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 April 2021. The CJRS will operate as the previous scheme did, with businesses being paid upfront to cover wages costs, and will mirror levels available under the CJRS in August. The Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work. 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 payroll by 23:59 30th October 2020. Find out more
Job Support Scheme (JSS)
The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in from Sunday 1 November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.
The JSS) will be amended for businesses that have remained open in all alert levels. Workers will be eligible for the JSS if they work 20% of their normal hours (rather than 33% as previously required), while the employers contribution for the hours not worked will be reduced from 33% to 5%. Find out more
The scheme will be open to businesses across the UK whether they have accessed the furlough scheme previously or not. All UK SMEs will be eligible. Large businesses will be required to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by COVID-19, and the Government expects that large employers will not be making capital distributions (such as dividends), while using the scheme. Companies accessing the scheme will also be eligible for the Jobs Retention Bonus. Find out more
The government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses which are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions. In addition to expansion of the JSS, the government is increasing the cash grants to up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. Find out more
Job Retention Bonus
A Job Retention Bonus will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. The Job Retention Bonus will not be paid in February. Alternative job retention policies may be announced at a later date.
The Government has launched a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to help 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. Find out more
Loan and grant schemes
The deadline for applications to Government-backed loan schemes including the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and Future Fund will be extended again to 31 March 2021. If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 March 2021. Find out more
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) – this provides a Government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £450m. For companies with a turnover of more than £250m can apply for a loan of up to £200m. Find out more.
Update: Access to CBILS has changed as the European Commission has relaxed its State Aid rules so that small and micro businesses (fewer than 50 employees and turnover less than £9 million) will be exempt from elements of the ‘undertaking in difficulty’ test, and are now eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Find out more
Sustainable Innovation Fund – The Government has announced a £200m Sustainable Innovation Fund, funding up to £175,000 for companies who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive. Find out more and apply for funding.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – this scheme provides loans of up to £5m, with no interest due for the first 12 months. It applies to SMEs with a turnover of no more than £45m a year. The Government has confirmed that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be eligible, not just those unable to secure regular commercial funding. They are also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. For loans over £250,000, personal guarantees will be limited to 20% of any amount outstanding on the loan after any other recoveries from business assets. Lenders have been prohibited from asking business owners to use their home as a personal guarantee. Government also intends to give CBILS lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan. Find out more.
You can find more information here.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term cash flow problems. It will operate for at least 12 months. Find out more.
Small Business Grant Scheme – provides £10,000 grants to 700,000 SMEs in England. Find out more.
The Government have announced £20 million in new funding to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more
Bounce Back Loans Scheme – SMEs will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the Government guaranteeing 100% of the loan. There won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Repayment terms under the Government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme will be extended from 6 to 10 years. Businesses can opt to pay interest only repayments and can apply for a 6-month repayment pause, with credit ratings not being affected by these actions. Find out more
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – will remain open until 22 March 2021. Find out more
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 for high growth businesses – the Future Fund will issue convertible loans to innovative UK-based companies which are facing financial difficulties ranging from £125,000 to £5m, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020. Find out more.
The Future Fund was developed by the UK Government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.
£750 million fund for R&D intensive SMEs – this fund will be administered through Innovate UK who will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550m will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. 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. To find out more and apply for funding click here.
Coronavirus Business Support Package – launched by Innovate UK (IUK), these innovation focussed continuity support schemes may be helpful for organisations involved in Innovate UK funded projects and offers continuity grants and loans for existing IUK award holders and additional business advisory support services. Find out more
Funding competition: Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, feasibility studies – UK registered businesses can apply for funding towards feasibility studies into digital technologies to transform supply chains in UK manufacturing. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The competition opened on 6 July and closes on Wednesday 7 October 2020 11:00. Find out more
Funding competition – Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, industrial research – UK registered businesses can apply for funding towards an industrial research project in digital technologies to transform supply chains in UK manufacturing. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The competition opened on 6 July and closes on Wednesday 7 October 2020 11:00am. Find out more
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.
Protective equipment duty/VAT relief – the Government has announced guidance on how to pay no import duty and VAT on protective equipment, relevant medical devices or equipment brought into the UK from non-EU countries. Find out more. PPE purchased by businesses and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be zero rate VAT from 30 January 2020 until 31 October 2020.
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 from November 2020 to April 2021. Two taxable grants will be paid out in two single instalments covering 3 months’ worth of average monthly trading profits. The new enhanced scheme will open for applications from the end of November, and cover 80% of trading profits for that month. Including the new higher November grant, it means the November-January payment will be at 55% of average monthly trading profits, up to a maximum of £5,160 in total. Find out more
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
The Government plans to make changes to company insolvency law to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, to help them avoid insolvency. This will be brought into law in the coming weeks and be retrospective from 1 March 2020 for three months.
Trade Credit Insurance, which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020. Find out more