Coronavirus/COVID-19: Update 15 May 2020

This week saw announcements in relation to two key pillars of the government’s business support measures.  The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended for four months, until the end of October, and the online application process for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opened on 13 May.

It is worth noting the closing date for applications to the Scottish government’s Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (targeted at SMEs) and the Creative/Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, closes next Monday 18 May. There is also extra support being made available for Scottish charities.

In an earlier update we mentioned the discretionary funding being allocated to local council authorities in England to “top up” the existing business grants. This has become known as the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (LADGF) and further guidance on this has been released this week.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) provides support to employers by paying part of the salaries of employees who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis. When launched, it was to be in place until the end of June, backdated from 1 March 2020. Earlier this week the scheme was extended until the end of October.

Until the end of July, HMRC will reimburse 80% of the wages costs relating to ‘furloughed’ employees, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.  From August there will be a number of changes, the details of which have yet to be revealed.

What is known is that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500, but the employer will need share of the cost of salaries with the government. Other changes to the scheme from August include allowing employers to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Currently the scheme only subsidises workers who are not working at all.

More information on the scheme, who is eligible and how to apply can be found in our latest update in the News section of the GWA website.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) aims to assist those who are either self-employed or are a member of a partnership. The support includes direct cash grants of 80% of average monthly trading profit over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month.

The portal for applying for SEISS was opened earlier this week, on Wednesday.

You may have already received information from HMRC in relation to SEISS, as they began contacting individuals who they believe may be eligible for SEISS earlier this month, providing details of how to apply.

Our website provides more details of how you can check if you are eligible and the process to apply. Please note, GWA are not permitted to make the application for you. You, as the individual taxpayer, must make the claim yourself and the application needs to be made through your own Government Gateway account.

If you use the eligibility checker and it indicates that you are not eligible for SEISS, please do contact us. Even though we cannot make the application for you, we can make an appeal on your behalf.  Also if you have any questions in relation to eligibility or how to set up a Government Gateway account let us know.  We have already been able to put a number of clients’ minds at rest by talking through the process and keeping the details and instructions as simple as possible.

Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund + Creative or Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (Scotland only)

We mentioned in a previous update the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund and the Creative or Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund.

The first fund is aimed at vulnerable SMEs who are considered vital to the ongoing local or national economic prosperity of Scotland. The second fund is aimed at supporting companies in tourism and the creative and hospitality industries that are experiencing hardship, because they are ineligible for other COVID-19 Government grant support.

The Scottish government have announced that they anticipate applications to both funds to be closed at 5pm on Monday 18 May. If you have the potential to continue trading and supporting employment but need some immediate support then this grant should be considered.

For the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, in summary your business must have up to 249 employees and a turnover less than €50 million or a balance sheet total of €43 million.  For all eligibility criteria and how to apply go to the GOV.SCOT website.

For the Creative or Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Fund, your business must have up to 49 employees and must not be in receipt of other COVID-19 government support, except the Furlough Scheme. For all eligibility criteria and how to apply go to the GOV.SCOT website.

Again, please get in touch if you need any assistance with the application process or the information you require to make an application.

Extra Support for Scottish Charities (Scotland only)

Properties occupied by charities can now apply for the £10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme to support their future plans which may have been damaged by the COVID-19 situation.

This is an extension to the original scheme and is expected to affect approximately 3,000 small properties occupied by charities, including day centres, workshops and halls. It will apply to properties which are in receipt of any Charitable Rates Relief or Sports Relief, but are otherwise eligible for the Small Business Scheme.

The grants are being administered by local authorities. If you think you may be eligible for this grant please do contact us with any questions.

Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (England only)

We updated you at the start of the month in relation to additional funding being made available to local authorities to try and close the gap in support for small businesses not eligible for the Small Business Grant Funds (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds (RHLGF).

The guidance in relation to the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (LADGF) has now been made available to local authorities and a copy of which we have provided here.

The funding is aimed at small and micro businesses. The guidance does outline the exact definition of ‘small and micro’ but, in summary, your business must have ongoing fixed property-related costs and have:

  • less than 50 employees
  • a turnover no more than £10.2 million
  • a balance sheet total no more than £5.1 million.

When making grants, the government has asked local authorities to prioritise:

  • businesses in shared spaces
  • regular market traders
  • small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief,
  • bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.

The maximum grant is £25,000, alongside £10,000 grants and local authority discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000.

At the time of writing this update, Northumberland County Council have not yet updated their website with the guidance.  The appropriate page on their website in relation to the top-up grants can be found here.

Please do get in touch with any concerns you may have regarding the above or any other COVID-19 business support.

If you need any assistance in relation to other financial issues or what steps your business should be taking to ensure it emerges from the crisis in the best possible shape, please call or email us. We are here to help and the partners and the GWA team can be found at their usual email addresses and phone numbers.

Information correct as of 15 May 2020

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