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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government put in place a number of emergency measures to help businesses across the country weather the economic storm.
The landscape is constantly changing, and new schemes are being launched regularly. To help, we’ve put together this quick guide of all the business support on offer so you can see at a glance what’s available.
We wanted to flag up the Future Fund as an important support that UK start-ups specifically can benefit from during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Future Fund means that start-ups can access a new convertible loan note program from the British Business Bank. Businesses using the scheme can benefit from the government’s pledge to match private investment on a 1:1 basis to a maximum of £5 million (minimum of £125,000). The fund is due to close at the end of September 2020.
To qualify for the support, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that during the last five years has raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from outside investors. Further information can be found on the government’s Future Fund webpage.
Latest government supports include:
Bounce Back Loans were launched back in May and offer up to £50,000 to support SMEs affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Loans are 100% government guaranteed, and borrowers pay no interest or repayments for the first 12 months. More details can be found on the Bounce Back Loans page of the government website.
This one’s currently for the month of August only and will hopefully encourage people to dine out at a discounted rate. As much as £10 per meal can be claimed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August. Proprietors of food establishments sign up online and then claim the difference back from the government. The idea is that more customers will come through the doors and eat on quieter days, so drumming up extra revenue for restaurants and cafes. Businesses can find out more and sign up on the government’s Eat Out to Help Out page.
This temporary scheme offers loans administered by the British Business Bank of up to £5 million per business. Additionally, the government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
The CBILS can be claimed by small businesses that have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s attractive as lenders are not allowed to demand personal guarantees on loans of less than £250,000. Discover more on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme page of the British Business Bank website.
Where an employee is off sick due to COVID-19, SMEs can now reclaim Statutory Sick Pay from the government. More information and how to claim can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Local Authorities will now receive additional government funding to support much smaller enterprises that already pay either no business rates (or very little). This could be because they already receive rural rate relief, small business rate relief and/or tapered relief. Businesses that qualify can receive a grant of £10,000 to support them in paying ongoing business costs. You don’t need to make an application as local councils are getting in touch with those businesses that are eligible.
£750 million of targeted support is also being offered through Innovate UK's grants and loans scheme for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms that are undergoing intensive R&D projects.
Innovate UK will accelerate £200 million of loan and grant payments for 2,500 existing Innovate UK partners who have opted in. On top of this, Innovate UK has pledged to provide £175,000 to around 1,200 firms that don’t already receive Innovate UK funding. Find out more on the government’s Innovate UK webpage.
COVID-19 has obviously had a massive impact on larger businesses as well as smaller ones. However, the following supports are available:
The CLBILS works in a very similar way to similar to CBILS but is aimed specifically as larger firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. The most up-to-date information and how to apply can be found on the relevant page of the British Business Bank website.
The Bank of England has also now unveiled a brand new lending facility that allows firms to raise working capital much more quickly and cost-effectively. It works via the purchase of short-term debt, and the scheme is to be reviewed regularly. Read up on the COVID19 Corporate Financing facility for further details.
Certain supports are available to all UK businesses during the pandemic regardless of size, with the key ones being:
The government recognises that many businesses will struggle to meet this year’s tax commitments. With this in mind, all businesses that have an outstanding tax liability but who will find meeting it in the wake of COVID-19 extremely difficult can use HMRC’s Time to Pay service. There is a dedicated helpline to call which is 0800 0159 559, or have a look at the If you cannot pay your tax bill on time page on the government website.
The original Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now been extended until the end of October. However, in a bid to encourage employees in returning to work, furloughed staff will be able to come back part-time. Employers will then need to cover the time their staff are working, with the government paying for the days they are furloughed. It’s down to individual businesses to manage the transition and keep accurate records. The BBC very recently published a detailed piece on what is now termed "flexible furlough" which you may find useful. You can read the article here.
Supports for people who are self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
Self-employed people who face financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis have previously been able to claim a government grant of 80% of their monthly wages for 3 months. This was calculated using average monthly profits over the last three financial years, capped at £2,500 per month.
The second and final grant will open for applications on the 17th August and will be worth 70% of monthly wages for 3 months. Claimants must have suffered a loss or reduction in business on 14th July 2020, and intend to remain in business into 2021. See more about the SEISS grant scheme.
The UK government launched Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits back in 2002 as an incentive for companies to engage in innovation. It’s a valuable funding stream for companies investing money on the development of new products and services, or on improving existing ones.
The scheme means that companies can claim back a proportion of their R&D expenditure as tax credits. These credits work to either reduce the firm’s liability for Corporation Tax or increase taxable losses. Regardless of the sector your business is in, if it’s spending money on research and development that makes an advancement in science or technology, then you could well qualify for the relief. It’s a generous scheme too, with companies able to claim as much as 33 pence back for every £1 of R&D expenditure.
Think this might apply to your company? Take a look at our R&D Tax Credits page - it might well be the most financially savvy thing you’ve done all year.
To discuss anything to do with funding your next innovative project, or to find out more about R&D Tax Credits and grants, please do get in touch with our expert team. We have decades of R&D funding experience behind us, and can assist you in gaining the finance you need.