News

Coronavirus/COVID-19: Summary of Finance and Business Measures – last updated 23 February

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 23 February: VAT Deferral – online application system now open

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
Agriculture Loan Scheme (Scotland only) – last updated 2 September

Annual leave – last updated 14 April
Bounce Back Loans for Small Businesslast updated 17 December
Brewers, Travel Agents and Indoor Football Centres (Scotland only) – last updated 27 January
Business Insolvency Changes – last updated 3 April
Business Interruption Insurance – last updated 1 February
Business Rates Holidays last updated 18 February
GOV.UK Business Support Finder Toollast updated 21 April
CBILS/CLBILS – Business Interruption Loans SMEs and Large Firms – last updated 17 December
Childcare Providers Support Fund (Scotland only)last updated 10 February
Coach Operators Support Fund (Scotland only)last updated 5 February
Community & Third Sector Resilience Fund (Scotland only)last updated 10 February
Company Accounts: 3 Month Filing Extensionlast updated 30 April
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme/Furloughed Stafflast updated 8 January
Coronavirus Restrictions Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 17 November
Coronavirus Business Contingency Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 28 October
Country Sports Tourism Fund (Scotland only)last updated 19 February
Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – last updated 14 April
Creative Scotland Funding – last updated 2 February
Discretionary Support Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 19 February

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
Events Recovery Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 5 February
Farmers, Landowners and Rural Businesses – last updated 4 November
Future Fund – High Growth Company Funding – last updated 2 November
Helplines: HMRC and Scottish Governmentlast updated 30 March
Hostel Support and Continuity Fund (Scotland only)last updated 19 February
Inbound and Day Tour Operators Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 30 January
Job Retention Bonus – last updated 5 November
Job Support Scheme (JSS) – last updated 5 November
Kickstart Scheme – last updated 22 September
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland only) – last updated 10 July
Landlords – Private Rented Sector Loan (Scotland only) – last updated 6 May
Loans, Credit Card and Overdraft Relief – last updated 9 April
Local Restrictions Support Grants and Closed Businesses Lockdown Payments (England only) – last updated 25 January
Marine & Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund (Scotland only)last updated 10 February
Mobile & Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund (Scotland only)last updated 18 February
Mortgage Payment Holidayslast updated 2 November
Museums and Galleries Funding (Scotland only)last updated 3 February
Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund (Scotland only)last updated 18 February
Northumberland Community Chest Grants – last updated 11 September
Renters and Landlords Protection, including Commercial Tenants – last updated 11 December
Seafood Producers Resilience Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 5 February
Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral and Time to Paylast updated 23 February
Self-catering and B&Bs (Scotland only) last updated 16 February
Self-employed Support (SEISS) – last updated 8 January
Stamp Duty Land Tax Cut (England and Northern Ireland only) – last updated 9 July

Statutory Residence Test (SRT) – last updated 14 April
Statutory Sick Pay – last updated 20 May
Strategic Framework Business Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 12 January
Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 19 January
Test & Trace/Self Isolation Support – last updated 8 October

Trainee and Apprenticeships Supportlast updated 17 December
VAT Cut: food, accommodation and attractions – last updated 8 October
VAT Deferral last updated 23 February
Visitor Attractions Support Fund (Scotland only)last updated 5 February
Wedding Industry Fund (Scotland only) – last updated 26 January
Wet-Led Pubs: Christmas Support (England only) – last updated 1 February
Working from Home Tax Relief – last updated 8 October
Zoo Animals Fund (England only) – last updated 20 January
Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Fund (Scotland only)last updated 10 February

 

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

(Update as of 8 January) The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) provides grants to cover a percentage of the salaries of staff you have placed on furlough. In an announcement on 17 December the UK Government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme CJRS has been extended until end of April 2021.

From periods from 1 November 2020, CJRS claims should be submitted by the 14th of the following month.

Furloughed employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, with businesses only being required to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.   More details in relation to the extension of the CJRS can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

You can also find some useful FAQs in relation to CJRS here.

Businesses have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time. So staff may be brought back part-time to say, set up premises for the lifting of national restrictions, or to prepare for Brexit.

The following individuals are covered by CJRS:

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

In order to access this scheme, an employer will need to do the following:

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

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

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

There are updates being made on a regular basis.  Therefore, if you are in any doubt please do contact us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any concerns or questions about CJRS we would encourage you to contact us and we will be happy to help.

Further guidance can be found here on the HMRC website.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – Job Retention Bonus

(Update as of 5 November) As a result of the extension of the CJRS  the Job Retention Bonus is being scrapped.  We understand that this will be replaced with a new “retention incentive” and the government have said they will announce details at an “appropriate time”.

 

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

(Update as of 5 November) Following the UK government’s announcement on 5 November, the planned Job Support Scheme will delayed due to the extension of the CJRS/furlough scheme for the time being.

The outline of the JSS, which may yet replace CJRS some time in the future, can be found below and we will let you know any updates when they become available.

For businesses that remain open JSS Open applies. For businesses legally required to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, JSS Closed applies.

JSS Open: For businesses that remain open the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which will initially run for six months from 1 November 2020, will provide funding for employers who are able to retain employees albeit on shorter hours.

Employers can claim the JSS funding for employees that work at least 20% of their normal contractual hours during the claim period.  Employers will be required to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work.

For the hours not worked, the government will pay 61.67% of the employee’s usual salary, up to a cap of £1,541.75 per month.  Employers will be required to pay 5% of pay for the hours not worked up to a cap of £125 per month.  Employers will also be required to pay National Insurance and pension contributions on the total salary payment.

The JSS will be made available to all businesses across the UK even if they have not previously taken advantage of the CJRS, provided they are able to demonstrate that they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.  More details along with examples of payment calculations can be found on this HMRC factsheet.

The scheme can also be used alongside the Job Retention Bonus which provides a one-off £1,000 payment for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.

JSS Closed: The JSS also provides temporary support to businesses whose premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of COVID-19 restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK. In addition, where premises are restricted to delivery or collection services, or to serving food outdoors, they count as “closed” if located in a restricted area.

The scheme will pay a grant to the employer calculated on the number of eligible employees who have been instructed to stop work at the relevant premises. Employees must be instructed to and stop work for a minimum of 7 consecutive (or calendar) days.  An employee can return to work at a later date.

The funding provided per eligible employee will be two-thirds of that employee’s normal pay up to a limit of £2,083.33 per month.  The government have made it clear that the employer must use the scheme to cover their employees’ wages and pay relevant payroll taxes. The grant will not cover Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable. More information on the expanded scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website.

