In these unprecedented times, the impact of the Coronavirus will inevitably cause financial uncertainty, and place significant pressure on many businesses and individuals on a global scale. To help support our clients during this critical period, we have issued a number of updates detailing information about the support available for you and your business.

 

If you have any queries relating to any of this information, please get in touch.

The information on this page was last updated on 05th March 2021.

View our key dates timeline

 

Loan Schemes

Recovery Loan Scheme

Budget 2021 announced a new loan scheme to be introduced to replace the government-guaranteed coronavirus loan schemes which will end on 31st March 2021. (See below for further details on these schemes).

From 6 April 2021 the Recovery Loan Scheme will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses. The scheme will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has been extended until 31st March 2021.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme enables small and medium businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.

Business can apply for loans, worth up to 25% of their turnover, of between £2,000 and £50,000.

The loan is 100% government guaranteed, with fees and interest covered for the first 12 months. The length of the loan is 6 years, with a fixed interest rate of 2.5%. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months, and no charges will apply if early repayment is made.

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • was established before 1 March 2020
  • has been impacted by coronavirus

Businesses from all sectors are eligible to apply, but banks (excluding insurance brokers), public-sector bodies, and state-funded primary and secondary schools are not eligible.

You cannot apply for a Bounce Back Loan if you are already claiming under any of the following government support schemes:

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
  • COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

If you have already received a loan of up to £50,000 under one of these schemes it is possible to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme. The deadline to arrange this with your lender is 4 November 2020.

Further details on eligibility and finding a lender can be found here.

Some banks are now prioritising existing customers.  

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been extended until 31st March 2021.

The British Business Bank has amended the CBILS guidance. From 30th July 2020 smaller businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than £9m in annual turnover will not be considered ‘undertakings in difficulty’, and may now be eligible for the scheme. Further details are available here

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which opened for applications on 23 March, can provide loan facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK (SMEs) that are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. It is delivered by the British Business Bank through 50+ accredited lenders and partners.

The scheme supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities. The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

Find out more here.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been extended until 31st March 2021.

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. The scheme support businesses with a turnover above £45 million, the upper limit for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which focuses on smaller businesses (CBILS).

Delivered by the British Business Bank, through 50+ accredited lenders and partners, the scheme supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.

Initially, the scheme lender could provide:

  • up to £25 million to businesses with turnover from £45 million up to £250 million
  • up to £50 million to businesses for those with a turnover of over £250 million

However, on 19 May the Chancellor announced changes to the scheme, due to come into place on Tuesday 26 May. Under the changes:

  • businesses will be able to borrow up to the lower of 25% of turnover or £200m
  • loans above £50m will be subject to restrictions including a ban on dividends, pay rises and cash bonuses to senior management (including board members). Any bonuses and pay offers agreed before the loan was taken out are excluded from the ban.

These changes and restrictions will also apply to any companies who continue to borrow money, beyond 12 months, from the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Following the Chancellor’s announcement on 24th September, the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility will remain open until 22 March 2021.

Under the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies with turnover in excess of £500m.

This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.

It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

All UK businesses are eligible.

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the Bank of England website.

Employees

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was launched in March 2020, there have been different versions of the scheme offering varying levels of flexibility and funding.

Here we have compiled a complete list of our updates on the scheme, with the most recent being first.

If you have any further queries regarding the CJRS scheme, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Laura Parr and Dinesh Pancholi in our Employment Tax team.

Furlough scheme extended to 30 September 2021

In Budget 2021 the Chancellor has further extended the scheme to 30 September 2021. The level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant an employer must continue to pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The reduction in the level of the grant means that the percentage recovery of furloughed wages will be as follows:

  • For July 2021 70% of furloughed wages up to a maximum of £2187.50 and;
  • For August and September 2021 60% of furloughed wages up to a maximum of £1,875.00.

Employers will need to continue to fund employer NICs and mandatory minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.

The Chancellor has also extended eligibility for the scheme. For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, employers can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission was made between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

Extended furlough scheme – November – April 2021

Chancellor update: Furlough and loan schemes extended (18th December 2020)

Details of employers who make Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims to be published from February 2021 (8th December 2020)

Navigating the key changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension – what employers need to know (30th November 2020)

Further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 31 March 2021 (6th November 2020)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until March 2021 (5th November 2020)

Extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) (2nd November 2020)

Job Retention Scheme

Please note, the Job Retention Scheme was never implemented by HMRC, as the furlough scheme was extended (see above).

