In the last few weeks, the Government says it has spent more than £15 billion on COVID-19 business support schemes, the most recent of which arrived in the form of bounce-back loans.
Here’s our round-up of the main support measures announced as of the end of April, and how to access them.
CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME
The coronavirus job retention scheme, which allows employers to claim 80% of their furloughed employees’ usual wages up to £2,500, was announced at the end of March, and so far more than 500,000 claims have been made through it.
Updates were made to the scheme throughout April including the announcement on 3 April that off-payroll contractors working for public-sector organisations would be covered.
The scheme has also been extended until the end of June, and the cut-off date for eligibility was moved so that it applies to workers who were employed and on PAYE on or before 19 March 2020 – instead of 28 February as previously announced.
The portal through which employers can claim for their furloughed staff’s wages under the scheme opened on 20 April, and can be accessed here.
SUPPORT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED
Under a scheme announced on 26 March, self-employed people who have suffered a loss in income because of coronavirus will receive a taxable grant worth 80% of their usual profits, up to £2,500 a month.
It has been confirmed that HMRC will contact those who are eligible in mid-May, with the intention of making payments by early June.
GOVERNMENT LOAN SCHEMES
The coronavirus business interruption loan scheme went live on 23 March, and was extended on 3 April so that more businesses would be eligible.
The changes included preventing lenders from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000, as well as operational changes to speed up approvals.
A separate coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme also opened on 3 April, which offered a Government guarantee of 80% on loans of up to £25 million, for firms with an annual turnover between £45m and £500m.
In addition, a ‘future fund’ was revealed to provide Government loans ranging from £125,000 to £5m, for companies that can find equal funding from private investors, and that meet other qualifying conditions. This scheme will open in May, and more details can be found here.
And on 27 April, a ‘bounce-back loans’ scheme was announced, in response to concerns that other schemes were taking too long to access.
This will open on 4 May and offer small businesses microloans of 25% of their turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS
Emergency grants for small businesses in England were announced in March. These include £10,000 for businesses eligible for small business rate relief, and of £25,000 for qualifying retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
As of 27 April, councils had distributed around £7.5bn of the £12.3bn available, but more than a third of businesses identified as eligible had yet to receive their grant.
You can find out whether you’re eligible for this, or other Government support, here.
Afford Bond Chartered Accountants reported on other changes made in April including:
- Year-long business rate holidays began on 1 April for qualifying businesses in England.
- A temporary ban on statutory demands and winding-up petitions issued to commercial tenants was put in place, to protect high-street businesses.
- The second phase of Making Tax Digital for VAT, which would have included the requirement for digital links, was delayed until 1 April 2021.
- A £750m funding package for UK charities was announced.
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