The online JSS claims service is expected to open in December 2020.

HMRC have said they will publish the names of the employers which use either JSS Open or JSS Closed. Employees will be able to check if their employer has made a JSS claim relating to them. This feature is designed to prevent employers from claiming JSS while also asking employees to work.

 

Kickstart Scheme

(Update as of 22 September) GWA is delighted to be a recognised intermediary organisation for the Kickstart Scheme.  This recognition allows us to play an active part in letting any of our local businesses apply for funding from to the Kickstart Scheme.

What is the Kickstart Scheme? Earlier this month the government announced the £2 billion scheme, which is designed to help 16-24 year olds into work through the creation of high quality 6-month work placements.

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

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

If you are applying for less than 30 job placements, Greaves West & Ayre can apply for you.
We will submit an application on your behalf, using other employers to create 30 or more job placements in one application. If you need further guidance to support your placements, our experienced Payroll and HR teams can provide additional direction and assistance where needed.

As an intermediary we will:

  • work with you to finalise and submit your job placement specification
  • manage all grant payments, with wage reimbursements paid at 2 month, 4 month and 6 month intervals

We must point out that unless we receive enough interest to collate a minimum of 30 potential job placements, we won’t be able to make an application on your behalf.  We intend to have a deadline date of 16 October for people to get in touch.  If we have not received 30 placements at this point, we will work with you to identify an alternative intermediary so your application can still continue.

There will be no cost to you, unless we make an application on your behalf. Should we make a successful application for you we would make a charge of £200 plus VAT per employee. This administration fee is to cover the work we would undertake to collate and submit your application.

As an employer you will receive a grant of £1,500 towards the administration and training of the employee.  You would be able to use this initial grant to cover GWA’s small administration fee.

Key facts you need to know are:

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

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

If you have any questions of would like to talk to someone further about this opportunity please email Kickstart@gwayre.co.uk or call 01289 306688.

Trainee and Apprenticeships Support

(Update as of 17 December) Employers who can provide work experience for 16-24-year-olds in work placements and training will be incentivised with a payment of £1,000 per trainee.

Although trainee positions are unpaid, employers normally pay expenses and cover the cost of support courses. Usually trainees complete a minimum of 100 hours and a maximum of 240 hours of work experience over six months.

There is an additional incentive for employers to hire apprentices from 1 August to 31 March.  Any company hiring an apprentice aged 16 to 24 will receive £2,000, while those that hire apprentices aged 25 and over will be paid £1,500. This funding is additional to that already available via the Apprenticeship Levy for training costs.

 

Support for the Self-employed (SEISS)

(Update as of 8 January) In an announcement made on 5 November, we learnt the third Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will cover a three month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total.

You must make any claim via the online services on or before 29 January 2021. Instructions on how to make a claim can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

The fourth grant will cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April 2021. The government have said that they will review the level of this fourth grant to respond to changing circumstances and will provide more details on 3 March 2021.

The scheme has not been extended to businesses that were not eligible for the first and second grants. In addition, there are additional eligibility criteria for the third and fourth grants. Eligibilty is outlined below and You can also find some useful FAQs in relation to claiming the third SEISS grant here.

You are able to claim if you are a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership (as long as certain criteria are met, see below).  Limited companies and trusts are not entitled to claim.

You may claim if you are an individual whose trading profits were less than £50,000 and these made up more than 50% 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 can claim can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

There are additional eligibility criteria for the third grant.  To be eligible for the third grant, taxpayers must:

  • be currently eligible for the SEISS (same criteria as the first and second grants see above, however you need not have actually made a claim)
  • be currently trading but impacted by reduced demand due to COVID-19 or
    have been trading but temporarily unable to do so due to COVID-19
  • be actively trading at the time the grant is claimed and intend to continue to trade and reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in trading profits due to reduced activity, capacity or demand or inability to trade due to COVID-19.

The requirements to be “actively trading” and to be “impacted by reduced demand” are new.  The requirement to be actively trading will mean if a business has closed during the pandemic, even as a result of the pandemic, it will not be able to claim if it has not reopened during the qualifying period.

HMRC have said the “significant reduction in trading profits” test will be applied to the accounting period as a whole. For many taxpayers, for example those that use a 31 March or 5 April accounting date, the significant reduction of trading profits will be expected to appear in the results they report on their 2020/21 tax return. However, some taxpayers, for example those that use a 30 April accounting date, will not report the trading results for the relevant period until their 2021/22 tax return.  This means that anyone making a claim will have to forecast their results to establish eligibility.

HMRC has specifically said that a reduction in profits due to increased costs (such as having to buy masks) does not count for this purpose.  In addition, a claim cannot be made if the reduced trading is caused solely because the person is required to self-isolate, or care for a person required to self-isolate, as a result of travelling to the UK.

Further information about eligibility to claim and examples of where HMRC are likely to accept eligibility for claims can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

Instructions on how to make a claim can be found here on the GOV.UK website.  We are unable to claim SEISS grants on behalf of our clients, but if you have any questions regarding eligibility or how to claim please get in touch.

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).  Details of how HMRC works out trading profits can be found here on the GOV.UK website but if you require guidance or clarification please do get in touch.

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.

We want to remind everyone that the SEISS grant is taxable income for 2020/21.  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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 17 February) The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund offers a one-off £4,000 grant to assist self-employed persons who are ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

To be eligible you must:

  • have become self-employed on or after 6 April 2019 but before 17 March 2020 but are ineligible for the SEISS due to not filing a tax return for the 2018/19 year
  • have become self-employed on or after 1 October 2019 and 6 April 2019 but are ineligible for the SEISS due to not being self-employed for a sufficient period of time in the 2018/19 year to earn 50% of total income from self-employment.

In addition you must confirm:

  • you are resident in Scotland
  • you are registered with HMRC as self-employed and have a valid Unique Tax Reference (UTR)
  • you trdae as self-employed and not a limited company
  • 50% of your total income earned must come from self-employment
  • your trading profits were below £50,000 in the 2019/20 tax year
  • you started in business before 17 March 2020 and are continuing to operate, where permissible
  • you are ineligible for all other Covid-19 related business support grants
  • you do not have access to sufficient savings or other sources of income to cover basic living costs.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on  Tuesday 16 March 2021.

If you received funding through the first round of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund launched in April 2020, you are still able to apply for support. This is a follow-on from that scheme and recognises the need for further help with living costs.

For full details an application links can be found here.

