We are another step closer to a further easing of lockdown and many of our retail clients are preparing to re-open next week, along with places of worship, secondary schools, zoos and outdoor attractions.
There have been reports that there will be further guidance released soon in relation to the next phase of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. As soon as this becomes available, we will let you know. Until then, here are the highlights from this week’s announcements.
Small Business Grant Fund Extended (Scotland only)
The Scottish Government have extended the funding for the Small Business Grant Scheme to include small businesses which share properties but do not pay business rates.
The extension will apply to firms occupying shared office spaces, business incubators or shared industrial units and who lease the space from a registered, rate-paying landlord. To be eligible you must also:
- have a business bank account
- be a registered business or partnership
- employ at least one person
- have a lease signed before 17 March 2020
Grants will be available up to £10,000 and applications are being managed by local authorities, see the links below for further information.
There is now less than a month to apply for funding from the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes as the Scottish Government have confirmed these will close to new applications on 10 July 2020.
Full details of the COVID-19 related funding available for non-domestic businesses in Scotland can be found here of the MYGOV.SCOT website.
Rural Payments Helpline and Scheme Deadlines
The Rural Payments helpline, phone number 03000 200 301, will be open this weekend (13 and 14 June) to support those submitting applications prior to the deadline of 15 June 2020. This deadline applies to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue claims, Environmental Stewardship (ES) claims and Woodland legacy revenue claims.
The Rural Payments Agency have provided guidance on applying for each of these schemes and the latest government information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses affected by COVID-19 can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
Employees on Parental Leave Exempt from Furlough Deadline
As explained in our previous updates, 10 June 2020 was the last day on which someone who has never previously been furloughed had to start a period of furlough to qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
However, it was not clear how this was going to affect any staff on statutory parental leave who may miss the deadline. Clarification has now been received from the Chancellor. Employees on statutory parental leave who return to work can be furloughed under the CJRS even if they return after 10 June. One important point to note is that this will only apply to employees that work for an organisation that has previously furloughed employees.
Once the government provide more details in relation to this change, we will let you know. Key dates and useful links in relation to the CJRS can be found here on our website.
Be Alert to Phishing Scams
We have been made aware of scammers claiming to be from HMRC offering financial support as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. If you receive a text, email or call claiming to be from HMRC that asks you to click on a link or give info such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a scam.
We have highlighted an increase in phishing before. HMRC have also issued some useful guidance on how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.
Please do be on your guard. HMRC will never text, email or phone you to ask for bank details, PINS or passwords. It is that simple.
We are looking forward to more of our clients being able to open their doors once again and we wish everyone all the best. If you have not looked at the UK and Scottish Government’s guidance on working safely during the COVID-19 crisis we would recommend you do so. Both of these links have information specific to a number of industry sectors eg. construction, factories, retail, food etc.
• UK Government – Working safely during coronavirus
• Scottish Government – Guidance on returning to work safely
Please do get in touch if you have any queries in relation to how the financial support available can be best managed for your business to ensure you are on as sound a footing as possible for the future ahead.
Information correct as of 12 June 2020