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Coronavirus/COVID-19: Update 9 April 2020

We are going to be taking a break for Easter and therefore this will be our last update until Tuesday 14 April. Our offices will be completely closed tomorrow, over the weekend and also on Easter Monday. But we will be back, revitalised, on Tuesday and contactable again on our usual phone numbers and email addresses.

The latest government announcements include support for charities, investment funding for technology and R&D businesses and confirmation from the FCA of help to manage credit card, loans and overdrafts.

Charity Support Package

The Chancellor announced yesterday evening (08 April 2020) that UK charities will be able to access a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

£360 million of the funding will come direct from government departments to support:

  • hospices to help increase capacity
  • St John Ambulance to support the NHS
  • victims charities, including domestic abuse
  • vulnerable children charities, to enable continuation of service on behalf of local authorities
  • Citizens Advice to increase the number of staff.

£370 million will be available for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund. This aims to support organisations in local communities, for example those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.

The government has also committed to match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month, pledging a minimum of £20 million.

Government departments are now working to identify priority recipients, with the aim to be able to distribute funding in the coming weeks. The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational within a similar period of time.

It is worth a reminder that charities as employers are allowed to furlough staff and those that have rateable properties will also be able to benefit from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) funding. Properties likely to qualify include charity shops, museums, galleries, historic houses, sport charity facilities, theatres, public halls, and clubhouses, clubs and institutions.

We know clients who have applied and already received RHLG funding, therefore if you would like help in applying for a grant please let us know.

Innovation Funding for Technology and R&D Businesses

As part of a £20m programme, the government is making grants of up to £50,000 available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience to the impact felt by the country during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Funding applications are open now and will be reviewed as part of a competition launched and administered by Innovate UK.

For an application to be eligible, your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £50,000
  • be able to start by 1st June 2020 at the latest
  • be no longer than 6 months in duration.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to deliver the proposed outcomes for UK domestic or global benefit.

You will be able to claim 100% of your project costs up to a maximum of £50,000. These will be paid in advance of the project start date.

Full details can be found here on the GOV.UK website  If you are considering applying, don’t wait too long,  the closing date for applications is 17 April 2020.

Loans, Credit Card and Overdraft Relief

Following proposals made last week, 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.

Finally, a reminder that our offices are closed and the GWA team are on holiday on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
We would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter. Take care and keep safe.

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