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Coronavirus - Special Measures for Business

POSTED BY: Scott Sartin

18 March 20

1. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”)

This scheme is temporarily replacing the Enterprise finance guarantee scheme.

The facility is to be overseen by the British Business Bank and they are currently in the process of defining and agreeing the scheme’s details, specifications and eligibility and therefore information is limited and subject to change. My understanding is that they will be shortly updating their webpages to reflect any potential changes to CBILS.

The link below though is helpful and sets out some information over criteria, eligibility and which banks and other lenders are participating.

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/

2. Small Business Rate Relief

Essentially you can get SBRR if your property’s rateable value is less than £15,000 and your business only uses one property. That said you may still be able to get relief if you use more than one property.

If you qualified as a small business under these criteria, you are eligible got the £10k cash grant. I have attached a link below with details but there is no need to apply. If eligible your local council will make contact with you, with funds expected in early April.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

3. £25,000 grant

If your rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000 then you qualify for a £25k cash grant. Again this is to be delivered by the local council and again I understand there is no need to apply. Please see link above which gives a little more detail. This applies for businesses in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors.

4. Mortgage 3 month payment holiday

So there is help for borrowers in the shape of a three month mortgage holiday.

UK Finance website says that customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should get in touch with their lender at the earliest opportunity to discuss if a mortgage holiday is a suitable option for them.

There are numerous articles you can find on the web.

Some useful points to note though are :

1. Such applications will be fast tracked;

2. Unpaid interest and capital will be recovered later;

3. Repossessions are unlikely;

4. This is not a long term solution;

5. This is not a solution in a situation where there is a permanent reduction in income; and

6. No effect on credit score.

Currently nothing for renters but I fully expect there to be some help announced soon. Rishi Sunak has promised to do ‘whatever it takes’ to see us through this crisis. So keep a look out for further announcements.

In addition to the points noted above, there is of course the business rates holiday for business in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors whose rateable value is less than £51k. This holiday means no business rates for the entire 20/21 tax year. I appreciate that this may not apply directly to you but may affect any commercial tenants you may have.

5. There is also the relief for SSP.

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

• this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19

• employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020

• employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19

• employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

• eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force

• the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

6. Time to Pay

In addition HMRC will also work with businesses struggling with their tax bills and who wish to sort out time to pay arrangements. There is a dedicated helpline for this service – 0800 0159 559.

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