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COVID-19: Summary of Finance and Business Measures – last updated 14 September 2021

This article summarises the business support measures the UK and Scottish governments, along with other NGBs and organisations have introduced as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

For each measure we have listed the date of the latest change. Click on any of the measures listed and you will be taken to the appropriate part of this article which covers that topic in more detail.

Last updated 14 September 2021: Self-employed Support (SEISS) – e by 30 SEptember 2021;  Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)/Furloughed Staff – reminder that scheme closes 30 September and claims must be made by 14 October;  Statutory Sick Pay – COVID sick pay rebate scheme ends on 30 September 2021

Annual leave – updated 14 April 2020
Business Interruption Insurance – updated 1 February 2021
Business Rates Holidays – updated 1 July 2021
GOV.UK Business Support Finder Tool – updated 21 April 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)/Furloughed Staffupdated 14 September 2021
Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – updated 14 April 2020
Creative Scotland Funding – updated 14 June 2021
Employee Taxable Expenses and Benefits – updated 5 June 2020
Eviction Protection for Commercial Tenants (England only) – updated 17 June 2021
Events Recovery Fund (Scotland only) – updated 8 April 2021
Farmers, Landowners and Rural Businesses – updated 4 November 2020
Helplines: HMRC and Scottish Government 
Kickstart Scheme – updated 16 October 2020
Landlords – Private Rented Sector Loan (Scotland only) – updated 11 March 2021
Northumberland Covid Recovery Grant  – updated 20 July 2021
Recovery Loan Scheme – updated 8 April 2021
Recover to Grow Fund (Midlothian Council) – updated 12 July 2021
Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral and Time to Pay – updated 30 April 2021
Self-employed Support (SEISS)updated 14 September 2021
Stamp Duty Land Tax (England and Northern Ireland only) – updated 3 March 2021
Statutory Sick Pay – updated 13 September 2021
Test & Trace/Self Isolation Support – updated 16 August 2021
VAT Cut: food, accommodation and attractions – updated 3 March 2021
Working from Home Tax Relief – updated 8 October 2020

 

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

(Update as of 14 September) The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) provides grants to cover a percentage of the salaries of staff you have placed on furlough.

In  the 2021 Budget announcement it was confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended to the end of September 2021 with employers expected to make additional contributions from July.

Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of  their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, with businesses being required to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.

From 1 July, employers started contributing towards the costs of unworked hours.  In July, the UK Government paid 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50.  In August and September, this reduces to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.  Employers pay the 10% in July, then 20% in August and September to ensure their furloughed employees receive at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work.

The furlough scheme is set to end on 30 September 2021. The final claims for September must be submitted by Thursday 14 October.

More details in relation to the extension of the CJRS can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

The following individuals are covered by CJRS:

  • employees on any type of employment contract including zero-hours, flexible, part-time or fixed term
  • apprentices
  • agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)
  • owner-managed businesses (including company directors) – but only on PAYE income
  • salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • nannies and other domestic staff.

You must make claims by 11.59pm 14 calendar days after the month you’re claiming for. If this falls on a weekend or a bank holiday then claims should be submitted on the next working day.  Claims for September must be submitted by 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021.

If you do miss a claim deadline, HMRC may still accept your applications if you have all of the following:

  • a reasonable excuse
  • taken reasonable care to try and claim on time
  • claimed without delay as soon as you were able to.

More details on what HMRC consider to be a ‘reasonable excuse’ can be found here on the GOV.UK website. 

An employer will need to do the following to be able to make a claim:

  1. Employees will need to be officially designated as ‘furloughed’ employees and those employees will need to be notified of this change.  Don’t forget that changing the status of an employee is subject to existing employment law and any employment contracts in place.
  2. Employers will need to submit information in relation to their ‘furloughed’ employees through the HMRC online portal.

The main HMRC guidance on the CJRS can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

In addition HMRC have provided examples to help in calculating wages, National Insurance and pension contributions when claiming via the CJRS. HMRC also have a step by step guide on how to claim for the CJRS.

If you are in any doubt please do contact us.

