If your business wishes to help the government tackle COVID-19, please read the following information:
If you are unsure whether your business should close, please read the following information:
- The UK and Scottish Governments have issued instructions that non-essential businesses should close for at least three weeks from 24 March 2020. This will be enforced by the police. Further guidance and details of which businesses should close and which may remain open is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-and-social-distancing-guidance/.
- Specific guidance for the construction sector is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-construction-sector-guidance/.
- The Scottish Government say they are urgently developing a central government resource to provide advice and direction to businesses in exceptional, nuanced or difficult cases.
If you are considering letting staff go, please read the following information:
- For the first time in history, the UK government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary.
- Grants will be paid to any employers who retain their staff. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.
- Grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – which is above the average income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1 March and will be open initially for at least three months – and the UK Government will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.
- Employers will be free to top up the remaining 20 per cent, but this is not mandatory.
- There will be no limit on the number or total value of grants paid out.
- The UK Government will also cover the cost of National Insurance and pension contributions. Employer contributions for furloughed staff will be paid by the UK Government on top of 80 per cent of salary costs. This could save businesses an extra £300 a month for each employee under the scheme.
- HMRC are working day and night to get the scheme up and running, and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.
- Further information on the scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.
Your business will not pay VAT until the end of June:
- The UK Government have announced that VAT for April, May and June will be deferred, and businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
Your business may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence:
- This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period. Guidance on self-isolation can be found here: nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19.
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
- The UK Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.
- The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.
Your business may be eligible for rates relief and grants:
- If your business occupies a property in the retail, hospitality, tourism or aviation sectors you will be eligible for a 100 per cent discount on your rates bill for 1 year from 1 April 2020. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents. This discount will also cover airports and aviation businesses that are based as airports. Relief will be granted regardless of the rateable value of the property. The property must be occupied in order to be eligible.
- You may be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 if your business is in the hospitality, leisure and retail sector and occupies a property with a rateable value of between £18,001 and £51,000.
- You may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 if your business is eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rate Relief.
- Your business will be eligible for a 1.6 per cent relief regardless of rateable value. This measure effectively freezes the poundage rate for the coming year. This will not need to be applied for – it will automatically be applied to your bill.
- You will be eligible for these reliefs even if you are already in receipt of another form of relief.
- You should now be able to apply for reliefs and grants via your local authority. The Scottish Government have said they are working urgently with Scotland’s 32 local authorities to ensure these reliefs are administered in the most effective way. Information on how to apply is available at: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/.
If you own a small or medium-sized business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:
- The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), delivered by the British Business Bank, is operational and is ready to support businesses.
- The scheme is working to provide funding for business through term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance.
- The UK Government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan to give them greater confidence in providing loans to small and medium sized businesses.
- If you obtain a loan as part of this scheme, you will not be charged for this guarantee and nor will your lender.
- You will be able to apply for loans worth up to £5 million, from over 40 lenders, interest free for the first twelve months as the UK Government will be covering the cost of the repayments.
- All viable small businesses will now be able to access the scheme, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing.
- The UK Government is stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and is working urgently to speed up the application and approval process.
- While the British Business Bank has set up this scheme you should approach your lender via their website in the first instance to see if you are eligible for funding, before approaching other lenders.
- The latest information is available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/for-businesses-and-advisors/
- You can confirm whether or not you are eligible by reading this check list: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CBILS-SME-Eligibility-Check-FINAL.pdf
If you own a large business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:
- The UK Government has set up the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) to provide loans of up to £25 million, largely guaranteed by the state.
- CLBILS loans will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £25 million for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
- Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest. Further details of the scheme will be announced later in April.
- Companies commonly sell short term debt, known as ‘commercial paper’, to the market. This is a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital. The UK Government is working with the Bank of England to set up a new Corporate Financing Facility, that will allow the Bank to buy short term debt from companies.
- 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. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
- Further information is available from the Bank of England here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/launch-of-covid-19-corporate-financing-facility-ccff
If you are concerned about facing insolvency, please read the following information:
- Scotland’s insolvency service, Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice.
- The evidential requirements for individuals seeking debt relief through bankruptcy have been amended to allow faster access, providing protection from debt enforcement.
- AiB is reducing the need for face to face contact, allowing access to debt relief to be maintained by accepting electronic signatures on protected trust deeds and other documentation.
