COVID-19: Latest updates and advice
This page will be regularly updated as new information is released.
We want to reassure all of our clients and colleagues that we remain committed to helping you through this unprecedented time of uncertainty and worry. We will keep this page updated with the most recent information and advice from the UK government, as well as details of all of the financial support available to you.
Our dedicated COVID-19 advice team is on hand to answer any questions and guide you through the process of accessing that financial aid, so please do not hesitate to get in touch:
Phone: 0114 274 7576
Latest updates and advice
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Financial support for SME's effected by COVID-19
The government has announced a package of measures to help those businesses and self-employed individuals who have been financially imapcted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Job Retention Scheme (JRS)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced on 20 March 2020, and is open to all UK employees.
Under the JRS, HMRC will reimburse 80% of 'furloughed workers' wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for each furloughed employee. This is a grant that is being offered to employers to alleviate the need to make redundancies during the pandemic.
'Furlough', in this instance, requires workers to cease working and follow the government's advice on social distancing and self-isolation by remaining at home. They will remain employed by their current employer, and will receive 80% of their salary in the normal way, which the business will then be able to claim back via a new online portal set up by HMRC.
Employers can choose to top up their employees' salaries.
The JRS will initially be open for three months from 1 March, and will be extended after this time if required.
Most details will be posted here when they are published by HMRC.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
Under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, UK businesses with an annual turnover of no more than £45m may be able to borrow up to £5m interest-free for 12 months under a British Business Bank (BBB) scheme where the government provides the lender with a guarantee for 80% of each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) and covers the cost of the first 12 months of interest.
The scheme supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance faciities. Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities, and up to three years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities.
The scheme provides lenders with a government-backed guarantee that could turn a 'no' credit decision by a lender into a 'yes'. Lenders pay a fee to access the scheme, meanng there will be no guarantee fee for SMEs who receive support via the scheme.
Business owners can access CBILS through 40 BBB accredited lenders, but not all of these lenders will be able to provide every type of funding. Business should speak to their existing bank lender(s) if they wish to access CBILS. If your current lender is unable to provide the facility they may refer you to another lender.
Business Rate Reliefs
Your local authority will adjust the next council tax bill you receive to remove the business rates charge. You can estimate the saving for your business using this calculator (based on English rates).
In Northern Ireland, no rates will be charged for April-June 2020 for all business ratepayers excluding public sector and utilities. There are also reliefs in Wales for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses.
Some businesses may also be able to request Hardship Relief via their local authority.
Under the Retail and Hospitality Scheme, businesses can access cash grants of £25,000 for each property in England with a rateable value of £15,001-£51,000 and £10,000 for each property in England with a rateable value of £15,000 or lower.
Details of the properties that will benefit from the relief can be found here. Your local authority should be able to confirm if you are eligible for a grant.
Small businesses which occupy premises in England and already receive small business rate relief or rural rate relief are eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Scotland and Wales have announced similar grant schemes.
VAT payments that would have been due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 have been deferred until 31 March 2021.
Self employed individuals with income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system can also defer payment until January 2021. This is automatic, no application necessary.
HMRC have also scaled up their 'Time to Pay' service and requests can be made to defer other tax payments including corporation tax and PAYE which are due (or overdue) to HMRC by calling the new dedicated Coronavirus helpline on 0800 015 9559.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Businesses with less than 250 employees can obtain a refund from the government for Statutory Sick Pay paid for up to 2 weeks' absence due to COVID-19. This also covers absence due to self-isolation in line with government advice.
The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020. Employers should keep a record of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not be required to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by the employer, those with symptoms can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone with symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
3-month extension to file accounts
Companies House and the government have launched an initiative providing businesses effected by the coronavirus outbreak with a 3-month extension to file their accounts.
Under normal circumstances, all companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty, but now, those who apply for the extension and are accepted will have an additional 3-month period to focus on managing the impact of COVID-19 on their business before filing.
All businesses that cite COVID-19 or Health matters as the grounds for the application will be accepted, unless they have already extended their filing deadline or shortened their accounting reference period. Full guidance can be found here.
Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete, according to Gov.UK.
Many alternative funders are still open for business and actively looking to lend during the lockdown. We can help you to investigate opportunities with:
- Equity crowdfunding
- Peer to peer lending
- Asset finance
- Supply chain finance and Reverse factoring
- Pension led funding
- Merchant cash advance
Please be aware that fraudsters are already taking advantage of the situation and targeting individuals with coronavirus-related scams. If you are unsure, please speak to your advisor before making any decisions about your finances, particularly with regard to savings and pensions.
Our dedicated COVID-19 team can help you to access the funding available to your business, please get in touch on 0114 274 7576 or email us at email@example.com to find out more.