covid business support

COVID Business Support Update (February 2021)

Victoria Scally News

After a flurry of covid business support announcements over 2020, 2021 has started very quietly.

We expect further announcements in late February, but particularly on the 3rd of March – The Chancellor’s Budget Day.

We wanted to do a quick re-cap in the meantime, so you knew what help was available right now.

There are a lot of measures, but there is a new tool!

It can be difficult to navigate all of the various help options, so HM Revenue & Customs have created a tool to help you find out what you could be entitled to.

You can find the tool HERE.

Let’s look at the individual measures currently available.

Furlough (Coronavirus job retention scheme)

The ‘furlough scheme’ is currently in place until 30th April 2021. We are expecting further announcements on its future on the 3rd March, or most likely in press leaks leading up to that date!

This scheme pays 80% of your employees’ wages who have no work and are put on furlough, including that of the payroll salary for a director.

Unfortunately, you still need to pay employer’s National Insurance & Pension contributions (where they apply), so it is not always completely costless for the employer to operate.

You can see further details on the scheme here, with a video on the subject here.

The key points are:

  • You can’t claim anything before 31st October 2020 – applications have closed. 
  • The current claims have a 14 day deadline, so be sure to sort and make your claim promptly
  • You can do ‘flexible furlough’ so can directors and employees can work some, and claim part furlough (keep good records of hours worked).

Self Employed Income Support Grants

These grants for the self-employed pay (usually) 80% of your average monthly trading profits.

More details on the scheme can be found HERE.

These are currently closed for applications now, but there is a 4th grant due covering Feb 21 – April 21. The details of this are being announced on budget day (3rd March).

Bounce Back Loans

These business loans were lifesavers for many businesses during the initial announcements of covid business support. 

If you haven’t come across them, more details can be found HERE.

The hot news this week (15th February 2021) is that they have just been tweaked again to allow a 6-month payment break that is possible from day 1 of the planned repayments.

You can also now tweak the loan by:

  • Extending the term to 10 years
  • Requesting 3×6 months interest-free payment periods
  • Requesting a 6-month payment break 

Local restrictions grants (‘Closed’)

The grant is available from your local council. Oddly it is referred to as ‘closed’ which is confusing when looking at websites… however, it is very much open for applications as we write this.

The Covid business support available from this grant covers from 5th Jan onwards, paying grants to cover a 42 day period.

This grant is for businesses that HAD to close by law, such as non-essential retail, hospitality etc.

The amount of the grant is linked to the ‘rateable value’ of your premises and pays between £2000 – £4500 per grant.

You will also get a ‘Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment’ of between £4000 – £9000 as a one-off grant (in addition), again based on your rateable value.

You should check out your local council’s website for the application process.

Additional Restrictions Grant

The grant is available from your local council.

This grant is for businesses severely impacted by COVID lockdowns, but you don’t need premises to apply and you don’t have to have been ‘required’ to close by law.

There are various ‘tests’ to see if you qualify, such as:

You need to show a drop of at least 1/3 in your turnover

You need to have some unavoidable fixed costs such as

  • rent
  • business rates
  • storage costs
  • mooring fees
  • mortgage costs
  • use of home as office
  • council tax
  • hire purchase
  • lease costs
  • license costs
  • business insurance

The grant is up to £3000 for a 28 day period. The value depends on various factors based on your application.

Again this is done online via your local council.

Finally, sign up for newsletters from your local council

Signing up for newsletters from your local council and enterprise groups can give you heads up to any extra pots of money that become available. This covid business support tends to be snapped up very quickly, so do act quickly if you’d like to take advantage of them.