COVID-19 Business Support

Supporting you and your business through this period of uncertainty

We are committed to keeping our clients and the wider business community informed of the considerations that they need to be making and the support that is becoming available. We will be updating this page with any help or guidance we can give to help businesses, please keep checking back.

03.09.20 The Kickstart Scheme – what businesses need to know

The government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme has just been launched to create new six-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Government funding is available for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

Funding is available following a successful application process. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If your business is unable to offer this many job placements, you can partner with other organisations in order to reach the minimum number. If you do decide to apply on behalf of a group of employers, you can get £300 of funding to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers.

Any organisation, regardless of size, can apply for funding from the Kickstart Scheme, but the job placements created with that funding must be new jobs. They must not replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment.

The roles funded through the Kickstart Scheme for must be:
  • a minimum of 25 hours per week, for six months
  • paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement
The Kickstart Scheme is not an apprenticeship, but participants may move on to an apprenticeship at any time during, or after their job placement. The job placements should support the participants to develop the skills and experience they need to find work after completing the scheme.

More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme#how


20.08.20 Deadline for CBILS extended 
 
Banks have been given an extension to consider loans made through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Although the deadline for businesses to apply remains unchanged at 30 September, banks will now have extra time to consider the applications from small and medium sized businesses, which can now be approved up to 30 November and large businesses (to 31 December).
 
When it set up these loan schemes, the government stated that they were temporary measures, but after the most recent announcement there has been speculation that the latest extension may indicate that the CBILS could remain open until the new year. Government statistics just released show that over 1.2 million businesses have benefitted from loans and guarantees worth £52.65 billion during the pandemic.
 
Scrutton Bland have assisted many businesses in our region to apply for grants and loans. For a case study of a typical CBILS process that we helped with, see here. Contact us on 0330 058 6559 or email us if you would like to talk to one of our business advisers.


03.08.20 More information on the Job Retention Scheme announced

The government has clarified the details of the Job Retention Scheme announced last month. 
  • employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee who has previously been furloughed under Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – if they remain continuously employed to the end of January 2021
  • employees must earn at least £520 (the National Insurance lower earnings limit) a month on average between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021
  • those who were furloughed and had a claim submitted for them after the 10 June (when the CJRS closed to new entrants) because they were returning from paternal leave, or serving as a military reservist, will also be eligible for the bonus as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria
  • employers will also be eligible for employee transfers protected under TUPE legislation, provided they have been continuously employed and meet the other eligibility criteria and the new employer has also submitted a CJRS claim for that employee
More information is available on the government website.

31.07.20 Protection for furloughed workers being made redundant

The government has just brought in new legislation aimed at protecting employees and ensuring furloughed workers receive their full entitlement if they are made redundant.

From today (Friday 31 July) any employee who is furloughed but then made redundant will receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal (pre furlough) wages rather than the reduced rate they were paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

There are now over 9.5 million UK workers who are registered as being furloughed, and being paid 80% of their usual wages through the CJRS scheme, up to a maximum of £2500 per month. A minority of employers have used the opportunity to make their furloughed workers redundant, and to base their redundancy pay on the reduced rate they are currently being paid.

The new law means it is illegal to make furloughed workers redundant on anything other than 100% of their full redundancy pay entitlement. It also applies to the statutory notice period (based on their length of service, age and pay) that an employee must be given before their employment ceases.

More information on the latest legislation is available here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-law-to-ensure-furloughed-employees-receive-full-redundancy-payments
You may also like to refer to the FAQs we have put together on the furlough scheme on our News and Views page https://www.scruttonbland.co.uk/news-views/flexible-furlough-%E2%80%93-your-questions-answered

21.07.20 Plan for Jobs Briefing Docs and Overview

The government has published a briefing document on its "Plan for Jobs".

The headline measures:
  • A Job Retention Bonus – to persuade employers to keep on furloughed employees after the furlough scheme finishes at the end of October 2020, the government has announced that employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed on 31 January 2021.
  • The Kickstart Scheme – the government will fund the creation of six-month work placements for young people aged 16 – 24 who are on Universal Credit and are at most risk of long-term unemployment. The funding will cover the full cost of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, as well as the cost of employer National Insurance Contributions and auto-enrolment pension contributions.
  • Traineeships – the government will provide funding for employers to offer work experience to trainees aged 16 – 24 year olds, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
  • Apprenticeships – between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021, the government will provide payments to employers in England who hire new apprentices. The payment will be £2,000 for employers who hire apprentices aged under 25, and £1,500 for each apprentice who is aged 25 and over.