 

Self-Assessment Tax Payments Deferral

(Update as of 23 February) Taxpayers who are unable to pay self-assessment bills due on 31 January 2021, can apply to spread the cost of the tax bill into monthly payments.

If you didn’t pay file your tax return before the 31 January deadline, you still until 28 February 2021 to avoid the £100 late filing penalty.

Those who owe tax have until midnight on 1 April to pay any outstanding tax or set up a payment plan to prevent a 5% Late Payment Penalty. This can be done online without the need to call HMRC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

(Update as of 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.

 

Test and Trace Support Payment / Self-Isolation Support Grant

(Update as of 13 October) Local Authorities are starting to provide more detail of the £500 Test and Trace Support payment (England) and the Self-Isolation Support Grant (Scotland) available for those on low incomes who are unable to work while self-isolating. These payments can be claimed from 12 October and can be backdated to 28 September where necessary.

To be eligible for the Test and Trace payment, you must be:

  • asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
    employed or self-employed
  • unable to work from home and will lose income as a result and
  • currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

If you meet the above criteria but do not receive any of the benefits or support listed you may still be eligible if you are on a low income and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while you are self-isolating.

You must apply to your Local Authority for the self-isolation payment.

 

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

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

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

 

Tax Relief – working from home

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

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

 

Business Rates Holidays

(Update as of 18 February) Any business within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year.

On 16 February 2021 the Scottish Government announced that retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses are to get this 100% rates relief for 2021/22 tax year.

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.

 

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.

 

Local Restrictions Support Grants, Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment and Additional Restrictions Grants (England only)

(Update as of 25 January) The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG),  Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP) and Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) are to support businesses in England effected by local and national lockdown restrictions.

  • LRSG Closed – businesses that have been required to close due to temporary local COVID-19 highest band restrictions (Tier 3/Tier4) Note: during the period of national restrictions this grant is superseded by LRSG Closed Addendum
  • LRSG Open – businesses that have not had to close but have been severely impacted due to temporary local COVID-19 highest band restrictions (Tier 3/Alert Level HIGH)
  • LRSG Closed Addendum – businesses that have been required to close due to the national COVID-19 restrictions between 5 November and 2 December 2020.  In addition businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by government as of 5 January 2021.
  • Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP) – businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by government as of 5 January 2021 may be eligible for an additional one-off grant of up to £9,000
  • ARG – a discretionary fund for business that may fall outside the eligibility criteria for the above grant

Should national restrictions be introduced, as they were on 5 November, LRSG (Open)  and LRSG (Closed) will cease to apply, as relevant businesses will receive funding from either LRSG Closed Addendum or the local council’s discretionary grant (ARG).

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides additional funding in areas with local COVID-19 highest band restrictions (Tier 3/Alert Level HIGH) to support businesses that have had their trade affected by the restrictions. This includes businesses that have:

  • closed and don’t pay business rates
  • not been required to close, but are still severely impacted

Each local authority has the discretion to establish business grant schemes or other business support as best fits their area.

Further details on each of the grants can be found below.  All grants are calculated on the rateable value of a business premises. Local authorities will be responsible for distributing the grants, the most recent links we have for our local clients are:

If you have premises in another region, you can find the link to your local council website here.

LRSG (Closed) – Businesses will be eligible for the grants after two weeks of closure and for each 14 day period they are closed.

  • businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or over will be eligible for a grant of £1,500 per two weeks of closure
  • businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will be eligible for a grant of £1,000 per two weeks of closure
  • businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will be eligible for a grant of £667 per two weeks of closure

Payments are triggered by a national decision to close businesses in high-risk areas. Eligible businesses can get one grant for each non-domestic property within the restricted area.

As the North East remained in the higher tier of restrictions after 2 December, you may be eligible for an additional grant from your local authority. This grant does vary for each local authority for the 4-week period and we would advise you to check their websites for full details.

LRSG (Open) – This grant includes businesses impacted by local COVID alert levels, High or Very High, even if those businesses are not legally forced to close. Although this is aimed at primarily businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector, local councils have the freedom to determine the precise eligibility criteria for these grants. The funding will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions.

In Northumberland applications for this funding will close Sunday 17 January 2021.

Support is based on the rateable value of business premises and is available for each 28 day period a business is placed under local restrictions.

  • for properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, grants of £2,100 for each 28 day period
  • for properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and below 51,000, grants of £1,400 for each 28 day period
  • for properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £934 for each 28 day period.

LRSG (Closed Addendum) – Businesses that were open as usual, but were required to close between 5 November and 2 December 2020 due to the national restrictions imposed by government may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 28 day period under national restrictions. In addition eligible businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by government as of 5 January 2021 may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 42 day qualifying period.

Support is based on the rateable value of business premises.

For business affected by national restrictions between 5 November and 2 December 2020 support is available for each 28 day qualifying restrictions period.

  • for properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, grants of £3,000 for each 28 day period of restrictions
  • for properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and below 51,000, grants of £2,000 for each 28 day period of restrictions
  • for properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £1,334 for each 28 day period of restrictions.

Applications for LRSG (Closed Addendum) scheme that covers the period 5 November and 2 December 2020 will close on 31 January 2021.

For business affected by national restrictions as of 5 January 2021 support is available for each 42 day qualifying restrictions period.

  • for properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, grants of £4,500 for each 42 day period of restrictions
  • for properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and below 51,000, grants of £3,000 for each 42 day period of restrictions
  • for properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £2,001 for each 42 day period of restrictions.

You may also be eligible for the Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP)

Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP) – Businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by government as of 5 January 2021 may be eligible for an additional one-off grant of up to £9,000.

The following thresholds apply to the Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment:

  • businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, will receive a payment of £9,000
  • businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and below 51,000, will receive a payment of £6,000
  • businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, will receive a payment of £4,000.

Eligibility will be in line with the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum. Please apply as soon as possible, as applications for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum must close on Sunday 31 January 2021.

More information on the CBLP can be found here on the UK.GOV website. These grants are being managed by your local authority (see links above).

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) – These grants are discretionary and local authorities will direct the funding and grants as best fits their area.
In Northumberland applications for this funding will close Sunday 31 January 2021 but this may vary dependent on the local authority involved.

ARG Northumberland (Taxi) – This is a one-off payment of £500 or £200 for self-employed licensed taxi and private hire drivers who have suffered loss of income due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on their trade. The closing date for applications is  Sunday 3 January 2021.

