But for businesses struggling with these decisions, and how to keep their business afloat, the Government has, and continues to, release numerous support packages to help relieve the strain. Businesses need to ensure that they read Government guidance clearly as employees’ who work reduced hours or for reduced pay may not be eligible for some schemes.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been designed to ensure that all UK employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before the 28th February 2020 can access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salaries. Currently, the scheme will remain open until October, and employees will continue to receive up to 80% of the salary, up to £2,500 a month.
This means that more businesses have the option of furloughing their staff, while also safeguarding their employees’ wellbeing. As of the 28th May, this scheme has seen £15 billion going to 1 million businesses to cover the wages of 8.4 million workers who are unable to work during lockdown. There is a wealth of government guidance regarding whether your employees can be put on furlough to access the scheme. It’s important to note that if employees have more than one employer, they can be furloughed for each job and the cap applies to each employer individually.
The Government has also implemented a temporary scheme to help those who are self-employed, titled the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. In this scheme, the Government is providing self-employed individuals who have been affected by COVID-19 with a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months and capped at £7,500 altogether.
There are other schemes to help businesses as a whole, including Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The CBILS is a temporary scheme that supports SMEs by providing access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. The scheme was significantly expanded on 2nd April so that even more smaller businesses across the UK that are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can access funding. The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme was also expanded to cover all viable firms. The Schemes are available through a series of accredited lenders, who are listed on the British Business Bank website.
Small and medium-sized businesses can also benefit from the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. It allows businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The scheme comes with a 100% government-backed guarantee and there won’t be any fees or interest for the first 12 months, and after that time is up, the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
The Government has also announced that a revaluation of business rates will be postponed and no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by COVID-19.
There are a variety of schemes and funding in place for businesses at all stages to get the support they need during this time. It’s important for businesses to stay up to date with the current news. Contacting local Growth Hub’s is one of the easiest ways to find out about what Government and local funding and support is available as well as how it can be accessed.
At Exemplas, as an SME ourselves, we understand the pressures and challenges businesses are experiencing at this uncertain time. Through the projects we deliver, we help to provide businesses with the support and advice they need to weather the storm, while ensuring we stay up-to-date with the latest news, techniques and strategies. Advisory support is at the heart of what we do, and our knowledge becomes an SME’s advantage within the industry. We handle a number of key public sector contracts, including Enterprise Europe Network in the East of England and Hertfordshire Growth Hub. These projects are designed to aid businesses with developing strategies for growth, resilience and innovation, and are on hand to support businesses through these uncertain times.
Businesses who are struggling due to the impact of COVID-19, can contact Hertfordshire Growth Hub or, alternatively, view their dedicated COVID-19 Business Resource page for the latest news, guidance and resources to support them during this time.