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.
Last updated 3 July: CJRS how to adjust for overclaims or underclaims made in error; SEISS claims for second grant open 17 August
For each measure we have listed the date of the latest change. Simply click on any of the measures and you will be taken to the appropriate part of this article which covers that topic in more detail.
1.6% Non-Domestic rates relief – (Scotland only) – last updated 24 March
Annual leave – last updated 14 April
Arts Council England – last updated 19 May
Bounce Back Loans for Small Business – last updated 4 May
Business Insolvency Changes – last updated 3 April
Business Interruption Loans SMEs and Large Firms (£45m+) CBILS/CLCILS – last updated 17 April
Business Rates Holidays and Local Cash Grants – last updated 11 June
GOV.UK Business Support Finder Tool – last updated 21 April
Capital Gains Tax on UK Residential Property – last updated 16 April
Charity Support Package – last updated 9 April
Company Accounts: 3 Month Filing Extension – last updated – 30 April
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme/Furloughed Staff – last updated 3 July
Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – last updated 14 April
Creative Scotland Funding – last updated 15 May
Dairy Response Fund (England only) – last updated 26 June
Education/Children’s Social Care – inc. nurseries (England Only) – last updated 23 April
Emergency Volunteer Leave – last updated 14 April
Employee Taxable Expenses and Benefits – last updated 5 June
Fishing and Seafood Processing Industry (England) – last updated 17 April
Fishing and Seafood Processing Industry (Scotland) – last updated 5 June
Food Takeaway Service Provision – last updated 23 March
Future Fund for High Growth Business– last updated 21 May
Helplines: HMRC and Scottish Government – last updated 30 March
Heritage Sector Support – last updated 30 April
Innovation Funding for R&D SMEs – last updated 21 April
Insurance – last updated 30 March
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland only) – last updated 29 May
Landlords – Private Rented Sector Loan (Scotland only) – last updated 6 May
Loans, Credit Card and Overdraft Relief – last updated 9 April
Local Grants Top Up (England only) – last updated 26 June
Renters and Landlords Protection, including Commercial Tenants – last updated 5 June
School Closures/Key Workers – last updated 23 March
Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral – last updated 30 April
Self-employed Support (SEISS) – last updated 3 July
Self-employed and SMEs Hardship Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 16 June
Statutory Residence Test (SRT) – last updated 14 April
Statutory Sick Pay – last updated 20 May
The Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) – (Scotland only) – last updated 26 March
VAT Deferral – last updated 17 June
Young Entrepreneurs aged 18-30 – last updated 17 April
COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
(Update as of 3 July) The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) provides grants to cover a percentage of the salaries of staff you have placed on furlough.
What does furloughed mean? A furlough is “a temporary layoff from work”. People who get furloughed usually get to return to their job after a furlough. In today’s situation this means anyone asked to stop working during the COVID-19 pandemic but not made redundant.
The scheme was initially to be in place until the end of June but in mid May it was announced that the scheme would be extended until the end of October, albeit with changes.
The scheme entered its second phase on 1 July 2020 and covers claims for employees furloughed from 1 July 2020 until the scheme ends on 31 October 2020. This second phase has two key elements:
- it allows furloughed employees to come back to work on a flexible part-time basis with employers covering the costs of the working hours of part-furloughed staff
- employers will contribute towards the cost of the CJRS
A summary of the different rules that apply to each phase are outlined below. More detailed information can be found in our previous COVID-19 update of 16 June.
1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020
- employees must be fully furloughed and are not permitted to undertake any work for the employer NB. If as an owner-managed business you make a claim, you will be furloughing yourself. Therefore, as per the rules for employees, you must not undertake any income generating work whilst under furlough.
- the minimum furlough period for each employee is 21 days
- no new employee can be admitted to the scheme after 30 June ie. the last date on which an employee can begin a period of furlough leave for the first time was 10 June. The only exceptions to this is any employee returning from maternity/paternity leave, parental bereavement leave and military reservists after 10 June
The last date for making claims for phase 1 is 31 July 2020.
1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020
- only available to those employers that have used the CJRS during phase 1 and only for employees they have previously furloughed
- employees can be flexibly furloughed, enabling part-time working
- there is no minimum furlough period – it can be as short (even just one hour) or as long as the employer agrees with the employee
- furlough claims must contain details of each employee’s usual hours (based on calendar days) and usual hours worked
- each claim made by employer must be for a week or more
- no claim period can extend across a calendar month end
Claims for phase 2 cannot be made until 1 July.
The following individuals are covered by CJRS:
- employees on any type of employment contract including zero-hours, flexible, part-time or fixed term
- 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.
In order to access this scheme, an employer will need to do the following:
- 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.
- 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 on the following two pages on the GOV.UK website.
- Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
In addition HMRC have provided examples to help in calculating wages, National Insurance and pension contributions when claiming via the CJRS.
There are updates being made on a regular basis. Therefore, if you are in any doubt please do contact us.
If an employer makes an error in a claim that has resulted in an overclaimed amount, this must be paid back to HMRC. 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.
Support for the Self-employed (SEISS)
(Update as of 3 July) The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) initially covered three months from March until end May 2020 and offered direct cash grants of 80% of average monthly trading profit over the last three years, up to £2,500 per, or £7,500 in total. On 29 May the Chancellor announced that the scheme would be extended and will pay out another single grant, albeit slightly less, covering three months up to the end of August.
