Business Support Hub(COVID-19)
In these times of uncertainty and a near constant stream of new information and support packages for a wide range of businesses, sole traders and the general public, it’s important that we have somewhere to refer back to – in plain English – so you know exactly where you stand in these tough times.
What we do want you to know is that we’re here for you. It is our job to support and guide you through these tough times. Just like you, we are a small business too and know the struggles and the uncertainly of this situation. We are here to support you and your business.
It’s important to think past these troubling times, and to the weeks and months past this when we’re out of the other side. We will get through it, but whilst we’re all in the thick of it at the moment, please don’t keep quiet and worry, please use this information to make a plan, and we’re here for you to share those plans with.
Section 1 – Support for Businesses
- A three month extension period to file their accounts – this must be applied for – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/companies-to-receive-3-month-extension-period-to-file-accounts-during-covid-19
- 12-month business rates holidays for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England. The same sectors will also be eligible for grant funding of £25,000 for businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- Small business grants of £10,000 for all in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for SMEs.
- Bounce-back loans for small businesses.
- COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility for larger businesses.
Click here for more information
Business Rates Holiday – for Retail, Hospitality, Leisure and Nurseries
- Your business must be based in England
- Your business must be in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
- Your property must be occupied
And your property must be in use as one of the following:
- shop, restaurant, cafe, drinking establishment, cinema and live music venue
- for assembly and leisure
- for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation
- a children’s nursery
Your local authority will re-bill you in the coming weeks to include this support (where applicable).
More information here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance
Grants for businesses
Grants are not loans from the government – they are payments made to support a business, and are not repayable. It is worth noting that grants are taxable, so you may have additional tax to pay on this money.
The Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant Scheme
- Cash grants of up to £25,000 per property are to be provided for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
- Grants for properties with rateable value of up to £15,000 are worth £10,000.
- Grants for properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000 are worth £25,000.
You are eligible for the grant if:
- your business is based in England
- your business is in the retail, hospitality, leisure or nursery sector
- your business has a rateable value of under £51,000 – you’ll find this on your business rates bill, or by going to your local authority website and searching their register.
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- for assembly and leisure
- as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
Small Business Grant Scheme funding
Small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief will be provided with a one-off grant of £10,000 to help businesses keep pay for their costs.
To receive this:
- your business must be based in England
- you must be a business that occupies property
- you must be receiving small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March
Some local authorities have already begun the process of making these grants available, and we would encourage you to go to your local authorities’ website to see how to apply.
What if I can’t pay my commercial rent but I am not eligible for a grant?
The Government have clearly stated that commercial tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.
Currently this applies up to 30th June 2020 however there is an option to extend this if it’s needed.
Please note you will still owe your rent when the period has been deemed over. It is important that you talk to your landlord to make sure you are both fully aware of your arrangements.
Local Council Discretionary Grant Funding
This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
Local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates, but have otherwise been left out of the initial grant funding options.
As this is dependant on each local authority, they may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need, and will vary between councils.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
There will be three levels of grant payments, with the maximum being £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000 and local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.
Sheffield Council – claim here
Rotherham Council – link to information as their claim process isn’t yet available
Barnsley Council – claim here
Doncaster Council – claim here
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Loans are being made available to all small and medium sized businesses (SME’s) for up to £5m.
The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee subject to a per-lender cap. Neither businesses nor banks will be charged for this guarantee.
The ‘loans’ include access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The first 12 months will be interest free so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank. 40 accredited lenders are able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.
You can apply if:
- your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
- your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria
- your application is for business purposes
- your businesses generates more than 50% of its turnover from trading activity
The scheme is now open for applications. All major banks are offering this scheme and have information on their websites. Likewise you can learn more on the British Business Bank website here https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils-2/
For anyone with any existing commitment, please do talk to your lenders and ask for a repayment holiday to help with your cash flow.
Different lenders will have different minimum loan amounts and will judge the effect of COVID19 on your business, before allowing you access to these loans. If your business is not negatively impacted by COVID19, it is likely that they will offer you standard lending options instead.
Bounce Back Loans
The ‘Bounce Back’ loan scheme is 100% government backed, giving small businesses quicker access to funding to help them stay afloat during the COVID19 crisis.
Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, and will be able to access the funding within days.
The scheme is designed to ensure small businesses (not just companies) who need a vital cash injection to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days.
