Here’s what we know (and what we don’t know) currently (5 May)
£10K grant for all businesses with premises with rateable value under £15K
East Riding Council sent letters out to qualifying businesses on Thursday 19 March. Their website has a section for businesses to input their bank account details in order to receive the grant ( www.eastriding.gov.uk/business-rates-grants ). The first payments were received on 1 April. The Hull City Council portal opened on 3 April:
Please ensure you enter your business name exactly as it appears on your rates bill – several of our clients have informed us their claims have been rejected if this is not done.
£25K grant for businesses with premises with rateable value between £15K and £51K in hospitality, retail and leisure
We now know it is a £25K grant (not up to £25K) – The ERYCC portal is now (3 Apr) accepting claims for these, as is the Hull City Council one.
Although the government website does not mention this, estate and letting agents should qualify for the £25K (some local authority websites confirm this).
2020 / 21 Business Rates Holidays for those in leisure, retail or hospitality
Should be automatic but check rates bills to ensure correctly classified. Now extended to bingo halls, estate agents and letting agencies but some confusion over whether need to be closed or not to qualify.
What if I’m not entitled to a business rates holiday but all my staff are working from home
You will qualify for empty building rates relief (ie 100% for 3m – indefinite if listed) if all furniture, equipment etc has been removed. Hull City Council are asking for photographic evidence that this is the case. We’re unsure if other councils are doing the same. Consider partial relief if part of building emptied.
Government announces £617m in grants for co-working space tenants, market traders and more
New funding of £617m is being made available to co-working space tenants, market traders and other businesses in England who aren’t being given funding through the coronavirus business rates grant scheme.
To qualify, businesses must have under 50 employees and be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures. Grants of £10,000 and £25,000 will be available and local authorities can choose to make payments of any other amount under £10,000 depending on local economic needs, if they so wish.
This scheme will also cover bed and breakfasts that currently pay council tax rather than business rates.
More guidance on how to apply and the amounts being provided to each council are expected to be released shortly.
Contact email@example.com for further info on the above.
Humber LEP grant for IT hardware , software and consultancy required to enable home working
40% of spend between £2,500 and £25,000 – www.humberlep.org for further info
Government Backed Funding – Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Updated section with detail on loans. Also be aware that there are Humber LEP grants available for ‘crisis management assistance’ which may cover some of this work. Businesses in other regions should check locally.
Who will provide the loan?
Link to partners: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/
Amount of Loan Available
In theory, up to £5m. However, in reality, lenders will look to provide loans that are realistic for the needs of each individual business. The amount may need to be verified by way of a cash-flow forecast or other supporting information
Cost of the Loan
Interest rate:-12 month’s interest free period plus up to 12 months capital repayment holidays
(Normal commercial interest rates will apply from lender to lender)
The government will cover all up-front fees (arrangement fees) the lender may charge
Term of The Loan
Finance terms of up to six years are available for loans and asset finance facilities.
For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, the loan terms will be up to three years.
Security To be Provided For The Loan – how it works
80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance after realisation of any security taken.
Unlike the existing similar schemes such as the EFGS , there will be no additional fee charged by the government for its guarantee.
Loans <£250,000: Lenders are now banned from taking any personal guarantees (PGs) for facilities of £250,000 and under.
Loans >£250,000: Lenders must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. Personal guaranteed (PGs) limited to 20% of any amount left outstanding on the CBILS loan after amounts recovered from other business assets (this is at the lender’s discretion).
If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.
Liability of The Borrower
Remember – The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt
The business proprietors may also be required to provide personal guarantees if lending over £250k
Eligibility to Take a Loan From The Scheme
Smaller businesses from all sectors (with a small number of exceptions) 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.
Loans are limited to a maximum of 25% of 2019 turnover or double the annual wage bill, whichever is greater.
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.
When can I get a CBILS supported loan
The scheme went live on Monday 23 March and will initially run for six months.
Is it my only option right now
Not at all. In fact, as the lender will pay a fee to access the scheme, if they can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.
Are other non CBIL lenders still open for business, can I still borrow money via regular routes
Yes, the majority of lenders are still open for business, although criteria has changed. There is still an appetite to fund investment property, bridging, commercial property, invoices and assets. Please get in touch to discuss your requirement.
The new CBILS scheme has many positive features at this difficult time for businesses but the reality is that obtaining the finance may be more involved and slower than has been reported in the press so we suggest businesses apply early.
CBILS Update – courtesy of Darren Peacock from Peacock Finance Limited
As quick as Chancellor Sunak was to announce financial support measures for SMEs and to enhance these measures a week later, the CBILS has come under fire for delivering far too slowly.
