COVID-19 Business Support

Issued 27/03/20

Businesses and employers

If your business wishes to help the government tackle COVID-19, please read the following information:

 

  • Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support should email the Scottish Government at covid19response@gov.scot with details such as your organisation’s key contact and their role, what you are offering and how it might be best applied, how quickly your support could be available and whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service.

 

 

If you are unsure whether your business should close, please read the following information:

 

 

  • Construction sites should close unless the work is for essential services, such as hospitals or other parts of the critical national infrastructure.

 

  • 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.

 

 

 

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: www.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 now operational and is ready to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

 

  • 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.

 

  • You will be able to access lending as part of this scheme from a large number of lenders, including the high street banks. The British Business Bank is working with over 40 lenders to support British business in this time of crisis.

 

  • While the British Business Bank has set up CBILS you should approach your lender via their website in the first instance to see if you are eligible for funding, before looking at other lenders.

 

 

 

 

If you own a large business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:

 

  • 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.

 

 

  • The UK Government have said that they will announce further measures in the coming weeks to ensure that large businesses access credit.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

  • Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative Associations with more details. Queries can be emailed to seafisheriesintervention@gov.scot.