- If you have an ongoing debt payment plan but are worried about how you will be able to pay, AiB will not be revoking these programmes.
- The latest information is available from Accountant in Bankruptcy here: https://www.aib.gov.uk/aib-covid-19-business-continuity.
- The UK Government is changing insolvency laws to prevent businesses being forced to file for bankruptcy. Wrongful trading regulations will be suspended retrospectively to 1 March to ensure that company directors are not held personally liable for continuing to pay staff and suppliers even if there are fears the company could become insolvent. Additionally, businesses going through restructuring will not be able to be put into administration by creditors and will continue to be able to access energy, broadband or raw materials. Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/regulations-temporarily-suspended-to-fast-track-supplies-of-ppe-to-nhs-staff-and-protect-companies-hit-by-covid-19
If you are concerned about water fees, please read the following information:
- A package worth £60 million has been agreed with water companies to help businesses that are facing difficulties with their water charges.
- Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means water suppliers can now be flexible with their customers.
- The Central Market Authority (CMA) has also agreed to suspend all ‘performance standard charges’ to allow licensed providers to focus on supporting customers.
If you are a business owner, or are self-employed and you are concerned about your tax bill, you may be eligible for support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service:
- HMRC may agree, on a case by case basis, to assist with your business’ tax bill through the Time to Pay Service.
- These arrangements are tailor made and based on individual circumstances and liabilities.
- More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19.
If you own a restaurant or a pub that serves food, you may be able to operate a hot food takeaway without the usual planning process:
- The Scottish Chief Planner has made clear that planning authorities should not restrict pubs or restaurants operating a takeaway service temporarily.
- These measures will be reviewed in three months.
- More information is available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/corona-virus-covid-19---relaxation-of-enforcement-where-public-houses-and-restaurants-offer-a-takeaway-service-during-the-current-outbreak-chief-planner-letter-march-2020/
If you are concerned about competition regulation, please read the following:
- The Competition and Markets Authority have made it clear that at this time they have no intention of taking enforcement action against cooperation between businesses or rationing of products to the extent that this is necessary to protect consumers – for example, by ensuring security of supplies. Further information can be found in their guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-approach-to-business-cooperation-in-response-to-covid-19/cma-approach-to-business-cooperation-in-response-to-covid-19.
If you contract your services to large or medium sized organisations outside of the public sector, you should read the following information:
- The UK Government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules, known as IR35, that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector, will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.
- You, as a business or an individual, do not need to take any action.
If you are concerned about the impact of the deposit return scheme or tourist tax on your business, you should read the following information:
- The go-live date for the deposit return scheme has been delayed until July 2022 to ensure that businesses are not burdened with this policy during a time of crisis.
- The legislation to introduce the Transient Visitor Levy (‘tourist tax’) has been halted.
If you are concerned about whether your business can make a claim on business interruption insurance, you should read the following information:
- The UK and Scottish Government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure to make a claim – provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. Businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy carefully and contact their providers if in doubt.
- However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. This means they cannot claim regardless of whether government orders businesses to close. As such they should make use of the government support available to them.
If you are concerned about filing your accounts with Companies House, please read the following information:
- From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts. Those citing issues around COVI-19 will be immediately granted this extension, thereby avoiding an automatic penalty for late accounts.
- Applications can be made online at https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/extensions?_ga=2.254751115.245877806.1584965312-275548448.1583932966.
If your business is in the fishing industry, please read the following information:
- Over £5 million in financial support has been designated for the Scottish fishing industry. Funding has been offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies to help with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.
- You will be able to access a grant if you are the owner of full time Scottish registered fishing vessel of up to 12 metres length. The initial payment will be 50 per cent of two months’ average earnings.
- Full time registered vessels are defined by the scheme as a vessel which has recorded landings of £20,000 or more, and earnings are defined as recorded landing income from 2019 sales notes which were submitted to Marine Scotland by buyers.
- The Scottish Government have said further support is being developed for the onshore processing industry, as well as companies in the shellfish growing sector.
If your business is a seafood processor, please read the following information:
- £10 million has been pledged for the Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund. The fund will provide a combination of grants and loans to businesses suffering severe hardship following the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry.
- The Scottish Government have said that criteria for business eligibility will be published shortly.
- Further information is available at https://www.gov.scot/news/supporting-the-seafood-sector/.