COVID-19 HELPLINE FOR SCOTTISH BUSINESSES
0300 303 0660 open Monday to Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm
UK GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
The following measures have been set out to support businesses throughout COVID-19 situation:
- A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs*.
- Job Retention Scheme enabling employers to pay furloughed employees.
- Increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.
- Providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance.
The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme (see below for more information).
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. Referred to as the Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility, this is designed to provide a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital via the purchase of short term debt. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short term liabilities. Further details on how to access this and other financial support packages are expected week commencing 23rd March 2020.
Click HERE to find out more.
*STATUTORY SICK PAY FOR YOUR STAFF
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee. More information is available at the link below to Advice for Employers.
COVID-19 ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS
Click HERE to find out more.
CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the Government will pay a grant to employers to cover 80 percent of employees’ salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
- The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and will be open for an initial three month period. There will be no limit on the total cost.
- It covers everybody who is on the PAYE system through a company.
- As this is a grant scheme, the support provided will not be repayable by employers.
The Scheme is designed to help prevent job losses. An employee furlough is a mandatory suspension from work without pay.
In this case furloughed employees means anyone asked to stop working during the Coronavirus pandemic but NOT made redundant. They will return to work once the pandemic is over and as directed by their employer.
Employers will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify their employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
- All UK businesses are eligible for the scheme.
- Note that from the initial guidance released, dividends will not be covered by this scheme.
HOW TO APPLY
The scheme will be up and running by the start of April 2020. Employers will be able to claim the grant through HMRC. To access the scheme, employers will need to:
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation, and
- Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).
- HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers salary costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
- HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
- The Government are hoping to be making payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by the end of April 2020.
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME
* THIS SCHEME IS NOW AVAILABLE *
The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) Scheme has been temporarily replace by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). As with EFG, 80% of the loan will be guaranteed by the Government. This has now increased from £1.2 million to £5 million, ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free.
The Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments as well as any facility arrangement fees charged by lenders, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m. Note that the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. CBILS provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.
It is being delivered by the British Business Bank through a range of over 40 accredited lenders and offer attractive terms for both businesses applying for new facilities and lenders. The aim of the Scheme is to support the continued provision of finance to UK businesses experiencing increased costs or disruptions to cashflow during the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider – ideally via the lender’s website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need. Decision-making on whether you are eligible for CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited CBILS lenders. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.
You can find out more by clicking HERE.
To find out which lenders are able to offer CBILS click HERE.
HMRC PAYMENTS ADVICE FROM OUR CORPORATE MEMBERS FRENCH DUNCAN
Tax experts from WeDO Scotland Corporate members French Duncan have shared an overview of where HMRC will show flexibility (and to whom) and what you must do to take advantage of them.
Obviously things are changing rapidly, but they will update this blog moving forward.
TIME TO PAY – VAT, CORPORATION TAX, PAYE and CIS
These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. Specific industries are more likely to be affected by the virus, such as travel, entertainment, bars, restaurants and hotels, which HMRC will be conscious of when considering eligibility. At present HMRC will consider deferring payments for VAT and PAYE. They will also discuss Time to Pay arrangements for VAT, Corporation Tax, PAYE and/or CIS where the business is affected by the virus.
Currently, HMRC have stated they are willing to grant a deferral of VAT payments for up to two months. PAYE deferral can currently be granted for up to 30 days.
After an initial deferment (where applicable), the business can also apply for further assistance via a Time to Pay arrangement. Typically, instalments of no longer than 12 months can be granted, however under these circumstances we expect there to be special concessions made.
HMRC are prepared to discuss this situation where a business with a current Time to Pay arrangement in place that they now cannot or will struggle to meet due to the disruption caused by the virus.
HMRC will take into account your specific circumstances when considering:
- Agreeing an instalment arrangement (see below).
- Suspending debt collection proceedings.
- Cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.
HMRC have set up a dedicated COVID-19 number which is 0800 0159559.
CORONAVIRUS CORPORATE FINANCING FACILITY (for larger companies)
- From week commencing 23 March 2020 the Bank of England are offering a quick and cost effective way to raise working capital by purchasing short-term debt. This is to assist companies who are fundamentally strong, but are experiencing short term cash-flow problems. Further details on how to access this will be released in the coming days, and we shall update this page as we know more.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
- A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism.
- 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.
- Local authorities relaxing planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
- Extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022.
BUSINESS LOANS SCOTLAND & WEST OF SCOTLAND LOAN FUND
3 month capital and interest holiday for all existing borrowers. Click HERE to find out more.
COMPANIES HOUSE FILING
Companies House has changed its policy to automatically allow for a two-month extension and then for a subsequent additional month if companies can demonstrate extreme circumstances.
BEST VIRTUAL MEETINGS SOLUTIONS
Here are our recommendations for the best virtual meetings & events software.
This is our favourite, it’s free to sign up for the “Personal meeting” package and you can host up to 100 participants on a meeting for 40 minutes. Prices start at £11.99 per month for more features and larger numbers of participants. You can sign up HERE.
Now part of Microsoft, Skype video chat enables up to 50 people to join you for free via mobile or a desktop device. You can sign up HERE.
Enables you to collaborate easily with your team, when preparing for an online event (up to 10,000 people). Just create a calendar invite through Outlook and select “Teams meeting”. Within the call you can have multiple presenters, record the presentation and collaborate on documents. You can sign up HERE & add additional features starting at £3.80 per month.Facebook Live
Free to use and enables you to broadcast live video from your Facebook page or phone. Find out how to use it HERE.
Enables you to host webinars and invite clients and contacts. Webinars can be recorded and made available for playback too.
It has a great analytics tool, which shows you the part of your presentation that had the highest engagement and when users drop off. You can also follow up with an email to all registrants. You can find out more HERE.
At times like this, the WeDO Scotland App comes into its own. It enables our members to continue to connect, build trusted relationships and explore opportunities to collaborate and work together with fellow members outwith events. Whilst face-to-face meetings will be few and far between over then next while, the virtual meeting recommendations above will ensure that valuable opportunities continue to be explored.
In line with Government guidelines, we won’t be hosting physical events in the meantime, however we will be hosting webinars for our members instead. We are hosting a video meeting on Monday 23rd March for our members to brainstorm ideas, solutions, challenges and offer help to our community. We are conscious that now, more than ever, we need to channel our collective minds to support one another & ensure we are best equipped to overcome the challenging times ahead for us, our businesses, our staff and our clients. If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of membership of WeDO, please click HERE.
We shan’t be defeated despite the extraordinary times & considerable challenges ahead, let’s not let the economy grind to a halt, we need to adapt to different ways of working so let’s focus on that.