This post provides the latest information on how and when you can access the government’s COVID19 small business support. It is updated regularly, so save this link and check back for the latest details.
If you need support in managing your finances during this time – either for your business or personally – please get in touch.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) launched in April 2020. Its’ aim was to help employers deal with the impact of Coronavirus. Employers would receive a grant from the government to cover a proportion of wages of employees placed on furlough.
The scheme was due to end on 31 October 2020. But following the prime minister’s announcement of a second lockdown in England, the scheme has been extended.
The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work. Flexible furloughing is allowed, in addition to full-time furloughing.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) gives businesses access to financial solutions. These include bank lending, overdrafts and other support. Business can access funding between £1,000 – £5m interest-free for 12 months. The government provides lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan. Lenders cannot ask for personal guarantees for lending under £250,000. But the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
Loans and other types of finance are available via the BBB’s official partners.
Bounce Back Loan Loan Scheme
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme was created to help small businesses access financial support. Companies that were established on 1 March 2020 (including sole traders) can borrow up to 25% of turnover to a maximum of £50,000.
Loans are interest-free for 12 months and no repayments are due in the first year. They have a 100% government guarantee for the lender and interest after the interest-free period is 2.5%.
Businesses self-certify via a two-page application form. The government has said most businesses will receive the loan within 24 hours of approval.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is open until 31 January 2021.
On 2 November, the government announced that it is adjusting the Bounce Back Loan Scheme rules. They will now allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan. Businesses will be able to take-up this option from the week commencing 9 November.
Refunds of Statutory Sick Pay
SMEs with up to 250 employees (as of 28 February 2020) can claim a refund on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This includes amounts that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
The repayment covers up to two weeks starting from the first day of sickness if an employee is unable to work because they either:
cannot work because they are self-isolating at home
Business rates relief in England
All retail, leisure and hospitality business will pay no business rates in 2020-21.
Businesses do not need to take any action in order to access the scheme. The relief was applied in council tax bills sent on April 2020. The government provided guidance to local authorities here.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Find your local authority here.
Lockdown grants for businesses forced to close in England
Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions are eligible for the following through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme:
For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £1,334 per month (£667 per two weeks)
For properties with a rateable value of between £15,000-£51,000, grants of £2,000 per month, (£1,000 per two weeks)
For properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over, grants of £3,000 per month (£1,500 per two weeks)
Businesses in hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors that have been suffering from reduced demand for a while in tier 2 and 3 areas will receive backdated grants at 70% of the value of closed grants up to a maximum of £2,100 per four weeks.
The government is providing another £1.1bn for councils in England to support businesses at their discretion.
The grants will be handled by local authorities. We will update this post when more details are released.
Future Fund for fast-growth start-ups
The £500m Future Fund provides UK-based companies funding of between £125,000 and £5m from the government. Private investors will then (at least) match the government commitment.
The loans will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are not repaid.
The Future Fund is initially open for applications until 31 January 2021.
Time to Pay tax deferral scheme
Businesses and the self-employed with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible for further support. This comes in the form of HMRC’s Time to Pay service. This allows you to defer tax liability payment.
The service provides a 12-month extension to self-assessment taxpayers. Businesses should contact HMRC’s COVID-19 tax support helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The government have introduced new measures to protect commercial tenants. Landlords cannot force commercial tenants out of their premises if they miss a payment before the end of 2020.
Commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period. The government has stated that it is “monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them”.
VAT payment deferral
Businesses that deferred VAT bills no longer have to pay a lump sum in full at the end of March 2021. They are also able to make 11 smaller, interest-free payments during the 21/22 financial year.
Businesses will need to opt-in, but all are eligible. HMRC will put in place an opt-in process in early 2021.
Accounts filing extension
Companies House has announced that businesses can get an extension on the deadline for filing their accounts.