These loans will be interest and payment free for the first 12 months, and interest fixed at 2.5% for the life of the loan, which is set at 6 years (72 months). Early repayment penalties will not apply, so you can repay the loan back quicker, and no personal guarantees are permitted, meaning your home is safe from any recovery measures taken by the banks to recover any unpaid amounts.
This scheme is available now (from 4th May 2020), and typically the application process is through an online form with your bank.
Here’s a list of accredited lenders, and the links needed to access their application process;
Skipton Business Finance – only available alongside an invoice finance facility
Other High Street and Fintech banks are expected to join the list soon.
List correct as at 3pm 19th May 2020.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
The Bank of England has pledged to buy short term debt from larger companies. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
Providing you are not a financial company, if you meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website you will be eligible. Find out more here https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2020/march/the-covid-corporate-financing-facility
Corona Job Retention Scheme (‘Furlough’) – Employee Salary Support
To prevent job losses during to the COVID-19 outbreak the Government has stepped in with a series of grants to help pay salaries, initially for a 3 month period, but this has been extended to October 2020, with talk of part time return to work being added to the scheme, and employers being asked to contribute to workers pay. We’ll know more about this as the government releases more information.
The scheme is open for claims, and can be done through your PAYE portal on the HMRC website.
The grant will start on the day the employee was placed on furlough, which can be backdated to 1st March 2020.
Up to 80% of an individual’s monthly salary will be paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.
This is taxable income.
Here’s some key questions we’ve already had;
What does furloughed mean?
- Simply put, it’s if you allow someone to be absent from work for a period of time.
Is the government going to pay my employees for me?
- The government won’t subsidise 80% of your team costs while they work for you. It’s only for people who you would normally make redundant in any other situation. They are in effect on ‘garden leave’ and should not be doing any work during the ‘furloughed’ period.
Can they do some odd jobs for me whilst being “furloughed”?
- Absolutely not!
Can they go part time and benefit from this?
- They can’t lift a finger. We are looking at whether it would be sensible to make some of your staff full time and put others on furlough leave.
- Anyone on payroll at 29 February 2020.
How do you work out what they get 80% of?
- We are not sure yet but it could be an average of salary paid in the previous 3 months (and may or may not include overtime paid in the period).
Can we alter February’s payroll to increase the salary paid?
- No. HMRC will have reports of the February payroll and you can expect serious questions if this is done to take unfair advantage of the scheme and is likely to be considered fraud.
- Employees must have been on the company payroll on 28th February 2020.
- You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.
- An employer and employee both have to be in agreement.
- You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough.
- Employees can not apply for the scheme.
- Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim.
This scheme does not apply to any income from self-employment.
Further updates to the Furlough scheme announced on 28th May 2020;
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a series of changes to the Government’s furlough scheme on Friday 29th May including workers being able to go back part-time from July.
Currently, the state pays 80% of furloughed staff salaries, up to £2,500/month, and your employees cannot work for your business whilst on furlough. Nothing changes here until 30 June 2020.
From 1st July 2020 – From Wednesday 1 July, businesses using the Government’s furlough scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Even if they don’t, the Government will continue to pay 80% of staff salaries during June and July.
From August 2020 – who pays for the 80% pay will change slightly. The amount the state pays will be reduced each month until October 2020, with employers expected to contribute towards furloughed employees’ employment costs. The scheme will come to an end on 31 October 2020, as previously announced.
August – The state will pay 80% of furloughed staff wages (capped at £2,500 per staff member), but not the employer national insurance and pension contributions.
September – The state will pay 70% of furloughed staff wages (capped at £2,190 per staff member), but not the employer national insurance and pension contributions. Employers will need to pay the 10% to top it up to 80%. The total wage per employee is still capped at £2,500.
October – The state will pay 60% of furloughed staff wages (capped at £1,875 per staff member), but not the employer national insurance and pension contributions. Employers will need to pay the 20% to top it up to 80%. The total wage per employee is still capped at £2,500.
It’s worth noting as well that the scheme will close to new entrants on 10 June 2020 – so if you haven’t furloughed a staff member by then, you won’t be able to access the scheme and put your staff on furlough later.
You can be furloughed after a period of sick leave. You should get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) while you are on sick leave or self-isolating, but can be furloughed after this.
If you currently have more than one employer
You can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another. You must check the terms of your employment contract to guarantee this.
