Learn more about our latest Covid-19 updates and resources

Covid-19: Business Advice

NEW GOVERNMENT SUPPORT MEASURES

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs.
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England.
  • 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.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance.
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.
  • Funding to cover 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month until the end of October 2020.
  • Deferring Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months.
  • Lenders banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
  • A new £1.25 billion package including; £750 million of loans and grants for innovative businesses. and; up to £250 million from the Government for an investment fund for high-growth companies.
  • A new Bounce Back Loan scheme has been announced to support SMEs negatively affected by COVID-19.
  • Launched a new ‘support finder’ tool for businesses, driven by a short questionnaire, this tool is designed to help business owners quickly identify what financial support is available to them.

Please check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure you are acting on the most up to date information.


FUNDING

With so much information for businesses to digest at the moment around funding, we’ve put together a list of some of the main Research and Innovation (R&I) funding opportunities available.

The following measures to bolster support for business have been announced:

A new £1.25bn package including; £750 million of loans and grants for innovative businesses and up to £250 million from the Government for an investment fund for high-growth companies.

The £750m of targeted support for R&D will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme, allocated if your company passes an ‘innovation assessment’. Details to be made available in due course.

The £500m ‘Future Fund’ investment scheme has now launched more information on how to apply can be found here. It will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5m of Government funding, with private investors matching (or bettering) their side, as long as the company has previously raised equity from a third party. It is a convertible loan, so if it cannot be repaid, the money will convert into equity. The fund will be £500m in size, 50/50 split between the private and public sectors with match-funding private sector money used to up the fund total.The eligibility criteria has been set that a business must have raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from a third party over the past five years. 

More information on the future fund:

Scheme Overview – an outline of the scheme, its operation and eligibility criteria

FAQs for Companies – a guide covering a range of topics relevant to both management teams and investors

Template CLN Agreement – the agreement for the Convertible Loan Note (CLN)

Directors Certificate – the details of the warrants required to be made by the Directors

 

The government have announced a new Bounce Back Loan scheme to support SMEs negatively affected by COVID-19. The loans are intended to be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application with funds reaching businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it.

More information on how to apply can be found on GOV.UK.

Businesses can apply for loans between £2k-50k, terms of the loan include:

  • Interest and fee free for the first 12 months.
  • No capital repayments for the first 12 months.
  • 100% guaranteed by the UK government.

A £40 million investment to drive forward new technological advances, supporting innovative businesses and start-ups. The government is doubling investment in the ‘Fast Start’ Competition with an additional £20 million. The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity. Find out more at GOV.UK

 

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to reduce Bank Rate to 0.1%.  The MPC also voted unanimously for the Bank of England to introduce a new Term Funding scheme with additional incentives for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (TFSME), up to £5 million, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves.

 

A new Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) aimed at larger businesses and delivered via the Bank of England. A market notice explaining initial details of how the facility will work, together with application forms and pricing can be found on their website.  Information for corporates looking to take part in the scheme can be found here.

 

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

 

The British Business Bank have announced:

  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supporting small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.
  • The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.
  • The CBILS scheme has now been extended so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. Please find more information on the dedicated CBILS FAQ’s page.

 

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund has been announced:

  •  The £5million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business.

 

A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small business affected by COVID-19, including:

 


TAX

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. These businesses can:

 

  • Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
  • Visit HMRC website for more information.

 

The government will defer Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. UK Registered businesses will not need to make VAT payments normally due with VAT returns during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

 

Value Added Tax (VAT)

  • The government will defer Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. UK Registered businesses will not need to make VAT payments normally due with VAT returns during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

 

Time to Pay

  • HMRC have increased their capacity to deal with and approve deferrals to tax payments. Accessed via the helpline (0800 0159 559) you will need to provide a range of information in order for an approval to be made.
  • This information will most likely include: an outline of the business (size, number of employees, recent history, basic financial position with regard to profit / loss); why the business is currently experiencing cash flow pressures; what self-help (cash generation, preservation, mitigation) measures have been initiated? Actions taken with suppliers and customers – payments on account, deferral plans etc; description of plans to get back to stability and return to paying HMRC liabilities as and when they fall due; shareholder/ Director position; other sources of funding being considered.

RATES

The government will:

  • Provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for SBBR or Rural Rate Relief. You will not need to apply. This will be administered by the local authority who will pay this directly to businesses from early April. Any enquiries for Leeds City Council regarding business rates should be sent to Business.rates@leeds.gov.uk 

 

  • Temporarily increase the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value.
  • The government has postponed the planned Business Rates revaluation. A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus.

INTERNATIONAL TRADING

General guidance:

The government has updated its advice for businesses delivering goods and services abroad that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. This guidance includes what financial support is available for businesses trading internationally.

The Department for International Trade can support businesses by providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products; and offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity. Please check GOV.UK for further information.

The Department for International Trade Yorkshire & Humber team can be reached via phone, video call or email, all of their services will now be delivered through digital means to ensure the safety of everyone.

If businesses you need to speak to the department for advice and support on how COVID-19 is impacting your business or don’t have an International Trade Adviser yet, you can contact them on 0300 365 1000 or email yorkshire@mobile.trade.gov.uk 

Clarification has been added on the guidance for the freight transport industry on international travel following government advice for British nationals. Please visit GOV.UK for further information.

 

Licence applications:

The Department for International Trade has revised arrangements for processing licence applications during the COVID-19 outbreak. More information can be found on GOV.UK

 

Duty Deferment scheme:

HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email cdoenquiries@hmrc.gov.uk or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222.

 

Export Insurance Policy (EXIP):

UK Export Finance announced it is expanding the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) 

This policy covers transactions with the EU, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA with immediate effect. Previously these markets, which account for 74% of all UK exports, were considered to be ineligible for export insurance as being too low risk.


REPORTING

A service to apply for more time, up to 3 months, to file your annual accounts with Companies House has been announced. Please visit GOV.UK to apply.

Applications take around 15 minutes to complete and to get started you’ll need: company number, an email address, information about your extension reasons and any documents that support your application (optional).

Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register. More information can be found at GOV.UK.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have:

Announced a freeze on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks.

The FCA is aware that the unprecedented impact of Covid19 has changed the ways in which companies report and plan.

The FCA, FRC and the PRA will shortly be announcing further measures to prepare appropriate disclosures and address practical challenges. Please check the FCA website for further information.


INSURANCE 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Association of British Insurers have:

  • issued a statement on business insurance cover
  • have provided a COVID-19 Q&A which includes advice on business insurance, trade credit, income protection and pensions and investments.

Insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics like COVID-19. However, businesses that have an insurance policy which covers government ordered closure and pandemics and/or unspecified notifiable diseases may be able to claim.