The Covid-19 funding schemes available for small businesses

The full financial impact of Coronavirus on our businesses is yet to be discovered. Sandra Da Silva-Creasey fills us in on some of the financial support available to help see us through.  

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Sandra Da Silva-Creasey

As a small business owner, I know first-hand the challenging times we currently all face due to the Coronavirus as it impacts upon our families, our community, and our businesses. 

 

Business owners are feeling the strain that Coronavirus and lockdown is causing and this is leading to feelings of anxiety and business insecurity. It’s only natural.

 

There are, however, some schemes available to help ease the financial strain. There are still gaps, but I can tell you about what’s currently available and who might qualify:

Maximum support available: £25,000 (grant)

 

These are the two main government grants that are available right now, aimed at providing business rates relief. They were released together and are delivered by local authorities.

Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000. 

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.

Those eligible should have been contacted to let them know and given a slot to apply. Applications for this grant closed on 18th May.  

This funding is subject to EU state aid rules.

 

Maximum support available: £7,500 (taxable grant) 

Under this scheme, self-employed workers will be able to apply for taxable grants to combat a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

You might be able to claim 80% of your average monthly trading profits, even if you’re still working. This grant is a government scheme paid out in a single instalment covering three months (capped at £2,500 per month), but may be extended. As it’s a grant you don’t have to pay it back, but it is subject to income tax and self-employed National Insurance.

To claim this grant you must have been in self-employed for more than two years, have filed a tax return for 208/19 and you can’t claim for a limited company. You can check online if you’re eligible here.

You can claim this grant on any work visa. You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19. The deadline was extended to 23rd April from the 31st January 2020.  Applications opened Wednesday 13 May and many will receive payments by Monday 25 May.

If you are not eligible for Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, you may be eligible for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.

Maximum support available: £5m (loan)

 

Over 50 lenders, including all major retain banks, are providing loan funding through this scheme, via the government platform.

Aimed at small and medium businesses, all UK businesses with a turnover under £45million except banks, insurers and state-funded schools are eligible to apply.

You’ll need to be able to prove that your business would have been viable if it weren’t for the pandemic and that it has been adversely affected by the crisis.

In deciding on your application the funder will look at whether the money is for a suitable business purpose, affordable for you and if it’s the right type of finance for your needs.

Maximum support available: £50,000 (loan)

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and for the first 12 months you will not have to pay any fees or interest or make repayments.  The interest rate will remain at 2.5% and some businesses are taking this loan to pay off other loans, which are at a higher rate.

If your small to medium-sized business (SME) is affected by coronavirus, you may be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 through a Bounce Back Loan scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Maximum support available: Up to £2,500 per employee per month

This is also known as ‘furlough’ and pays employees 80% of their salaries to hopefully prevent them from losing their jobs. The money is paid to the business.

Your business is still liable to pay national insurance, pensions and other employment-related costs and some companies have made the decision to ‘top up’ their employees salaries. This is a choice, not a necessity.

This scheme has recently been extended to the end of October.

Check if you can claim here.

Maximum support available: £409.89 per month for one single person, £594.04 for a couple (extra money given if you have dependants)

 

This is a monthly benefit payment and you’re reassessed every month for eligibility.  Payments are made depending on your income and are calculated for a period of time, not just the time you apply.

Additional money is provided for dependants and you can receive extra support for childcare costs up to £1,108.04 for two or more children.)

There are many government schemes out there and most people will be able to benefit from the help provided but we understand that it can be overwhelming to navigate and know what you are entitled to.

In challenging times like these it’s important to seek support where you can. Don’t be afraid to seek help, ask a friend or professional advisor. 

Many businesses could also benefit from the support of their communities via crowdfunding campaigns. Our blog on crowdfunding explains all you need to know about setting one up.

Keep Calm and Carry on

These times are testing and uncertain and the truth is that some businesses might not successfully endure this period.  But I would urge all business owners to take a look at what they can do now to avoid this and to better position their business for a post lockdown economy. 

It is important to remember that the UK will recover, life will resume with the energy and vitality that we are accustomed to and ‘business as normal’ will also return.

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