Overclaims:  We would strongly encourage all of our clients that have received CJRS grants to double-check their entitlement.  The recently introduced Finance Act 2020, provides recipients with a 90-day period to inform HMRC of any overclaimed amount and also provides HMRC with powers to recover grant payments to which the recipient is not entitled, as well as to charge penalties.

The onus is on the taxpayer to notify HMRC if they have overclaimed and this must be done within 90 days of the Act’s Royal Assent (so by 20 October 2020) or 90 days of receipt of the grant, whichever is the later. HMRC has published guidance on how to repay overclaimed CJRS grants as well as a factsheet on how the penalty rules will apply.

It is important to note that error penalties may also apply if there are mistakes are made when putting the grant figures on tax returns. The key risks affecting entitlement to CJRS grants include:

  • grants not used for the purposes for which they are intended;
  • calculation errors; and
  • employees working during periods that they are on furlough.

For  more information on the penalties that may be charged in relation to an overpayment please see the latest HMRC factsheet.

There is the ability to delete a claim, as long as it is within 72 hours of submitting it, via the online claim service. If your claim has been submitted for a period of longer than 72 hours you should follow the process outlined below.

If you have made an error and overclaimed but do not plan to submit further claims, you should contact HMRC to inform them of the error, and discuss how to pay back any overclaimed amounts. HMRC will provide a reference number and will also confirm the process for making the necessary payment to correct the error.  If you have made an error and overclaimed and are planning to make further claims, the error can be adjusted for within your next CJRS claim. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect the overclaimed amount.  You should keep a record of this adjustment for six years.

If you have made an error that has resulted in an underclaimed amount, you should contact HMRC. HMRC will conduct further checks before any additional payment is made.

If you are a GWA client who uses our PAYE services, we will be able to make the CJRS claims on behalf of your employees and also any reimbursement claims on your behalf.

If you have any concerns or questions about CJRS we would encourage you to contact us and we will be happy to help.  Further guidance can be found here on the HMRC website.

 

Kickstart Scheme

(Update as of 16 October 2020) The Kickstart Scheme is designed to help 16-24 year olds into work through the creation of high quality 6-month work placements.

Businesses can join the scheme, and receive up to £6,500 to cover each individual’s wages and associated costs plus £1,500 to help set up support and training.

Any business or organisation, private, public or voluntary, regardless of size, can apply for funding. If you are applying for 30 or more job placements, you can apply directly.

If you are applying for less than 30 job placements, you may be able to apply through an intermediary who will submit an application on your behalf.

As an employer you will also receive a grant of £1,500 towards the administration and training of the employee.

Key facts you need to know are:

  • the Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
  • businesses taking on a Kickstart candidate can apply for £1,500 per job placement available for set up costs, support and training
  • placements must be for young people aged between 16-24 years old, currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment
  • placements must be for new jobs, not a replacement for existing vacancies

Other information that you need to provide can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

 

Support for the Self-employed (SEISS)

(Update as of 14 September 2021) If you are eligible for the fifth and final Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grant (SEISS) you have until 30 September 2021 to apply.

Everyone who is eligible for the last SEISS grant should have received a personal start date from HMRC in recent weeks (personal claim date).  Claims made before your personal claim date will not be processed.  If you have already heard from HMRC that you were not eligible for the fourth grant, you will not be eligible for the fifth grant either. This is because the same tax returns have been used to determine eligibility for both grants.

A turnover test, which details how much your turnover has reduced in the 2020-21 tax year compared to pre-COVID trading, will determine the amount of grant available.  Individuals whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will be able to claim an 80% grant, capped at £7,500. Anyone else will be able to claim a lower grant, worth 30% of their average profits –  this amount will be capped at £2,850.

More information on the fifth grant can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

You can claim if you are a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership.  Limited companies and trusts are not entitled to claim. Trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to non-trading income. In addition you must:

  • have traded in tax year 2019/20 and submitted your tax return by 2 March 2021 and traded in the tax year 2020/21
  • intend to continue to trade
  • be currently trading but have been impacted by reduced activity, capacity and demand or have been unable to trade due to COVID-19

You are not eligible to claim if the only impact on your business is increased costs eg. if you’ve had to purchase face masks and cleaning supplies.  HMRC have provided some examples of what they mean by “reduced activity, capacity and demand” here on the GOV.UK website.