20.07.20 Funding for innovative local businesses needing academic expertise

EIRA, a consortium of seven universities based in the East which aims to connect businesses with academic experts, has just launched the Enabling Recovery Fund to support businesses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme provides project funding for businesses, particularly SMEs, to work with academic experts in the East of England in order to find solutions to their current challenges. Examples of suitable projects could be moving into a new market, taking up new technology to work more efficiently online or developing a new product.
 
Funds for projects are available up to £6k, for projects worth up to £7.5k. EIRA funds 80 per cent of the total value of the project, with companies funding the remaining 20 per cent. Applications are welcomed from SME businesses, but they must be based within EIRA’s geographical remit of the East of England and require academic expertise to explore innovative solutions.

Funding opens today (20 July) and projects must be completed by March 2021.The closing date for applications is September 11. Email eira@essex.ac.uk for an application form or see their website https://eira.ac.uk/contact/

13.07.20 Eat Out to Help Out

Registration for the 'Eat Out to Help Out' discount scheme opens today. 

Restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments who use the scheme can offer a 50% reduction on food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.

Customers do not need a voucher as participating establishments will just remove the discount from their bill. Businesses simply reclaim the discounted amount through an online service, supported by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Claims can be made on a weekly basis and will be paid into bank accounts within five working days.

The scheme is open to eligible establishments across the UK and can be used all day, every Monday to Wednesday, between 3 and 31 August 2020. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-your-establishment-for-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme

08.07.20 Summer Economic Update

Rishi Sunak has declared that "We will not be defined by the crisis but by our response to it". His package of measures to regenerate the economy includes:
  • Confirmation that the furlough scheme will wind down and close at the end of October. 
  • An immediate change to stamp duty, increasing the threshold to £500,000. The new threshold will apply until 31.03.21 and aims to boost the flagging housing market. 
  • A Green Homes Grant scheme allocating £2 billion to pay for green improvements such as loft, floor and wall insulation. Homeowners will be able to apply for vouchers of up to £5k with up to £10k families most in need. A further £1 billion earmarked to ‘decarbonise’ public buildings – such as schools and hospitals to meet the government’s ambition of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 
  • As widely predicted, the govt will fund 6 month job placements for approx 350,000 16- to 24-year-olds claiming Universal Credit. Branded as the “Kickstart” job scheme, each person gets about £5,500 from the govt, whilst businesses will receive £1,000 per person they take on. Funding will cover 100% of Minimum Wage for 6 months, plus an amount to cover overheads, as long as the jobs are new and will give 25 hours of work per week. 
  • A Job Retention Bonus will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. 
  • Help for the holpitality and tourism sector in the form of a six month temporary cut to VAT from 20% to 5% on food, accommodation and attractions such as zoos and theme parks. 
  • £1.6 billion for employment schemes and apprenticeships including a £2000 bonus to businesses for every apprentice they take on under the age of 25 and £1500 for apprentices hired over that age. 
  • An Eat Out to Help Out scheme to run Monday to Wednesday during August giving diners £10 off meals and non-alcoholic drinks in participating restaurants and venues.  This last is likely to create the most comment  - although it is the least costly measure announced today!

08.07.20 Summer Economic Update

Rishi Sunak has annouced a number of measures to help protect incomes, jobs and the national economy. We'll be publishing an overview soon, but in the meantime, if you would like to read the plan click here.

02.07.20 Chancellor's economic update - what can we expect?

There’s mounting speculation about Rishi Sunak’s economic update on 8 July. Temporary tax cuts and additional spending measures are widely anticipated as a means to boost the UK economy and supplement the financial support packages already in place. We’ll be following any announcements and reporting as it happens.
 
23.06.20 Grant Support


We have had a number of clients seeking to understand the different regimes available for Coronavirus grants from the government and so we wanted to put the links in one place.
 
The headline grant schemes, at national level, are listed below:
 
Business support grant funds
England only (see guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).
    