To qualify for this grant, you must be have been licensed by Northumberland County Council on 18 September 2020 and

  • have not received a COVID-19 Local Restriction Support or Additional Restrictions Grant from the County Council; and
  • not received Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) during the period 18 September 2020 and 1 December 2020.

In Northumberland applications for this funding will close Sunday 3 January 2021.

As with other COVID-19 business grants, local grants to closed businesses will be treated as taxable income.

 

Discretionary Support Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 19 February) This funding aims to support small businesses and the self-employed who have suffered from the impacts of the pandemic since 1 October 2020 and who have been ineligible for any COVID-19 related business support since that date.

Applications for the fund will be via Local Authorities across Scotland. Each Local Authority will determine eligibility criteria so this may vary from region to region and the period of application may also vary by Local Authority.  Please check your Local Authority website for details and the supporting documentation required.

  • Scottish Borders  – applications open 8 February 2021 to 28 February 2021
  • East Lothian – applications closed at 5pm on Monday 8 February 2021. However, they may re-open applications once received applications have been assessed
  • Midlothian – open for applications until Friday 5 March at 5pm
  • West Lothian

 

Coronavirus Restrictions Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 5 January) The Coronavirus Restrictions Fund provided grants to those businesses in Scotland affected by the temporary restrictions put in place by the Scottish Government on 9 October 2020.

The COVID-19 Restrictions Fund closed on 3 November 2020.  However, if your business has been required to close by law or to significantly change its operations due to the COVID-19 restrictions from 2 November 2020, you may be eligible for support via the Strategic Framework Business Fund (see below).

 

Strategic Framework Business Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 12 January) Funding is available for eligible businesses across Scotland, which have been impacted by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework of protection levels. Applications to the Strategic Framework Business Fund should be made through your local authority website.

You can find links to all Scottish local authority websites here.

There are two types of grant and these will be available from 2 November 2020 until 31 March 2021. These are:

  • the Business Temporary Closure Grant: if your business is required to close by law the grant provides £2,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £51,000 or £3,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £51,001 or above
  • the Business Restrictions Grant: if your businesses is required by law to modify their operations due to COVID-19 restrictions the grant provides £1,400 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £51,000 or £2,100 for premises which have a rateable value of £51,001 or above.

For businesses that operate multiple premises, the Business Temporary Closure Grant has an upper limit of £15,000 in any four-week period and the Business Restrictions Grant has an upper limit of £10,500 in any four-week period. All premises should be included in one application and this should be processed by the local authority area in which your business is headquartered.

Grants will be paid every four weeks in arrears as long as restrictions last. If restrictions are extended beyond four weeks you will not need to re-apply.

In addition to the grants outlined above, and as a result of the increased national restrictions imposed by the Scottish and UK government as of 5 January 2021,eligible businesses will also get a one-off grant.

  • £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000
  • £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next  payment allocation for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on 25 January.

The key criteria for eligibility are:

  • your business was trading on 2 November 2020
  • you have a dedicated business bank account
  • your business premises are registered for Business Rates (if you pay rates through your landlord rather than directly to the Council, you are still eligible to apply).

Eligibility will also depend on the level of restrictions which are in place at any point in time in the location of the business premises. Full details of eligibility will be found on your local authority’s website.

When restrictions end or reduce, we understand that any transitional or final payment in arrears will be adjusted to reflect the duration of the restrictions to the nearest week, where possible.

 

Coronavirus Business Contingency Fund (Scotland only)

This first phase of the Scottish COVID-19 Business Contingency Fund will provide one-off grants to nightclubs and soft play centres that have been closed by law since March 2020.

The one-off grants will be linked to rateable value and any businesses operating across more than one premises will be able to claim one full grant, with grants of up to 75% for subsequent properties.

Eligible businesses will receive a

  • £10,000 grant for a property from which they operate with a rateable value of £18,000 or under; or
  • a £25,000 grant for a property from which they operate with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000; or
  • a £50,000 grant for a property from which they operate with a rateable value above £51,001.

To eligible for the grant a business must have been closed by law since March 2020. If a play centre re-opened for play frame activities at any time, it would be ineligible.  Similarly, if a nightclub changed its license and opened as a pub, it would also be ineligible.

In addition the following criteria need to be met:

  • your business must have been fit to trade on 1 March 2020 and not insolvent as at 1 October 2020
  • the business premises must be registered for Non-Domestic rates. Businesses that pay rates via their landlords rather than directly to a Council are eligible to apply
  • if claiming for more than one property you must submit one claim for all locations, working with the local authority in which your business is headquartered
  • you must have a business bank account
  • you must provide details of all prior support of any kind provided by local government, the Scottish Government or the UK Government, and this must fall below the cap for EU State Aid Rules.

Any business which has breached wider COVID regulations/requirements prior to local restrictions will not be eligible to apply.

Any business eligible for these grants will be contacted by their local authority to initiate the process of gathering information in support of any claim.

Full details of the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Business Contingency Fund can be found here on the scot.gov website.

 

Bounce Back Loans for Small Businesses

(Update as of 17 December) 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 final application date for loans has been extended to 31 March 2021.

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  loan at a government set interest rate of 2.5% a year. The government will cover interest payable in the first year. The length of the loan is six years, but early repayment will be allowed, without early repayment fees. Loans will be made available without the need to use security or personal guarantees.

Businesses will be able to ‘top up’ existing Bounce Back Loans should they need additional finance. The top-up is meant to help firms that borrowed less than the maximum amount permitted under the scheme.  As many firms made their finance calculations before the second lockdown in England was announced this provides an option to secure additional funding. The top up option can only be used once.

Business that have taken a Bounce Back Loan, will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which can be used up to three times), or to pause their repayments entirely for up to six months (an option which can be used once and only after having made six payments).

More details and how to make an application can be found here on the British Business Bank website.

In summary:

  • 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

More information can be found here on the GOV.UK webpage.

 

Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) – for SME’s

(Update as of 17 December) 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.

You will need to provide documents that show you can afford to repay the loan. These documents may vary from lender to lender and please do get in touch if you require any assistance in providing this information. Documentation requested may include:

  • management accounts
  • cash flow forecast
  • business plan
  • historic accounts
  • details of assets

It should be noted that the business borrower will always remain 100% liable for the debt.

The Government announced on 17 December 2020 that application date for loans has been extended to 31 March 2021.

More details can be found on the British Business Bank website.

 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

(Update as of 3 November) 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). Finance is available from 3 months to 3 years.

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.

