The UK Government and devolved administrations have launched several measures for businesses to help them navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
To find out more, use the Government business support search tool.
For companies operating in Scotland, the Scottish Government has implemented additional business support. For companies operating in Wales, the Welsh Government has outlined the measures available. For those in Northern Ireland, information for businesses can be found here.
If you trade internationally, the Government has published guidance which you can access here.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS – also known as the furlough scheme) will be extended again until the end of September 2021. However, from July 2021 employers will now have to pay NI and pension contributions. The CJRS will operate as the previous scheme did, with businesses being paid upfront to cover wages costs, and will mirror previous levels. The Government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will now pay all employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions. As under the current CJRS, flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing. To be eligible to be claimed under this extension, employees must have been on an employer’s PAYE Claims for furlough days in February 2021 must be made by 15 March 2021. During the May-June 2021 phase of furlough, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for hours not worked. Any employees who were employed on 2 March 2021 will be eligible as long as the employer made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021. Employers pay employees for any hours worked. Employers funding of employers’ NICs and pension contributions applies to both the hours not worked and hours worked if any.
You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020. Find out more
The Government have changed the criteria to apply for its £2 billion Kickstart Scheme grant, with employers now able to apply to the scheme without a minimum threshold of 30 jobs. The scheme, which has been underway since September, is helping to create new, fully subsidised jobs for young people aged 16-24. Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.
You can apply for Kickstart Scheme grant by either:
- Applying online yourself
- Getting help from a Kickstart gateway who is already working with the Kickstart Scheme.
If you need help with the Kickstart Scheme process, contact your local Kickstart Scheme contacts.
Loan and grant schemes
The current Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) closed for new applicants at the end of March 2021.
Recovery Loan Scheme – A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme will take their place to make available loans between £25,001 and £10 million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery. The scheme launched on 6 April 2021 and is available for companies trading in the UK who have been affected by coronavirus, including businesses who were in receipt of the previous schemes. Further details on how to apply and details of accredited lenders will be released in due course. Find out more about the Recovery Loan Scheme here
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. Details about when the scheme can be accessed and when employers can make a claim will be announced as soon as possible. Find out more.
Future Fund: Breakthrough – This £375m fund will support the scale up of SMEs by encouraging private investors to co-invest with the government. This will be delivered by the British Business Bank and will focus on R&D intensive industries who can transform major industries and support the transition to net zero. Find out more
Space Agency funding – the UK and European Space Agencies have made £2.6m of funding available to fund a number of projects to develop hi-tech solutions to support NHS England. The space-enabled solutions could include satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight. Find out more and apply for funding
Tax and customs
Deferment of VAT payments – the deferment will last from 20 March until 30 June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to pay their VAT bill (March 2021). Update: Government have announced a VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’, where businesses that deferred VAT due in March to June 2020 now have the option to spread their payments over the financial year 2021-2022. Rather than paying in full at the end of March 2021, businesses will be able to choose to make 11 equal instalments over 2021-22. Find out more
Business Rates Relief – the Government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates Relief, specifically the retail discount in England which will be 100% for 2020-21 for properties with a rateable value less than £51,000. Find out more.
Time to Pay – A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. More information can be found here.
Support for self-employed
In addition to being able to access some of the business support schemes above, those who are self-employed will be able to access the following schemes. Universal Credit is also available to those who need it.
Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme – The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended to September 2021. Claims for the third grant have now closed. The last date for making a claim for the third grant was 29 January 2021. The fourth grant will open in late April 2021 until the 31 May 2021. HMRC will contact those who are eligible in mid-April and provide a date in which you can apply. There will be a fifth grant that will open to cover from May – September 2021.
The Government will also give the self-employed and other taxpayers an additional 12 months to pay self-assessment tax payments due in January 2021. Find out more