Coronavirus: Government Support for Business Round-up

THE UK AND devolved governments have announced a number of business support measures to help them cope and remain operational through the Coronavirus outbreak.

An initial £7bn package of support for businesses was revealed by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak as part of the Budget, with the UK government pledging to refund statutory sick pay paid out to employees taking time off due to sickness or self-isolation, with employees eligible from day one instead of day four.

This has been followed up with the British Business Bank-backed ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ (CBILS), which will temporarily replace its Enterprise Finance Guarantee.

The latest government assistance advice is here, but details of how to claim have not yet been announced for many of the support funds.

CBILS

CBILS provides the lender with a government-backed 80% guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

Businesses must be:

  • UK-based
  • have annual turnover of less that £41m
  • operate within an eligible sector (includes construction)
  • have a sound borrowing proposal but insufficient security to meet a lender’s normal requirements
  • able to confirm that they have not received State Aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years.

Further details on the British Business Bank are available here.

Businesses are also able to request extra time to pay when it comes to outstanding tax bills. HMRC has set up a dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

There are also further packages available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland individually.

England

There will be a £10,000 cash grant to the smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority and will not need to apply.

There is further support available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to your local authority.

Wales

Alongside a package of rates relief for retail and leisure businesses, Welsh Government has also announced a £100m new grant scheme which provides a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

The Development Bank of Wales is to give its business customers, of which there are more than 1,000, a three-month capital repayment holiday to help them manage the financial fallout from the virus.

Business Wales and the Development Bank of Wales are able to provide Welsh businesses  with tailored support and advice about dealing with coronavirus, from financial and supply chain planning, to advice on staffing issues. The Welsh Government has said it is talking to banks about what support they will offer businesses during this period.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford has also written to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson calling for the UK Government to act as a ‘national insurer’ to protect businesses against bankruptcy.

Business Wales can be contacted on 03000 6 03000 or via the website here.

Scotland

The Scottish Government has so far set aside an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19, with a further 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively the planned below-inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020.

The Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, has also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.

There are also £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief

Northern Ireland

At present, all business rates have been suspended for three months, with rates bills deferred from April to June to assist with cashflow.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds has also held a meeting with the Business Alliance to address supporting businesses through the Covid-19 crisis.

There is also an immediate grant of £10,000 will be provided to all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, which means all businesses with a net annual value up to £15,000.

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