Offering you general business guidance and short-term action planning during these uncertain times.

The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate the news, with major implications for businesses across Sussex, the UK, and the World.

The current economic conditions mean businesses are having to trade under extremely challenging and unprecedented conditions.

We would urge businesses foreseeing a requirement for additional support or finance to act promptly, even as a precautionary measure.

Our approach to managing the impact

Our priority is the health of our staff and clients, and we are taking actions to help keep our workplace healthy, while maintaining our high levels of customer service.

Read our full statement

Government support for businesses summary

The Government continues to announce news measures to support businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Under the CJRS, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis to avoid redundancies.

Any employer in the country (small or large, including charitable or non-profit) will be eligible for the scheme.

  • Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant, via a new online portal, to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the Coronavirus outbreak. Employers will need to identify ‘furloughed worker’s’ and notify any affected employees of the change in status.
  • UK workers of any employer who is placed on the CJRS can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a ‘furloughed worker’s’ wage costs, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month.
  • This will be backdated to 1st March and will be open until 31 October with some changes to the Scheme from 1 July.
  • From 1 July, employees can return to work on a flexible part-time basis
  • The scheme will be closed to new entrants from 30 June.
  • From 1 August, the amount employers can claim under the scheme will reduce
Find out more about the changes to the CJRS

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Until 13 July 2020 Self-employed individuals can apply for a grant of up to 80% of average monthly trading profits to cover a 3-month period. This will be calculated by looking at average trading profits over the last 3 tax years (2016/17 to 2018/19) or shorter period where applicable. This grant is subject to a maximum claim of £2,500 per month (£7,500 over the 3-month period).

Find out how to make a claim

On 29 May the Chancellor announced a second round of grants to be available in August 2020. The second round of grants will be worth 70% of a self-employed person’s average monthly trading profits to cover three months’ worth of income, capped at £6,570 in total.

Find out more about the second SEISS grant

How to qualify

In order to qualify for SEISS the individual must have satisfied all of the following:

  • Income tax return for 2018/19 must have been submitted by 23 April 2020
  • Must be self-employed or a member of a partnership
  • Must have traded in the 2019/20 tax year
  • Must be intending to trade in the 2020/21 tax year
  • Must be trading at the time the grant application is made, or would be trading if it weren’t for COVID-19
  • Trading profits from self-employment must be at least 50% of total income
  • Trading profits from self-employment must be less than £50,000 in the 2018/19 tax year OR less than £50,000 on average over the 3 tax years 2016/17 – 2018/19
  • Must have lost trading profits due to COVID-19

This scheme does not apply to company owners or directors who pay themselves dividends. However, it has now been officially confirmed that company directors can be furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme just like other employees.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

BBLS is a small loan scheme launched on 4th May 2020 for businesses experiencing cashflow disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme is aimed at providing access to loans from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover, capped at a maximum loan of £50,000.

The scheme is delivered through a network of accredited lenders. Lenders receive a 100% government-backed guarantee, as such lenders cannot take personal guarantees or take recovery action over a borrower’s personal assets. However, the borrower remains 100% liable for the debt.

BBLS loan terms are set at 6 years with no capital repayments during the first 12 months, and interest rates fixed at 2.5%per annum. While BBLS loans are have a 6-year term, early repayment can be made without early repayment fees. Interest for the first 12 months of the loan is paid by the government via Business Interruption Payments (BIP).

Find out more about the Bounce Back Loans

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

As with BBLS, CBILS provides financial support to SME businesses experiencing cashflow disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is being delivered by the British Business Bank.

The main support is as outlined:

  • Loans of up to £5m are available to SMEs
  • Support can be in the form of term loans, Invoice or Asset Finance or overdrafts
  • Security is 80% backed by the Government and will not be charged to lenders or businesses
  • First twelve months of interest rate and lender-levied charges covered

To be eligible for lending the business must:

  • Be UK based with a turnover of less than £45m
  • Operate within an eligible sector and generate more than 50% of turnover from trading activity
  • Have a sound borrowing proposal but insufficient security to meet a lender’s normal requirements

From 30 July 2020, criteria around the classifications of businesses in difficulty will change following recent EU changes in State Aid Law around the test for businesses. Read more here.

Updates to CBILS:

  • No personal guarantees in any form for facilities under £250k
  • Personal guarantees for facilities above £250k (capped). Personal guarantees may still be required (lender’s discretion) but recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.
  • A Principal Private Residence (PPR) cannot be taken as security to support a personal guarantee or as security for a CBIL backed facility.
  • Insufficient security no longer a condition to access the scheme. CBILS can now support lending to smaller businesses even where a lender considers there to be sufficient security, making more smaller businesses eligible to receive the business interruption payment.
Find out more about the CBILS

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

For mid-sized and larger UK businesses suffering disruption due to the Covid-19 outbreak and with turnover of more than £45m, CLBILS provides finance facilities of up to £200m for term loans and revolving credit facilities, or up to £50m for invoice finance and asset finance facilities. Finance terms under CLBILS are for 3 months to 3 years.

As with the other schemes, CLBILS is delivered through a network of accredited lenders who receive a 80% government-backed guarantee, with the borrower remaining 100% liable for the debt.

Businesses looking to apply for CLBILS will need to have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty, supported by other financial documentation.

Those borrowing more than £50m will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan.

Future Fund

The future Fund will support innovative UK companies who typically rely on equity investment, have been hit by the effects of Covid-19 and have been unable to access other Government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The scheme is now open for applications until the end of September 2020.

