Coronavirus Update: 23rd March

As of the 23rd March, the UK Government have outlined clarifications on the measures announced the previous week. Read about them below.

Companies

Business Disruption Loans

There is more advise on this as follows:

  • Smaller businesses from all sectors can apply for the full amount of the facility. To be eligible for a facility under CBILS, an SME must:

    • Be UK-based in its business activity, with annual turnover of no more than £45m

    • Have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.

  • Please note: If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

  • Following earlier discussions with the banking industry, some lenders indicated that they would not charge arrangement fees or early repayment charges to SMEs borrowing under the scheme. HM Government greatly appreciates this approach by lenders.

  • The following trades and organisations are not eligible to apply: Banks, Building Societies, Insurers and Reinsurers (but not insurance brokers); The public sector including state funded primary and secondary schools; Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisation or trade unions.

  • Key Features of the loan

    • Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years.

    • 80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance, subject to an overall cap per lender.

    • No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.

    • Interest and fees paid by Government for 12 months: The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees[1], so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.[2]

    • Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.

    • Security: At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

    • The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

  • Access to the scheme - in the first instance approach your own company bank as, if they are amongst the main banks they will likely provide this support. If this is not successful please refer to the British Business Bank list of accredited lenders for this purpose https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/

Business Rates

These should not be collected by DD by your relevant local authority so you should not need to take any action but I would advise you check your local authority websites for how they are going to do this as it seems to vary and I cannot cover all relevant authorities here I am afraid

 

SSP reclaim 

There is no further advice for businesses as to how this reclaim is going to work so for the moment you should keep accurate records of the SSP as per the guidelines published by HMRC (referred to in my previous email) – as soon as the methodology for reclaiming is officially announced by the government I will confirm. There has however been an update as to the criteria:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of 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 and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website

  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force

 

VAT

The deferral for not paying will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

  • All UK businesses are eligible.

  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

 

Small Companies

  • Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

  • All UK businesses are eligible.

  • To access the scheme you 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 – we would strongly suggest you speak to your HR advisor before proceeding on this route

  • 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 wage 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.

  • At this stage it does not confirm the position about owner managed business (where director(s) are the only employees.

Self Employed

SSP

  • If you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance. https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/eligibility

  • If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

   

Income tax payments (SA)

Any due on the 31 July 2020, will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

  • If you are self-employed you are eligible.

  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

  • HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

 

Charities

At the moment clarification is still being sought so we're not able to give any specific information here. In relation to the SSP the same rules apply as for businesses, for Business Intervention Loans please ask your own bank and refer to the section above.

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