Coronavirus/COVID-19: Update 6 May 2020

Good news north of the border today with loan support for Scottish landlords being released and confirmation that the second phase of the Scottish Government’s Small Business Grant Scheme is now open, allowing businesses to claim for multiple properties in addition to the initial one-off grant.

We have also taken the opportunity to highlight the importance of keeping your IT and data secure, especially with “working from home” becoming the reality for probably millions more people.  A number of clients have been asking for IT support and our dedicated team are investigating and providing the appropriate solutions.  But there are some easy wins that everyone can make.

Aid for Private Rental Landlords (Scotland only)

Yesterday the Scottish Government 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 in our latest COVID-19 blog.

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.

Small Business Grant Scheme (Scotland only)

As we reported in our update on 15 April,  the second phase of the Small Business Grant Scheme (SBGS) is now open for applications.

This second phase ensures that in addition to existing grants of £10,000 or £25,000 for the first property, businesses with multiple properties may now qualify for grants of £7,500 or £18,750 on subsequent eligible premises.

In addition, ratepayers who have retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a rateable value up to £18,000 and whose cumulative rateable value is between £35,001 and £51k may now qualify for a grant for each of their properties.

The SBGS is being administered by local authorities.

Revaluation of Business Rates Postponed (England only)

The revaluation of business rates due to take place in 2021 will now revert to its original date of 2022.  Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year but as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19 the government have postponed the date to providing more certainty to businesses in planning their future.

The Rise in Phishing Scams

We have always been an advocate of IT security and data protection. And now, the COVID-19 crisis has created a nirvana-like world for many scammers who see it as an opportunity to profit. In March the City of London Police reported a 400% increase in scams related to COVID-19 cashing in on people’s fears and concerns.

With more of us working from home there is even more reliance on technology, be that for virtual meetings (business and social) or a reliance on the internet to link us to our work colleagues for information and news.

Now more than ever, you are your own best security. If anything doesn’t look genuine, just pause. If you’re still not sure, check. If you can’t’ check, don’t click, don’t download, don’t open attachments, don’t respond in any way.

We have a couple of articles on our blog that will be helpful in spotting phishing scams and securing your data, simply by managing your passwords better. They will only take a couple of minutes to read but could make a huge difference to your business or financial future.

After COVID-19 restrictions are eased, it may be that home working is going to remain more common.  So here’s a couple of more tips that might be useful that involve no technology whatsoever

  • don’t let your children use your work devices – they may accidentally infect them and edit or delete information
  • make sure your screen is not visible through windows – use a privacy screen or simply close blinds or curtains

The National Cyber Security Centre website offers really some helpful resources on keeping cyber secure for your business, your employees and your family too.

You are not on your own during this crisis. If you need support deciphering all the business support and what you may be eligible for; if IT is getting a bit too much of a worry and your time would be better spent elsewhere; or if you need payroll or HR guidance, all our teams are continuing to provide assistance.

Information correct as of 6 May 2020

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