Coronavirus: Advice and Help
28 Apr 2020
*This page will be updated as more advice and resources become available.*
The DMA has gathered Information from the Government alongside advice from our partner organisations to help our industry through this time.
Given the wide impact of Coronavirus on the economy, the government has announced and continues to announce emergency measures to help businesses through this time.
The Government has created a business support campaign. Their business support campaign website outlines the full range of business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses and employees. There is also an online toolkit covering the content and messaging from the government which will be regularly updated.
The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a hotline number for businesses open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm: 0300 456 3565. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click for an overview of total UK Government measures announced so far (page updated continuously).
Business loans (CBILS)
*Today (3 April), the government announced an overhaul of the CBILS initiative. See the changes here.*
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) have also been announced. These are loans guaranteed by the government or direct from the British Business Bank. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to reduce barriers to lenders providing finance to SMEs. The Government will also cover the first year of interest payments, so businesses will benefit from lower initial repayments. More information on CBILS from the British Business Bank can be found here.
Bounce Back Loans
The 'microloans' will offer up to £50k or 25% of turnover, with the government paying interest for the first 12 months.
Importantly, there will be no ‘forward-looking tests’ of business viability or no ‘complex eligibility criteria’ to receive the loan - just standard ‘quick’ form. For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval. Gov will guarantee 100% of the loan. They will be made available from 9 AM on Monday 4 May. More info here.
Tax payment issues
HMRC has a set up a phone Tax Helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. They can agree a bespoke time-to-pay arrangement to defer payment of PAYE, VAT or Corporation Tax and provide payment holidays. HMRC may also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulties contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to Coronavirus. Up to 2,000 call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed. However, you can expect to wait a long time on hold. Avoid calling in the middle of the day when demand for this service is expected to peak. It’s useful to be armed with list of clients that are affected and what sectors they are in and how that is impacting their activity with you.
Business interruption insurance
Most businesses will have insurance for unintended interruption of their business. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), most interruption insurance is designed to cover standard risks and will not cover disease pandemics. Members should check their business interruption and other insurance to see what extent they are covered. Businesses may be able to add cover of coronavirus to their policy, though the insurer is within their rights to refuse or charge an increased premium. An ABI Q&A is available here.
CCFF scheme for large businesses
The Bank of England's CCFF scheme is designed to raise working capital for large firms, who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (announced last week). The Bank of England will buy short-term debt in the form of commercial paper of up to one-year maturity. Companies who wish to apply to the scheme must be:
- A non-finance company that makes a material contribution to the UK economy.
- In sound financial health – best demonstrated by a short-term rating of A3/P3/F3/R3 or above, or a long-term rating of BBB-/Baa3/BBB- or above by at least one of the major credit ratings agencies.
Each application will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you think that you are eligible for the CCFF you will need to liaise with your bank. If your bank does not partake in this scheme, you should participate via one of the institutions listed on UK Finance's Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility website.
Companies House have announced that companies can extend filing deadlines by 2 months. Applications for an extension need to be made before the current filing deadline otherwise the original deadline and late filing penalties will still apply. See the Companies House page for more info.
Bank loan holidays
Most of the mainstream banks and Lending Circle have agreed to provide loan holidays (generally up to three months). Contact your bank to discuss whether this is an option for you.
If your employees cannot work, or would be laid off because of the impact of coronavirus, the Government have agreed to provide cover of 80% of wages (up to £2.5k) for these employees. Businesses can apply to do this here.
The Government announced on 4 April that furloughing will be conducted via PAYE, and that businesses must be registered to get this. It also announced that directors could be furloughed. More info on this here.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) grants for business
The Government have announced that they will cover two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for every employee for organisations with 250 employees or fewer. SSP is only £94.25 per week and further help from Government and employers may be necessary. The funding for this is expected to come through HMRC, but this is as yet unconfirmed.
For the self-employed
Self-employed income support scheme announced was announced on 26 March. This is a taxable grant which will give self-employed people 80% of their average earnings over the past three years up to £2500. This will be available to people who are already self-employed (those who have a 2019 tax return). Self-employed people can also access business interruption loans and access income tax deferral schemes. More information to come.
IR35 Rules for freelancers
The government has announced that it now won’t bring in the new IR35 rules until April 2021. The proposed rules which would have seen every medium and large private sector business in the UK become responsible for setting the tax status of any contract worker they use from April 2020. This will give a bit of bureaucratic breathing space for businesses expecting to implement these rules this year.
Businesses in Scotland
The Scottish Government has also announced a package of help for businesses. Some of the measures pass on UK Government-announced policies announced in the budget last week, and some are additional or alternative arrangements.
Information about the help is included here, and the Scottish Government's business organisation, Scottish Enterprise, have also set up a helpline. Lines are open from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm: 0300 303 0660.
Grants for tech businesses that can help with isolation
On Monday 23 March, the Department for Health and Social Care announced the ‘Techforce19’ challenge which aims to support those who need to stay at home for several weeks. £25k per business is available. More information can be found here.
Further advice to businesses
As a member of the CBI, the DMA and its members can access resources businesses on COVID-19. For information on:
Meetings, travel and events
Employment Cleaning and health in the workplace
Supply chain Government and financial advice
Emergency legislation and regulation
Please visit the CBI Coronavirus Advice page.
Further information for tech companies can be found at TechUK's COVID-19 advice hub.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
For self-employed people or those earning hose who are not eligible for SSP, for example, the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.
The government has also announced a new £500 million Hardship Fund so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes or through similar measures.
Working from home?
It's quite possible that this is your first time working from home. It can be quite a change and often requires a switch of mindset. Not to worry! The DMA's Scotland Community Manager, Lisa McLauchlan, who works from home in Edinburgh has created this helpful guide for first-time home-workers.