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COVID-19: Latest Updates for Businesses

Apprenticeships, Traineeships & Kickstart Work Placements

Have you ever considered taking on an apprentice for your business? Are you interested in the apprenticeship bonus being offered by the government right now? If you’d like to know more about apprenticeships, traineeships and the new Kickstart work placement scheme, download our booklet now.


Grants Updates

Business Grant Schemes Wrapping Up

Local authorities have been instructed to wrap up the Coronavirus Business Grant Schemes and return the remaining funds by August 28th.  If you think you might be eligible for one of these grants and haven’t received one make sure you check this out asap.  Enterprise Nation have supplied a helpful spreadsheet with links to all the local authorities in this post.

Grants to Boost Recovery from Covid-19

Small and medium sized businesses in England can access grants between £1,000 – £5,000 for new equipment and technology and specialist advice the need to adapt, recover and rebuild following coronavirus.

Sustainable Innovation Fund

This fund from Innovate UK is for new projects focusing on sustainable recovery from COVID-19.  More details here.

Future Fund

The Future Fund is designed to support the UK’s innovative businesses affected by Covid-19. These businesses have been unable to access other government business support programmes, such as CBILS, because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit and typically rely on equity investment. The scheme will deliver an initial commitment of £250m of new government funding which will be unlocked by private investment on a match funded basis.

There is a full overview of the scheme here, investor-specific information and FAQs here and company-specific information and FAQs here..

Cultural Recovery Fund

The kinds of organisations that are eligible to apply include:

  • limited companies registered at Companies House
  • community interest companies (CICs) registered with the CIC regulator
  • charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) registered with the Charity Commission
  • charitable companies or charitable trusts registered with the Charity Commission
  • limited liability partnerships registered at Companies House
  • partnerships established under a partnership deed/ agreement
  • community benefit and co-operative societies registered with the Financial Conduct Authority
  • Royal Charter bodies
  • statutory bodies and other public bodies including Universities and museum who run or maintain cultural services

The lead organisation must also be able to provide at least one year’s independently certified or audited financial statements.
More information here.


Jobs and Employment Help

Furlough Bonus

As furloughing is being eased out the government will offer furloughing bonus to businesses that retain previously furloughed employees until January 2021.  To qualify for this bonus, you must pay your returning employee at least £520 per month until then.  We will share more details as we have them.

Flexible Furloughing

If you are bringing staff back on flexible furloughing the chances are you have more questions than answers. Our short guide answers some of the most frequently asked.

Eating out vouchers

Restaurants and cafes will be able to offer 50% discount to customers in August, up to a maximum of £10 per head, from Monday to Wednesday.  They can reclaim the discount from the government by registering online to take part in the scheme.

VAT

VAT will be reduced from 20% to 5% for food, accommodation and attractions until January 2021.

Kickstart Scheme

  • The government will pay 6 months of the salary of a young person who is being given a new job of at least 25 hours a week at minimum wage.  These jobs must be “good” jobs with training.   Businesses can apply for this from next month, with the hope that some jobs will begin by September. 
  • Firms will receive £2,000 for each apprentice they take on.  £1,500 if they are over 25.

CBILs, JRS & Small Business Grants

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CIBLs)

  • Small businesses can apply for up to £10,000 interest free for 12 months
  • The loans will be rolled out from the British Business Bank to high-street banks. Businesses should apply to their own provider, preferably online
  • In anticipation of the government backed loan scheme (CBILS), you might find it useful to read our notes on how to forecast your cash flow.  As soon as we have a information about how to access this, we will be in touch.

Accessing CBILS has not been straight forward and banks were applying arbitrary criteria.  Just a reminder that banks are not allowed to:

  • Ask for personal guarantees for loan amounts up to £250k
  • Refuse to consider you because you have been turned down for a commercial loan 

Bounce Back Loans

Partly because of the difficulty accessing CBILS, the government introduced Bounce Back Loans (BBL).