The key points of SEISS are as follows:
- SEISS is targeted to help self-employed individuals or if you are a a member of a partnership (as long as certain criteria are met)
- 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 grants will be provided for a period of at least three months,from March until end May 2020
- grants will be paid by 25 May or within six working days of claim
- claims have to made by the individual taxpayer themselves, GWA as your agents are not permitted at present to make the application for you. The application needs to be made through your own Government Gateway account.
Please note If you apply for the initial grant, you will need to do so Monday 13 July.
- Who can claim: Self-employed individuals or a member of a partnership (as long as certain criteria are met, see below). Limited companies and trusts are not entitled to claim.
- How much can be claimed: In the first grant 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 for the three month period. In the second grant 70% of trading profits up to a maximum of £6,570 for the three month period.
- How long does the scheme run: The first grant covers March, April and May, and the second grant covers June, July and August.
- When can claims be made: For the first grant the application portal opened in phases between 13 and 18 May and will close on 13 July 2020. Claims for the second grant will open from 17 August 2020 (probably on a staged basis) and close on 19 October 2020. If eligible, you are able to make a claim for the second grant even if you did not claim for the first grant. We still don’t know exactly when the online portal will open for the second SEISS grants.
You may be eligible to claim if you are an individual whose trading profits were less than £50,000 and made up more than half of your total income for either the tax year 2018/19, or the average of the tax years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. In addition you must have:
- submitted your self assessment tax return for the tax year 2018/19 by 23 April
- traded in the tax year 2019/20
- intends to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21
- carries on a trade which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis
HMRC guidance on who and how to claim and this can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
While the eligibility for the second SEISS grant is the same as the first, it is a completely separate claim and anyone claiming will have to confirm their business has been “adversely affected” by COVID-19 on or after 14 July 2020.
To clarify, if your business is “adversely affected” in the period up to 13 July 2020 you can claim the first grant. If your business is “adversely affected” in in the period from 14 July 2020 you can claim the second grant.
When the Chancellor announced the scheme, he referred to the first grant as covering March to May 2020 but the position has subsequently changed. The grants are for nominal three-month periods and their entitlement is based on whether your business is “adversely affected” in the period to 13 July 2020 or after that date. So, if you were “adversely affected” in June, but back to normal in July (unlikely but possible) you won’t qualify for the support for June.
It is of course equally possible not to have qualified for the first round of funding because you were not “adversely affected”, but to still qualify for the second round because you have subsequently been “adversely affected”. For example, becoming unwell with COVID-19 in July and being unable to trade as a consequence.
HMRC have tried to clarify this further by providing some examples of when the “adversely affected” criteria is met for the first grant and/or the second grant.
We are unable to claim SEISS grants on behalf of our clients, but if you have any questions regarding the grants or want to understand if you have been “adversely affected” please do get in touch.
We also want to remind everyone that the SEISS grant is taxable income for 2020/21, so the tax will be payable by 31 January 2022. 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.
Update for self employed parents: The Government has confirmed that self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 because they took time out to have children will still be able to claim for a grant under the SEISS. As eligibility criteria requires current trading profits to be no more than £50,000 but be more than half of total income for either the tax year 2018 to 2019 or the average of the tax years 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, many self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 after the birth of a child were excluded.
The change means that mothers, fathers and those who have adopted children during those years and who took time away from trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth, or within 12 months of an adoption placement, will now be able to use their 2017-18, or both of their 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment tax returns as proof of eligibility for SEISS.
You will still need to have traded in 2018/19 with profits making up at least half of your total income; you must also have submitted a self-assessment tax return for that year on or before 23 April 2020 and also meet the other standard eligibility criteria for support under the SEISS.
You can use the eligibility checker at any time to check whether the application portal is open for you. Please have your National Insurance Number and Unique Tax Reference Number to hand as you will need these. The checker will ask you to log into your Government Gateway account. If you don’t have a Government Gateway account do not be alarmed. It is quite common not to have one when your accountants complete your usual tax returns. If you don’t have a Government Gateway account, you should sign up when prompted, as by using this method you should not need to wait for an activation code, which would be the norm.
You will no doubt want to claim a grants as soon as possible. However, if you claim universal credit, you may be better off if you delay your claim so that receipt falls into a later monthly assessment period.
Full details on the SEISS can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
The following information may also be useful if you are considering making a claim.
Trading profits are considered to be the taxable profit on an individual’s self-assessment tax return (after capital allowances have been taken into consideration) ignoring any losses carried forward from a previous year. HMRC will use the figures on your tax returns for your total trading income (turnover), then deduct any allowable business expenses and capital expenditure.
Total income has been confirmed as being income from earnings, trading profits, property income, dividends, savings income, pension income and miscellaneous income (including social security income).
In relation to agricultural clients, HMRC have now confirmed that they will use the amount of trading profits before the impact of farmers averaging claims to work out if someone is eligible for the grant and how much you will get. Farmer’s averaging looks at a 5-year period, whereas the qualifying period for this scheme is only three years to 5 April 2019.
