COVD-19 Business Support schemes update.

Friday, April 10th, 2020

At Copia Wealth & Tax, we remain open for business to support our clients, albeit working remotely. We have now got used to having online meetings with clients and internally – all now part of the COVID-19 experience! Since our last article there have been several updates to guidance regarding the various Government initiatives to support business and so we thought it would be useful to summarise these for you to ensure you are fully up to speed with what is available to help see your business through the crisis.  

Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

There have been limited updates on this scheme since its announcement on 26th March but here are some brief reminders from the latest guidance:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) update

An update to this scheme was issued on 26th March and can be viewed at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Since then the main news has been the announcement that the internet portal through which grant claims will be made will be operational from 20th April with payments being made within 4-6 days.

In order to make a claim you will need to provide the following information:

If you use an agent who is authorised to act for you for PAYE purposes, they will be able to make the claim for you but if you use a file-only agent (only authorised to file RTI returns) then they will not be able to make the claim on your behalf.

We previously sent out a list of 30 frequently asked questions about CJRS and, since then, there has been additional guidance in the following areas:

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) update

Many small businesses that have applied for a government backed CBILS loan thus far have been offered standard overdrafts and loans – without the Government’s 80% guarantee – on the basis that they fit the banks’ criteria for this type of lending

The Chancellor has now confirmed that this is not the intention of his CBILS scheme and that from now on all businesses affected by the COVID-19 disruption should be offered a CBILS loan with the government guarantee.

A summary of other changes to CBILS are set out below. 

These two changes will provide further reassurance for business owners. Not only will their homes be protected – lenders are already prohibited from asking business owners to put their house on the line – but will also limit the exposure to other personal assets. Reassuringly, these changes will apply to finance already offered under CBILS.

Further changes include:

These changes should make it easier for small and mid-sized firms to get access to funding that will support their efforts to survive the COVID-19 disruption. If you need to make an application would be wise to revise their business cashflow and other projections prior to making an application. This funding is a loan not a grant. The impact of loan repayments and interest charges after the first twelve months need to be considered as part of this planning process.

We can help you consider your options and prepare the necessary forecasts if required.

Support for businesses who pay little or no business rates – update

As announced, there is a £10,000 grant available for businesses in receipt of small business rates relief or rural rate relief (rising to £25,000 for retail, hospitality or leisure businesses). This is being administered by local authorities who will contact eligible businesses direct.

Most authorities seem to be allowing applications online and locally there is information below on how to claim:

We are delighted to inform you that Copia received its support grant from Wolverhampton Council on 9th April, exactly one week after submitting the application so things are clearly moving in this area. Well done to Wolverhampton Council on acting so quickly.

Relaxation of financial solvency rules

The government plans to introduce emergency changes to overhaul insolvency laws and give “breathing space” to companies hit by the coronavirus crisis, Alok Sharma, the business secretary has announced, in a move to help prevent mass failures.

Laws that make it illegal for a business to trade when it is insolvent are set to be suspended. The decision means companies and individuals that cannot meet their debts because of the coronavirus pandemic will not be forced to file for insolvency.

Current insolvency rules make it a civil offense for directors of limited liability companies to continue to trade when they are not certain that their businesses can continue to meet their debts, with directors becoming personally liable, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in a statement.

Amendments to wrongful trading rules will protect directors during the pandemic by allowing companies to continue buying supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while they attempt a rescue, the government said.

The suspension be put in place retrospectively from March 1 for three months.

Reviewing your personal finances

As the crisis continues it is probably a good time to review your options to improve your cash flow position for your personal as well as business finances. Here are some areas to consider:

Conclusion

The support schemes are all within or nearing the point where claims can be made, and payments will commence – it is worth ensuring you have explored all the options and maximised your position.

It should also now be possible to calculate what you are likely to receive which can be factored into your cash flow projections to establish if you need to consider using CBILS.

It is also worth remembering to consider what you can do with your personal finances too.

Remember, the Copia team is still up and running and here to help – give us a call on 01902 783172.