Information correct as of 25 March 2020
Yesterday we all woke up to the next phase of the COVID-19 outbreak and experienced the first day of the UK lockdown. We are all rapidly learning to adjust to the new ‘normal’ but our aim is for GWA to continue to assist you and your businesses throughout these exceptional circumstances.
It is important that you are aware of all the business support that may be available to you and therefore we will continue our financial updates along with information relating to our working procedures.
The raft of support measures announced by government is unprecedented. However, due to the speed and breadth of their introduction, the actual implementation of some of these measures is still work in progress.
There has been progress in respect of the Business Cash Grants. In addition, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) are also up and running.
Business Cash Grants: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses – Scotland
The application process is now open for these one-off grants. You do need to apply for these grants. They will not be automatically applied as first anticipated.
The grants are available to small businesses in Scotland who are in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business as discussed in our previous business update.
If you think your business may be eligible for one of these grants, please contact your local authority who are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.
The deadline for applications is 31 March 2021. Councils will aim to make payment within 10 working days from receipt of a fully completed application.
As yet, ‘self-catering’ has not been included on the list of businesses who are eligible for these grants. The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Ltd (ASSC) has requested urgent clarification from Scottish Government in respect of the eligibility of self-catering for these grants.
Business Cash Grants: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses – England
As we have mentioned previously, there are two grant funding schemes for businesses in England, the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.
Further guidance is now available for Local Authorities in relation to the administration of the grants in England.
However, we note that the Northumberland County Council website has not been updated since 18 March 2020 in relation to these grants and states “The Council is awaiting further detailed information from the Government with regard to these one off grants for small businesses and will make further information available as soon as possible.”
We will continue to monitor this and provide you with updates as soon as they are available.
In relation to what businesses are considered to be ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure’, it has been confirmed that any business that would have been eligible for the Business Rates Retail Discount announced in this year’s Budget will also be eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant fund. Details of those businesses can be found in this document.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – UK & Scotland
This scheme is now available for applications.
To be eligible for the CBILS you must:
- be a UK based in its business activity with annual turnover of no more than £45m
- have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable your business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.
Full details can be found on the British Bank website.
If you are considering making an application, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers as soon as possible. As mentioned above, you will be expected to have a borrowing proposal. If you need any assistance with this, which may require a business plan, cash flow forecasts or specific accounts details, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Business Interruption Loans: COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – UK & Scotland
This scheme is now available for applications and details can be found on the Bank of England website.
Aimed at larger companies, the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) which is co-ordinated by HM Treasury and Bank of England, may provide funding to all UK businesses that make a material contribution to the UK economy.
More detailed information for those considering applying can be found here. Again, should you require any clarification or assistance with an application please do contact us.
Protection from Eviction for Commercial Tenants – England Only (Scotland to be confirmed)
In a previous business update we highlighted the new laws confirming that landlords will not be able to start new possession proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months.
There are also measures that apply to commercial tenants within England. No business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a rental payment up until 30 June 2020. As such, commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. The government have indicated that they may extend this period if needed.
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.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so we would encourage you to check the terms and conditions of your business or event policy and contact your provider if you are in any doubt.
We believe that many, if not most, commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, if your policy does cover government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable diseases you should be able to make a claim.
What are notifiable diseases? – Notifiable diseases are infectious diseases that registered medical practitioners have a statutory duty to notify their local council or local health protection team about when they come across a suspected case.
Many insurers use diseases on this list as triggers for the activation or exclusion of insurance cover eg. some insurers’ policies that cover notifiable diseases will only cover a specific subset of diseases (such as cholera or anthrax). Policies will go on to exclude any notifiable disease not on their list, as well as future/unknown diseases, in this case COVID-19.
What are unspecified notifiable diseases? – You can purchase add-ons for your business insurance that will provide cover for ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. These policies effectively enable claims against all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point when the policy is written.
The government keeps an updated list of notifiable diseases. On 5 March 2020, the government added COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases. The effect of the government adding COVID-19 to its list ensures that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover can make a claim. This will be subject to the terms and conditions in each policy eg. someone infected with COVID-19 may need to have been on your business premises.
What is a government ordered closure? – The government asked a range of different businesses to remain closed from 21 March onward. Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for COVID-19 losses to make a claim (provided the only barrier to making a claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government had ordered businesses to close).
Cancellation of Events – If your business’s event cancellation policy includes unspecified notifiable disease extensions, you should be able to make a claim for the cancellation, postponement and disruption of your event for reasons beyond the control of organisers and participants (subject to each policies terms and conditions).
If you have any concerns or queries regarding the above please get in touch with the partner who usually looks after your business or personal affairs. They are all receiving emails at their usual GWA email address. The entire team at GWA remain fully committed to supporting the well-being of our clients at this difficult time. We would like to thank you in turn for your continued support.