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) has been extended until the end of April 2021. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500. Employers will only have to pay employee National Insurance and pension contributions as part of the scheme.
- 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.
- The ‘Job Support Scheme’ which was due to replace the Job Retention Scheme in December has been postponed.
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.
If your business is legally forced to close as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, please read the following information:
- If your business is legally required to close you could claim a grant of up to £3,000 through your local authority. Through the Strategic Framework Business Fund, every four weeks your business should be able to claim a grant of either £2,000 or £3,000 depending on the rateable value of your premises. This funding will be made available via your local authority. You can find their contact details here: https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/ and you can find further details of the fund here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/strategic-framework-business-fund
- If you own a hospitality, tourism or leisure business which is legally required to close, you should also be able to claim an additional one-off grant on top of your monthly Strategic Framework Business Fund payment. If you are already claiming the Strategic Framework Business Fund, you should receive your top up payment automatically on or around 25 January 2021. More details of this funding can be found here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/strategic-framework-business-fund
If your business is a nightclub or soft-play centre, please read the following information:
- If you have not opened since the pandemic began you could claim up to £50,000 of support depending on rateable value. If your business remains closed you can claim a £10,000 grant for businesses with a rateable value of up to £18,000, a £25,000 grant for businesses with a rateable value of between £18,001 - £51,000 or a £50,000 grant for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,001.
- Businesses operating multiple premises will be eligible to claim one full grant plus grants of up to 75% on subsequent properties.
- This funding will be made available via your local authority. You can find their contact details here: https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/.
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 31 March 2021.
- These 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.
- If you have not borrowed the maximum amount allowed to you under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme you can top up your loan once. Further details of this top up scheme will be available from your loan provider.
- 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.
- 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 31 March 2021.
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 31 March 2021.
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.
- If you operate any form of touring arts company, you may be eligible for government funding. The fund seeks to support venues, theatres, artists, companies and producers to present shows that will allow them to re-engage with their audiences in innovative ways while still complying with ongoing restrictions during 2021. You have until 5 February 2021 to apply. More details can be found here: https://www.creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes/targeted-funding/touring-fund
- If you are a ‘creative freelancer’, you may be eligible for a hardship grant. Funding is available to support creative freelancers working in Scotland who are experiencing immediate financial hardship due to the loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediate financial hardship means an inability to meet essential costs at the present time. The funds offer a one-off payment to those who are deeply impacted and disadvantaged by the cancellation of work as a result of the pandemic. Further information is available here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/hardship-fund-for-creative-freelancers
- Grassroots music venues can access advice and support from the Music Venue Trust at http://musicvenuetrust.com/gmv-crisis-service/.
If your organisation operates a residential outdoor education centre, please read the following information:
- This fund aims to keep outdoor centres in business and to allow centre staff to support outdoor learning in schools and other formal education settings. Centres must have been providing activities before March 2020 to be able to apply. You have until 5 February 2021 to apply to round 2 of the fund which will fund centre-employed staff to deliver outdoor learning with schools and other formal education settings during the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year. Further details are available here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/covid-19-residential-outdoor-education-centre-recovery-fund
If you are finding it difficult to access business support, please read the following information:
- In December the Scottish Government announced new support funds for a number of different sectors, but many have still not opened to applications. The latest information 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 email@example.com 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:
- 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 in 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 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.