If both jobs become furlough you will receive separate payments from each employer. The 80% of your normal wage up to a £2,500 monthly cap applies to each job.
Please check how a change in your income will affect your Universal Credit payments. – read more https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-your-earnings-affect-your-payments
If you are on Maternity Leave, contractual adoption pay, paternity pay or shared parental pay
If you are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, normal rules apply.
Click here for more information - 'Mini Budget 8th July Update'
On Wednesday 8th July, Rishi Sunak announced a £30 billion investment in the economy.
Here’s what we know;
Part 1 – Jobs
New Job Retention Bonus
Employers who bring back employees from Furlough and keep them employed until at least January 2021 will be paid a bonus of £1,000 per employee.
Employees must be paid a minimum of £520 average pay per month between November – January 2021 to qualify.
This will be paid in January 2021.
Employers will be paid to employ 16 to 24 year olds on a minimum 25 hours a week. These employees must be paid at least minimum wage.
The government will pay 6 months wages plus an undisclosed amount towards overheads. Employers must apply to be part of the scheme which is set to start in the Autumn.
£1,000 to employers to take on young trainees (level 2 & 3 qualification)
£2,000 to employers to make new apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds.
£1,500 to employers to make new apprenticeships for 25 years plus.
Part 2 – Investing in Infrastructure
£2 billion Green Homes Grant
Beginning in September 2020 (up to £5,000 per household). These will apply to homeowners and landlords, and will be given in vouchers.
These vouchers will be for green home energy efficiency measures including double & triple glazing, boilers and insulation, and will cover two thirds of the costs.
For low income households, a grant of up to £10,000 will be available covering 100% of these costs.
Cut to stamp duty
The government has raised the stamp duty threshold in England and Northern Ireland to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.
Previously, stamp duty kicked in at £125,000 (or £300,000 for first-time buyers), meaning people moving home later this year can make significant savings. The change will also help people buying properties costing more than £500,000.
As stamp duty is tiered, they will pay nothing on the first £500,000 and then normal rates on anything above that.
The government says the temporary move will mean nine out of 10 people buying a home this year won’t need to pay any stamp duty at all.
Part 3 – Protecting Jobs in Hospitality & Tourism Industries
VAT will be cut (beginning on 15th July) to 5% in the hospitality and tourism sectors including but not limited to Cinemas, Theme Parks, Cafes, Restaurants, Hotels and Holiday Parks.
The VAT cut will cover food and soft drinks (not alcohol), and applies to both eat in and takeaway businesses.
This will run until 12th January 2021.
Eat Out to Help Out Discount
Meals eaten at participating restaurants & pubs in August (Monday – Wednesday) will be 50% off up to £10 per head including Children.
Funds will be repaid to businesses within 5 days, and businesses must sign up to the scheme to participate.
Section 2 – Support for the Self Employed
Click here for more information
How do I know if I’m self-employed?
Being self-employed can be determined as follows:
- If you run your business and are responsible for its success or failure.
- You are not paid through PAYE
- You don’t have the employment rights and responsibilities of employees.
The Government support is NOT available for Directors. Directors will be expected utilise the Job Retention Scheme (link) to declare themselves Furloughed. To do this you must be unable to carry out any work duties apart from general administrative duties (payroll, filing accounts, emails etc) for the business and the business must not be generating income during this time. This also prohibits directors from undertaking marketing activities during this time.
The following measures are available to:
- those with average profits of £50k or less
- those who make the majority of their income from self employment
- only those already registered as self-employed and who submitted a tax return for 2018-19.
They are unable to provide this package to anyone who only recently started trading i.e. has not yet submitted a tax return before the extended deadline of 23rd April 2020.
This is because their package will be calculated in the following way:
Your support payment will be a taxable grant for 80% of your average monthly trading profits (not sales), based on the last 3 years’ tax returns (or up to 3 if you have been trading for 1-3 years.
This will be paid in a single payment, initially covering 3 months (1st March to 31st May), and capped at £7,500 (£2,500 per month).
The online portal for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has now closed for the first claim period.
We have also written a blog to walk you through how to make a claim, step by step. Click here to access the blog.
Once your claim has been approved, your payment will be received within 6 working days into your nominated bank account.
It is important you are fully aware that these grant payments will be subject to income tax and national insurance deductions.
It is also important to note that you can receive this grant and still work, start a new trade or take other employment including voluntary work, armed forces or reservist roles.