HMRC have also provided guidance on how the turnover test which verifies the level of the grant will work. You can find details here on the GOV.UK website which explain the turnover figures you’ll need before you claim, where to find them and how they affect your grant amount. Claimants will need to provide two turnover figures

  • one for the pandemic period – a 12-month period starting on any date between 1 and 6 April 2020
  • one for the reference period (in most cases this will the turnover figure from the 2019/20 tax return, but there may be other options).

If you’re currently trading but have reduced demand, you must keep any evidence to substantiate this, such as:

  • business accounts showing reduction in activity compared to previous years
  • records of reduced or cancelled contracts or appointments; and
  • a record of dates where you had reduced demand or capacity due to government restrictions.

If your business is temporarily unable to trade you must keep evidence to substantiate this, such as:

  • a record of dates where you had to close due to government restrictions
  • NHS Test and Trace communications – if you’ve been instructed to self-isolate in-line with NHS guidelines and are unable to work from home
  • a letter or email from the NHS asking you to shield
  • test results if you’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus; and
  • letters or emails from your child’s school with information on closures or reduced hours.

We are unable to claim SEISS grants on behalf of our clients, but if you have any questions regarding eligibility or how to claim please get in touch.

We want to remind everyone that the SEISS grant is taxable income.  If you want to understand how the grant may affect you and your business from a tax point of view, again please do not hesitate to contact us.

Overclaims:  We would strongly encourage all of our clients that have received SEISS grants to double-check their entitlement.  The recently introduced Finance Act 2020, provides recipients with a 90-day period to inform HMRC of any overclaimed amount and also provides HMRC with powers to recover grant payments to which the recipient is not entitled, as well as to charge penalties.

The onus is on the taxpayer to notify HMRC if they have overclaimed and this must be done within 90 days of the Act’s Royal Assent (so by 20 October 2020) or 90 days of receipt of the grant, whichever is the later. HMRC has published guidance on how to repay overclaimed SEISS grants as well as a factsheet on how the penalty rules will apply.

It is important to note that error penalties may also apply if there are mistakes are made when putting the grant figures on tax returns. The key risks affecting entitlement to SEISS grants include:

  • the trade was not adversely affected by coronavirus;
  • the trade did not continue in the tax year 2019/20 (eg. because the business was incorporated); or
  • there was no intention to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21.

For  more information on the penalties that may be charged in relation to an overpayment please see the latest HMRC factsheet.

A word of warning. We know there has been an escalation in the number of fraudulent texts, telephone calls and emails pretending to be from HMRC.  Please be extra vigilant and never provide any bank account, credit card or payment details.  You will only ever be asked to access SEISS via the GOV.UK online service.

 

Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral

(Update as of 30 April 2021) Taxpayers who had payments to be made had until midnight on 1 April to pay any outstanding tax or set up a payment plan to prevent a 5% Late Payment Penalty. This can be done online without the need to call HMRC.

These enhanced payment arrangements apply to all tax due on that date including any self-assessment tax payments originally due on 31 July 2020 and that were deferred until 31 January 2021 as part of previously announced COVID-19 support measures.

The online service, called ‘Time to Pay’, is available for amounts up to £30,000 Once you’ve completed your tax return for the 2019-20 tax year, you can use the service to set up a direct debit and pay any tax that is owed in monthly instalments, over a period of 12 months. You can set up this arrangement via this link on the GOV.UK website.

To set up a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement online you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • have no outstanding tax returns
  • have no other tax debts
  • have no other HMRC payment plans in place
  • your self-assessment bill must be between £32 and £30,000
  • your payment plan cannot be set up any later than 60 days after your tax was due for payment. ie. by 1 April 2021.

Any interest will be applied to an outstanding balance from 1 February 2021. This is different to the deferral of second payments due in July 2020 when no interest was charged.

If you do not meet the above requirements you may still be able to arrange a Time to Pay option but you will need to call HMRC on the self-assessment payment helpline: 0300 200 3822.