Check if you're eligible for the coronavirus Small Business Grant Fund which was published on 1 April 2020
       
Check if you're eligible for the coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund which was published on 1 April 2020

Apply for the coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund which was published on 8 June 2020

In addition, a number of COVID-19 business support schemes are being delivered directly through the various local authorities:
  
The New Anglia LEP summarises these, as far as Norfolk and Suffolk is concerned, here: https://newanglia.co.uk/accessing-covid-19-business-grants-through-your-local-authority/

The Business Board of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is offering a COVID-19 Capital Grant Scheme:  https://cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk/business-board/covid-19-capital-grant-scheme/
 

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership does not appear to be listing any discretionary support in respect of Essex at this time, but we keep this under review.

The scheme may be checked here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund

23.06.20  “Our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end”
 
As widely predicted, the government has declared a relaxation in the lockdown measures. Boris Johnson has said that from 4 July the two metre restriction is reduced to “one metre-plus” and “where it is possible to keep two metres apart people should”.
 
From 4 July pubs and restaurants in England will be allowed to open both indoors and outdoors provided they put in safety guidelines including table service online.
Other businesses allowed to reopen will be:
  • Hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan parks
  • Hair salons and barbers as long as visors are worn
  • Playgrounds, museums, galleries, theme parks, outdoor gyms and arcades, libraries, social clubs and community centres
 However nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, water parks, indoor gyms, nail bars, swimming pools and water parks will not be able to reopen at this stage.

15.06.20 Flexible Furlough Scheme Summary and Your Questions Answered

Late on Friday evening, the government released a series of documents giving further guidance on the flexible furlough scheme. Our Coronavirus Support Team have created a summary of the main changes to answer key questions you may have.

12.06.20 Flexible Furlough Scheme Guidance Released

The government have released guidance about the Flexible Furlough Scheme. Read more here.

10.06.20 Some lockdown restrictions easing - great news for retailers

Boris Johnson has announced that some restrictions to business operations and social interactions are being relaxed. From Monday 15 June all retailers will be allowed to resume trading, provided that COVID-secure measures are in place. Additionally outdoor attractions such as zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas will also be allowed to open. 

From this weekend, people living alone and single parent families can form a 'social bubble' with one other household to meet without observing social distancing rules. This doesn't apply to those people who are shielding. Finally, places of worship can open for private prayer from Monday.

10.06.20 How will COVID-19 affect my business valuation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all businesses in some way throughout the world, both positively and negatively. For some it's meant diversifying and generating a new income stream, whilst for others it's meant having to temporarily close, furlough staff and make huge adjustments to their business.

Whilst valuations will certainly be more tricky and judgemental in the coming period, Luke Morris and Mark Smith from our Corporate Finance team, discussed the potential impact of COVID-19 on business valuations in today's webinar. If you missed it, watch a recording of the webinar below:



08.06.20 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Closing

Today is the last day you can furlough employees to meet the minimum 3 weeks required to use the tapered & part-time furlough from 1st July to the end October. Read our summary or get in touch if you would like more information about how the changes to the scheme will affect you and your workforce

05.06.20 VAT Reverse Charge Delayed

Welcomed news for the construction sector as the VAT reverse charge on construction services has been delayed again. The government has delayed introducing the reverse charge VAT again because of the economic impact it will have on firms dealing with the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

The changes were originally due to come into effect on 1 October last year and would have seen the customer receiving services having to pay the VAT due to HMRC instead of the supplier – meaning companies would no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submitted bills.The changes have now been pushed back until March 2021. 

03.06.20 Scheme Updates

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our webinar this afternoon. Please find a recording of the webinar below.



02.06.20 Xero Business Update

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our webinar this afternoon. Please find a recording of the webinar below.



01.06.20 Grants for Ipswich Businesses

Ipswich Borough Council has been allocated £1.24 million in discretionary grants for small businesses, including businesses in shared offices, charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligle for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief, and some businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector. Each business will receive £10,000 and there are further qualifying rules available to view here.

29.05.20 Employers to Start Paying Part of Furlough Scheme

From August employers will have to start paying National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed employees, Chacellor Rishi Sunak has announced. Then from September employers will be expected to pay 10% of the wages of these furloughed staff, rising to 20% of their wages in October. This means those staff being fuloughed will still be getting 80% of their normal pay until the end of October, but by then their employer will be paying a quarter of their salary. 

"Our top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis," said Mr Sunak."The furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses."

