Key links to resources for Businesses
Support finder tool
This online platform from the Government helps businesses easily access the financial support they are eligible for during the coronavirus pandemic.
A simple questionnaire, which should take just minutes to complete, will signpost you to relevant government financial support.
Access the tool here.
Job Support Scheme
- The Job Support Scheme is open from 1st November 2020 until April 2021 to help support viable businesses who have been impacted by COVID. The Government will pay a third of the hours an employee is not working up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third.
- Employers will be able to make a claim from December 2020, and grants will be payable in arrears.
- Employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can use this scheme as well as the Job Retention Bonus. Employers who did not make use of the Job Retention Scheme are also eligible to use the Job Support Scheme.
- Employees will need to work at least 33% of their usual hours with the Government contributing towards the employee’s usual pay. After the first three months of the scheme, the Government will be considering whether to increase this minimum threshold.
- For every hour not worked, employers and the Government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay. The Government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92.
- Employees will receive at least 77% of their pay where the Government contribution has not been capped.
- All SMEs will be eligible to use this scheme and will not have to be financially assessed. Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test as the scheme is only available to businesses whose turnover has been impacted by COVID.
- HMRC will also check claims and the agreement between the employer and employee on their new short-time working arrangements must be made available to HMRC on request.
The Job Support Scheme Factsheet can be found here.
Government Job Retention Scheme and Furloughing
We have a page dedicated to information on this scheme which can be found here.
In July, the Chancellor announced the Kickstart Scheme as part of the Government’s wider Plan for Jobs. The Scheme, which is available in England, Scotland and Wales, aims to create jobs for young people aged 16 - 24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions for providing 6-month placements. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.
Eligibility and how to apply
Any organisation, regardless of size, can apply for funding. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If you are unable to offer this many job placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.
The job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs. They must not:
– replace existing or planned vacancies
– cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment
Find out more about how the Scheme works and how to make an application here.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme
What is it?
The Government's Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses affected by COVID-19 to apply for loans of up to £50,000. The Government guarantees 100% of the loan and there aren't any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
You can apply for a loan if your business:
- is based in the UK
- has been negatively affected by coronavirus
- was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty' on 31st December 2019
How to apply
The Bounce Back Loan scheme opened for applications on Monday 4th May 2020.
More information can be found here.
Additional Government grants for English SMEs
Announced 30th July 2020: Small and medium sized businesses in England can access grants of £1,000 - £5,000 for new equipment and technology and specialist advice. The support will be fully funded by the Government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.
The funding has been allocated to Growth Hubs within each LEP area in line with the current England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme.
For more information about the criteria and how to apply, please contact your LEP Growth Hub.
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rate
What is it: a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Eligibility: You must be…
- already receiving small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief (RRR)
- a business that occupies a property
How to access it: You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Government guidance for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) can be found here.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme for SMEs
What is it: support primarily for SMEs through access to bank lending and overdrafts. These loans will be interest free for 12 months.
Eligibility: You are eligible for the scheme if
- you are a UK-based business
- your turnover is no more than £45m per year
- you meet the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria
How to access it: You should talk to your bank or finance provider as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them.
Government business support helplines
Contact the Government’s business support helplines for free advice. Find contact details for the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland helplines here.
HMRC Webinar Series
HMRC is running a series of webinars to help people learn more about the Government’s Coronavirus support schemes.
- Running your business through the coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Webinars are recorded and can be viewed here.
You can also register for upcoming sessions on the same page.
DIT Webinar Series
The Department for International Trade is hosting a series of coronavirus webinars, free for SMEs across the UK and featuring a range of experts.
The webinars offer practical advice to SMEs and focus on issues businesses trading internationally are facing.
Businesses can register via great.gov.uk where all recorded webinars are hosted and a list of upcoming webinars can also be found.
Business Interruption Loans Scheme for large businesses (CLBILS)
A government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus.
More information about the Scheme and eligibility can be found here.
Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
What is it: The Discretionary Grant Fund supports small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes. You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.
