Updated: 22 February 2021
Throughout the course of the pandemic, the Government has introduced unprecedented support for small businesses across the country. But with new schemes being introduced regularly, you may find yourself a little confused about which support you can benefit from. Here, we take a look at all the current coronavirus support and grants available, and how you can claim them.
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To help businesses across the country manage the impact of the pandemic, the Government introduced a host of loan schemes with attractive features. These loan schemes also offer guarantees of varying degrees to the loan provider, ranging from 80% to 100%, although the business will still remain liable for the full loan amount.
Currently, three of the loan schemes (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme) have all been extended, with the deadline for applications set for 31st March 2021.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, offering loans from £50,001 to £5 million. Through the scheme, the Government covers the first 12 months of interest payments, as well as any upfront fees, and there are no personal guarantees required on loans up to £250,000.
As an accredited provider on the scheme, Funding Circle is able to offer these loans, complete with our fast application process and a 12-month repayment holiday:
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is aimed at micro and small businesses, and offers loans of £2,000 to £50,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2.5% per annum. There are also no repayments for the first 12 months of the loan, and the Government will cover the first 12 months interest on your behalf.
Funding Circle is also an accredited provider on this scheme, although applications are only open to our existing customers.
As the name implies, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) is aimed at large businesses. It offers loans up to a maximum of £200 million. No personal guarantees are required for facilities under £250,000.
You can learn more about the features of CLBILS on the British Business Bank’s website. If you’d like to apply for the scheme, you can find their list of accredited providers here.
A little different to the other schemes discussed, the Coronavirus Future Fund is designed to help businesses that would normally require equity investment. It provides convertible Government loans of £125,000 to £5 million to innovative, UK-based companies. Businesses need to be UK-incorporated and have raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years.
The scheme was extended on 2nd November 2020 and will now close for applications on 31st January 2021.
In addition to the Government business loan schemes and jobs support that was put in place to help employers manage the impact of coronavirus, there are also a range of Government grants available to affected businesses. Provided you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for any grants that are applicable to you.
To help support those that are self-employed during the pandemic, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is a series of grants that have been distributed to those meeting the eligibility requirements:
A fourth, final grant will be available for February 2021 to April 2021, although the details of this are still yet to be announced.
You can take a look at the eligibility criteria for the scheme on the Government’s website, or if you know you already meet the criteria, you can click here to apply for the latest SEISS grant.
If your business is forced to close due to local restrictions or a national lockdown, then you may be entitled to claim a Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG). You’ll need to be paying business rates on your premises, but your local council may offer you a grant even if you don’t pay business rates, at their own discretion.
These grants offered are as follows:
To find out if you can apply, visit your local council’s website. You can find which council your business falls into here.
Even if your business isn’t forced to close due to local restrictions, you may still suffer from severely reduced demand. The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) can also be claimed by businesses that can still remain open in tier 2 or tier 3 areas.
The grants available are worth up to £2,100 each month that local restrictions apply, and they’re retrospective, so that areas that have already been through restrictions are eligible.
Local authorities will provide grants and businesses will receive funding equivalent to:
In addition, local authorities have been given an extra 5% to distribute outside of the amounts listed above to those businesses that fall out of the business rates system.
The scheme runs until April 2021 initially, but will be reviewed in January 2021.
To claim this grant, you’ll need to get in contact with your local council to find out if you’re eligible. Find your local council by checking the list here.
Announced on 5th January 2021, the Government will be providing additional funding to businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure industries as a one-off top-up grant. These grants will be provided on a property-by-property basis to support those who’ve had to close their businesses due to the latest national restrictions.
The grants provided will be offered as follows:
These grants will be provided in addition to any other existing business support, including Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSGs) and business rates relief.
To help businesses that aren’t covered by other grants, local authorities are able to provide discretionary funding. Examples of who the funding can be given to have been provided by the Government. These include:
If your business is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register, you will not be able to claim this funding.
For those that meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll need to speak to your local council directly in order to claim this grant. You can find your local council by checking this list here.
Pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than food and were severely impacted by the restrictions over Christmas, are entitled to a one-off payment of £1,000. This only applies to pubs that were in tier 2 and tier 3 areas during December 2020.
If you’d like to claim this grant, you’ll need to speak with your local council. If you’re not sure who your local council is, you can find out by checking out this list here.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Government has introduced a variety of job support schemes to help prevent businesses from needing to make lay-offs due to decreased demand. These schemes have all varied greatly in their level of support and area of focus.
Commonly known as furlough, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is a Government initiative to support staff and apprentices in the pandemic. Through the scheme, the Government pays 80% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Business owners using the scheme won’t need to contribute to the hours that an employee doesn’t work — you’ll only be required to pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and any pension contributions.
Flexible furloughing is also available in addition to full-time furloughing, and employers can choose to top up their employees’ wages themselves, if they so choose. It’s worth noting that if an employee is furloughed, they can’t do any work that makes money or provides services for your business.
The scheme was extended on 17th December 2020, and is now due to end on 30th April 2021.
Announced on 2nd September 2020, the Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are currently claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding provided to employers on the scheme will cover:
The start date of job placements can be spread up until December 2021. Your Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements, and if you cannot provide this, you’ll need to find a Kickstart gateway, such as a local authority, charity or trade body for help applying.
To learn more about the Kickstart scheme, how you could benefit and how to apply, visit the Government’s website here. For help finding a Kickstart gateway you can use, there’s an online tool on the Government’s website that will put you in touch with gateways you may be able to use.
Originally brought in as the successor to the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (furlough), the Coronavirus Jobs Support Scheme has currently been put on hiatus, as the furlough scheme has been extended until 30th April 2021. The scheme was due to start on 1st November 2020.
It was supposed to be available for 6 months initially, and would have seen employees receive a minimum of 73% of their usual wages, whilst working fewer hours.