29.05.20 Forthcoming Changes to the Furlough Scheme

Rishi Sunak is set to start rolling back the furlough scheme at this afternoon's press conference. Last time he took to the podium he surprised everyone by extending the scheme far more generously than was expected. This evening he’s all but certain to tell employers they have to foot more of the bill. The question remains: how much? Reports suggest they could be asked to pay between 20 and 25 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages – and National Insurance and pension contributions as well.

27.05.20 Misleading Figures: Malicious or Misguided Webinar​

Over the last few weeks, as many employees have been working from home, many businesses have tweaked or relaxed their financial controls and procedures to keep their business operational. Sue Gull, Corporate Services Partner and Paul Goddard, Internal Audit Partner led our recent Misleading Figures: Malicious or Misguided Webinar discussing the potential risks and exposures that this may bring. Watch a recording of the webinar below:



26.05.20 Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme Live

The Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme is now live allowing, businesses who have less than 250 employees, and who paid SSP to employees absent from work due to COVID-19 related reasons, can apply to reclaim the amounts paid out. To find out more information and to find out how to claim click here.

22.05.20 Mortgage payment hoilday extended for further three months

In March, the government annouced that there would be a mortgage holiday, allowing people to defer payments without affecting their credit rating. Today, the Treasury have announced that the date for homeowners to apply to extend their mortgage holidays has also been extended, with customers able to apply until the end of October, so if someone applied for one then, it would take them through to January.

Statistics show that more than 1.8 million mortgage customers have taken advantage of the relief to date. 

20.05.20 National Lottery Community Fund available from tomorrow

Small and medium-size charities will be able to apply on the National Lottery Community Fund website from Friday morning. Full details in the NLCF press release.


19.05.20 Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

HMRC have announced that from 26th May, employers will be able to make claims through the​ Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Read more about the scheme here 

18.05.20 Future Fund will open for applications from Wednesday 20th May

The Future Fund uses an online platform for applications, which today publishes its set of standard terms and eligibility criteria for borrowers, investors and solicitors to view in advance of opening for applications from Wednesday.
 
The new Future Fund will support innovative UK companies with good potential, that are essential in ensuring the UK retains its world leading position in science, innovation and technology. These companies typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19.
 
Until now these companies have been unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit. The financing supports companies facing a significantly extended length of time between funding rounds, due to the impact of the current economic situation. 
 
Developed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank, the Future Fund will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. 
 
How it works: 
•    Open for applications from Wednesday 20th May.
•    Scheme operates on a commercial basis to deliver an initial commitment of £250m of new government funding.
•    Financing will be unlocked by additional third-party investment on a match funded basis.
•    Applications submitted via an online platform based on a set of standard terms and eligibility criteria.
 
Eligibility criteria:
•    Companies must be UK-incorporated and if part of a corporate group, only the parent company is eligible.
•    Companies in receipt of the loans will be required to have previously raised at least £250k in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
•    Only eligible companies that can attract at least 50% of third-party investment will receive funding.
•    Companies cannot have any of their shares traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venue.
•    The company must have been incorporated on or before 31st December 2019.
•    At least one of the following must be true for the company:
o    Half or more employees are UK based;
o    Half or more revenues are from UK sales.
 
For more information on the Future Fund eligibility criteria and applications process, see attached factsheet. Or visit the Future Fund webpages here. 
 
The Future Fund online platform will be open for applications from Wednesday 20th May.

14.05.20 New exemption for COVID-19 related reimbursed home office expenses

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury announced that the reimbursement of expenses that would be for home office equipment are exempt from tax. Graham Doubtfire, Tax Partner, commented that this is a welcome tax exemption at a time when businesses are incurring additional expenditure in order to adapt to the new working environment. Read more here. 

13.05.20 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Applications Open

This morning self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.

If eligible, you will be able to claim your SEISS grant on a specified date, from 13 - 18 May. You can check your date using HMRC’s online checker at any time.

Please note that we are unable to submit an application on your behalf using your Government Gateway credentials as it will trigger a fraud alert and will result in delays in receiving payments. 

12.05.20 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our webinar this afternoon. Please find a recording of the webinar below.



12.05.20 Job Retention Scheme Extended

Rishi Sunak has today announced that the Job Retention Scheme, set up to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus, will be extended until the end of October.

He noted that there will not be any changes to the level of support for those on the scheme, 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500, but that the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August onwards.

He also noted that 7.5 million workers are now covered by the scheme, up from 6.3 million last week. 

Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

06.05.20 Personal Finance & Investments Webinar

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our latest webinar. Please find a recording of the webinar below.