We have also been asked if someone is self-employed with more than one trade at the same time, will both self-employments be combined when considering eligibility for SEISS? The answer to this is yes. HMRC will add together all the profits and losses for all self-employments the trades to work out the trading profit.
Guidance, on how HMRC will work out your income and profits, along with some useful examples of how these will be calculated can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
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.
Hardship Fund – Newly Self-employed and SMEs (Scotland only)
(Update as of 16 June) The Scottish Government have confirmed that a wider package of business support for the self employed and SMEs not covered by existing support, will include:
- individuals recently self-employed and excluded from the wider UK SEISS scheme may be eligible for a £2,000 grant – this will be managed by Local Authorities
- businesses with up to 49 employees, part of the creative, tourism and hospitality sector who are not eligible to receive other COVID-19 support and have experienced at least 50% loss of current or projected revenue can apply for grants up to £25,000 if it can be demonstrated that support is critically needed. This will be managed by the Enterprise Agencies
- a £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund for vulnerable SMEs who are considered vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland. The firm must have up to 249 employees a turnover less than €50 million or a balance sheet total of €43 million. Again this will be managed by the Enterprise Agencies.
The application process for the Self-Employed Hardship funding is now open. In a further announcement the Scottish Government announced that small B&Bs, who are ineligible for other financial support due to not having a business bank account, will be able to apply for funding via the Self-Employed Hardship Fund. The funding will be administered by local authorities and applications opened w/c 15 June. Further details on eligibility and how to apply can be found in our earlier update.
The funds for businesses in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors and also the Pivotal Enterprise fund is currently closed. However the Scottish Government announced on 20 May that further finances were to be added to both these schemes, but they have yet to confirm when they would be taking new applications.
If you apply you will be required to supply a certain amount of financial information including, but not limited to, annual accounts, management accounts to 31 March and a cashflow projection. Both of these funds have been oversubscribed on two occasions and we would recommend if you are considering applying when the new funding is released, you have all the required documents and paperwork ready to go. If you would like to us assist in producing this information for you please do get in touch, we will be happy to help.
Applications and more information can be accessed via the GOV.SCOT website using the following links:
- Self Employed Hardship Funding
- Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Fund – this is currently closed (see above) however new funding has been announced and we are waiting for the release date
- Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – this is currently closed (see above) however new funding has been announced and we are waiting for the release date.
Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral
(Update as of 30 April) Self-assessment tax payments due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021. In addition, no penalties or interest for late payment will be due in the deferral period. This deferral includes all self-assessment taxpayers not just the self-employed.
You are eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020. This will give a little more leeway for many self-assessment taxpayers allowing the payment of tax liabilities to be deferred by five months.
The deferment is optional. and we want to emphasise that this is only a deferral and any tax liability is not being cancelled. If you are still able to pay your second payment on account on 31 July 2020, you should consider doing so.
You do not need to apply to claim this deferral, it will be automatically applied.
COVID-19 Government Statutory Sick Pay and How to Apply for it
(Update as of 20 May) The government will be refunding the cost of Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for small businesses, providing you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020 and you have up to 250 employees, again as at 28 February 2020.
The repayment will cover up to 14 days and be payable from day one for affected individuals.
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 or, if they are registered with a GP in England the NHS mobile phone app. These notes can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.
The weekly allowance for SSP increased from £94.25 to £95.85 on 6 April. You can use the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount.
How to claim – to reclaim SSP you will need to use the online service which is available from 26 May 2020.
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.
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.
You can claim for multiple pay periods and employees at the same time. The start date of the earliest pay period you’re claiming for should be the start date of your claim. The end date of your claim is the end date of the most recent pay period you are claiming for.
As yet, there are not any details of an an alternative way to claim should you be unable to use the online service.
The government has also 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.
Carrying over Annual leave
(Update as of 14 April) 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.
Emergency Volunteer Leave
(Update as of 14 April) Employees will be entitled to take emergency volunteer leave to help support essential health and social care services.
An outline of the conditions for emergency volunteer leave include:
- it will only be available to workers who have been certified by their local authority, the NHS Commissioning Board or Department of Health to act as an emergency volunteer
- emergency volunteer leave can be in blocks of two, three or four weeks. Workers can take only one period of leave in each “volunteering period”, which is, at present, a 16-week volunteering period
- employees will need to give three working days’ notice and provide their employer with a certificate confirming their approval as an emergency volunteer
- there is no provision for employers to refuse leave with the following exemptions: workers employed or engaged by businesses with fewer than ten staff, Crown employees, parliamentary staff and employees in police service
- any volunteer leave will be unpaid but a compensation fund may offset volunteers for loss of earnings, travel and subsistence (details of this are still to be announced)
- employees will remain bound by their existing terms of employment (other than those relating to pay) and will have a statutory right to return to the same job on the same terms.
Employee Taxable Expenses and Benefits
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.
Business Rates Holidays and Cash Grants
(Update as of 11 June) Any business within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year.
In addition, grants of £10,000 will be available for all businesses in England and Scotland in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
Originally in Scotland, grants were provided on a one per business basis, rather than one per property as elsewhere in the UK. On 15 April it was confirmed that small business rate payers in Scotland will, in addition to their first property, be able to apply for further 75% grants on all subsequent properties.
Within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England, grant funding of up to £25,000 per property for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 is available.
Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
In Scotland businesses who have retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a rateable value up to £18,000 and whose cumulative rateable value is between £35,001 and £51k may now qualify for a grant for each of their properties.
It is worth noting that any grant income received by a business will be taxable. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.
Charities which would have meet the criteria for both grant funding and rates relief but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award will also be eligible for the RHLG fund. Properties likely to qualify include charity shops, museums, galleries, historic houses, sport charity facilities, theatres, public halls, and clubhouses, clubs and institutions. More details can be found on the Charity Tax Group website.
Properties occupied by charities in Scotland can also apply for the £10,000 small business grant funding. 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.
Grants also include self-catering accommodation and caravans in Scotland. There is a restriction of one grant per ratepayer and applicants will have to provide evidence that:
- the property is each ratepayer’s primary source of earnings eg. one third or more; and
- the property is let for 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20
The applications are being managed by local authorities and each authority is being given the flexibility to decide how the income criteria can be evidenced. Further details can be found on the ASSC website.
On 10 June the Scottish Government 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.
You need to apply to your local authority for the cash grants. The links you need are:
The Scottish Government have confirmed the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes will close to new applications on 10 July 2020.
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. Further guidance in relation to grants can be found here on the GOV.UK website and here on the mygov.scot website.
Top Up to Local Grants Funding (England only)
(Update as of 26 June) A discretionary fund of up to £617 million is being made available across local authorities in England with the specific purpose of closing the support gap for small businesses not eligible for the Small Business Grant Funds (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds (RHLGF).
The Government provided guidance to local authorities outlining how the funding should operate in late May. Councils were then asked to develop and implement schemes which would meet the needs of the local economy, whilst still remaining within this national guidance and eligibility criteria.
Northumberland County Council (NCC) are no longer taking applications for this funding. The application deadline was 28 June 2020.
The Discretionary Grant Fund was targeted at small businesses including:
- B&Bs or guest houses with three bed spaces and above and which pay council tax instead of business rates*
- businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, which do not have their own business rates assessment
- hotels & Pubs with a premises rateable value exceeding £51,000
- small charities which receive charitable rates relief which would have otherwise been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief; and
- regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
* not including self catering properties or Airbnb
For your application to be considered you must be a small or micro business and:
- be based in England
- have relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
- occupy property (or part of a property) with a rateable value or annual mortgage/rent payments below £51,000
- was trading on 11 March 2020
- be able to demonstrate that your income has seen a significant fall due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The maximum grant available will be £10,000, however NCC are advising that they believe the majority of grants paid out will be less than this.
The government have provided a fixed funding limit to each local authority and therefore it may not be possible for NCC to help every business.
You will be required to provide financial details to demonstrate your drop in income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, along with other documentation including, but not limited to the rateable value of premises, annual rent and fixed property costs. You will also need to confirm that you are eligible to receive any funding under state aid rules.
If you require any clarification on the application process or would like to speak to us in relation to preparing an application please get in touch. We will do all possible to ensure this is done efficiently and accurately in order to put you in the best position for funding consideration.
Bounce Back Loans for Small Businesses
(Update as of 4 May) The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is specifically aimed at helping small businesses manage through the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a smaller company and have struggled to get a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBILS) this could be an alternative option for you.
The Bounce Back Loan scheme is administered by the British Business Bank. Businesses will apply via a short online form and will not be required to provide forward financials or business plans, however some fraud checks will have to be completed. Loans should be paid within 24 hours of approval.
Eligible businesses can obtain a six-year term loan at a government set interest rate of 2.5% a year. The government will cover interest payable in the first year. Early repayment will be allowed, without early repayment fees. Loans will be made available without the need to use security or personal guarantees.
More details and how to make an application can be found here on the British Business Bank website.
- loans must be between £2,000 and £50,000
- loans will be capped at 25% of a business’s turnover
- loan terms will be up to 6 years
- no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months
- no loan repayments will be due during the first 12 months
- interest rate is set at 2.5% per annum,
- the government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan.
We are waiting for confirmation if there is a limit to the size of business that can apply. As of 28 April 2020 you can apply for a loan if your business:
- is based in the UK and was established by 1 March 2020
- has been negatively affected by COVID-19
- was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019
- is not accessing CBILS, or the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) or the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility Scheme (CCFF)
- is not in bankruptcy or liquidation or undergoing debt restructuring
- derives more than 50% of its income from its trading activity (does not apply to charities or further-education colleges).
The following businesses are not eligible to apply:
- banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
- public-sector bodies
- further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
- state-funded primary and secondary schools
If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, this is possible but you must arrange this via your lender before 4 November 2020. More information can be found here on the GOV.UK webpage.
Education and Children’s Social Care – including nurseries (England Only)
(Update as of 23 April) The Department of Education has provided guidance specifically covering the availability of financial support for the various different types of providers of education, early years and children’s social care in England. The guidance confirms that the Government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for two, three, and four year olds to support providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are a number of different types of organisations that support the children’s early years education and social care and the guidance refers to specific support for:
- early years education and care providers that are employers (childminders are less likely to be employers, and therefore may find the SEISS more relevant if they require financial support)
- children’s social care providers
- state funded schools
- supply teachers in state-funded schools
- independent schools
- further education and apprenticeship providers
- higher education providers
Full details of the guidance can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
In addition, nurseries in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year. No applications are required and the rate holiday will be automatic and administered by your local authority. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those that are:
- occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
- wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Support for Seafood Fishing and Seafood Processing Industry – (Scotland only)
(Update as of 5 June) The Scottish seafood sector is to receive a package of more than £5 million in financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak.