Eligibility: You may be eligible if your business:
- is based in England
- has fewer than 50 employees
- has fixed building costs such as rent
- was trading on 11th March 2020
- has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus
How to apply: Visit your local council’s website for more information and to find out how to apply.
Corporate Financing Facility for larger businesses
What is it: the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze, allowing them to finance short-term liabilities.
Eligibility: All UK businesses are eligible to apply.
How to access it: More information can be found on the Bank of England website.
The Future Fund provides government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.
These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.
This scheme opened for applications on Wednesday 20th May 2020. Apply here.
Creative industry tax credits: how to claim efficiently
If you are waiting for payment from any of the creative sector tax credits from the government the following information may help speed up your application process:
- HMRC aim to review and process claims received swiftly. The majority of claims are generally reviewed and processed within 30 days. However, this timescale is not always possible for a variety of reasons. Some claims may require a more detailed review, there may be computations or other information missing when the claim is submitted, which will build in delay. HMRC will always try to resolve any concerns as quickly as possible.
- To reduce any potential delay companies and their tax advisors should ensure that they are submitting their claims with all information necessary for HMRC to assess the claim. This includes completion of the CT600 tax Return, cultural certificate from the BFI, statutory accounts and computations for the claim.
- Companies can contact HMRC's specialist creative industry tax reliefs unit here.
If you need to contact the unit please wait 28 days after submitting your claim (31st March accounting period is particularly busy for accounts submissions). You should also follow up with your accountant, if you have one, as the accountant is usually the one corresponding with HMRC on any issues.
Leadership programmes for English SMEs
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced two new leadership programmes worth £20m to help small business leaders in England grow their companies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
SME leaders are encouraged to sign up.
Find out more about the Small Business Leaders Programme.
Find out more about the Peer Networks Programme.
Deferred VAT payments
What is it: VAT payments are being deferred for three months, from 20th March 2020 until 30th June 2020.
Eligibility: all UK businesses are eligible.
How to access it: this will be implemented automatically with no applications required. You simply do not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
NB. Liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period will need to be paid at the end of the 2020/21 tax year.
Support for reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay
What is it: legislation to allow SMEs to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund covers up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
Eligibility: You can use the scheme as an employer if:
- you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus.
- you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28th February 2020.
- you had fewer than 250 employees on 28th February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes.
You can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:
- 13th March 2020 - if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms.
- 16th April 2020 - if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus.
How to access it: The mechanism for recliaming SSP opened on Tuesday 26th May. After making an application employers will receive the money within six working days. Find out more and make an application here.
Three month extension for filing accounts
If your accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts. For more information and guidance about how to apply, click here.
Companies House support
Businesses will be given additional support to help them meet their legal responsibilities under changes announced on Thursday 16th April.
Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register.
In addition, companies issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 will have appeals treated sympathetically.
Find out more about these and other measures here.
Tax: Time to Pay Services
What is it: support with tax affairs if you may be unable to pay an upcoming tax liability.
Eligibility: all businesses and individuals are eligible to apply for support.
How to access it: If you have missed a tax payment or are concerned you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
Nations and Regions
Businesses may also be able to access specific support in their own area. Please see our Nations and Regions COVID-19 support page for more information.
Relaxed rules on carrying over annual leave
Towards the end of March the government announced it would be relaxing its rules on carrying over annual leave in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.
There is also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.
The announced changes, which amend the Working Time Regulations, allow up to four weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.
This law applies for any holiday the employee or worker does not take because of coronavirus, for example if:
- they’re self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
- they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday
Although primarily put in place to help key workers within the economy, all businesses are able to take advantage of this change.
More information can be found here.
The ACAS website also has a very helpful section on holiday pay here, which the Government is itself directing people to.
- Support finder tool
Please note: Government guidance is changing rapidly and whilst we are doing everything we can to keep our information up to date we advise you to look carefully at the date that it was posted/last updated. Please also keep checking your e-mails from Pact for the most up to date announcements and information.