Currently, along with other accountancy firms, do not have access to this facility and anyone who wishes to set up a Time to Pay arrangement must do so directly.

We want to emphasise that this is a payment option to settle monies due to HMRC and any tax liability is not being cancelled.

 

COVID-19 Government Statutory Sick Pay and How to Apply for it

(Update as of 13 September 2021) The government scheme to refund the cost of Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for small businesses will end at the end of September 2021, and any outstanding claims must be made by 31 December 2021.

To support employers during the pandemic the government allowed certain small and medium size employers to reclaim some, or all of their SSP costs from HMRC. To be eligible your business must have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020 and have up to 250 employees, again as at 28 February 2020.

The repayment covers up to 14 days and be payable from day one for affected individuals. The weekly allowance for SSP is £96.35 (as of April 2021). You can use the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount you can claim.

All types of employment contracts are covered by this scheme, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
  • fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends).

SSP is available for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020 for individuals who:

  • have coronavirus
  • have coronavirus symptoms
  • are self-isolating because someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms.

SSP is also available for periods of sickness starting on or after 16 April 2020 for individuals who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable (this is referred to as ‘shielding’)  and have a letter from the NHS or GP requiring them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Individuals who are displaying symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone symptomatic of coronavirus can get an isolation note from the NHS website.   These notes can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.

If you are a GWA client who uses our PAYE services please get in touch as we will be able to make the claims on your behalf.

How to claim – to reclaim SSP you will need to use the online service which was launched on 26 May 2020.

If you are claiming SSP directly, you need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you have not yet registered for PAYE online you will need to do so – this can be accessed here on the GOV.UK website. If you have lost your Government Gateway user ID you can find it using this link.

In order to make a claim you will need:

  • your employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • UK bank or building society details (a Bacs payment must be accepted)
  • the total amount of coronavirus SSP you have paid to your employees
  • the number of employees you are claiming for
  • the start date and end date of the claim period.

The government specified that employers must retain records for three years following receipt of payment for any SSP claim. You should therefore keep the following records in case there is any future dispute over payment of SSP.

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they were off work – if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
  • the employee’s National Insurance number.

If you have questions in relaton to this service please get in touch.  And, remember if you are a GWA client who uses our PAYE services we will be able to make the claims on your behalf.

 

Test and Trace Support Payment (England) / Self-Isolation Support Grant (Scotland)

(Update as of 16 August 2021) In England, from 16 August 2021, fully vaccinated adults are no longer required to self-isolate if identified as a contact by NHS Test and Trace. This means they are no longer eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

If you are not fully vaccinated, employed or self-employed on a low income, and can’t work from home while self-isolating, you may be entitled to financial support of £500. To be eligible for the £500 payment, you must have been notified through NHS Test and Trace and have received a unique 8 character ID number. You must also:

  • be aged over 16
  • be employed or self-employed and unable to work from home and face losing income as a result
  • receive at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit
  • have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace on or after 28 September 2020
  • you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or you have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and you have NOT been fully vaccinated

In Scotland, the Self-Isolation Support Grant is to help people who are working on low incomes to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To qualify for a payment you must:

  • have been told to self-isolate by Test and Protect Scotland (or equivalent service from elsewhere in the UK); or
  • have been notified by the Protect Scotland app (or equivalent app) to self-isolate and this requirement can be individually verified; or
  • be the identified appropriate parent or primary carer of a child under 16 who has been required by the Test and Protect Service (or equivalent service) or a school-based Incident Management Team notification to self-isolate
  • be the identified appropriate carer of a person over 16 who has been required by the Test and Protect Service (of equivalent service), local public health director or a local Incident Management Team notification to self-isolate.

In addition you must:

  • be employed or self-employed
  • have reduced earnings because you’re unable to work from home
  • are assessed as having a low income

You must apply to your Local Authority for the self-isolation payment.  More details including the evidence you will need to provide can be found using the following links:

 

Carrying over Annual leave

(Update as of 14 April 2020) Employees who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry up to a maximum of four weeks into the next two leave years.  For example, if an employee:

  • is self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • has had to continue working and could not take paid holiday

If an employee has been furloughed and cannot reasonably use their holiday entitlement, they may also be able to carry over holiday.