05.05.20 Bounce Back Loans application process open​

The Bounce Back Loans application process opened at 9am yesterday. It is open to all UK businesses: loans of up to £50,000 100% backed by the government in order to speed up the process.

This is a loan, not a grant. It will have to be paid back. Conditions and self-certification requirements apply. But, nonetheless, this represents finance at a speed we have never seen.

The process, and our hands-on experience of dealing with applications from yesterday is set out in this webinar



04.05.20 Government announces additional grants for small businesses

On Saturday 2 May 2020, the Government announced that the local business grant funds scheme would receive a 5% top-up aimed at closing the support gap for businesses that don’t qualify for the existing business rates relief. This funding is aimed primarily at small (less than 50 employees) businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The amount to be received by each local authority will be confirmed this week. Click here to read more.

29.04.20 Adviser Live: COVID-19 Insurance & Homeworking Update


Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier for our webinar this morning. Please find a recording of the webinar below.


27.04.20 Small Businesses eligible for Bounce Back Loans

Small businesses are now eligible to apply for new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. It's a new 100% government backed loan scheme for small business. Find out more here 

26.04.20 £10 million package to help Norfolk and Suffolk businesses

A new Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme has been launched to support Norfolk and Suffolk’s businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and into economic recovery.

The new funding scheme will provide grants to support short-term business resilience projects and longer-term recovery and diversification projects.

The new scheme is part of a package of measures totalling over £10m in place from New Anglia LEP to support businesses and economic growth. More information  here


21.04.20 People and HR Update

Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier for our webinar this morning. Please find a recording of the webinar below.


20.04.20 Investment Fund Announced

A new support package for innovative firms hit by Covid-19 will launch in May, including a £500M investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis made up of funding from the Government and the private sector. SMEs focusing on R&D will also benefit from £750M of grants and loans. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund

20.04.20 Job Retention Scheme Portal Live

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Online Portal goes live today. Read more about how to make your submissions https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme​ or view the step by step PDF guide

17.04.20 Furlough Scheme Extended

Following on from yesterday’s announcement to keep the social distancing measures in place, Rishi Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would now be open until the end of June.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500, was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May.

This rather coordinates with the extension of the lock down period announced earlier this week, for at least three weeks to May 7. Read more here

15.04.20 Adviser Live: COVID-19 Tax Update

Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier for our third webinar. Please find a recording of the webinar below.


15.04.20 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update - New Cut Off Date

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which covers 80% of workers' pay, will take applications from Monday 20th April from companies which have laid off workers.

Initially, it only supported those already employed on 28th February but the cut-off date has now been amended to 19th March.

14.04.20 New guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

HMRC has provided further clarifications on the eligibility of TUPE staff, those on long-term sick leave and those returning from parental leave, in its latest guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Read more here.

14.04.20 Coronavirus Reference Scenerio - Office for Budget Responsibility

The OBR has published its coronavirus analysis, predicting the economy will shrink by 35 per cent in Q2. Read the analysis here.

08.04.20 Funding for the Charity Sector
  • The government has announced £750m of funding for the charity sector.
  • £370m of that funding will support small, local charities working with vulnerable people.
  • £360m directly to charities providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people
  • The government will match pound for pound public donations to the BBC ‘Big Night In’ charity fundraiser on April 23rd, starting with at least £20m to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.
More information on the support available to charities affected by coronavirus can be found here

08.04.20 Adviser LIVE: COVID-19 Cash Flow Management Webinar

Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier for our second webinar. Please find a recording of the webinar below.



06.04.20 Tax Reliefs When Working From Home

The Chartered Institute of Taxation has published a useful guide to employer payments and employee claims for tax relief when people are working from home on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 crisis. These reliefs were all available before the pandemic, however they are particularly relevant in the current situation, and in some circumstances HMRC have changed the way the expense or benefit can be reported. We have highlighted some of the main points explained in the guide which can be viewed here.

03.04.20 Small Business Support Grant Fund for East Suffolk

East Suffolk Council is now accepting applications from small businesses who have been affected by COVID-1 and also grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable valueof less than £51,000.
https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/business/covid-19-business-grant-funding/

02.04.20 Business Interruption Loan Scheme – latest developments

Rishi Sunak has announced an overhaul of the government’s bailout scheme for businesses. Banks will be banned from asking small firms for personal guarantees on loans and relax other rules to ensure businesses can access the money they need.
 