Job Support Scheme update – who is eligible and how to calculate a claim (28th October 2020)

Job Support Scheme Expansion – Government to subsidise two thirds of wages for workers affected by local lockdowns (13th October)

Job Retention Bonus scheme (12th August 2020)

Flexible furlough – July – October 2020

HMRC targeting Company’s regarding potential overclaimed payments from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (28th August 2020)

New law introduced to ensure furloughed employees receive full redundancy payments and statutory notice payments (20th August 2020)

Reminders on furlough claim changes and deadlines (27th July 2020)

How to handle annual leave (15th July 2020)

The new Flexible Furlough Scheme (29th June 2020)

CJRS Update – Detail on changes from 1 July 2020 with introduction of Flexible Furlough Scheme (16th June 2020)

Original furlough scheme – March – June 2020

HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) update – Managing claim errors (8th June 2020)

Interaction between making claims using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and deferring payments of PAYE Tax & Class 1 NIC (22nd may 2020)

HMRC update on furloughed employees and holiday pay (19th May 2020)

Furlough Pay Calculations and Portal Claims – getting it right is vital (7th May 2020)

Update on Job Retention Scheme – claiming the furloughing grant (8th April 2020)

Access to furlough payments for IR35 Off Payroll workers in public sector (8th April 2020)

Update on furlough payments available for directors (7th April 2020)

HR Insights: Government’s Job Retention Scheme and furloughed employees (31st March 2020)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Everything you need to know (27th March 2020)

Pensions

The Pensions Regulator has confirmed that employers can change the level of contributions payable to pension arrangements for furloughed employees. In normal circumstances, employers seeking to amend any contributions would have to undergo a minimum 60 day consultation period with employees.

The consultation period has been waived until 30th June 2020.

The regulator has also waived fines for employers who are late in paying contributions under auto-enrolment regulations.

Further details can be found here.

Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

Holiday entitlement and pay

The government has now set out its long awaited, detailed guidance about the way annual leave, bank holidays and pay will work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance confirms that employers can require employees to take holiday during furlough. This will allow employers to ensure employees have not built up months of accrued holiday when they return to work or when their employment ends.

Employers should be mindful of the fact that they will need to top up holiday pay to 100% of normal pay for any holiday taken. Under the rules of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the employer can continue to claim the 80% grant and importantly, the holiday taken does not break the furlough status.

Full details of the government guidance can be found here.

Tax

HMRC Time-to-Pay service

Status: Active now.

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. HMRC have set up a dedicated phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed.

From October 1st, HMRC announced that the threshold for the online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service, which allows tax bills to be paid on a monthly basis, has been increased from £10,000 to £30,000.

HMRC’s online Time to Pay facility allows eligible taxpayers to apply to set up a Self-Assessment payment plan online, whereby instalments are made by Direct Debit. In order to set up a Self-Assessment payment plan, you cannot have any other HMRC payment plans set up, and your tax returns need to be up to date.

The HMRC assessment helpline number is 03002003822.

Deferring VAT payments

Back in March 20, the UK Government announced that certain VAT payments could be deferred. One of several measures introduced to support businesses and self-employed through the COVID-19 crisis, the deferral was available to all UK VAT registered businesses and non-established taxable individuals.

Those who still have VAT liabilities due can either:

  • Pay the deferred VAT in full, on or before 31 March 2021
  • Join the VAT deferral new payment scheme, which is open between 23 February and 21 June 2021
  • Contact HMRC if you need extra help paying your liabilities

Find out more from our VAT experts here.

Reduced VAT rate

In July 2020, the government introduced a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for supplies of hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation and admissions to certain attractions. In September 2020 the Chancellor extended the reduced rate to 31 March 2021. Following the Spring Budget 2021, the government has now announced an extension of the reduced rate until 30 September 2021. To help businesses manage the transition back to the standard 20% rate, a 12.5% rate will apply for the subsequent six months until 31 March 2022.

Self-Assessment late payment penalty extension

HMRC is giving taxpayers more time to pay or set up a payment plan. Self-Assessment taxpayers will not be charged the initial 5% late payment penalty in relation to the 2019/20 tax liability if they pay their tax or agree a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC by 1 April 2021.

Find out more here.

Filing accounts with Companies House

Please note: Companies House will now be automatically extending filing deadlines by 3 months for any private companies where their current deadline falls between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021.