If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to receive this support, you can also check your eligibility here.
Further SEISS changes announced on 28th May 2020;
The SEISS will be extended with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant in August 2020.
The extra grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total, with the eligibility criteria remaining the same for both grants.
You can make a claim for the second SEISS grant even if you didn’t claim for the first grant.
Applications for the second and final grant will open on 17th August 2020.
For those who are not eligible or who need money before August
For those struggling now, you can access the business interruption loans, defer your income tax payment from July to January 2021, and you can now access Universal Credit in full.
If you apply for Universal Credit, as standard the process takes 5 weeks but you can get an emergency payment upfront within 10 days. This is available to apply for now.
Section 3 – Tax Payments
The HMRC have setup a dedicated helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax issues.
By contacting this dedicated line, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement, which will help defer tax payments for businesses, and individuals – this will be done on a case by case basis, so not everyone will receive the same deferral period.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Click here for more information
Deferred VAT and Income Tax payments
Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments will be deferred for 3 months from 20th March 2020 until 30th June 2020.
All UK businesses are eligible.
This is an automatic offer. You do not need to apply to HMRC.
Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
- Your VAT returns must be filed by the normal due date, it is the payment that is deferred.
- You can reclaim VAT if you are on the standard VAT scheme as normal
- All VAT refunds should be paid by HMRC as per the usual process
We recommend you cancel your VAT direct debit before the deadline, as this is an automatic process that the HMRC won’t cancel, so your payment will automatically be collected otherwise.
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
If you are self-employed you are eligible.
This is an automatic offer. You do not need to apply to HMRC.
No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.
- No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
- If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
I am a Director, what support can I claim?
The Government have announced several measures to support UK businesses. As at 27th March 2020, this is what we understand for anyone recorded as a Director of an active company:
The measures that were announced on 26th March 2020 for sole traders and partnerships (self-employed) do not apply to anyone who is a Director.
If you are a Director of a company that is not able to generate income during this period, and there is no work that you can carry out in the business, you are eligible for the Job Retention Scheme.
Under the Job Retention Scheme, you can designate yourself a ‘furlough’ employee, if you satisfy the statements above, to give you access to the support being offered.
As employers can claim back up to 80% of employee wages under the Job Retention Scheme, so too can Directors for their own income.
The purpose is to allow all UK employers to access financial support to continue paying salaries for those employees who otherwise might have been let go in the crisis.
All UK businesses are eligible.
HMRC will reimburse up to 80% of Furloughed workers wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
HMRC are setting up a portal for claims. When it is available, we will update you with more information.
Section 4 – Mortgages and borrowing support
Banks can make a voluntary agreement for a three-month payment break. Banks are also offering missed payment waivers and reduced payments. Most banks have advised that mortgage holidays will increase future monthly payments rather than extend the term of the mortgage.
We recommend you call your mortgage provider to see what they can offer, as each bank’s arrangement will be different.
Section 5 – Payroll Support & HR
The system for reporting the furloughing of employees is currently being built by the government, and we’re awaiting more information as to when this will be available.
Once the system is up and running, the government will begin to release the payments of 80% of furloughed employees wages.
To help protect businesses against the impact of COVID-19, small and medium-sized businesses (with less than 250 employees) will have the costs of SSP for any employee off work because of COVID-19 for up to 14 days refunded by the Government in full.
To keep on top of your HR needs we have teamed up with RED OWL HR Consultancy, Jo Roy can help you with the ever changing world of human resources & guide you through all the new terminology.
Section 6 – How we can help you further
It is important to take some time to think rationally, and not to make irrational decisions. You cannot make important decisions when your brain is dealing with the stress hormone and your emotions.
We can help you.
Cashflow planning – it is important to look at your cashflow, and to make a plan. This may aid you when applying for any funding from your bank, as they will want to see what impact COVID19 has had on your business’s finances.
We can look at what costs you’ve got that could be cut in the short term whilst your business is not running, and what to prioritise. Here is a blog form Float (Cash flow forecasting app) A 6 step guide to help you with cash flow through COVID-19. https://floatapp.com/blog/your-6-step-guide-to-covid-19-cash-flow-forecasting-with-float/
Idea planning – how can we help you diversify your business? Now is the time to think about alternative income generating methods to make the best use of your situation. Here is a recent newsletter we sent out for ideas. https://bit.ly/Time-Out-Rational-Thinking-Reflection