Today’s statement is an update to the scheme announced two weeks ago in which the chancellor declared that he state will underwrite 80% of the risk of bank loans of up to £5 million. The chancellor’s announcement has come about in light of reports that one in five small companies would not survive the next month.
 
Many businesses trying to use the emergency loan scheme have said banks are taking advantage of the scheme and being unreasonable in demanding personal guarantees and charging double-digit interest rates on business loans.
 
These are the main points:
  • Rishi Sunak has said that banks are banned from requiring those taking out loans less than £250k to provide personal guarantees such as rights to their assets or property. Most big banks have already promised this but the government wants to ensure that all lenders now do so.
  • The government will also remove a requirement for businesses to demonstrate that they have no other means of accessing funding.
  • Larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help, and the amended scheme will now offer government-backed loans of up to £25m to firms with revenues of between £45m and £500m.
  • Businesses applying for the loans will still have to demonstrate that they were ‘creditworthy’ before the current crisis to ensure the government does not prop up failing businesses.
The chancellor is also said to be drawing up a support package for charities amid warnings that they face a £4 billion black hole. Charities have called on the government to set up a “stabilisation fund”.
 
A report by The Corporate Finance Network of accountants predicted that nearly one in five small companies will not be able to survive the next month due to the lockdown. This could result in nearly four million staff losing their jobs in May, it said. As many as 42 per cent of small firms could go bust if the lockdown lasts for four months or more, it added.
 
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has indicated that whilst most businesses have up to three months’ cash in reserve there are almost one in five businesses who have less than a month’s cash to keep going.
 
“The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on business and economic activity across the UK,” Adam Marshall, the director general of the BCC, said. “While businesses have welcomed the unprecedented size and scope of the government support packages, our findings highlight the urgent need for that support to reach businesses on the ground as soon as possible. The majority of firms cannot wait weeks or months for help to arrive.”

02.04.20 Emergency Loan Scheme - Revamp

The government has conceded to pressure around its emergency loan schemes. One quite remarkable comment really stands out: “The Treasury said it had received more than 130,000 loan enquires from firms but fewer than 1,000 had been approved.” Read more here

01.04.20 Adviser LIVE: COVID-19 Job Rentention Scheme

Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier for the first of our series of webinars. Please find a recording of the webinar below. A copy of the questions and answers are available to view here.  



31.03.20 UK Supermarket Sales

UK grocery sales have risen by 21 per cent over the last four weeks, with the sale of alcohol up 22 per cent. Frozen food and cupboard supplies have increased by 28 per cent.

31.03.20 Valuations

The International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC) has set out a useful summary of dealing with valuation uncertainty at times of market unrest.

One of the main issues when dealing with valuation uncertainty is that a valuation is not a fact, but it is an estimate of the most probable of a range of possible outcomes based on the assumptions made in the valuation process.

See: https://www.ivsc.org/files/file/view/id/1719

30.03.20 Government support for larger businesses

In the last few days we have had a number of conversations with clients who are too big for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

However, it is possible to obtain some liquidity via the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), designed for larger companies. Loan Notes will be taken up directly by the Bank of England through the purchase by the BoE (through a Government company) of commercial paper (CP). Approaches should be made, in the first instance, to a bank on the approved list: https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/covid-19-corporate-financing-facilities

Find out more by visiting our Grants, Business Rates and Loans page. 

29.03.20 Changes to the Insolvency Regime

On Saturday Alok Sharma MP announced changes to the insolvency regime, to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure to continue trading.

This includes:
- Enabling them to buy supplies while attempting a rescue
- Temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability

This is another move from the government aimed at reducing the burden on business and allowing directors "space" to keep things going.
 
It does not put a moratorium on the regulations all together, so seek advice from us if you are in real difficulty.

It is interesting that the UK approach, illustrated by the job retention scheme and the recent announcements for the self-employed, and now this, are all aimed at supporting employment and keeping jobs in place. Provisions in other countries, such as the US, have been more aimed at the benefits system, with an apparent acceptance that businesses will "go under" at this time. It is too early to say which measure will be most effective in the long term, but the clear aim of the UK government would seem to be to keep as many jobs in place so that the recovery, when it comes, will be as quick as possible.

