Coronavirus/COVID-19: Update 4 May 2020

Even though we have probably seen the most extensive government economic intervention in our generation, there are still businesses and individuals who have fallen outside of the measures introduced. This is something we raised with local MPs and MSPs and business organisations at the start of last month.

It does appear that some gaps are being closed. The introduction of the Bounce Back Loans Scheme, which opens for applications today, 4 May 2020, and also additional funding for those not covered by existing local authority grants will hopefully bring some welcome assistance.

Top Up to Local Grants Funding (England only)

A discretionary fund of up to £617 million is being made available via local authorities in England with the specific purpose of closing the support gap for small businesses not eligible for the Small Business Grant Funds (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds (RHLGF).

The funding is aimed at small businesses with less than 50 employees and ongoing fixed property-related costs. To be considered for a grant you must be able to demonstrate that you have seen a significant drop of income due to the COVID-19 restrictions. If you are eligible for the current SBGF and RHLGF grant schemes (see below) you will not be eligible for this new funding.

The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of each local authority. The government has asked local authorities to prioritise:

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

However local authorities do have the option to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.

The maximum grant is £25,000, alongside £10,000 grants and local authority discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. Any allocation of funding will be at the discretion of each local authority

According to the press release, further guidance is to be provided to local authorities “shortly”.  As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.

SBGF and RHLGF Grant Schemes – If you need a reminder of the criteria to be eligible for SBGF and RHLGF, both of these grant schemes are linked to the rateable value of your premises. More details can be found in our latest COVID-19 blog.

In summary all businesses in England and Scotland in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be eligible for grants of £10,000 via the SBGF.

Within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England, grant funding of up to £25,000 per property is available for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 via the RHLGF. For properties with a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 the grant is £10,000 and properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 the grant is £25,000.

In Scotland businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.

We know that clients have received these grants and if you have not already done so we encourage you to access this funding as soon as possible. If you do have any questions in relation to this or the other grant and business support please get in touch.

Bounce Back Loans Applications Open Today

As we reported last week the Bounce Back Loan scheme has launched today.

Delivered through lenders approved by the British Business Bank, the scheme is aimed at small and micro businesses and provides loans from £2,000 up to 25% of turnover, with a maximum loan of £50,000.  Therefore, if you are a small company and have struggled to get a CBILS loan this could be an alternative option for you.

Eligible businesses can obtain a six-year term loan at a government set interest rate of 2.5% a year. The government will cover interest payable in the first year. Early repayment will be allowed, without early repayment fees. Loans will be made available without the need to use security or personal guarantees.

Business can apply online through a simple online form.  More details and how to make an application can be found here on the British Business Bank website.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

We have been informed by HMRC that they will start contacting individuals who may be eligible for the new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) via email, SMS or letter this week.

In summary, if eligible, the support includes direct cash grants of 80% of average monthly trading profit over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month. More details on this scheme are available on our website in our latest COVID-19 blog. The grants will be provided for a period of at least three months.

Hopefully HMRC have identified all those who are eligible.  But they have provided an online tool which will enable you to check should you not be contacted by HMRC. Should you wish to query your eligibility you can ask for a review, or if you wish we can ask for this on your behalf. Any review will not be looked at until 18 May and their decision on eligibility will not be provided until the end of May.

A serious word of warning. If someone gets in touch with you claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to provide details such as your name, credit card or bank details, do not respond. It is a scam. Anyone eligible for SEISS will be invited to claim through GOV.UK – it is the only service that can be used to make a claim.

If you have any concerns regarding any of the above or require assistance in relation to any other financial issues please get in touch.  We are here to help and the partners and the GWA team are receiving emails and calls at their usual addresses and phone numbers.

Information correct as of 4 May

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