Companies House have now confirmed businesses may file their accounts up to three months late if affected by COVID-19, to provide some much-needed breathing space in a time where many businesses are facing intense pressure and uncertainty.

There is one caveat – to benefit from the delay, businesses must act before their original filing deadline. If you do not apply for the extension and your accounts are filed late, an automatic penalty will still be imposed.

You are able to apply for an extension online or via post – more information can be found on the Governments website, which you can access by clicking here. Each appeal will be treated on a case-by-case basis under existing poor health policies.

The same extension will apply to submission of the corporation tax return. Under FA 1998, Sch. 18, para. 19(b), a company is not liable to a flat rate penalty for late submission of a tax return if the return is delivered no later than the last day for the delivery of those accounts to the registrar of companies.

Please note: this only protects the company from the fixed penalty. The tax-geared penalty will arise 18 months after the return period, if any tax remains unpaid at the 18-month date.

Find out more here.

IR35 tax reforms postponed until 2021

The extension of the IR35 Off Payroll rules into the Private Sector has been postponed until 6th April 2021.

Whilst for many businesses this will be a welcome development, for others who have already spent a lot of time, money and effort preparing for the changes, there will be an understandable sense of frustration. It is important to recognise that this development is a postponement of the new regime, not a cancellation. The internal processes, that organisations have developed to manage the implementation of the requirements of the IR35 Off Payroll Legislation, will still be required from 6th April 2021. Preparing now, and being aware of the new rules that will impact on ongoing contracts with intermediaries that may still be in place after the 5th April 2021, will save a lot of time going forward.

Find out more here.

Property

Restart Grants

March 2021

Announced in Budget 2021 and available from April, Restart Grants will be provided in England of up to £6,000 per premises for nonessential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses.

Top-up Grants

January 2021

Following the announcement of a third national lockdown, on 5th January 2021 a new top-up grant was announced to support an estimated 600,000 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

The one-off top-up grants are worth up to £9,000.

Businesses will receive the one-off top-up grants as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

A further £594 million discretionary fund will also be made available to local councils and devolved nations to support businesses which are not eligible for the new grants, but are affected by the tighter restrictions.

Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant

November 2020

As a result of tiered local restrictions and a second national lockdown, the government is providing local authorities with further funding to support local businesses.

These non-repayable grants can provide a vital lifeline for businesses who have been affected by local and/or national lockdown rules and we would encourage all businesses to check if they are eligible and apply.

Local authorities have the ability to determine the eligibility criteria for the grants, as well as decide on the application process.

  • The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) will provide grants of up £3,000 a month for businesses forced to close due to local or national restrictions.
  • The Local Restrictions Grant (Open) will provide grants to businesses that have not had to close but which have been severely impacted due to local restrictions. Local councils have the discretion to provide grant funding for businesses under this scheme.
  • An Additional Restrictions Grant will be available for businesses who have been adversely affected by local or national restrictions, but not legally required to close.

Click her for current information on the grants available for businesses in Derby City Council, Nottingham City Council, and Birmingham City Council.

For the most up to date information for each area, use the following links:

Protection from eviction legislation

Emergency legislation introduced in March means that tenants in social or private rented accommodation will have legal protection from eviction for 3 months. This period has now been extended until 31 March 2021.

Find out more here.

Business rates relief for retail, leisure, hospitality and nurseries

At the Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced a continuation of 100% business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties. Nurseries will also qualify for relief in the same way as other eligible properties.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund is now closed.

You should have received your grant by 30 September 2020. Contact your local council if you think you’re eligible for a grant but have not yet received it.

Rural rate relief

Under the rural rate relief, eligible businesses do not pay business rates. The relief applies to businesses in rural areas with a population below 3000.

The relief is applicable if your business is in an eligible area and either:

  • the only village shop or post office, with a rateable value of up to £8,500
  • the only public house or petrol station, with a rateable value of up to £12,500

Contact your local council to check you’re eligible and to apply for rural rate relief.

Small business rate relief

Small business rate relief applies to businesses where:

  • the property’s rateable value is less than £15,000
  • the business only uses one property – you may still be able to get relief if you use more

Contact your local council to apply for small business rate relief.

Business rates do not apply to properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will

For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%.

Grant for recipients of small business rate relief

A one-off cash grant of £10,000 is available for small businesses who are already receiving small business rate relief (generally, businesses with one property with a rateable value < £15,000) and/or rural rate relief, based in England, and occupying property.