29.03.20 Small Business Support Grant Fund for Babergh, Ipswich and Mid-Suffolk

The link to apply for the Babergh, Ipswich and Mid-Suffolk Small Business Support Grant Fund is now available 

https://my.ipswich.gov.uk/AchieveForms/?mode=fill&consentMessage=yes&form_uri=sandbox-publish://AF-Process-951827e3-3a3d-470c-a8bf-894c1d698927/AF-Stage-7aabf496-9add-472a-83f6-c7c0c77e4914/definition.json&process=1&process_uri=sandbox-processes://AF-Process-951827e3-3a3d-470c-a8bf-894c1d698927&process_id=AF-Process-951827e3-3a3d-470c-a8bf-894c1d698927

29.03.20 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund for Babergh, Ipswich and Mid-Suffolk

The link to apply for the Babergh, Ipswich and Mid-Suffolk Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund is now available 

https://my.ipswich.gov.uk/AchieveForms/?mode=fill&consentMessage=yes&form_uri=sandbox-publish://AF-Process-7058a543-c6a0-444c-9006-644690fb7dc5/AF-Stage-60a83e92-af01-4359-88bd-5e28d963a073/definition.json&process=1&process_uri=sandbox-processes://AF-Process-7058a543-c6a0-444c-9006-644690fb7dc5&process_id=AF-Process-7058a543-c6a0-444c-9006-644690fb7dc5​

28.03.20 Annual Leave Rules Relaxed

Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19. Meaning that workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.

27.03.20 Job Retention Scheme

​More details about the Job Retention Scheme have been announced. We have summarised the main points from the government website below:
  • Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees' usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer NIC and minimum auto-enrolment Employer pension contributions on that wage
  • Employers must have created and started a PAYE scheme on or before 28th February 2020 and have a UK bank account
  • Furloughed employees must have been on the PAYE scheme on 28th February 2020 (this means that employees hired after the 28th February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with the scheme)
  • To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation
  • At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of either 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month
  • Whilst on furlough, the employee's wage will be subject to the usual income tax and other deductions
  • Employers should discuss furloughing with their employees and make any changes to their employment contract in agreement with them. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way
  • Employees can be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks
Read more about the scheme by visiting https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

26.03.20 The Self Employed Income Support Scheme
 
Rishi Sunak has unveiled a package of measures designed to protect the income of almost all self employed people in the UK. In his words: “You have not been forgotten.” These are the main points of the package: 
  • The government will pay people who make the majority of their income from self employment a taxable grant of 80% of monthly profits averaged over the past three years.
  • The taxable grant will be paid by HMRC directly into the person’s bank account and will be capped at £2500 per month.
  • The scheme applies to all self assessed people with annual trading profits of £50k or less.
  • Payments will begin in June, backdated to March so people will receive three months’ grant in one go.
  • The scheme will run for at least the next three months.
  • Self employed people can access the business interruption loan scheme (as other businesses are able to), and self employed people can access Universal Credit in full if they need support before then.
  • Self assessment income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of January 2021.
  • Anyone who missed filing their tax return at the end of January will have another four weeks from today (26 March) to complete this.
  • In order to avoid fraud, the scheme will only apply to people who have already declared themselves to HMRC as self employed and have a tax return for 2018/19.

Self-employed people do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn’t yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.

One footnote: Rishi Sunak says he is treating the self employed like the employed, but “we must all pay in equally in future”. Does this herald tax reforms for the self employed who may lose some of their tax advantages in future?
 
More information on the scheme is available at
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals

Watch our short video for a quick overview of the scheme 


25.03.20 Business Interruption 

One of various measures introduced by the government to help businesses in the current health crisis has gone live this week, namely the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or CBILS.

CBILS has been set up to provide small and medium sized businesses based in the UK who have a turnover of up to £45m with access to various types of lending (loans, overdrafts, invoice and asset finance) of up to £5m for a term of up to 6 years through the High Street banks and various other lenders. Find out more here

24.03.20 Statutory Residence Test

Changes have been announced to the Statutory Residence Test as a result of coronavirus. This legislation determines how many days you have to be in the UK to be classed as a resident for tax purposes. Some people try to keep below this level so that they are not UK resident and therefore only taxed on some of their income. 

HMRC have relaxed the rules slightly to allow people to stay in the UK for exceptional circumstances such as them being in isolation or not being able to travel outside of the UK. More information here https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/residence-domicile-and-remittance-basis/rdrm11005

23.03.20 - Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
 
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has now opened. It will take loan applications and supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities and can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. 
 