The government guidance on holiday entitlement and pay for staff who have continued to work and been placed on furlough can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

 

Employee Taxable Expenses and Benefits

(Update as of 5 June 2020) The government has provided information about how to treat certain expenses and benefits that may be applicable to employees during the COVID-19 crisis.  Information can be found here on the GOV.UK website and it includes how to report these to HMRC.

The list of expenses and benefits is pretty extensive and some of the guidance does not allow much flexibility to assist employees bearing in mind the current exceptional circumstances. We would therefore recommend you read the information quite carefully and if you have any questions or require further clarification please get in touch.

 

Tax Relief – working from home

(Update as of 8 October 2020) As firms have closed offices as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many staff are now working from home. If you are working from home, even for part of the week, you are eligible to claim for increased costs. As apportioning these costs can be time-consuming and difficult, the simplest way to do this is to claim a rate of £6 per week.

Your employers can give you an tax free allowance up to this amount.  Alternatively, if you are not within self -assessment, you can make a claim for the same amount by using a form P87. You can complete the form online or print and post it. The Low Income Tax Reform Group also provides useful information in relation to completing a form P87.

 

Business Rates Holidays

(Update as of 1 July 2021) Eligible businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will see the 100% business rate holiday change at the end of June 2021.

From 1 July 2021 until 31 March 2022 this relief will be reduced and businesses will receive 66% business rates relief. The reduction will be capped at £2m per business for properties that were forced to close on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for those legally allowed to open during the last national lockdown starting 5 January.

For retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses in Scotland the 100% rates relief will continue for the 2021/22 tax year until 31 March 2022. However, from April 2021, you will be required to fill in an application form with your local council to receive this relief

More details on the eligibility for the business rates relief can be found here on the GOV.UK website and here on the mygov.scot website.

You may be entitled to other types of business rates relief eg. small business, rural, charitable or enterprise zone relief.  If you have any concerns or require further guidance please do get in touch.

 

Recovery Loan Scheme

(Update as of 8 April 2021) The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) replaces Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS/CLBILS) which ended on 31 March.

The new scheme aims to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 and can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including managing cashflow, investment and growth.

The RLS will be open to all businesses including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.  A key aim of the scheme is to improve the terms on offer to businesses.  If you are able to secure a commercial loan from a lender on better terms, without requiring the guarantee provided by the RLS, you should consider doing so.

Lenders can provide up to £10 million as one of the following facilities:

  • term loan – with loan periods from 3 months to 6 years
  • overdraft – with loan periods from 3 months to 3 years
  • invoice finance – with loan periods from 3 months to 3 years
  • asset finance – with loan periods from 3 moths to 6 years

The minimum facilities available under the scheme are £1,000 for asset and invoice finance and £25,001 for term loans and overdrafts. The maximum amount is £10 million per business (maximum £30million per group).

If you are borrowing £250,000 or less the lender will not require any form of personal guarantee. If you are borrowing more than £250,000 the lender may request personal guarantees.

The specific terms of each loan will depend on the individual lender. You will be required to follow the lender’s usual borrowing process, which will include standard credit and fraud checks, and lenders will ask for information to support the application and demonstrate that the repayments are affordable. Required information may  include:

  • a business plan
  • management accounts
  • historic accounts
  • details of assets held by the business.

The RLS is administered by the British Business Bank and will run until 31 December 2021. More information including FAQs for applicants can be found here on the British Business Bank website.

If you would like to discuss the RLS in more detail or require help in collating the information required to apply please get in touch.

 

Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

(Update as of 14 April 2020) The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which is co-ordinated by HM Treasury and Bank of England, will provide funding to all UK businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy. Commercial paper, also called CP, is an instrument used for obtaining short-term funding.

This should help businesses across a range of sectors pay wages and suppliers, whilst they are experiencing disruption to their cash flows.

This will be administered by the Bank of England and further details can be found on the Bank of England website.

 

VAT Cut – Food and Non-Alcoholic Drinks / Accommodation and Attractions

(Update as of 3 March 2021) The reduced 5% VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will continue to apply until 30 September 2021.  From 1 October, businesses in these sectors won’t go straight back to the 20% rate and instead will pay an interim rate of 12.5% for another six months.