The cash grants will be administered by local authorities. Eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process. To speed up the availability of support, Nottingham City Council has asked businesses to provide some brief details to apply for the business support grant by filling out the online form here.

Other

Chancellor announces aid for charities

Insolvency

With effect from 30th September 2020, the temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions has been removed.

Emergency insolvency measures have been put in place to prevent companies unable to meet their debts, due to the impact of Coronavirus, from being forced to file for bankruptcy.

A temporary suspension to wrongful trading rules for company directors in the UK will remove the threat of personal liability. In normal circumstances, it is an offence to continue trading if they know their business will be unable to pay debts, and that liquidation is unavoidable.

This has been lifted, meaning company directors will be able to continue to pay staff and suppliers even if fears that the company could become insolvent exist. The changes will apply retrospectively from 1 March 2020. These measures are currently in place until 30th September 2020.

Insurance

A number of insurers have argued that the Covid-19 virus is not covered by their policies and, as such, have rejected business interruption claims. This has led to class-action lawsuits by businesses, particularly those in the hospitality industry, who continue to feel the impact of forced closures.

COVID-19 Ideas Grant

The COVID-19 Ideas Grant has now closed as of 15th December 2020. 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will provide funding for short to medium-term research projects, aimed at addressing and mitigating the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

80% of costs of projects will be funded. You will need to be able to prove why you will not be able to repurpose any existing funds for the project.

Find out more here.

Innovation Fund

Innovate UK will provide £750m of funding, available to small and medium sized enterprises that are engaged in Research and Development.

£200m of grants and loan payments will be available to 2,500 existing Innovate UK partners on an opt-in basis. £550m will also be made available to increase the support on offer to existing partners. Alongside this, £175,000 will be available to 1,200 firms who do not currently receive Innovate UK funding.

Find out more here.

Future Fund

The Future Fund has been extended until 31st January 2021.

The Future Fund will support innovative UK companies that are essential in ensuring the UK retains its world-leading position is science, innovation and technology.

Developed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank, the Future Fund supports companies that would usually rely on equity investment, but are facing significant delays between funding rounds due to the current economic situation. Financial support will be provided by an initial commitment of £250m of new government funding, subject to at least equal match funding from third-party investors

Find out more here.

For the self-employed

Self-employed Support Scheme

Extension of the SEISS Scheme – Budget 2021

Budget 2021 has confirmed details of a fourth SEISS grant. This will be 80% of three months’ average trading profits to be claimed from late April 2021. Payment will be in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total and will cover the period February to April 2021.

The scheme has been extended to those who have filed a 2019/20 self- assessment tax return prior to 3 March 2021. This means that the newly self-employed from April 2019 now qualify subject to satisfying the other conditions.

A fifth and final grant was announced and can be claimed from late July 2021 to cover the period May to September 2021. This grant will be determined by a turnover test. Where the self-employed business turnover has fallen by 30% the grant will be worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits capped at £7,500. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850.

Third Grant

Update following the Chancellor’s announcement on 24th September: An extension to the SEISS from November 2020 to April 2021 will provide self-employed individuals with further support through a third grant. The grant will be available to those who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade, but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19.

Two taxable grants will be available:

The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November until the end of January. Following an update on 2nd November, the initial grant will now cover 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. The claims window has also been brought forward from 14 December to 30 November.

The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April. The level of the grant is yet to be decided on.

Further details on eligibility and how to apply are available here.

Please see below for details on the first two SEISS grants (applications for these are now closed):

The Chancellor announced a new self-employed support scheme in March giving self-employed workers a taxable grant of up to 80% of average monthly earnings. Describing it as one of the most generous packages in the world, the support package for self-employed people was initially intended to run for a minimum of 3 months and cover 80% of average earnings over the past three years earnings (up to £2,500 per month) for that 3 month period.

Under the first grant, eligible individuals can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

The portal opened to applications from taxpayers on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May, with the portal opening on different days for different taxpayers and further details of how to make the application are below

The scheme is open to claims for the first grant relating to the initial 3 months of trading profits until 13 July 2020.

On 29 May it was announced that the scheme would be extended to enable individuals to claim a second taxable grant 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.

Applications for the second grant will open on 17 August with a deadline of 19 October. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant, but they will need to be able to prove that their business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 on or after 14 July 2020.