CBILS: Key Features
  • Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years.
  • 80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance, subject to an overall cap per lender.
  • No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.
  • Interest and fees paid by Government for 12 months: The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees[1], so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.[2]
  • Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
  • Security: At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.
  • The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
 Next Steps
  • CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders which are listed on the British Business Bank’s website https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
  • In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider through the lender’s website.
  • If a business is unable to access the finance they need from their usual provider, then they may also wish to approach other accredited lenders in the CBILS.
  • The decision on whether your business is eligible for the CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited lenders, which include high street banks, challenger banks and asset-based lenders.
  • If the accredited lender can offer finance on the usual commercial financial terms, without the need to make use of the scheme, then they will do so.
  • Any queries by SMEs in relation to their specific circumstances must be directed to their lender or one of the participating CBILS lenders and not to the British Business Bank.
  
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23.03.20 - HMRC Update

HMRC have launched basic details of the new measures announced by the Chancellor next week.  All details at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses 

20.3.2020 - Moving towards "National Insurance for Business"

We expect Rishi Sunak to announce measures to subsidise wages to help millions of workers later today (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51969708).

This marks a key move, away from just cash flow support and towards a more comprehensive underwriting of UK business at this time. Labour have urged the government to follow Denmark's plan and cover as much as 85 per cent of workers' wages for several months.

These are socialist measures that Jeremy Corbyn would only have dreamt of introducing before the start of this crisis.

20.03.20 - Fearware
Our IT, insurance and internal audit teams have all noted an increase in so-called "phishing" and ransomware emails both in private accounts and at work.

As of today the Cyber Intelligence services have reported a 400% increase in threatening emails attempting to extort money since the pandemic began.

We are constantly updating our IT security mechanisms as an organisation, however these emails are intended to make the recipients feel afraid, are becoming ever more sophisticated, and are simply about the criminal sender making money out of the crisis.

If you receive such emails most commecercial security software allows the user to report and block. That is what you should do.

However, you should also report these cases to Action Fraud and the National Phishing Crime Bureau.

We advise our clients to continue to be vigilant, more so at this time, in not clicking embedded links in emails from senders unless you are certain the email is valid.

20.03.20 - Companies House Filing Extension
Companies House have announced that companies can apply for an extension of up to 3 months when filing accounts, reports or confirmation statements to allow for delays to signing caused by Covid-19. Criteria will apply and it will only be granted if the extension is applied for before the original filing date. Other regulatory deadlines (FCA etc) may continue to apply.

19.03.20 - Bank of England, Interest Rates
This is a favourite chart of ours which we use in Budget Breakfast briefings and the like.
 
But at 2.30pm today the BoE base rate was reduced to 0.1% - its lowest point ever.
 
This puts the current matter in to some sort of historical context.
 
It also means that the BoE has now run out of powder (it has long been a point of BoE policy and principle that base rates in this country will not go negative, as they have in certain parts of Europe). More telling, it means that the BoE it does not think last week’s fiscal stimulus at the Budget was enough.
 
Milton Friedman postulated the concept of “Helicopter Money” in the 1960s. Money through the letterbox (or falling from the sky) for every household, to fight deflation. An alternative to QE when a country is in a liquidity trap but has nowhere to go.
 
It might not come to helicopter money, but a further monetary stimulus just a week after the last unscheduled one, together with this historic rate, is unprecedented. It is not beyond the realms of possibility and we would not rule it out. This, along with some analysts saying it is possible we will see negative oil prices (Aramco will pay you to take oil) speaks to the scale of this crisis and how the rules are changing quickly. Please keep following us for further updates.

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19.03.20 - Loans for SMEs

As of now the Government is treating this crisis as a ”cash flow” issue as far as business is concerned. The Chancellor’s main response in this regard, tweeted yesterday: ”We’re providing loans of up to £5million for small or medium-sized businesses, with no interest to pay for 6 months. Available from next week. Details: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/

We will provide clear instructions on how this is accessed, as soon as it is clear.
 
However, our view is a more appropriate policy response may be something akin to business interruption insurance. The Government, ultimately, needs to be the “insurer of last resort”. What is required is a National Insurance for Business rather than just cash flow relief.”
 
Get in touch
For more information about any issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, please speak to your usual Scrutton Bland contact or call Luke Morris on 0330 058 6559
Email Luke