Update – 6th April 2020
Over the past week there has been little in the way of new measures or support announced, as the Government and HMRC look to tighten up and expand the detail on their previously announced schemes and measures to assist businesses during the lockdown period.
We have therefore detailed the latest guidance being made available in the past week as follows:
CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME
Please click here for the latest on the Job Retention Scheme.
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME (CBILS) – UPDATED FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES
After numerous reports and complaints about accessing CBILS, the Chancellor has sought to relax the hoops businesses were being required to jump through to obtain finance.
Firstly, no business should be deemed “too small” to access a CBILS loan, if you had previously been advised by your bank or loan provider that the Government Start-Up Loan initiative, which carries a fixed 6% interest rate, or an alternative loan, would be better for you, you should speak to your financier again to see if the position has changed with this new announcement, made on Friday 3 April.
Another complaint was that, if you could access and were eligible for a standard commercial loan option, you would be offered this instead of the CBILS loan. The Government have again stepped in to put a stop to this and you should now be able to access CBILS loans INSTEAD OF a commercial loan.
The banks will not be allowed to request a personal guarantee on any loan less than £250,000 taken out under the CBILS scheme.
As a commercial rate of interest will apply to these loans after the first 12 months interest-free period, there has been concern that the banks will seek to apply a steep interest rate in order to recoup the interest lost in the first 12 months. The Government will be keeping an eye on this and have said they will step in if banks are seen to be charging double digit or inflated rates of interest.
All the above will retrospectively apply from 23 March 2020, so if you have already obtained finance, and any of the above changes would benefit your loan terms, you are entitled to seek amendment to the terms of your loan.
Fine-tuning of the CBILS is still ongoing to ensure your business is not taken advantage of by the loan provider.
CORONAVIRUS SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME (SEISS)
No new detail has yet been announced by the Government since our last update which provided the details of this scheme.
Please click here for the latest on the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
We have spent this week getting a more detailed understanding of how this scheme will be applied.
We know that HMRC will contact those eligible directly. It is very important to note that HMRC WILL NOT EMAIL OR CALL OR TEXT YOU, to avoid the potential for fraudsters to take advantage.
It is clear then that HMRC will be either contacting you through your Government Gateway/ Personal Online Tax Account, or via letter. The address HMRC will write to you, will likely be the one reported on your latest 2019 tax return, unless you have notified HMRC otherwise.
WE URGE YOU TO CHECK OR CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR REGISTERED ADDRESS WITH HMRC.
In addition, we expect HMRC to ask you to confirm that you were trading in 2019/2020 and expect to continue to trade in 2020/2021, it may be the case that they also ask for some evidence of trading.
It is therefore a good idea to get your tax return information to us as soon as possible for the tax year ending 5 April 2020, to help validate your claims.
In the past week, we have been working hard to identify our clients that meet the criteria for the SEISS scheme and how much they can expect to be entitled to, and we will be writing to those clients directly to assist them with their claims.
BUSINESS RATES HOLIDAYS, SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUND AND RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE GRANT FUND
The Government have provided detailed lists of those businesses who will be entitled to a business rates holiday from April 2020 – March 2021.
The full list of eligible business properties can be found here.
If you qualify for business rates relief, your local council should be writing to you to confirm this, if you think your business is covered in the list, and you haven’t been given 100% relief on your business rates, you should contact your local council immediately.
In addition to the business rates relief, the small business and retail, hospitality and leisure grants have now been provided by the Government to local authorities and we have been made aware that those authorities have been writing to businesses to distribute the grants.
If you have yet to be contacted you should get in touch with your local council immediately.
These are tax free grants that we encourage you to pursue if you think your business falls within, or is covered by, the guidance issued by Government in the above link.
2 YEAR EXTENSION OF ANNUAL LEAVE RULES
The Government are announcing an extension of the annual leave rules for employees. Any employee who has up to 4 weeks of unused leave, at the end of their employer’s holiday year, will be entitled to carry that leave over into the following two holiday years.
This is a measure to ensure that employees do not lose their entitlement as a result of Covid-19 and also to ensure employers don’t lose their key staff due to employees wishing to take their annual leave in a shortened period once the lockdown is over and normal work resumes.