An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under. Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative Associations with more details. If you have any immediate queries you can email email@example.com.
Further clarification of the scheme is as follows:
- full time is defined as where a vessel has recorded landings of £20,000 or more. This is the same limit that has been applied in previous schemesvessels that are under 12 metres in length and were registered in Scotland on the 18 March 2020
- earnings are defined as recorded landing income from sales notes from 2019. This data is submitted to Marine Scotland by buyers
- monthly payments are based on monthly average 2019 sales income
- wrasse catching vessels will not be included in this initial scheme.
Scottish shellfish and seafood processing businesses are also to receive immediate priority for consideration from the £10 million Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund. The fund is providing grants and loans to businesses suffering as a result of the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry across the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Funding is aimed at meeting a businesses’ fixed costs until they are able to return to normal production.
Update: Applications to the Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund are now closed. More information can be found here on the GOV.SCOT website.
Scottish Government have also announced further grants for aquaculture businesses. Trout farmers and shellfish, including oyster, producers whose businesses are being threatened by the effects of COVID-19 are being offered hardship payments of up to £27,000.
As the hospitality and restaurant markets for cultivated shellfish have been drastically reduced the aim is to help shellfish growers maintain farm sites for oyster and mussel production in the longer term. Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50% of the business’s average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019.
To apply for a grant, businesses are required to demonstrate that they operate on a full-time basis and have suffered severe hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Details of the announcement can be found here on the GOV.SCOT website.
Further to the support announced for the fishing and seafood processing industries, the Scottish Government confirmed inshore fishermen will be able to access additional fish quota. The additional fishing opportunities are aimed to help diversification into new markets by accessing different fishing opportunities. Details of the announcement can be found here on the GOV.SCOT website.
Support for Fishing and Seafood Processing Industry – (England only)
(Update as of 17 April) On 17 April, Environment Secretary George Eustice today confirmed up to £9 million will be available for grants to support fishing and aquaculture businesses in England. In addition, another £1 million is being made available to support projects to assist in selling catch in fisherman’s local communities as the established export markets and demand from the hospitality sector has effectively collapsed.
The support scheme will run for up to three months. Its aim is to assist businesses to cover fixed costs such as such as insurance, equipment hire and port costs. The fund will be open to under-24m vessel owners with fishing licences registered in England who recorded sales of £10,000 or more in 2019.
The funding will be administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) who are expected to announce qualifying criteria – including those for the aquaculture sector and local projects shortly. The MMO will contact those eligible directly with details of how to apply, starting on Monday April 20 through to early May.
Dairy Response Fund (England only)
(Update as of 26 June) Applications for the Dairy Response Fund opened on 18 June, with payments being made from 6 July. The funding is designed to help dairy farmers that are facing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19.
To be eligible for this funding the following must apply:
- you supply cows’ milk to a wholesale purchaser
- you have had a reduction in the average price paid for your milk of 25 per cent or more in April 2020 compared to that paid in February 2020.
Those who are eligible will be entitled to a single one-off payment of up to £10,000 to cover up to 70% of milk sale losses during April and May.
You must submit your application for the fund, which is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), by midnight on Friday 14 August 2020.
Further details on the fund and application process can be found on the GOV.UK website . If you believe you are eligible, we would encourage you to prepare details, including milk statements to evidence your claim.
Should you need any assistance of clarification on how to claim please do get in touch.
1.6% Non-Domestic rates relief – (Scotland only)
(Update as of 24 March) From 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, a 1.6% non-domestic rates relief will apply for all properties across Scotland (this effectively reverses the planned inflationary increase for the year). This will automatically be applied on your council tax bill.
Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) – for SME’s
(Update as of 14 April) The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will be delivered by the British Business Bank, allowing SMEs to access bank lending and overdrafts through more than 40 accredited lenders across the UK, with interest rates similar to current bank lending.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan.
CBILS is available to all UK-based business with a turnover up to £45 million and will support loans of up to £5m per business. No interest will be charged for the first 12 months as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.
Following intervention by the Chancellor, approved lenders have been instructed to change their approach and advised that all other sources of lending do not need to be explored before a business can now access this scheme. In addition, the need for a personal guarantee has also been removed on loans under £250K.
Therefore, if you have already applied for CBILS and been turned down, our advice would be to contact your bank again.
It should be noted that the business borrower will always remain 100% liable for the debt.
More details can be found on the British Business Bank website.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
(Update as of 17 April) All medium-to-large firms are now be included in the government’s £330 billion coronavirus loan schemes. Companies with a turnover of more than £45 million will be able to apply for government-backed finance of up to £200 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
The government will guarantee 80% on these bank loans.
Like CBILS, this scheme will be delivered by commercial lenders and backed by the British Business Bank.
There will be no requirement for a personal guarantee on loans under £250K. For loans above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required. A final note is that this is a loan scheme and not a grant scheme and the borrower will always remain 100% liable for the debt.
More details and how to apply can be found here on the British Business Bank website.
Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)
(Update as of 14 April) 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 scheme is aimed at businesses who are unable to meet the criteria required to qualify for the CBILS. 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.
High Growth Business Future Fund
(Update as of 21 May) The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the launch of a funding plan for businesses unable to access other COVID-19 business loans because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit and may also rely on private equity or venture capital investment
The application process for the Future Fund is now open. The funding is being delivered by the British Business Bank, and will provide loans ranging from £125,000 to £5 million.
To be eligible your business must meet the following criteria:
- be based in the UK
- can attract equivalent match funding from third party private investors and institutions
- has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the last 5 years
- at least one of the following is true: half or more employees are UK-based or half or more revenues are from UK sales
There is no requirement to value the company, and when companies and investors have completed an application through the British Business Bank, they should receive funds in an estimated two weeks. You can check your company’s eligibility here on the British Business Bank website.
Is is expected that demand for funding will be extremely high. If you need clarification on any aspects of the application process please get in touch.
Innovation Funding for R&D SMEs
(Update as of 21 April) The Government also announced a package of £750 million targeted at R&D intensive SMEs and will be made available via Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme.
Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million for its 2,500 existing customers on an opt-in basis; make an extra £550 million available to increase support for existing customers; and offer grants of up to £175,000 to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding.
It is expected the first payments will be made by mid-May. Again once we learn of any further details we will let you know.
Support for 18-30 Year Olds: Self-employed or Running Their Own Business
(Update as of 17 April) The Prince’s Trust and Natwest have developed an ‘Enterprise Relief Fund’, making available cash grants to 18 to 30-year olds who are self-employed and/or running their own business.
The grants are to help in maintaining a business’s core operations, paying for essential equipment or diversifying businesses to respond to new opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis. In addition the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future.
To be eligible to apply you must be aged 18 to 30 and have set up your business in the last four years. You also should have no other source of income available to you during the crisis.
Entrepreneurs aged 18-30 who are not eligible for the fund but are still affected by the COVID-19 situation should still take the opportunity to contact the Prince‘s Trust for support. All those who do get in touch will be offered one to one support to build their skills or connect with mentors.
You can find out more and register interest on the Princes Trust website.
(Update as of 17 June) The government announced at the end of March that, as a result of the COVID crisis, there would be a deferral of VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. Businesses could choose to delay payment until 31 March 2021, in order to help their cashflow.
Any businesses that pays their VAT by Direct Debit and wanted to defer the payment were advised to cancel their Direct Debit, so that HMRC would not automatically collect any VAT due. As the end of June approaches, businesses will need to restore their direct debit mandates so that payments due after 30 June 2020 can be processed.
The first payments falling outside the deferral arrangements will be those due on 7 July 2020 relating to VAT returns for the period to 31 May 2020. Direct debit mandates usually need to be set up three working days before a VAT return is filed, which means to meet the 7 July due date the direct debit must be in place by 2 July. It is also important to make sure that any VAT returns not yet filed are submitted to HMRC at least three days in advance of the direct debit mandate re-starting.
Please note we are not able to set up direct debit mandates on behalf of our clients, the business needs to set up the mandate through its Government Gateway Account. If you have not set up a Government Gateway account for your business, you can do so by visiting the HMRC login page. It is a fairly simple process but if you need any assistance or you would like us to walk through the process with you please get in touch.
There had been concerns that reinstatement of the direct debit would lead to payments which had previously been deferred now being collected. But HMRC has confirmed that it will not collect the outstanding balance of deferred VAT when the direct debit mandate is restored.
We are waiting for further information from HMRC in relation to the arrangement to pay the deferred VAT by 31 March 2021.
The following conditions still apply:
- VAT returns must still be submitted as normal
- VAT repayments and refunds will be made as normal
- the VAT deferred must be paid by the end of the 20/21 tax year, which will be 31 March 2021, 30 April 2021, or 31 May 2021 depending on the VAT periods used by your business.
Filing Company Accounts – 3 Month Extension
All companies must send their annual accounts to Companies House every year. If a company’s accounts are filed late, the law imposes an automatic penalty. However, the Government has confirmed if your accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19 you can apply for an automatic and immediate three month extension to file your accounts.
The application for the extension must be done before your accounts filing deadline, otherwise late filing penalties will automatically be imposed. The application must be done online.
More guidance on extending your filing deadline can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
Business Insolvency Changes
(Update as of 3 April) Changes are being made to the UK insolvency regime to assist businesses avoid having to file for bankruptcy if they are unable to meet their debts due to the impact of COVID-19.
These include a temporary suspension of the rules that usually make it an offence for a company director to continue to trade if they know their business is unable to avoid liquidation. This will allow directors to continue to pay staff and suppliers in order to keep the business going without being personally liable.
Any business that is undergoing a rescue or restructuring process will also be protected from creditors putting them into administration and will be able to continue buying essential supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband.
These changes are backdated to 1 March 2020.
