LONDON, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Businesses registered in Britain will be enable to apply for a three-month extension from Wednesday to file their accounts to avoid penalties during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the government announced in a statement.
"As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the three-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension," said the statement.
"Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete," it added.
The joint initiative between the government and the Companies House, the registrar of companies in Britain and an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, will mean "businesses can prioritise managing the impact of coronavirus," said the statement.
There are around 4.3 million businesses on the Companies House register and all companies must submit their accounts and reports each year. Under normal circumstances, companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty, according to the statement.
Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the government will guarantee 330 billion pounds (about 386.32 billion U.S. dollars) of loans to businesses to support firms to get through the difficult time as the coronavirus outbreak escalates in the country.
"By easing the burden, we can help businesses through this period and enable them to thrive in the future. I would encourage companies who believe they would benefit from this new flexibility to make an application in good time," said Louise Smyth, chief executive of the Companies House.
Roger Barker, head of Corporate Governance at the Institute of Directors, said: "By easing the administrative burden that comes with running a business, the government is supporting businesses to focus on the fundamentals during this exceptional period."