The Government announced on 17 December 2020 that application date for loans has been extended to 31 March 2021.

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.

 

Future Fund – High Growth Company Funding

(Update as of 2 November) The Future Fund is aimed at 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 funding is being delivered by the British Business Bank, and will provide loans ranging from £125,000 to £5 million.

Following the second lockdown announcement in England the application date for loans has been extended to 31 January 2021.

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.

The Scottish Government announced in early July the provision of a £38 million support package for high growth companies. The new funding, which will be managed by Scottish Enterprise, will consist of:

  • £3m worth of grants up to £50k, plus advisor support, for start-ups identified as having significant growth potential
  • a further £10m for the existing Scottish Investment Bank co-investment funds. More details can be found here on the Scottish Enterprise website
  • a £25m Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund, which will allow businesses to apply on a competitive basis for a mixture of investment and grant funding up to £300,000

Applications for the  Early Stage Growth Challenge funding are now open and will close at 5pm on 31 July 2020.

This is not a first come first served fund.  It is a competitive funding process with applications open for a short period from 20 July 2020 until the end of July 2020. Only the most highly graded applications will receive funding.

The funding will be part convertible loan, with an element of grant attached. The grant element will not need to be repaid.  But the convertible loan, along with any accrued interest, will either need to be paid or converted into equity.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be based in Scotland or have the majority of your operations in Scotland
  • be a private company limited by shares
  • have been incorporated between 31 December 2009 and 31 December 2019
  • have 2-49 full time equivalent employees, with at least 80% based in Scotland
  • be a small or micro enterprise – a turnover of less than €10 million or a balance sheet value of less than €10 million

Full conditions for the Early Stage Growth Fund can be found on the Scottish Enterprise website. Applications will be judged on their perceived benefit to Scotland’s economic recovery. In addition, the clarity and quality of the content included in the application form and supporting documents will affect the decision to award funding. We would therefore recommend reading the guidance notes carefully. GWA partners regularly advise funding and business deals such as this and would be happy to assist to ensure any application is as robust as possible.

 

VAT Deferral

(Update as of 23 February) During the first COVID-19 lockdown, HMRC allowed businesses to defer VAT liabilities due between the period of 20 March to 30 June 2020 until 31 March 2021. HMRC have recently announced that businesses who did defer VAT payments can now opt in to a VAT deferral payment scheme.

Instead of paying the full amount of VAT owed by the end of March 2021, the scheme allows you to make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free.  All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.

In order to use the scheme businesses must:

  • still have deferred VAT to pay
  • be up to date with VAT returns
  • opt in before the end of March 2021
  • pay the first instalment when you opt in
  • be able to pay the deferred VAT by Direct Debit.

If you want to use the new payment scheme you will need to opt in. GWA cannot do this on your behalf.

To opt in you must have a Government Gateway account.   If you do not have a Government Gateway account you can 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.

You will also need to have submitted any outstanding VAT returns from the last four years and if you are aware or have been informed of any errors on your VAT returns you should correct these as soon as possible (see below for further information on how to do this). You should ensure you know how much you owe, including the amount you originally deferred and how much you have already paid back.

Applications can be made here on the GOV.UK website.

In summary, if you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you have the choice of:

  • paying the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021
  • opting in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021
  • contacting HMRC if you need more help to pay

The following conditions still apply:

  • VAT returns must still be submitted as normal
  • VAT repayments and refunds will be made as normal

Correcting errors on your VAT returns relating to the VAT payments deferral scheme: The VAT payments deferral scheme covered the following accounting periods:

  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020 – for customers using Payment on Account or with Non-Standard Tax Periods (NSTP)

If you notice an error on a VAT return which relates to a period covered by the scheme, you should:

You can then contact the HMRC COVID-19 helpline to ask for error correction payments to also be included in your deferred VAT balance only after:

  • HMRC have processed your error correction; and
  • you have received a Statement of Account confirming the balance

You can also contact the HMRC COVID-19 helpline if you want to include extra payments in the new scheme as a result of a HMRC VAT assessment.

If you want to include either errors or VAT assessment extra payments in the new deferral scheme, it is important to note that:

  • you must contact The HMRC COVID-19 helpline by 29 January 2021
  • you cannot include extra payments after you have opted in.

Whilst GWA cannot opt-in to the scheme on your behalf, our friendly team of experts are here to help if you need advice. Please do not hesitate to contact us via email or by phone.

 

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

(Update as of 8 October) VAT will be cut from 20% to 5% for a temporary period until 31 March 2021 on food, accommodation and attractions.

From 15 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 a reduced (5%) rate of VAT will apply to:

  • food and non-alcoholic drinks sold by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises
  • supplies of accommodation
  • admission to attractions, including zoos, cinemas and theme parks

We have complied an easy to read FAQs to answer some of the most common questions. We will continue to update this information as more details becomes available.

If you are a small business operating in one of the relevant sectors affected and account for VAT via the Flat Rate Scheme, the latest information on what you need to pay can be found here on the HMRC website. In summary the flat rate reductions are:

Type of business Current VAT flat rate (%)
Catering services including restaurants and takeaways before 14 July 2020 and after 12 January 2021 12.5
Catering services including restaurants and takeaways after 15 July 2020 4.5
Hotel or accommodation before 14 July 2020 and after 12 January 2021 10.5
Hotel or accommodation after 15 July 2020 0
Pubs before 14 July 2020 and after 12 January 2021 6.5
Pubs after 15 July 2020 1

 

What happens  when a payment or deposit has been received before 15 July 2020, but the goods or services will be supplied after 15 July 2020? In this situation, the business can charge VAT at 5% on goods removed or services performed between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

Customers may expect the reduced VAT rate to apply to the deposit, but it is the decision of the business whether to amend the VAT rate.  If a business chooses to amend the VAT rate and has already issued an invoice showing the 20% rate of VAT, this must be corrected by issuing a credit note and issuing a new invoice showing the 5% rate.

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

There does not appear to be any specific guidance in relation supplies made before 15 July 2020 and with the invoice being issued at a later date. Therefore, the basic tax point rules will apply.

  • for goods, this is the date that the goods are sent or taken away by the customer or made available to the customer
  • for services, this is the date that the service is performed or completed.

However, if an actual tax point is created this will override the basic tax point. This occurs when:

  • if, before the basic tax point, the business issues a VAT invoice or receives payment for the goods or service. The tax point here is the date of the VAT invoice or the date when payment is received, whichever happens first
  • if the business issues a VAT invoice up to 14 days after the basic tax point. The tax point in this case is the date the invoice is issued. Therefore, the new rate will apply if an invoice is issued on or after 15 July 2020 and the service or goods were supplied up to 14 days before 15 July 2020.  Otherwise the standard rate of 20% will apply.

