If you are considering letting staff go, please read the following information:
- For the first time in history, the UK government has stepped in to help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. 736,500 jobs in Scotland have been protected in this way.
- The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will run until 31 October. Until then furloughed employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500. During October the UK Government will pay 60 per cent of workers salaries while employers are expected to top up the remaining 20 per cent.
- You will be eligible for a £1,000 bonus from the UK Government for every furloughed employee kept in work. Employers will be eligible for £1,000 for every furloughed staff member who is kept in employment through to January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021.
- Further information on the Job Retention Scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.
- From 1 November, the Job Retention Scheme will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme. The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. This scheme will run for six months until the end of April 2021.
- In order to be eligible, an employee will need to work at least a third of their normal hours. You will pay the employee for the hours they work, but the cost of hours not worked will be split three ways between employer, the UK Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction). This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77 per cent of their normal wages, where the UK Government contribution has not been capped.
- Further information on the Job Support Scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/job-support-scheme
If you are concerned about the cost of recruiting new staff, please read the following information:
- The UK Government Kickstart Scheme will pay the salary of new employees aged between 16 and 24. The UK Government is asking businesses to offer 6-month work placements to out of work young people and in return the UK Government will pay their salaries and national insurance contributions. The scheme is now open for applications. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme.
Your business may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence:
- This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period.
- 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 should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.
- You can now apply online to reclaim the costs of SSP for eligible employees at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19.
If your business is in the tourism or hospitality sector, please read the following information:
- The UK Government is maintaining the cut in VAT to 5 per cent until 31 March 2020. VAT has been cut from 20 per cent to 5 per cent on goods and services that fall into the following brackets: food, accommodation or attractions. This includes hotels, restaurants, theme parks and more. VAT on these goods and services will remain at 5 per cent until 31 March 2020 instead of rising again on 13 January as previously planned.
Your business may be eligible for rates relief:
- If your business occupies a property in the retail, hospitality, tourism or aviation sectors you should be eligible for a 100 per cent discount on your rates bill for 1 year from 1 April 2020. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents. This discount will also cover airports and aviation businesses that are based as airports. Relief will be granted regardless of the rateable value of the property. The property must be occupied in order to be eligible.
- Your business will be eligible for a 1.6 per cent relief regardless of rateable value. This measure effectively freezes the poundage rate for the coming year. This will not need to be applied for – it will automatically be applied to your bill.
- You will be eligible for these reliefs even if you are already in receipt of another form of relief.
If you own a small or medium-sized business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:
- You can now apply for a UK Government Bounce Back loan of between £2,000 and £50,000. Small businesses can now apply online through a simple form at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan. The deadline for applications to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and all other UK Government loan schemes is 30 November 2020.
- These new loans are interest free for the first 12 months and backed 100 per cent by the UK Government. No repayments will be due in the first 12 months and the UK Government will pay any fees incurred.
- There will be greater flexibility in Bounce Back Loan repayments through a new ‘Pay As You Grow’ scheme. The UK Government is giving greater flexibility to small businesses that have borrowed from the schemes but have never borrowed finance before. All borrowers will now have the option to repay their Bounce Back Loans over a longer time period by extending the repayment term to ten years – reducing the average monthly repayment by almost half. On an average £30,000 loan, this reduces the monthly payment from £532 to £309.
- You will be eligible to apply if your business is UK based, has been negatively affected by the virus and was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019. You will not be eligible for these loans if your business operates as a bank, insurer or reinsurer (but not insurance brokers), a public body or a state-funded school.
- You will not be able to apply if you are already claiming funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). However if you already have a loan with a lender under CBILS terms, you will be able to transfer it to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), delivered by the British Business Bank, is operational and is ready to support businesses. The scheme is working to provide funding for business through term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance. You will be able to apply for loans worth up to £5 million, from over 40 lenders, interest free for the first twelve months.
- The UK Government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan to give them greater confidence in providing loans to small and medium sized businesses. If you obtain a loan as part of this scheme, you will not be charged for this guarantee and nor will your lender.
- All viable small businesses should be able to access the scheme, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing.
- The latest information is available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/for-businesses-and-advisors/
- You can confirm whether or not you are eligible by reading this check list: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CBILS-SME-Eligibility-Check-FINAL.pdf.
