TREASURY – SMES, INSURANCE POLICIES AND COMPANY DIRECTORS  – 5 May 2020
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide additional support to SMEs such as dental and other medical practices by (a) requiring insurers to honour covid-19 claims under business interruption policies which covered notifiable diseases, even if covid-19 was not explicitly listed; and (b) allowing the directors of limited companies a monthly grant comparable to those given to employees and the self-employed. 
[Due for Answer on 12 May.]
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Steve Barclay): The Government recognises the important role all medical business play to protect and improve the health of the population and is taking many steps to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Dentists will be fully remunerated for the NHS work they would have otherwise undertaken, subject to some basic requirements.
- On 2 April, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a £300 million cash advance for community pharmacies.
- The NHS has committed to securing funding for NHS ophthalmic contractors based on average month NHS General Ophthalmic Services fees from the previous year.
Medical practices may also benefit from the range of economic support measures the Government has announced. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply:
Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to offer cover for unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure, should be able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions of their policy. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.
Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. HMRC are not able to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, so do not have a clear mechanism through which to support dividend income from an individual’s own company, without also supporting dividend income from other investments. Company directors who pay themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).