We do appreciate that this is not written in the most ‘easy to understand’ language, therefore if you require any clarification on this point please do contact us. You can call either the partner who looks after your affairs or our expert VAT team who will try and answer any questions you may have.

 

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 11 December) The 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.

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.

 

Mortgage Payment Holidays

(Update as of 2 November) In an announcement on 31 October, the UK Government extended the application period for a mortgage holiday.  Borrowers who have not yet had a payment holiday and are experiencing financial difficulty will be able to ask for for a six-month holiday. Those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be also able to top this up to six months. The payment holidays will have no impact on your credit rating.

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.

 

Protection from Eviction for Commercial Tenants

(Update as of 11 December) Within England, the measures that apply to commercial tenants have been extended. Commercial tenants will now be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of March 2021.

It is important to highlight that this measure is not the same as a rental holiday. Commercial tenants are being protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent but will still be liable for their rent.

(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.

 

Business Interruption Insurance

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

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

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

 

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

(Update as of 9 July) Homebuyers will no longer pay stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a property’s purchase price as a result of a temporary SDLT reduction.

The government has raised the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT, in England and Northern Ireland, from £125,000 to £500,000. As stamp duty is tiered, anyone buying properties costing more than £500,000 will pay nothing on the first £500,000 and then normal rates on anything above that.

The change is immediate, applying from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021.

The new 0% band will also apply to residential leasehold sales and new residential leases

The change will not apply in Scotland or Wales.

 

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – Scotland only

(Update as of 10 July) 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.

The LBTT threshold at which this tax kicks in (for residential property) is to be temporarily increased from £145,000 to £250,000. As yet there is not a start date for the change but it is expected to be in place quickly and will continue until 31 March 2021. This means that a residential property purchase in Scotland over £250,000 will have a reduced LBTT bill of £2,100.

The benefits from the changes to SDLT and LBTT are available to those buying their own homes and residential property investors whether individuals or companies.

There is no change to the Additional Dwelling Supplement (3% in England and 4% in Scotland). For those buying a residential property that is not their main home, this charge will still apply.

Also, there are to be no changes to the SDLT or LBTT payable on commercial property transactions.

Further information on LBTT can be found here on the gov.scot website.

 

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.

 

Childcare Providers Support Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 10 February) Funding, via the Temporary Restrictions Fund, is available to eligible childminding providers affected by the most recent COVID-19 restrictions between 26 December 2020 and to at least 31 January 2021.

In addition a £750 business sustainability grant will be made available to all childminding services which are registered with the Care Inspectorate as of 1 February 2021.

Temporary Restrictions Fund – support will be provided to those that are open to deliver childcare to key worker and vulnerable children. The funding will be available for each four-week period that the temporary restrictions are in place. This will include day care of children’s services, childminding services who are caring for 12 or more children and out of school care providers.

For your business to be eligible you will need to be registered with the Care Inspectorate as being either:

  • a ‘day care of children’ and a ‘Private’ or ‘Voluntary or Not For Profit’ service; or
  • a ‘childminding service’ and currently caring for 12 or more children.

If you offer a childminding service caring for fewer than 12 children grants of between £500 and £1,000 each will be made to eligible provider. The details of this funding and how to apply is being finalised with the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) and we are expecting further information to be published shortly.

For more details in relation to support available for childcare services and childminders is available on the gov.scot website.

 

Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund (Scotland only)

If you are a licensed taxi or private hire driver and have been impacted financially challenge as a result of COVID-19 you may be eligible to receive a one-off grant of £1,500.

The grants are being administered by local authorities who should be contacting drivers in the week commencing 18 January.  You do not need to contact your local authority directly.

To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • you must be licensed from 17 March 2020 to at least 31 January 2021
  • up to 31 December 2020, you must have experienced loss of income (50% of turnover, compared with 2019) and incurred overhead costs and expenses
  • up to 31st December 2020 you must have been working, or available for work, as a taxi or private hire driver

The local authority may request evidence to support your eligibility along with your bank account details.

You will not be eligible if your licence was suspended on or before 31 December 2020 and that remains current and valid or if you have breached COVID-19 regulations.

More details can be found here on the gov.scot website.

 

Farmers, Landowners and Rural Businesses

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

This has recently been updated with details following the latest second lockdown restrictions announced across England.

The RPA are offering a one year extension to Countryside Stewardship capital agreements that started after 1 April 2018 or in 2019 if you have had difficulty in collecting evidence for your capital claim due to COVID-19 restrictions.  If you have an agreement that started in 2020 the claim period has not altered.

 

Agriculture Loan Scheme (Scotland only)

(Update as of  30 November) The Scottish Government has announced a £340m loan scheme to help support farmers and crofters through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The National Basic Payment Support Scheme deadline was 4 September.  You can see the National Basic Payment Support Scheme letter and Q&A here on the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Services website.

 

Seafood Producers Resilience Fund

(Update as of 5 February) The Scottish Government have announced a £7.75m funding package to support fishermen, seafood businesses, ports and harbours that continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and the issues surrounding the EU exit.

The funding package includes:

  • £6.45m for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund providing  support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers and trout farmers
  • £1m providing support for ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees
  • up to £300,000 to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission

You can read more details concerning eligibility and how to apply here on the gov.scot website.  Applications must be made on or before 26 February 2021.

If you need support submitting an application form with the correct financial evidence, please get in touch via our usual phone and email contact deatils.

 

Wet-Led Pubs: Christmas Support (England only)

(Update as of 1 February) Pubs across across tiers 2 and 3 restriction areas in England that principally serve alcohol should be able to access additional financial support over the Christmas period, following an announcement by the Government earlier this week.

Eligible wet-led pubs across tiers 2 and 3 will need to apply for the one-off £1000 grant via their local authority, who will be responsible for distributing the grants. The payment will be made once per business for the month of December only.

Your pub may be eligible if you:

  • are based in England
  • derive less than 50% of your sales from food
  • are in an area subject to Tier 2 or Tier 3 local restrictions since 2 December 2020
  • were established in the pub before 1 December 2020

According to government guidance, there is no definitive description of a traditional pub or public house in law. However, for the purposes of this grant, pubs should under normal
circumstances (without local or national restrictions) be described as: open to
the general public, allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment
is provided, allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed and permit
drinks to be purchased at a bar.

