Helping firms through the coronavirus – what measures are available?
With the current lockdowns set to continue for the foreseeable future, it’s a stressful time for both businesses and employees. While those of us that can have moved to home and remote working to keep things running, for others, the situation may be less clear.
However, there are a range of measures in place that aim to help businesses and employees through these troubled times, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with what’s available for your firm.
In the spirit of sharing, we’ve rounded up a few of the key schemes below. While we’re sharing these links, it’s important to look closely at what the options are to determine which initiatives will be most helpful to your firm before making any decisions.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is intended to offer support to small and medium-sized firms that have experienced disruptions to their revenue as a result of the pandemic. There are 40 accredited lenders taking part in the scheme, which can offer funding of up to $5 million, with the government paying interest and fees for 12 months.
For larger firms with turnover of between £45 million and £500 million, the government is also looking to open a similar scheme to provide loans of up to £25 million. This is not yet open for applications, but the government aims to have it up and running before the end of April.
Larger firms that don’t qualify for CBILS may still be able to get help through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which is a short-term bridging finance mechanism to help support liquidity and ensure firms are able to pay expenses such as rent, salaries and stock.
To encourage businesses to retain staff wherever possible, firms that aren’t able to retain their workforce due to Covid-19 are able to apply for a government grant that will cover 80 per cent of the wages of any workers that are placed on furlough, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
For self-employed individuals such as freelancers who aren’t covered by the Job Retention Scheme, the Self-employment Income Support Scheme offers a similar degree of help. The government will cover up to 80 per cent of these workers’ income up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, based on their average trading profits over the past three years. It’s open to those who earn less than £50,000 and for whom self-employment is the primary source of their income.
Firms in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England can benefit from relief from business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. This should be applied automatically by local councils so firms should not have to take any direct action. Companies based in other parts of the UK should check with local governments to see what relief is available.
With many businesses set to see staff forced to take time off due to experiencing Covid-19 symptoms or because they need to self isolate, rules for statutory sick pay (SSP) have also been amended. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme allows firms with fewer than 250 employees to claim back SSP for coronavirus-related absences for up to two weeks of pay, starting from the first day of sickness without the need for a doctor’s note.
All these schemes will have their own eligibility criteria, so it’s important every firm does its due diligence before making any commitment. We recognise it’s a tough time for many right now, and hope this information and links prove useful in helping you understand what options there are to get you through it.
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