Renters and Landlords Protection
(Update as of 5 June) The recent new law which saw landlords being unable to start new possession proceedings to evict tenants who are who are having difficulty with rent payments due to the impact of COVID-19, has been extended until 31 October 2020.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) has issued new draft guidance extending the application period for an initial mortgage holiday until 31 October 2020, so that customers who haven’t had a payment holiday and are experiencing financial difficulty will be able to ask for one. This applies to both residential and buy to let mortgages, providing relief to landlords whose tenants are experiencing difficulties due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
It is important to note that this is a deferral of a loan and as such you will still be charged interest for the period you’re not making payments. This interest will be added on to the total cost of your mortgage and factored into future repayments.
It will be expected that landlords and tenants will work together to establish affordable repayment plans, taking into consideration tenants’ individual circumstances, at the end of the period.
Protection from Eviction for Commercial Tenants
(Update as of 24 April) Within England, there are also measures that apply to commercial tenants. 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.
Due to continued pressure on tenants of high street shops and other companies, further legislation is being introduced to temporarily ban winding-up orders and other aggressive rent collection tactics during the coronavirus pandemic. The new measures will be in place until end of June at the earliest.
Some landlords have continued to seek rent using statutory demand notices and winding up orders, making debt claims or pursuing Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR). The new law will not permit petitions to be presented, or winding-up orders made by landlords, where the tenant company’s inability to pay is the result of COVID-19. In addition, landlords will not be able to use CRAR unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
(Update as of 14 April) In Scotland, the notice period before a commercial lease can be terminated for non-payment of rent has been extended, as part of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act. It requires landlords to give at least 14 weeks’ written notice to tenants before terminating a commercial lease for non-payment of rent, rather than 14 days. It applies to all commercial property leases, including those where a warning notice has already been issued and has not already expired.
As a result, landlords will effectively be prohibited from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent until July, at the earliest.
Aid for Private Rental Landlords (Scotland only)
(Update as of 6 May) The Scottish Government have announced a £5 million fund to support landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the COVID-19 crisis. Landlords who are eligible can apply immediately to the Private Rented Sector Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme for support of up to 100% of lost rental income for a single property.
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. More information on these requirements can be found above.
A loan will cover lost rental income for a period of up to six months, backdated to the 01 March 2020.
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.
(Update as of 30 March) 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.
Confirmation has been provided that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance should they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics. Full details can be found in our previous update.
Capital Gains Tax on Disposals of UK Residential Property
(Update as of 16 April) HMRC has announced it will not be applying fines for failing to report capital gains tax (CGT) on disposals of UK residential property within the new 30-day deadline until after 31 July 2020.
As we highlighted in our Summer Newsletter last year and on our website (Countdown to new Capital Gains Tax Rules), from 6 April 2020 new rules came into place requiring CGT to be reported on all UK residential property sales and payment made to HMRC within 30 days of completion. Any returns not filed by this date would incur late filing penalties.
Taxpayers now have until 31 July 2020 to report CGT gains meaning any transactions completed on or before 30 June 2020 cannot be subject to late filing penalties. However, interest will accrue if the tax is not paid within 30 days of this new date.
The announcement came in a question and answer factsheet that has been shared with the ICAEW. The factsheet and HMRC’s full statement in relation to the change in deadline dates can be found here on the ICAEW website.
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – Scotland only
The Scottish Government is extending the time period in which homeowners have to sell their main home after buying a replacement property and be able to claim a rebate on LBTT. Currently, if you purchase a second home you are liable to an additional LBTT at 4% of the new purchase. If the second home is a ‘replacement home’ you can reclaim additional LBTT when the old home is sold, subject to this sale being within 18 months of the new purchase. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the sales of property stalling, this period has been increased from 18 months to 36 months.
Charity Support Package
(Update as of 9 April) The Chancellor has announced that UK charities will be able to access a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The government also committed to match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser, pledging a minimum of £20 million.
Details of Financial government support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations can be found here on the GOV.UK website.
The Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) – (Scotland only)
(Update as of 26 March) The Scottish Government has announced a £20m Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations.
The Fund will be delivered by Firstport, Social Investment Scotland and the Corra Foundation and will provide grants between £5,000-£100,000. In addition, there will be up to a further £5m available in fully flexible, 0% interest loans starting at £50,000.
There will also be additional specialist business advice from Just Enterprise to help grant recipients maximise the impact of the financial support.
To be eligible, interested organisations must be:
- a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation based in Scotland and/or primarily delivering services/activities in Scottish communities
- already delivering those products or services prior to March 2020
- and needing funding to stabilise cashflows directly as a result of the impact of COVID-19, as opposed to pre-existing financial difficulties.
The scheme is open and details can be found here on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website.
Arts Council England (England only)
(Update as of 19 May)The Arts Council England funding included £90 million, available to National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) to help alleviate the financial pressures for these organisations.
For those organisations in the cultural sector who are not NPOs, the Arts Council England made £50 million available. In addition, the Arts Council England made £20 million available to individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers.
Applications for this funding have now closed. More information can be found here on the Arts Council England website.
Creative Scotland Funding
(Update as of 15 May) Creative Scotland has launched funding programmes designed to provide further support for the creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund will provide one-off bursaries of £500 to £2,500 to freelance PAYE and self-employed screen sector workers who are experiencing immediate financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19.
Update: This fund is due to close on 20 May.
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 £50,000.
More information can be found on the Creative Scotland website.
Support for the Heritage Sector
(Update as of 30 April) The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a £50million fund to support the heritage sector in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It will provide grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 and is available to organisations including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.