- The deadline for applications to all UK Government loan schemes is 30 November 2020
If you own a large business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:
- The UK Government has set up the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) to provide loans of up to £200 million, largely guaranteed by the state.
- CLBILS loans will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £25 million for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £250 million, and loans of up to £50 million for firms with an annual turnover that’s greater than £250 million.
- Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.
- Further details of the scheme are available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/clbils/ and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme.
- The deadline for applications to all government loan schemes is 30 November 2020.
If you are a business owner, or are self-employed and you are concerned about your tax bill, you may be eligible for support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service:
- The UK Government is upgrading the ‘Time to Pay’ services to help businesses defer their tax payments for up to 18 months. The Time to Pay service will be changed to ensure so that all 11 million self-assessment taxpayers around the UK will be able to create a 12-month payment arrangement for up to £30,000 each extended until the end of January 2022.
- HMRC may also agree, on a case by case basis, to assist with your business’ tax bill through the Time to Pay Service. These arrangements are tailor made and based on individual circumstances and liabilities.
- More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19.
If your organisation is in the creative or heritage sector, please read the following information
- The Scottish Government have received an additional £97 million in their budget as a result of UK Government investment in cultural, arts and heritage organisations.
- Creative Scotland have been handed additional funding to support the sector. Further information is available at https://www.creativescotland.com/what-we-do/latest-news/archive/2020/02/coronavirus-advice.
- Grassroots music venues can access advice and support from the Music Venue Trust at http://musicvenuetrust.com/gmv-crisis-service/.
If you are finding it difficult to access business support, please read the following information:
- Further information for businesses in Scotland is available at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice. Any unanswered questions can be raised with the Scottish Government via email on BESTCovidHub@gov.scot or by calling 0300 303 0660.
If your business wishes to help the government tackle COVID-19, please read the following information:
- Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support should email the Scottish Government at firstname.lastname@example.org with details such as your organisation’s key contact and their role, what you are offering and how it might be best applied, how quickly your support could be available and whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service.
If you are unsure when your business can open, please read the following information:
- Guidance and details of which businesses may remain open is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-and-social-distancing-guidance/.
If your business is in the retail or manufacturing sector, please read the following information:
- New guidance has been published on what steps your business should take as the country eases lockdown restrictions.
- If you own or operate a retail business, further information is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-retail-sector-guidance/pages/operational-guide-and-checklist-for-retailers/.
- If you own or operate a business in the manufacturing sector, further information is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-manufacturing-sector-guidance/pages/operational-guide-and-checklist/.
If you own a restaurant or a pub that serves food, you may be able to operate a hot food takeaway without the usual planning process:
- The Scottish Chief Planner has made clear that planning authorities should not restrict pubs or restaurants operating a takeaway service temporarily. More information is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/corona-virus-covid-19---relaxation-of-enforcement-where-public-houses-and-restaurants-offer-a-takeaway-service-during-the-current-outbreak-chief-planner-letter-march-2020/.
If you are concerned about competition regulation, please read the following:
- The Competition and Markets Authority have made it clear that at this time they have no intention of taking enforcement action against cooperation between businesses or rationing of products to the extent that this is necessary to protect consumers – for example, by ensuring security of supplies. Further information can be found in their guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-approach-to-business-cooperation-in-response-to-covid-19/cma-approach-to-business-cooperation-in-response-to-covid-19.
If you are concerned about off-payroll working rules (IR35), you should read the following information:
- The UK Government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules, known as IR35, that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector, will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.
If you are concerned about the impact of the deposit return scheme or tourist tax on your business, you should read the following information:
- The go-live date for the deposit return scheme has been delayed until July 2022 to ensure that businesses are not burdened with this policy during a time of crisis.
- The legislation to introduce the Transient Visitor Levy (‘tourist tax’) has been halted.
If you are concerned about filing your accounts with Companies House, please read the following information:
- You or your business can now apply for a 3-month extension for filing your accounts. Those citing issues around COVID-19 will be immediately granted this extension, thereby avoiding an automatic penalty for late accounts. Applications can be made online at https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/extensions?_ga=2.254751115.245877806.1584965312-275548448.1583932966.