The reduced 5% rate of VAT will apply to:

  • food and non-alcoholic drinks sold by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises for on-premises consumption
  • hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages
  • supplies of accommodation, including camping and pitches
  • admission to attractions, including zoos, cinemas and theme parks

For businesses affected it will also mean an amendment to accounting software and possibly prices.

It is worth noting that businesses can benefit from lower VAT rates at the time of booking even where the higher VAT rate applies when the customer benefits from the product or service. For example, the payment for hotel reservation received before October 2021 is subject to 5% VAT even if the room is taken in July 2022.

The purpose of the VAT reduction is to support businesses, but the contract that a business may have in place with their customer might require them to pass on any VAT savings to them. This could result in some negotiating to share any VAT savings. Ideally a VAT inclusive price will have been agreed up front so that the full saving can be retained by the business.

More details can be found on the GOV.UK website.  If you require any clarification please do call either the partner who looks after your affairs or our expert VAT team who will try and answer any questions you may have.

 

Protection from Eviction for Commercial Tenants

(Update as of 17 June 2021) Within England, the measures that apply to commercial tenants who are unable to pay rent on their commercial property have been extended. Commercial tenants will now be protected from the risk of eviction until the 25 March 2022.  The measures were due to end on 30 June 2021.

It is important to highlight that this measure is not the same as a rental holiday. Commercial tenants are being protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent but will still be liable for their rent. Landlords and tenants will be encouraged to work proactively together to find ways to restructure and, hopefully, meet both parties’ financial needs.

 

Aid for Private Rental Landlords (Scotland only)

(Update as of 11 March 2021) The Scottish Government have extended funding to support landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the COVID-19 crisis. Landlords who are eligible can apply to the Private Rent Sector (PRS) Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme for support.

The scheme supports landlords who:

  • were, or had applied to become, registered before 01 February 2020
  • are not classified as businesses
  • have five or fewer properties to rent in Scotland, and
  • have lost rental income due to tenants being unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 or if a property became vacant after 01 February 2020 and you have been unable to get a new tenant due to COVID-19 restrictions.

As part of the process landlords will also need to confirm they understand the terms of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 in relation to eviction proceedings.  You must also have discussed and reached an agreement with your tenant on managing any associated rent arrears.

A loan will cover lost rental income for a period of up to six months, backdated to the 01 August 2020.  An initial payment of half of the agreed amount will be available and landlords will be asked to verify the continued loss of income before the second instalment is paid.

However, it should be noted that before applying for a loan from the scheme, if you are a landlord who is facing difficulties with mortgage repayments on a rental property you should first seek a mortgage repayment holiday from your lender. Also, if you are eligible for other forms of support eg. the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) you would be expected to take these options rather than apply for this loan.

More details and the online application form can be found here on the GOV.SCOT website.

 

Business Interruption Insurance

(Update as of 1 February 2021) If you have not already done so, you should check your business insurance policies to see if business interruption cover for pandemics is in place.

In January 2021, a ruling by the Supreme Court backed small firms over business interruption insurance claims.  You can read more about these details in our previous update.

The FCA have a useful ‘policy checker’ and FAQs to help find out if your insurance policy may cover business interruption losses caused by COVID-19.

 

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Cut (England and Northern Ireland only)

(Update as of 3 March 2021) The nil rate stamp duty land tax on sales up to £500,000 introduced in Summer 2020 will be removed at the end of June 2021.

As stamp duty is tiered, anyone buying properties in England and Northern Ireland, costing more than £500,000 will pay nothing on the first £500,000 and then normal rates on anything above that. The 0% band also applies to residential leasehold sales and new residential leases.

From 1 July 2021, the nil rate band will reduce to £250,000 until 30 September 2021 before returning to £125,000 on 1 October 2021.

The change will not apply in Scotland or Wales.

 

Farmers, Landowners and Rural Businesses

(Update as of 4 November 2020) The GOV.UK website has a dedicated page that contains information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses in relation to COVID-19.  It provides general information on all the main schemes the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) operates including Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue claims, Environmental Stewardship (ES) claims, and woodland legacy revenue claims.