The British Business Bank’s accredited lenders have felt the pressure of more applications than they can realistically handle, causing some to temporarily pull out of the CBILS while they try to catch up. Of the 130,000 enquiries that have been made by businesses to date, HM Treasury confirmed last week that just 983 businesses had been approved for funding through the CBILS, totalling £90 million.
The traditional lenders on The British Business Bank’s accredited list are inherently slow-moving, used to strict rules and regulations that dictate extremely long lead times for any significant changes to processes. While they have certainly moved much faster to get set up for the CBILS than they would have done in normal circumstances, many SMEs feel that it’s just not fast enough.
FinTech’s, challenger banks and alternative lenders across the country have been canvassing the British Business Bank, eager to become accredited lenders so they can get much-needed funds out the door and into the hands of businesses. These lenders are agile, fast-moving by their very nature and confident that they can get the job done at pace.
Speed aside, the issue of security has come up time and time again as SMEs have either been turned down for a CBILS loan or blind-sided by confusing criteria. To be clear, the CBILS is a necessary and highly beneficial measure that will deliver essential financial support to UK businesses – provided they’re approved for the funding, and fast.
Some of the key updates the Chancellor has made to CBILS as a way of addressing these concerns.
Access to other Finance
Before 3 April, if lenders could offer an SME finance on normal terms without using the CBILS, then that business was not eligible for CBILS funding. Following the updates, the government’s website states that: “all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.”
This is a key point to keep in mind: the CBILS eligibility criteria still specifies that a business must self-certify that they have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the updates, lenders could only use the CBILS for finance facilities over £250k if they could prove to the British Business Bank that the SME wasn’t able to provide security. But insufficient security is no longer part of the CBILS eligibility criteria for facilities both under and over £250k.
One very important change to be aware of is that lenders are no longer permitted to request a personal guarantee from SMEs for facilities less than £250k and it’s worth explaining what exactly a personal guarantee is.
A personal guarantee is essentially a legal promise that the owner of a business makes to repay the debt to a lender. So, if the business itself is not able to meet its obligations and liabilities, then the owner agrees to do so personally.
The updated security terms on The British Business Bank’s website state that lenders may still (at their own discretion) request personal guarantees for facilities over £250k. However, this specifically excludes Principal Private Residence (i.e. the business owner’s home). The terms also include a cap on recoveries of just 20% of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.
New CBILS Lenders
As of this morning, the following lenders have all now been approved by the British Business Bank as funders under the CBILS scheme. Many of the lenders are still working out their processes so this time is not open to accepting applications, but we will continue to review each lenders website during the remainder of the week:
- Co-Op Bank – Loans and Overdraft £1k – £5m
- Cynergy Bank – Loans £1m-£5m
- Oak North Bank – £500k – £5m. At the present time website advises that it is only open for existing clients only
- Starling Bank – £5k – £250k – Loans / £1k – £150k overdraft – process not up and running yet. Starling is a digital bank and therefore I would expect applications will be made directly by the client
- Arkle Asset Finance – £5k – £250k
- Close Bros – Invoice Finance / Term Loans
- Secure Trust – Invoice Finance / Term Loans
It is hoped ESME Loans and The Funding Circle will get formally approved later this week so will continue to keep a close eye for any developments – however, even when the lenders are approved it could take a week or so to get there processes up and running.
Still, the crux of any CBILS application is that the applicant business must (in normal times) demonstrate viability, it must show how it is being affected by the COVID crisis and, very importantly, show serviceability of the debt once the business is trading again and after the 6/12 month capital repayment holiday offered by the lenders and 12 months interest is paid by the government.
This last point is where it really gets difficult as many businesses currently in trouble and needing cash-flow support have no idea how long this will last and what their business will look like once ‘normality’ returns.
This is where past Business trading accounts, management accounts, future cash flow projections etc. are fundamental in the submission of a CBILS application.
Other CBILS Improvements?
HM Treasury’s statement regarding the updates also mentions “operational changes to speed up lending approval” but doesn’t provide any additional detail as to what these changes are. It is nonetheless promising that the government has recognised a need for action to ensure faster delivery of funding.
The introduction of a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBLILS) will also provide financial support to bigger businesses turning over £45 million to £500 million with similar government-backed and guaranteed loans up to £25 million.
As the economic climate continues to change and businesses continue to grapple with new and unpredictable challenges, there could be yet more CBILS updates to come. The hope is that these updates will include the accreditation of some more lenders joining the scheme and the return of those who have had to put their involvement on hold.
Interest Free Redundancy Payments Loan
Additional funding measure to consider if you have to make people redundant.
The Redundancy Payments Office has a facility which allows borrowing to help businesses, who have to make cuts, preserve the remainder of the workforce. It also allows payment of the redundancies by the company rather than a claim having to be lodged with the government should the business be forced to close.
Payments go direct to the redundant employees so no danger of monies being retained by the company.
