Antoinette Sandbach - Eddisbury Liberal Democrats

COVID-19: Update - Support available for businesses affected by coronavirus

Following my article on 18 March 2020, this posting provides an update on the further support measures announced by the Chancellor for businesses affected by COVID-19 and the roll-out of the schemes previously announced.

Closure of non-essential businesses

  • On 23 March the Government ordered that all non-essential business premises should close until further notice to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. A full list of businesses and premises affected is available here.
  • The Government will review the situation in three weeks and relax the measures if the evidence shows that this is possible.

Where to find detailed information on the support available to businesses

  • The Government has launched a single website (https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/) to help businesses find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of COVID-19 on their business. The site includes detailed information regarding schemes and support measures which have been announced by the Government, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.
  • A comprehensive list of the support measures announced to date, including eligibility criteria and how to access/apply for the scheme, is also available here.
  • For a useful summary of the actions that businesses should be taking, you may wish to read this article by Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • Open to all UK businesses.
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC are currently setting up the online portal to submit details of furloughed employees and the payment system to reimburse these costs to employers.

Deferral of VAT Payments

  • Businesses do not need to make a VAT payment between 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
  • This measure will apply automatically – there is no need to apply.
  • Liabilities arising from the deferral will need to be paid by the end of the 2020/21 tax year, i.e. by end March 2021.

Protection for Commercial Tenants

  • Commercial tenants who are unable to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction if they miss a payment within the next three months.
  • This measure will come into force as soon as the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent, expected to be 25 March 2020, and will last until 30 June 2020, with an option for the Government to extend this period if so required.

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

  • The Government have published guidance for local authorities setting out further details and eligibility criteria for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). The guidance is available here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

  • The CBIL Scheme is now available through participating lenders. A list of accredited lenders and partners is available on the British Business Bank CBILS webpage
  • An overview of the scheme is available in my previous posting.
  • In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider to discuss potential options. A number of private lenders are already making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group, £5 billion from NatWest and £7 billion from Barclays.  Given the likely demand and pressure on telephone lines and branches, it is suggested that enquiries and applications are done via your provider’s website.
  • If your provider is unable to assist, CBILS covers a wide range of business finance facilities, including (i) term loans, (ii) overdrafts, (iii) asset finance, and (iv) invoice finance.
  • To check your business’s eligibility, please review the British Business Bank’s quick eligibility checklist.
  • You can find the answers to frequently asked questions about the CBIL scheme here.

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • Eligible larger companies can apply for the Bank of England to buy their short term debts under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility.
  • Eligibility criteria and details of how to apply are set out on the Bank of England’s website.

Businesses trading internationally

  • The Government has published guidance outlining the support measures which are being provided by the Department of International Trade for businesses trading internationally, including the UK Export Finance Scheme which seeks to provide guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the Government in order to protect UK exporters facing delayed payment or transport restrictions.
  • If you have questions regarding international trade and COVID-19, please contact the business support helpline on 0300 456 3565 or visit the dedicated business support website.
  • Further guidance is available here.

You can find detailed information in the Government’s COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated daily with further advice and guidance as the various support measures go live.

Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils have set up dedicated webpages for businesses affected by COVID-19.  You can access CWAC's here and Cheshire East's here.

You can keep up to date with all of the latest Government COVID-19 guidance here.

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