The government offers 100% guarantee to the lender for loans between £2,000 & £50,000 up to 25% of the business’ turnover. You can only apply through accredited lenders; a list of which can be found here. It’s important to remember the 100% guarantee is for the lender and you always remain fully liable for the repayment of the debt.

Jobs Retention Scheme (Furloughing)

  • The JBS is now closed to any employee who was not previously furloughed for at least 3 weeks prior to June 30th.
  • Owner-manager of a business may continue to undertake statutory duties while they are furloughed. Full details here.
  • The JRS covers 80% of salaries up to a total of £2,500. Employers can top up salaries. 
  • The scheme is back dated to 1st March, 2020 and will begin to taper out from August when employers will begin to make contributions as follows:
  • August – The government will continue to pay 80% and employers will be asked to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions
  • September – The government will pay 70% and employers will pay 10%
  • October – The government will pay 60% and employers will pay 20%, after which the scheme will end.
  • Government guidelines on applying for the Jobs Retention Scheme
  • COVID-19:Guidance for Employees
  • Clearly explained furloughing guidance from ICAEW
  • If you need to furlough an employee you may find this form and this guidance useful.
  • If you need to furlough a director of a company, you may find this form useful, along with this Board Minutes template.

Grants linked to Rateable Value

Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

Your council will contact you if you are eligible. Fill out any forms they send you promptly.

Check the government guidelines to see if your business is eligible for the grants here

If you haven’t already claimed your grant, here are links to some of our local councils

Richmond

Kingston upon Thames

Hammersmith & Fulham

Local Government Discretionary Grant

A further discretionary grant, also known as the Top Up Scheme has been made available through your local goverment.

You must apply through your local council. Find more information here.


The chancellor’s Summer Statement

Download our brief guide to the latest developments.


Easy Guide to Support Available

For a clear overview of all support available, who is eligible and what you have to do, see A Brief Guide to Support for Businesses and Self-Employed Affected by the Coronavirus Crisis


VAT

In aid of cashflow support, HMRC will be deferring the next quarter of VAT payment. You’ll have until the end of the financial year (that’s 5 April 2021) to get it paid.

NB: the deferment is automatic but if you pay VAT by direct debit, you need to cancel the direct debit with your bank.

Council Tax

Richmond Council have said they will not take enforcement action if residents are temporarily unable to pay their council tax. If that is your situation, contact your local council to come to an agreement.

HMRC Helpline: 0800 024 1222

HMGovernment Business Support Page

Citizen’s Advice Page for guidance if you cannot pay your bills.

Ofgem have a page offering advice if you cannot pay your energy bills


Business Rates Holiday

A 12-month business rates holiday for all shops, pubs, theatres, music venues, restaurants and any other hospitality or leisure business.

Mortgage Holidays, Extended Credit, Loan Breaks

Anyone affected by the coronavirus will be able to secure a 3 month mortgage break. But you must speak to your lender first.

In addition, many banks are emergency credit card increases, larger cash withdrawals etc to help customers make it through the coronavirus scare. Check with your bank to see what they can offer

Miscellaneous

Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments

The government has introduced extra protection for businesses with a ban on eviction for commercial tenants who miss rent payments. You must agree this with your landlord and you will still be expected to pay all rent due at a later date.


NatWest Working Capital Support

NatWest has pledged £5bn support for SMEs during Coronavirus outbreak.

Facebook Grants

If you have been in business for over a year and have between 2 and 50 employees you might be eligible for a Facebook Grant

Resources

COVID-19 Business Action Plan

If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to get your staff together to put together an action plan for your business to help you weather the on-coming storm. Here is a suggested agenda.

Cashflow Action Plan

We all feel like we have no control of this situation, but that’s not true. One of the best things you can do right now is assess your cashflow and make a plan for the coming weeks and months. You can find a template to create your cashflow action plan here. Of course, we can help you with this if you need that.

Ways to Pivot Your Business

This is an extremely difficult times for businesses and the self-employed. But we are hearing some stories that give us hope many of us can refocus our energies, if only temporarily. If you’re struggling to think of ways to pivot your business right now, this document might help.