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 5th January 2021.

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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)

On 17th December Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the extended furlough scheme, has been extended further until the end of April 2021.

Further information on the extension is available here. 

Job Retention Bonus

Following the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), to 31 March 2021, the launch of the Job Retention Bonus has been postponed.

Job Support Scheme Open

Following the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), to 31 March 2021, the launch of the Job Support Scheme has been postponed.

Job Support Scheme Closed

Following the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), to 31 March 2021, the launch of the Job Support Scheme has been postponed.

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

Status: Automatic offer with no applications required.

If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to defer the payment until 31 March 2021. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the Government as normal.

Whilst VAT payments are being deferred, you should still aim to file your VAT return on time. If you make your payments on account or by direct debit, we are advising that you contact your bank to temporarily stop the payments as HMRC can not be relied upon.

All businesses which took the opportunity to defer VAT due in the March to June 2020 VAT returns, will have the option to spread their payments over 11 equal instalments over the financial year 21-22, rather than paying in full at the end of March 21. Whilst all businesses are eligible, they will need to opt-in to pay in instalments. The opt-in process will be put in place in early 2021.

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

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

A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, nursery and leisure businesses will be introduced in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

To be eligible for the business rates holiday your business must:

  • be based in England
  • be in the retail, hospitality, nursery and/or leisure sector

Find out more here. 

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

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.