COVID-19 Financial Support for Businesses: A summary
19 March 2020
Over the course of this week, a number of announcements have been made to offer support to Businesses during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. In this article, we will attempt to summarise some of the support available. The advice and support is changing rapidly, however, this information is correct as of 19 March 2020. Sign up to our mailing lists (by emailing [email protected]), follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, and keep checking the news on our website for the most up to date information available.
Business Rates Holiday
The Government has announced a 100% discount on Business Rates for the coming financial year for all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. For those occupying a property with a Rateable Value of £51,000 or less, they will also be able to access grants of up to £25,000. More information on this is due to be announced by Local Authorities and the Government.
Small Business Grants
A grant scheme for the 700,000 smallest businesses was announced, offering grants of up to £10,000. Eligible businesses will be those entitled to Small Business Rate Relief, and they will be contacted by Birmingham City Council directly. This is likely to happen in April.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Government announced a Business Interruption Loan Scheme, offering loans for businesses of up to £5m. These loans will be interest free for the first 6 months. The British Business Bank has published more information about the scheme. The scheme will be delivered via a number of delivery partners. The full list can be found here. The scheme is due to launch next week, although no official date has been given. In order to be eligible, businesses must:
- Be UK based with turnover of no more than £41m p.a.
- Operate within an eligible sector
- Have received no more than €200,000 of de minimis State Aid in the last 2 financial years
- Have a sound borrowing proposal
Further requirements may be announced in the coming days. A list of industries and their eligibility for the scheme can be found here.
The full details from the British Business Bank can be found here.
A Corporate Financing Facility has been announced by the Bank of England for larger organisations. More details can be found here.
Support with Tax liabilities
HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline for businesses to discuss payments against their tax liabilities through the Time to Pay Scheme. Call 0800 0159559 for case by case advice on the support that is available.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Support
SSP can be claimed by those Self-Isolating, or caring for someone Self-Isolating as a result of COVID-19 Coronavirus. SSP will be available from day 1, rather than day 4 of your absence from work. From next week, individuals can obtain an Isolation Note from the NHS website or by calling 111.
SMEs are being supported with an ability to claim a 2 week refund on SSP for each employee. Details of the mechanism for this will be announced in the coming months.
Specific Support from the banking sector
A number of individual banks have also announced their own measures to support businesses. Barclays have set up a dedicated helpline for customers, open Monday to Friday from 0800 – 2000 for business banking customers. Support includes 12 month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000 and increased and new overdraft and working capital facilities. Barclays customers can call 0800 1971 086 for more details.
Lloyds have introduced a £2bn package of arrangement fee finance to help minimise disruption to businesses. Click here to find out more. Natwest has also announced a range of measures, including a £5bn package to assist with working capital, loan repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees. Santander are encouraging businesses to speak to their Relationship Managers by calling 0800 731 6666. Businesses are encouraged to speak to their banks to explore what bespoke support they might be able to offer in the coming weeks.
Birmingham City Council has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to request flexibility to divert £7m from the EU funded Business Growth Programme to support SMEs and jobs. The Bank of England has also cut interest rates to 0.1%.