multiple financial institutions, is enabling small businesses to get new operating credit and term cash loans of up to $6.25 million.
United States of America
As a result of COVID-19, the Federal Government of the United States of America is implementing a number of measures to help its citizens and small businesses.
To help small businesses and other private & non-profit organizations overcome economic dent due to COVID-19, the federal government will implement statewide loan assistance programs.
Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the government will make loans up to US$2 million available to help businesses sustain themselves due to loss in revenue.
While small businesses will be eligible for these loads at an interest rate of 3.75%, non-profit organizations will be able to enjoy an interest rate of 2.75%.
For individuals earning up to US$1 million with an existing tax payment deadline of April 15, 2020, the tax payment deadline has been extended until July 15, 2020. For businesses earning up to $US$10 million, the tax deadline has been extended until July 15, 2020.
Multiple US states and cities have come out with their individual relief programs to help small businesses and non-profit organizations survive the after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In New York, businesses, which have fewer than 100 workers and are experiencing a 25% or higher loss in revenue, will be eligible for loans up to US$75,000 at zero interest rates.
The city of San Francisco has created the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund, under which small businesses will have access to up to US$10,000 to pay worker salaries and rent.
Florida initiated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program through which small businesses can get loans of up to US$50,000 and US$100,000 in special cases.
The state of Massachusetts announced a US$10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund that aims to provide relief up to US$75,000 to small businesses that have under 50 employees.
Under the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program, an amount of $350 billion has been allocated towards small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) in the form of forgivable loans.
In addition to the above, the government will also help small businesses through the CARES act that entails the forgiveness of existing small business administration loans. Once implemented, small business owners would be exempt from paying loan payments for the next six months.
In addition to a £30 billion package of support announced to help citizens and businesses facing financial burdens because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the United Kingdom chancellor announced a £330 billion package to provide further support to its citizens and businesses.
To support small businesses that have to pay the employees sick pay due to their absence from work amid COVID-19, the government will provide SMBs with two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay.
Individuals, who are self-isolating because they’re too sick to work, would be eligible to get £94.25 Statutory Sick Pay per week, for a period of up to 28 weeks.
Businesses belonging to the retail, leisure, and hospitality industries would be able to get a £25,000 grant that would consist of a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Furthemore, the Scotland government announced a relief package worth £80 million to deliver grants of £3,000 to small businesses that have been impacted economically due to COVID-19.
As relief, the government will provide a one-time cash grant of £10,000 to small businesses that are eligible to pay business rates under the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) program.
The government will also announce a special business rate for those businesses belonging to the retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors for the 2020-2021 financial year.
To support its businesses, the Scotland government also announced a £320 million package that includes a 75% business rate relief for companies in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
The government has announced a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan plan for those businesses that have been interrupted from working due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this scheme, the government will provide 80% loan (of up to £5 million) guarantees to lenders, thereby helping small businesses sustain themselves.
With COVID-19 playing a toll on many large businesses as well, to support such businesses the Bank of England will purchase the short-term debt liabilities from them to ease the credit supply.
The European Union is one of the most severely hit zones due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various countries have come up with relief programs and economic benefits to aid their citizens.
The French government has allowed the small businesses in the country to defer their income tax payments, along with debt interest payments, by contacting the respective tax authorities.
In addition to that, those businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 can get further relief due to the suspension of their utility bills like gas, electricity, water, and rent.
For businesses in Germany, the government is providing benefits in the form of short-time work allowances, which allows companies to receive benefits if 10% of their employees are affected.
The Italian government has announced a €25 billion package that aims to help the country’s citizens, workers, and businesses. Under this package, the country will allocate €10.3 billion towards providing temporary unemployment benefits to all business sectors.
The government will also support the internal credit supply system by pumping an amount of €5.1 billion towards helping small businesses get loans and grants to sustain their operations.
For small businesses and the workers in the Netherlands, the government has provided them the option of shortening their working hours and getting unemployment wages in case of layoffs.
The deadline to pay income taxes has been extended by three months, and those small businesses that have to close due to losses will be provided a compensation of up to €1500 per month (maximum of €3500) for the next three months.
To counter the effects of COVID-19, the Spanish government will allow small businesses to defer their tax and debt payments for an interest-free period of six months. For citizens, the government will facilitate railway ticket cancellations at no additional cost.
The Swedish government will provide small businesses relief by allowing them to reclaim 90% of the salaries of their employees, who had to take leaves due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition to that, the government will also temporarily cover the costs of all the sick days that workers will have to take during the months of April and May.
As an economic response to COVID-19, the Australian government has announced a relief package totalling AUS$17.6 billion, an amount that is roughly 0.9% of the country’s GDP.
The government will provide tax-free payments of up to AUS$25,000 to small and medium businesses to help them retain their workforce and sustain their business operations.
In some cases, eligible small businesses would also be able to apply for a wage subsidy, which would represent 50% of an employee’s wage, for a period of nine months starting January 2020.
For its lower-income citizens, the Australian government has pledged to provide one-time payments of AUS$750, which will be tax-free and will help them support household growth.
To be able to provide support to small businesses during their investment phases, the government has increased the instant asset write-off limit to AUS$150,000 from AUS$30,000.
Furthermore, a temporary 15-month investment incentive has been initiated to bolster economic growth in the short-term by helping small businesses accelerate their operations.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the New Zealand government’s economic response package is positioned to help its economy survive, while supporting the needs of its citizens.
For small businesses, belonging to all sectors of the economy, that have endured a 30% drop in revenue, the New Zealand government will provide wage subsidies to help support them.
Under this subsidy, businesses will be entitled to receive $585.80 per week for a full-time employee and $350.00 per week for a part-time employee.
In a bid to encourage the concept of self-isolation to curb the spread of the pandemic, the New Zealand government announced the COVID-19 leave and self-isolation scheme for businesses.
Under this scheme, workers and businesses will receive financial support while they’re self-isolating, with full-time workers entitled to getting $585.80 per week and part-time workers getting $350 per week.
The New Zealand government also increased the income tax limit from $2,500 to $5,000 for the financial year 2020-21. Furthermore, the small asset depreciation threshold has also increased from $500 to $1,000, which would further increase to $5,000 for the upcoming tax year.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Singapore government has allocated $800 million towards the stabilization and support of its economy.
Under the government’s plan, Jobs Support Scheme, it will provide small businesses the means to retain their employees. This will be achieved by providing businesses with 8% of their workforce wages, up to a maximum of $3,600 for three months.
The Singapore government also announced a corporate income tax rebate plan to help businesses. Under this plan, all tax-paying companies will get a tax rebate at 25%, which would be capped off at $15,000 per company.
Lastly, to help its citizens overcome the hardships of COVID-19, the government will provide financial assistance to households by helping them with their cost of living and other expenses.
As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indian government ordered a country-wide lockdown and announced a $22.5 billion package in the form of food security measures and direct cash transfer to help those affected.
Under this scheme, the Indian government announced that every healthcare worker working against COVID-19 would be covered under a special insurance coverage of $5 million each.
The Indian government assured support to people living in poor households by promising them five kilograms of wheat or rice and one kilogram of pulses free every month for three months.
For people, who fall under the low wage category, and work for businesses that employ less than 100 employees, the Indian government proposed to pay 24% of their monthly income directly in their Provident Fund (PF) accounts for the next three months.