Repayment terms negotiable, no security required and no interest accrued on the debt.
The criteria for a company that wishes to make an application are:
- The business will continue to trade after roles are made redundant.
- The business can save some of the jobs of its workforce by making some roles
- The business can demonstrate it can repay the resultant debt in full.
- The business has been refused a loan by its bank.
- The business can provide documents to support it has no funds from which to
make the redundancy payments itself.
- The business can confirm that it has undertaken all possible cost-saving
- If the business is part of a group, it would have to provide evidence that there
are no funds within the rest of the group to assist with redundancy costs and the RPO would need a guarantee.
Future Fund – loans for tech start ups
Available from May to September – takes the form of convertible loans ranging from £125k to £5m
- Convertible loan – includes interest and carries with it the right for the government to convert the loan to shares
- Converted loans will take the form of most senior share class in the company i.e. will carry same rights as other investors
- Aimed at businesses looking at equity (shares) rather than loan finance
- Only available if unable access to CBILS
- Unlisted UK registered company
- Already raised 250k of private funding in last 5 years
- UK based trading/presence
- Any Future Fund lending must be matched funded with private investment
- Minimum interest rate of 8% per year (paid at end of loan term)
- Rate will be higher if private loans are at higher rates
- Max term 3 years
Further developments to come potentially as pure start ups/fledgling companies unlikely to qualify.
Bounce Back Loans
- 100% government backed
- Range 2k to 50k (25% of turnover) – eligible to all SME entities
- No capital or interest first 12 months – low interest rate after that 2.5% confirmed
- Term up to 6 years
- Open to at least 4 November 2020
- Delivered by accredited lenders – see link https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/
- If in a group but have separately owned businesses then multiple applications available (as long as no group member has made an application – this is where a holding company is in place that control of the other group members)
- UK based
- Affected trade
- Viable business on 31 December 19 (Can’t be an Undertaking in Difficulty – per HMRC definition is must have positive net assets/capital accounts as at 31 December 19)
- Haven’t applied for a CBILS (but can transfer if loan of £50k or less already given)
How to Apply and want required
- See link https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/
- Required, slight variations on differing lenders website but generally:
- Simplified application – no forecasting required
- Company/business details to show December 19 turnover and to prevent fraud HMRC tax references and companies house number (where applicable) required
- Above should mean business owner can complete rather than via a broker (as long as December 19 turnover or an estimated known)
- Lender credit checks will be part of process
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further info on the above.
80% grant to cover wages of furloughed employees
There is a maximum grant of £2500 per employee per month towards gross wages. The government will also reimburse 80% employers’ NI and auto enrolment costs which should save businesses upto an extra £300 per employee per month.
Employer puts employee into furloughed status (ie told to stay at home and not work) – some template documents / letters have been produced by various trade organisations – our recommendation is to take legal / HR advice.
Employer may , if they wish, top up some or all of the 20%.
HMRC’s portal went live on 20 April:
Despite it crashing several times on day one it appears robust and fairly simple to use.
Anyone who was in the company’s employment on 19 Mar (now extended from 29 Feb) can be furloughed – even those that have subsequently been made redundant or laid off.
Unlike many accountants, 360 will claim the grant on behalf of payroll clients FREE OF CHARGE. We may already have the authorisation in place to do this. If we have not we have applied for it so please keep an eye on the post at your BUSINESS ADDRESS and forward to us as soon as it is received. You will have received an e mail from us asking you to do this if applicable.
Furloughed workers on National Minimum Wage do not receive a pay increase when NMW rates increased on 1 April 2020 – they will remain on old rates until return to work.
Grant payments started hitting employers’ bank accounts on 27 April (for claims submitted on 20 April).
What we don’t know:
What if there are a pool of workers – how do you decide who is furloughed?
What anti abuse rules will be in place – checking turnover, asking employees to confirm not working, fines / prison or does the government just want businesses to survive?
Guidance for Director/Shareholders
Given the current financial climate you may wish to consider increasing directors salaries from March’s payroll and lowering or stopping any dividend payments due to there potentially not being the distributable reserves available to pay dividends and then utilise the furlough scheme from 1 April.
This would increase current PAYE and national insurance liabilities but does however safeguard directors’ personal incomes in the event any business becomes insolvent and has to close as a result of the on-going situation.
Directors salaries do however qualify for the newly introduced Government furlough scheme, a business can receive a grant of up to £2,500 per employee/director plus employers national insurance and minimum auto enrolment pension contributions. This works based on 80% of the employee/director’s previous month’s gross salary up to a maximum of a £2,500 grant per employee/director (so the maximum grant would be based on a gross salary of £3,125 per month or above). The remaining 20% of the employee/director’s monthly salary can be paid by the employer but this is optional.
