The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now live, helping any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5 million. CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the Government for an initial period of up to twelve months. The scheme is initially available through more than 40 accredited lenders.
For larger firms, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility is also open for applications. This purchases short-term corporate debt, helping release cash and keep paying wages and suppliers. The scheme is open to firms that can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to the impact of Coronavirus.
The Future Fund is a package of measures to support pre-revenue firms, such as innovative and competitive companies in the tech and creative sectors. These bridging loans, as well as extra support from Innovate UK and the British Business Bank, will bring aid to businesses across DCMS sectors. Applications are now opening. Full eligibility criteria and details on how to apply can be found here.
Innovate UK’s grants and loans scheme – focused on supporting small and medium sized enterprises focused on research and development.
Top-up to local business grant funds scheme, a discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme
Any business can apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to cover 80% of salary for a retained but not working employee, as long as they were on the payroll as at 28th February, so PAYE employees only. The Treasury has again updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance, adding clarity on a few issues, including information on employees who are being furloughed after they return from maternity or paternity, and more information on what employees need to claim.
Support for SMEs who are paying sick pay to employees. SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. These will come into force shortly and the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. More on this here.
For the self-employed, full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay and the next tax self assessment payments will be deferred until the start of next year.
Those with a self-assessment tax return for 2019, with trading profits up to £50,000 a year whose work is affected by the pandemic, will be eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, to have 80% of their monthly wages (calculated using average monthly profits over last three financial years) covered by the government up to £2,500 per month.
Unlike the employee scheme, the self-employed can continue to work as they receive support. The money, backdated to March, will arrive directly into people’s bank accounts from HMRC, but not until June. The grants will be taxable, and will need to be declared on tax returns by January 2022. Company owners who pay themselves a dividend are not covered. Further updates and resources can be found here and here.
VAT deferred until the end of June, with option to postpone longer. Will need to be repaid at a later date. It represents a £30bn injection into the economy.
Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. In addition, a £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Support for businesses paying tax. All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated tax helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also has a business support helpline: 0300 456 3565.
The Department for International Trade is working with partners on a series of SME Coronavirus seminars, which are designed to support UK businesses to get help, protect their business and save jobs. A full list can be found here.
A new FAQ section on business closures has been added to the business support website. Government advice is that people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do absolutely cannot be done from home. With the exception of the organisations covered in the link above, the Government has not required any other businesses to close.
The Government’s portal for registration of offers of help can be found here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/L5B32S/
The Department for Education, with the support of DCMS, has launched a new online learning platform The Skills Toolkit (www.gov.uk/theskillstoolkit). The platform offers a range of courses at all levels, from introductory to advanced, which were chosen in consultation with top businesses and education experts. It’s open to everyone, whether they have recently been furloughed and want to learn new skills, are out of work and looking to build up their CV, or if they’re just keen to keep their mind healthy and skills sharp during this time.