We’re currently awaiting further guidance about whether the Government will bring forward a future version of this scheme, and what that may look like.
If you’d like to learn more about the Jobs Support Scheme that was posed by the Chancellor, we’ve outlined what the scheme was due to look like when it was initially announced here.
Another initiative to help support jobs which has now been postponed, the Job Retention Bonus would’ve seen employers receive a £1,000 one-off taxable payment for each eligible employee that was furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31st January 2021.
It would’ve been available to apply for between 15th February 2021 and 31st March 2021, and the payment was not required to be paid to the employee.
At present, the scheme has been postponed because of the extension of the furlough scheme to 30th April 2021. We’re awaiting further guidance from the Government about whether this will be renewed after the furlough scheme ends, and whether there will be any changes to what was proposed previously.
If you’re curious about the scheme and want more details on what was originally proposed, you can find them here.
In a further bid to help businesses navigate the pandemic, there have also been measures introduced to provide a little relief through business rates holidays. Many businesses can apply for this support, and there’s also extra business rates support for nurseries.
To aid the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, the Government has temporarily cancelled business rates for businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality. This business rates holiday applies in England for the tax year 2020-21 for all the following businesses:
Businesses don’t need to apply to get a business rates holiday — if your business is in the affected industries, it should have been automatically applied to your April 2020 Council Tax bill.
In addition to the industries listed above, nurseries in England will also receive a business rates holiday of one year, for the tax year 2020-21.
For your business to be eligible, your building needs to be occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register, and completely or mainly used to provide Early Years Foundation Stage (which is care and education for children up to the age of five).
If you’re eligible, you won’t need to do anything to claim your business rates holiday — your local council will automatically apply this discount on your behalf.
There’s also support in place for those struggling to pay their taxes due to the pandemic. Both corporations and the self-employed can benefit, and there’s also a helpline available for those who want to talk to an HMRC advisor if they’re facing difficulty paying their taxes this financial year — you can find more details on this further down.
Following the Chancellor’s announcement in September 2020, the Government confirmed that Self Assessment taxpayers would be able to defer their tax repayments beyond the original deferral date. This extended deferral means that anyone who needs to pay up to £30,000 in tax by 31st January 2021 will now be able to make that payment in instalments, delaying a full payment until 31st January 2022.
To take advantage of this, businesses will need to use HMRC’s Time to Pay service that’s available online. More details can be found on the Government’s website here.
There have also been changes to the VAT deferral scheme. Businesses who originally chose to defer VAT payments between March and June 2020 are now able to make interest-fee payments over the course of the 2021-22 tax year, rather than paying in full by March 2021.
In order to claim your tax deferral, you’ll need to have no:
If you’ve chosen to defer VAT payments, you’ll need to opt-in to the scheme to make smaller payments across the 2021-22 tax year. We’ll update this article once details on how to do this have been released.
If your business is registered with Companies House, you’re able to apply for a three-month extension to the deadline for filing your accounts. Businesses that use this extension won’t receive the usual late payment penalty.
You can apply using the fast-tracked application system. It should only take 15 minutes and any business that gives coronavirus as the reason will receive an automatic and immediate extension.
For more help with any outstanding tax bills, HMRC’s Time to Pay service has a coronavirus helpline to help businesses facing financial distress.
You can call them on 0800 024 1222, but remember, there may be increased wait times to speak to an advisor. Decisions about extensions on your tax bill will be made on a case-by-case basis.
As the coronavirus pandemic has meant that many employees will now have to take time off to quarantine if they show symptoms or have a positive test, the Government has introduced measures to help businesses support their staff to do the right thing. While self-employed workers will not benefit from statutory sick pay support, they can also apply for Universal Credit (UC) and/or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they meet the eligibility criteria.
If you’re a small business with less than 250 employees as of 28th February 2020, you’ll be able to claim a full refund from the Government for 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee who is off sick with coronavirus.
While a doctor’s note for each employee isn’t required, employees will only be eligible if they:
You can make a claim through the Government’s website here. Be sure to keep records of all absences and statutory sick payments made due to coronavirus.
If you’re self-employed and aren’t eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, the Government has made it easier to claim for Universal Credit (UC) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Universal Credit (UC)
You can submit a claim for Universal Credit and get advance payments upfront without needing to attend your local Jobscentre if your work has been reduced, or stopped, because of coronavirus.
Any payments will be based on your actual earnings, and you’ll be required to declare any self-employed earnings and expenses at the end of each monthly assessment period.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance is designed for people with a disability or health condition that impacts how much they can work. Because of the pandemic, you may be able to apply for this if you can’t get Statutory Sick Pay if you or your child are ill or self-isolating.
Once you’ve been assessed, you’ll be placed into one of two groups. The amount you’ll receive will depend on whether you can get back into work. These two groups are as follows:
Commercial tenants who can’t pay their rent as a result of the pandemic are entitled to protection from eviction. The initial ban on evictions has been extended until March 2021.
Tenants and landlords are being encouraged to come to a voluntary arrangement on repayment. A new code of practice was introduced in June 2020, to help struggling businesses and landlords work together on rent repayment issues.
This protection from eviction only applies if you can’t pay your commercial rent right now due to the pandemic. It’s not a rent holiday and those commercial tenants that take advantage of this will still be liable for the rent.
It’s important to remember that when taking a loan, your business is liable for the full loan amount. The CBIL and BBL schemes provide a guarantee to the lender, not to the business.
All information is correct at time of publishing. While we want to help as much as we can, the information and documents found here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be considered financial or legal advice. To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, the information contained here. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent legal advice.
CBILS and BBLS are managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. They are not authorised or regulated by the PRA or the FCA. Visit british-business-bank.co.uk.