The government have highlighted that for this purpose the definition of a pub should exclude: restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, snack bars, guesthouses, boarding houses, sporting venues, music venues, festival sites, theatres, museums, exhibition halls, cinemas, concert halls and casinos.

Applications for this funding must be made no later than midnight on Sunday 28 February 2021.

For details on how to apply please visit your local council website

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

 

Northumberland Community Chest Grants

(Update as of 11 September) The deadline for the fist round of Community Chest Grant funding was 2 October 2020 and for the second round of funding 22 January 2021.  More details can be found on the Northumberland County Council website.

 

Community & Third Sector Resilience Fund – (Scotland only)

(Update as of 10 February) The Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme is aimed at charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations that are supporting people and communities through lockdown and recovery.

The Adapt & Thrive programme provides support through business advisers to assist organisations to develop a plan to change and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Funding to implement the plan is also available. This resource will be available until 31 March 2021.

The Communities Recovery Fund provides support  to community groups, charities, social enterprises, and voluntary organisations. Applications need to be for a minimum of £5,000 and up to a maximum of £25,000, for an individual organisation or £75,000 for a partnership. This funding closes on 12 February 2021.

Applicants can request support from both Adapt & Thrive and Communities Recovery. More information and application link scan be found here on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website.

 

Creative Scotland Funding

(Update as of 2 February) Creative Scotland provided funding to provide support for the creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers: This fund closed at midday on Monday 1 February 2021. More information is available on the Creative Scotland website.

 

Support Museums and Galleries (Scotland only)

(Update as of 3 February) Museums Galleries Scotland have 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.

COVID-19 Adaptation Fund – Scottish museums can apply to purchase equipment and training that will enable them to reopen safely and in accordance with restrictions due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The minimum award in all cases will be £150; individual organisations can apply for up to £7,500; and partnerships of museums can apply for up to £10,000. This fund is expected to close on 22 March 2021.

COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Fund – Following round 1 of the Recovery and Resilience Fund, which closed in October 2020, additional funding has been made available by the Scottish Government. Round 2 is now open for applications. Expressions of interest must be received by midday 19 February 2021.

More information and how to apply can be found on the Museums Galleries Scotland website.

 

Visitor Attractions Support Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 5 February) If your business is based in Scotland, operates in the ‘Visitor Attractions’ sector and has been severely affected by the impact of COVID-19 you may wish to apply for a grant from the Visitor Attractions Support Fund.

The definition of a Visitor Attraction is quite wide (the full details can be found in the guidance notes, see VisitScotland link below) but you must have a an annual turnover in excess of £10,000.  If you operate more than one Visitor Attraction, you can submit an application form for each Visitor
Attraction.

The total amount of funding available is limited and the final amount awarded to successful applicants will only be determined once all submissions have been received. It is expected however, that a range of grants will be made, depending on the level of turnover for that visitor attraction:

  • turnover between £10,000 and £85,000 – grant up to £5,000
  • turnover between £85,001 and £250,000 – grant up to £10,000
  • turnover between £250,001 and £500,000 – grant up to £20,000
  • turnover between £500,001 and £1,000,000 – grant up to £30,000
  • turnover between £1,000,001 and £3,000,000 – grant up to £40,000
  • turnover in excess of £3,000,001 – grant up to £50,000

The fund will open for applications at 12pm on 11 February 2021.  Applications should be completed via the VisitScotland website.  The fund will close for applications at 5pm on 18 February 2021.

 

Coach Operators Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 5 February) This fund is to support Scottish based businesses in the coach operators sector critical to Scotland’s tourism economy.

It is anticipated that the demand for this funding will be high and as the total funding amount is limited and the final amount awarded to successful applicants will only be determined once all submissions have been received.

The funding allocation applies to each qualifying Coach applied for, up to a maximum of £150,000 per company. Each qualifying Coach will receive an award of up to the following:

  • Euro V, up to 24 seats up to £4,500
  • Euro VI, up to 24 seats up to £6,000
  • Euro V, more than 24 seats up to £9,000
  • Euro VI, more than 24 seats up to £12,000

These amounts should be taken as indications only and the final awards will be dependent on the number of successful applications. You should review the full guidance notes to establish whether your business is eligible to apply.

The fund will open for applications at 12pm on Tuesday 16 February 2021.  Applications should be completed via the VisitScotland website where you will also find full guidance notes. The fund will close for applications at 5pm on Tuesday 23 February 2021.

 

Events Recovery Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 5 February) Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund (SERF) has been established to help Scotland’s events sector plan and deliver events through to the end of 2021, and to provide support as the industry responds and adapts to the effects of COVID-19.

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

There are two routes of funding.

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

There is a fixed amount of £2.75m funding available. It is anticipated that up to £1.5m in funding may be awarded for applications received up to 31 December 2020, and that the remainder will be retained to support applications received up to 31 March 2021. Applications should be completed via the VisitScotland website where you will also find full guidance notes.

 

Zoo Animals Fund (England only)

(Update as of 20 January) If your business is a zoo or aquarium is based in England and you have experienced severe financial difficulties because of lost revenue  due to COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for an animal welfare grant. You can apply for funding at any time until 26 February 2021.

You can apply to the Zoo Animals Fund if your zoo or aquarium is based in England and either:

  • holds a licence (full or dispensation) under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • has been granted an exemption under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and holds a licence under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018

The grant aims  to help cover costs up to March 2021 and will take into account animal’s needs, essential maintenance work required and any repair work required to support you in attracting visitors.  If you’re planning on closing or reducing your collection, the grant can also be used to support with the costs associated with rehoming animals.

More information and details on how to apply can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

 

Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 10 February) Scottish zoos and aquariums in Scotland may be able to apply for a 0% unsecured loan or grant of up to £100,000 to assist in managing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. Grants will only be available when loan support would not be viable ie.  where a zoo or aquarium has 16 weeks or less operating costs remaining, including any loan or overdraft facilities.

To be eligible for support your organisation must:

  • hold a current full licence or dispensation under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • has been inspected and granted an exemption under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 due to its small size

This funding will close to applications on Wednesday 10 March 2021. For full eligibility details, what the funding can be used for and how to apply can be found here on the gov.scot website.