Those organisations eligible will have received funding in the past, be a current recipient of a grant from the fund or still under contract following a previous grant.
Grants will be prioritised to applications from organisations or causes where there is limited or no access to other sources of support, heritage is most at risk and where an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to the COVID-19 crisis.
More details and a list of FAQs can be found on the National Lottery Heritage Fund website.
Museums Galleries Scotland have announced funding that aims to support independent museums and galleries whose income has been critically affected as a result of COVID-19. Priority will be given to those organisations who are considered to be most at risk, look after Recognised collections, have already taken steps to reduce costs and do not have access to other sources of support.
The following organisations will not be considered eligible; local authorities, national museums and University museums.
Eligible organisations can apply for between £3,000 and £60,000 to cover their core costs. More information and how to apply can be found on the Museums Galleries Scotland website.
Historic England has launched a £2m emergency fund to help tackle the impact of Covid-19 is having on small heritage organisations. The fund has been launched in response to a survey that revealed the serious impact of the pandemic on small heritage organisations with 10 or fewer employers.
The new emergency fund is open to heritage organisations, self-employed contractors, third-sector organisations and voluntary groups in need of short-term financial support to ensure their survival, with grants of up to £25,000 available. Grants of £50,000 are available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills.
More details and how to apply are available here on the Historic England website.
Statutory Residence Test (SRT)
(Update as of 14 April) With future flight and travel being severely limited, HMRC have published guidance on whether extended stays in the UK due to COVID-19 between 1 March and 1 June 2020 can be ignored for the purposes of the Statutory Residence Test (SRT).
It has been confirmed that time spent by individuals in the UK between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 working on COVID-19 related activities will not count towards the residence test. The changes are temporary and only cover individuals whose skill sets are currently required.
However, this change does not apply for off-shore workers who have been in the UK longer than normal due to COVID 19.
In ‘normal’ circumstances, individuals will be automatically resident in the UK if they spend at least 183 days here in a tax year. However, there may be many who are not working and are unable to leave due to the travel restrictions. The SRT does provide for “exceptional circumstances” and the categories of individual who qualify, which include:
- an individual who is put under quarantine as a result of the virus
- an individual who is advised by a health professional or public health guidance to self-isolate in the UK because of COVID-19
- when official Government advice is not to travel from the UK as a result of COVID-19
- an individual who is not able to leave the UK because international borders are closed
- an individual who is requested to return to the UK by their employer because of COVID-19
The guidance does not cover all situations, for example if you are caring for someone self-isolating, or if you are detained overseas and fail to get enough days in the UK to remain UK tax resident. In addition, many migrants who hold a UK visa but are not UK-tax residents could find themselves spending longer in the UK than planned which could result in hefty tax bills in the following years.
If you are not ordinarily a UK taxpayer and find yourself in the UK for longer than you normally would, or are a UK taxpayer and find yourself unable to return to the UK, we would urge you to get in touch to review your income tax position within the UK.
Loans, Credit Card and Overdraft Relief
(Update as of 9 April) The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that banks and lenders should now offer a package of temporary measures for those individuals affected by financial problems due to COVID-19. The measures introduced include:
- the offer of a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards for up to three months
- allowing customers who already have an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, up to £500 to be charged at 0% interest for three months
- individuals who have a 0% credit card deal and miss a payment will not be penalised and get to keep the 0% deal.
Banks have also been asked to ensure that should consumers make use any of these arrangements, their credit files will not be affected.
If you are struggling with any loans or credit cards etc. that may be covered by these measures please speak to your bank. Banks will not automatically apply the measures to all customers.
It should be emphasised that the measures are temporary, are a payment holiday only, will not be interest free and are not a cancellation of any monies owed. You will still be liable for any borrowings and the interest on those borrowings, which may mean paying slightly more in the long term. If you are struggling these options will offer some relief but if you are able to continue make payments as normal, you should continue to do so.
Provision of food takeaway service
(Update as of 23 March) To support the food industry and help provide meals for people who need to self-isolate, the government has relaxed planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.
School Closures/Key Workers
(Update as of 23 March) Schools are only open to vulnerable children and those with a parent identified as being critical to the Covid-19 response ie. a key worker.
If your work or an employee’s work is critical to the COVID-19 response, and the child or children cannot be kept at home then they will be prioritised for education provision. Guidance outlining the definition of a ‘Key Worker’ can be found on the Department of Education’s webpage.
It is worth noting that your employees may not fall into the key worker category, but they may have partners who do. Therefore, your employees may still be able to access schools or nurseries which could enable them to continue to work until further guidance is provided.
GOV.UK Business Support Finder Tool
(Update as of 21 April) 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.
Those Falling Outside Government Measures
In spite of the financial and economic support being the most far-reaching in living memory, we are very aware that there are businesses and individuals who still fall outside the scope of these measures.
We have contacted local MPs, MSPs, councillors, with key business federations, financial institutions and organisations on both sides of the border highlighting those areas that require further clarification and individuals that require further support. An outline of our areas of concern can be found in our previous update.
We have been encouraged that the feedback from this communication has been very supportive. We hope that our efforts combined with those of others in applying consistent and high-level pressure will result in measures being extended to assist those that may currently run a serious risk of being left behind.
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.