 

Creative Scotland Funding

(Update as of 14 June 2021) Creative Scotland has been provided with additional funding to provide support for the creative community impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development aims to allow creative practitioners continue to develop work using the funding to explore how best to sustain their practice, and reimagine their work. Funds may also be used for the development and presentation of work. Funding will support up to 12 months of activity with a maximum award of £100,000. More information can be found on the Creative Scotland website.

 

Events Recovery Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 8 April 2021) Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund (SERF) has been established to help Scotland’s events sector plan and deliver events through to the end of 2021, and to provide support as the industry responds and adapts to the effects of COVID-19.

Eligible events must take place in Scotland and are defined as being planned sporting and cultural events and festivals taking place outdoors, indoors or online and which are open to the public to attend. New and previously staged events can apply for support.

There are two routes of funding.

  • Community Events – awards of between £1,000 – £5,000
  • Events supporting the visitor economy (e.g. regional and Scottish domestic tourism) – awards of between £5,000 – £35,000

There is a fixed amount of £2.75m funding available. This is an open fund without a fixed application deadline and remains open to eligible applicants.  Currently applications are being assessed  for events taking place until the end of May 2021. Applications submitted for events taking place between beyond June will be carried out following this.

Applications should be completed via the VisitScotland website where you will also find full guidance notes.

 

Recover to Grow Fund (Midlothian Council)

(Updated as 12 July 2021) This funding is aimed at businesses and community groups that have ongoing financial pressures as a result of COVID-19 restrictions which limit their ability to adopt new ways of working or to progress projects  that may help that business to recover. The funding is expected to support sectors such as soft play, hospitality, travel agents, and independent retailers along with community groups delivering events and sporting activities that continue to be affected by the restrictions.

To be eligible you must operate from business premises and/or have employees.

The funding is available on a “first come, first served” basis and applications close on Monday 26 July at 5pm.  You can find more information and apply for funding here on the Midlothian Council website.

 

Northumberland Covid Recovery Grant

(Updated as 20 July 2021) Grants are available to Northumberland-based businesses to help them implement a credible plan to recover from the financial effects of Covid-19. To be eligible your business must:

  • have a significant operational base and / or employees in Northumberland
  • have been established prior to 1 April 2021
  • employ fewer than 250 people in Northumberland
  • have a business bank account, separating personal and business finance, which has been established prior to 1 April 2021
  • be able to demonstrate solvency
  • be able to outline a credible and costed recovery plan
  • be able to fund their share of the recovery plan

Businesses not eligible for grants include home-based and mobile businesses, registered charities and organisations that provide social welfare and community facilities.

Grants will support 40% of your recovery plan’s costs, with a minimum grant of £6,000 per business and a maximum grant of £20,000 per business.  Application must include details of your recovery plan.   Full details of the grant can be found here on the Northumberland County Council website.

If you would like guidance or help in preparing your business recovery plan please do get in touch with the partner who normally handles your affairs or call our Berwick-upon-Tweed office.

 

GOV.UK Business Support Finder Tool

(Update as of 21 April 2020) A ‘support finder’ tool is available on the GOV.UK website that helps businesses and self-employed individuals identify what financial support is available to them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The online service requires you to fill in a simple and quick questionnaire which will then determine what measures you may be eligible for.

The ‘support finder’ can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

 

HMRC and Scottish Government Helplines

(Update as of 30 March) HMRC has a set up helplines providing practical help and advice to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax as a result of COVID-19.

The main helpline number is 0800 0159 559.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.
The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.

To increase capacity there is now an additional dedicated phone number 0800 024 1222.
Opening hours for the helpline will be 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday only.

The Scottish business helpline specific to COVID-19 is based at the existing Scottish Enterprise call centre in Clydebank.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses

Government guidance on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

 

We do appreciate that the range and breadth of the financial support on offer is fast moving and can be confusing. We continue to encourage you to contact us if you need support or would like a query or question answered. Our phone numbers and email addresses remain as they were. We are open for business and happy to help.

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