 

Scottish Wedding Industry Fund

(Update as of 26 January) The Scottish Government has announced a £25m support fund for businesses in the wedding sector that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available from Thursday 28 January, the fund will provide one-off grants of up to £25,000 for eligible businesses in the sector including wedding venues, photographers, caterers and suppliers. A full list of businesses the fund aims to support can be found here. The fund will be managed regionally by Scotland’s three enterprise agencies – South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

This fund is for businesses whose main income comes from the wedding and civil partnerships industry. It is available to companies, sole traders, partnerships, registered charities and trusts. It is not intended to support groups of companies. If your company is part of a group, with consolidated accounts, only one application per group can be made

The fund offers a fixed grant amount based on turnover. The funding tiers are:

  • a £5,000 grant for businesses with a pre-COVID-19 turnover between £10,000 and £49,999
  • a £10,000 grant for businesses with a pre-COVID-19 turnover between £50,000 and £99,999
  •  £15,000 grant for businesses with a pre-COVID-19 turnover between £100,000 – £249,999
  • a £25,000 grant for businesses with a pre-COVID-19 turnover of more than £250,000

Applications open on 28 January 2021 and can be made online here via the gov.scot website.

A high volume of applications is expected and these will be assessed in date order of receipt until the full fund has been distributed. Unfortunately, this means that not all eligible applications will receive funding. If you are eligible, we would therefore encourage you apply as soon as the fund opens on 28 January 2021.

You will have to provide information about your company, its income and your banking details.  In order to make your application as quickly as possible, we would recommend you have the required information to hand. Full details of the information that will be required can be found here.

If you need any assistance in providing this information please get in touch with us.

 

Self-catering and B&Bs (Scotland only)

(Update as of 16 February) Payments of up to £10,000 are available larger self-catering properties in Scotland and Scottish B&Bs that pay council tax, but not non-domestic rates that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

One-off £2000 grants are available for self-catering businesses in Scotland that have a property which accommodates seven or more people and for which they pay non-domestic rates.

One-off grants of £10,000 are available for properties in Scotland that have been have been evaluated by the Scottish Assessors Association as an “exclusive use venue” providing overnight accommodation in their main building, in lodges at the property, or a combination of both. The business must have been impacted by the single household restrictions and must also pay non-domestic rates.

Eligible B&Bs must be registered serviced accommodation and not pay non-domestic rates, but do pay council tax are eligible.  Grants of £2,000 may be paid every four weeks.

There is no need to apply. for these grants. Local authorities will identify and invite eligible businesses to register for payment from 15 February 2021.

 

Hostel Support and Continuity Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 18 February) The fund is open to proprietors of Scottish based hostel businesses. They may be a sole trader, a partnership, a company limited by shares or by guarantee, a registered charity or a Scottish limited partnership or any other legal entity recognised under Scots Law.

Applicants with hostels which meet the eligibility criteria will receive a grant award of up to £10,000 per eligible Hoste. If you operate multiple hostels, you will be asked to submit information for each hostel being applied for.

Applications are not being assessed on a first come first serve basis but must be made by noon on Tuesday 2 March 2021. There will be an application assessment process before any decision is made to provide a grant.

Full details, a guidance document and application links can be found here on the VisitScotland website.

 

Inbound and Day Tour Operators Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of  19 February) The original Scotland Inbound Tour Operators COVID-19 Support Fund has been extended to include Day Tour Operators.

The Inbound Operators fund  applies to businesses who operate in Scotland as inbound tour operators and destination management companies, promoting and selling packaged products (Scotland holidays) to international markets. The grants awarded will be determined once all applications are received and vetted. The maximum award will be £700,000 per business, depending on the level of turnover for that business and will be limited to one per business.

Applications for this fund will open from noon on Thursday 25 February 2021 and will close at 5pm on Thursday 4 March 2021.

The Day Tour Operators fund applies to businesses that operate day tours operating in Scotland who promote and sell day tour excursions to domestic and international markets. The grants awarded will be determined once all applications are received and vetted. The maximum award will be £40,000 per business, depending on the level of turnover for that business and will be limited to one per business.

Applications for this fund will open from 12pm on Thursday 4 March 2021 and will close at 5pm on Thursday 11 March 2021.

For more information and application links for both funds go to the VisitScotland website.

 

Country Sports Tourism Restart Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 19 February) This fund aims to assist businesses the country sports tourism sector.

Eligible businesses include sporting agencies, land-based sporting businesses, sporting guides and fishing charter operators that have experienced disruption and financial loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants must have a minimum turnover of over £10,000 and will be required to prove that 75% of their annual turnover originates from country sports tourism activity.

There is a fixed amount of funding available and the amount awarded to each applicant will be determined by the eligibility criteria and supporting information provided. The maximum grant to be paid will be £15,000 per company and applications will be limited to one per company.

The fund opens for applications on Wednesday 24 February 2021 and will close to applications at 5pm on Wednesday 3 March 2021. Full guidance and application links can be found here on the VisitScotland website. 

 

Marine & Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 10 February) The Marine & Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund was established to support the marine, boating and outdoor adventure sectors affected by COVID-19. Applications to the fund closed on 9 February 2021. More information and full guidance can be found here on the Visit Scotland website.

 

Brewers, Travel Agents and Indoor Football Centres (Scotland only)

(Update as of 27 January) Eligible brewers, travel agents and indoor football centres that have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions can receive grants of of up to £25,000.  Brewers may be eligible for an additional £5,000 based on their annual production.

The size of the grant will depend on the rateable value of the premises from which they operate:

  • £10,000 for a property with a rateable value of £18,000 or under; or
  • £25,000 for a property with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000; or
  • brewers which operate from with a premises with rateable value over £51,000 or production over 5,000HL in 2019 will be eligible for a grant of £30,000.

Businesses operating multiple sites will be eligible for a grant for each of their premises.

Football centres with both indoor and outdoor facilities are excluded from this funding.

The grants are being administered by local authorities who will contact eligible businesses directly.  If you have not been contacted by 8 February 2021, please contact your local authority directly.

More information can be found here on the gov.scot website.

 

Mobile & Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund (Scotland only)

(Update as of 18 February) This grant is for owners and operators of mobile and home-based close contact business and registered driving instructors in Scotland. It is not for employees of those businesses.

A one-off grant of £4,000 is available for those eligible.  Mobile and home-based close contact service businesses are defined as routinely (more than 50% of the time) operating their business from multiple locations and not exclusively from fixed business premises. If you have already benefited from a business grant support as a result of operating from fixed business premises you will not be eligible for this grant.

The full list of services eligible for this grant and link to the online application form can be found here.  The deadline for applications is 5pm on  Tuesday 16 March 2021.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

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