Guidance for Casual Employees
For any employee not on a regular salary or on a ‘zero hours contract’ the 80% furlough grant can be based upon either their income for the same month last year or an average of their monthly earnings for the current 2019/20 tax year.
The furlough scheme is available from 1 March but this only applies to workers laid off or furloughed during this month. Any furloughed employee or director cannot work for the business during this period of being classified as furloughed.
This guidance is our recommendation but is not in any way us dictating what needs happen for any individual business or employee, in the event of a HMRC or Government investigation the responsibility still lies with the directors and/or business owners for any action taken within their business.
The furlough agreement letters that have been sent to and returned by employees must be kept for 5 years.
Contact email@example.com for further info on the above.
HMRC Corona Virus Time To Pay Helpline
0800 024 1222 – open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm.
This is a new, free to phone number, we believe they have many more people now answering the phones although they seem to be external agents that take the details of your proposal and promise HMRC will be in touch in due course. We have heard reports of some agents stating TTP arrangements not available for Corporation Tax, others saying it is, and some stating interest is payable. Lack of training / experience may be an issue. If you are unable to get through then we are recommending that clients write to HMRC with details of the liabilities they wish to delay, a proposal of when they can afford to make the payments, an explanation that they have tried to contact the helpline but couldn’t get through and a number for HMRC to contact them on to set up a direct debit. Sophie has produced a template which she will be happy to share with you.
On the occasions people have successfully got through HMRC has been extremely receptive (unlike in previous downturns) and not asked for proof of attempts to raise finance elsewhere, personal savings etc and very helpful instalment periods.
Any VAT payable for the next 3 months (20 March to 30 June) will be deferred until Apr 2021 if a business is unable to pay. We now know you must cancel your direct debit.
Self assessment tax due 31 July 2020
This has been deferred until 31 Jan 2021 for any taxpayers unable to make this payment.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further info on the above.
Self employed (ie sole traders and partnerships)
Announcement on 26 March of a new Self Employed Income Support Scheme as follows:
Taxable grant of 80% of normal earnings (average of last 3 years).
Maximum of 3 months (currently) with a maximum grant of £2500 pm.
Anyone with profits under £50,000 in 2018/19 that has been affected by Corona Virus. If profits were over £50K but the average of 2016 – 2019 were below £50K then still qualify.
Self employment must be the ‘majority’ of their income (more than half).
Must already be in self employed (anti abuse measure).
Must have filed a 2019 Tax Return – if late must file by 23 April to qualify.
Must have traded in 2019/20 and still be trading (unless ceased due to Corona Virus) and intend to trade in 2020/21.
ACCOUNTANTS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CLAIM THE GRANTS ON BEHALF OF CLIENTS
The portal is going live on 13 May and grants will be paid within 6 days of the claim.
You will need:
UTR (unique taxpayer reference number)
Government Gateway ID and password (if you don’t have one you can apply on the link below)
Bank account number and sort code
You can find out now whether you qualify by going to : https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference
- Follow the link you will be asked for your Unique Tax Reference (10 digit number on your tax return) & NI number which will then say if you are eligible or not.
- If eligible you are taken to another screen which tells you when you can apply (potentially as early as 13 May in some cases)
- You are then directed to government gateway login to input an email address for which a link will be sent to make the claim in due course. (If you don’t have a gateway account there is a link to set one up in the email).
Newly self employed WILL NOT QUALIFY.
You CAN continue to trade and still qualify for the grants.
Will be given 3 month mortgage holiday when it can be proved their tenants are unable to pay their rent due to Corona Virus.
Changes to insolvency rules
On 28 March the government announced it would be temporarily suspending the ‘wrongful trading’ laws to protect directors during the pandemic. The move will allow directors to pay employees and suppliers even if they believe the business is technically insolvent. This should give them the breathing space to claim government grants and access government backed borrowings.
A temporary block on creditors being able to put businesses into administration to give them time to restructure has also been introduced.
Insolvency rules are extremely complex and whilst these moves are welcome, if you are in any doubt whatsoever please speak to a licensed insolvency practitioner.
Grants for young entrepreneurs
Anyone aged 18-30 with a business under 4 years old (including those about to launch) can apply for a grant from the Princes Trust. There is £5m available for business owners affected financially by Corona Virus. Please see link below:
Making Tax Digital Phase 2 postponed
Making Tax Digital is the need to submit VAT returns via an electronic method, this second phase relates to businesses who are VAT registered but whose sales are under the VAT threshold (£85,000).
HMRC has extended the soft launch period from 1 April 2020 to VAT return periods starting on or after 1 April 2021.
If your turnover has dropped it may be beneficial to move onto cash accounting (£1.35m) or flat rate scheme (£150K). Please speak to your usual contact if you would like to explore this further.
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