How it works:

  • Applications to be submitted via an online platform.
  • The Future Fund programme is investor led. An application on the platform is initiated by a lead investor who will provide information about itself, other investors and the company.
  • The company confirms that the information is correct and then submits the application.
  • Funding will be provided by way of a convertible loan of between £125k and £5m, with third-party investors at least matching the Government commitment.
  • The loan will be subject to an interest rate of at least 8% per annum which will accrue until the loan converts.
  • The loan will mature after a maximum period of 36 months.
  • The loan will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if not repaid. 

Eligibility criteria:

  • Companies must be UK-incorporated and if part of a corporate group, only the parent company is eligible.
  • Companies in receipt of the loans will be required to have previously raised at least £250k in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
  • Only eligible companies that can attract at least 50% of third-party investment will receive funding.
  • Companies cannot have any of their shares traded on a regulated market or other listing venue.
  • The company must have been incorporated on or before 31st December 2019.

At least one of the following must be true for the company:

  • Half or more employees are UK based;
  • Half or more revenues are from UK sales.
Find out more about the Future Fund

Dedicated helpline

During the recent Budget, the Chancellor announced help for businesses struggling because of the Coronavirus.

HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC have made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms when needed.

The number for HMRC’s dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.

Make sure you have the following information to hand for that call:

  • VAT or UTR number
  • The amount of the debt on file (so you must have submitted and not paid the VAT return)
  • The number of staff employed and what the payroll costs are for the next 6 months to a year
  • What overdraft facility is available
  • What the directors/partners/sole prop are doing personally to support the debt (eg, business loans and funding)
  • Cash flow projections and plans of how to support business continuity

Statutory Sick Pay Relief Package

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, new Regulations known as The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2000 came into force on 13 March 2020. These will remain in force for a period of 8 months.

The government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  1. This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  2. 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.
  3. Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  4. Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  5. The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force.
  6. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme launches Tuesday 26 May.
Find out how to make a rebate claim

Business Rates Holiday

The Government has proposed a 12-month Business Rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure business in England for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.  Any business receiving this holiday will be re-billed by their local authority as soon as possible. 

Grant funding

Emergency Business Grant

A grant of up to £25,000 will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Small Business Grant

Businesses that pay little or no business rates will receive a one-off grant of £10,000 to help with their ongoing business costs.  To receive this, businesses have to be eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief.

For both grants listed above, councils are writing to all qualifying businesses so they can apply for grant funding online. Businesses who believe they qualify are being encouraged to check their local council websites for details on applications and to review Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on qualification criteria:

HMRC Time to Pay

The Government is highlighting it’s Time to Pay Scheme whereby all businesses with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support in extending their payment terms.

A Time To Pay arrangement is an instalment plan agreed with HMRC that allows businesses to temporarily bridge financial difficulties in paying their tax on time.

Time to pay arrangements allow businesses to spread the payment of outstanding tax liabilities over a period of normally 3-6 months and exceptionally may allow up to 12+ months.

Find out more about Time to Pay

VAT

All VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 will be automatically deferred until 31 March 2021 – details of how to pay will follow at a later date. Business can choose to pay VAT normally if they wish.

The scheme does not cover sales of digital services in the EU (VAT MOSS).

This deferral will apply to all businesses and there is no need to contact HMRC. However, any business that pays VAT by Direct Debit must cancel it, otherwise HMRC may collect VAT due as normal.

For the avoidance of doubt, VAT returns should still be submitted on time as usual. For any business that is unable to file on time, a default surcharge may apply, though there may be grounds to appeal assuming it is COVID-19 related.

Find out more about the VAT Deferral Update

Self-Assessment

July payments on account for self-employed individuals have been cancelled. The payment will instead be due on 31 January 2021 with the balancing payment for the 2019/20 tax year. No action is required to defer, simply don’t pay and no interest or penalties will apply.

These measures apply to everyone within self-assessment however the deferral is optional. HMRC are encouraging people to pay if they can, but everyone is entitled to defer without drawbacks.

Extension to MTD ‘digital links’ deadline

Due to the impact Covid-19 is having on businesses, HMRC have granted an extension for those businesses participating in Making Tax Digital for VAT, meaning that those required to have ‘digital links’ within their record-keeping, now have until 1 April 2021. Businesses now have until their first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021 to implement digital links.


Latest information for businesses

Latest information on funding

Latest information for individuals

Latest information for sectors


Coping with Covid Podcast

The Retirement Gym Podcast has released a special 2-part series entitled ‘Coping with Covid’.

Part 1: Business

In Part 1, Roy Thompson, Partner and Head of Wealth Management, is joined by Tax Partner Dan HobbsDan talks through some of the major measures announced for businesses to help them with cash flow difficulties.

Part 2: Individuals

In Part 2, Roy is joined by Kelvin Riches, a Chartered Financial Planner at MHA Carpenter Box Wealth ManagementKelvin speaks about what individuals can do to help with their personal finances during the Coronavirus crisis.

Financial Planning Webinar

On 17 April 2020, Roy Thompson (Partner) and Kelvin Riches (Chartered Financial Planner) from MHA Carpenter Box Wealth Management held a webinar discussing what individuals can do to help with their personal finances, including investments, savings and financial assistance provisions available.

Watch the webinar

Supporting you

Our team are ready to assist any of our clients who may need our help.

If you are worried about your business or your finances, please get in touch on 01903 234094 to speak to one of our professionals, or get in contact with your usual MHA Carpenter Box contact.


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