Coronavirus Business Support: What's Available? How Do I Apply?
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Coronavirus Business Support: What’s Available? How Do I Apply?

The UK government has created a range of measures to support businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, and the UK’s various lockdowns and restrictions. Here’s what’s available to your company and how to apply.

Updated: 26 July 2021

The Coronavirus has spread to all corners of the earth, carrying untold economic and social disruption in its wake.

To help the business overcome the chaos, and the survive hardships of local and national lockdowns, the UK government has introduced a host of financial support schemes, ranging from tax holidays to wage subsidies.

But with so much support available, it can be difficult to know what support your business qualifies for.

That’s why GrantTree has created this detailed guide to Coronavirus business support. It covers all the schemes that are open, how much funding they provide, who is eligible, and how to apply.

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Update: the Bounce Back Loan Scheme was closed to applications on 31 March 2021.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme provides small and medium-sized businesses with up to £50,000 in government-backed loans. The scheme went live on May 4th, providing over £2 billion in loans to more than 69,000 businesses in the first 24 hours.

The Bounce Back Loans have a flat interest rate of 2.5%, but businesses do not have to pay any fees or interest for the first 12 months. The scheme offers loans ranging from £2k up to 25% of a company’s turnover, with a maximum value of £50k.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme helps the many SMEs struggling to get financial support through other government-backed debt facilities, like the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Like the CBILS, Bounce Back Loans are delivered by a network of private lenders. But by guaranteeing the entire loan, and simplifying the application process, the government has gone a step further in helping SMEs access critical working capital.

Companies that have received a CBILS loan can’t apply for a Bounce Back Loan. However, they can transfer their CBILS loan to the Bounce Back Loan scheme to benefit from its more advantageous terms. 

18 December Update

On 18 December the Exchequer extended the application deadline for the three main government-backed Coronavirus loan programmes until the end of March, including the BBLS.

Companies now have until 31st March to apply for these schemes, four months later than the original deadline of 30 November. 

Also, companies that have already taken out a BBLS loan can take out a one-time ‘top-up’ loan. This is providing they haven’t already reached the scheme’s limit.

Update: The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) was closed to applications on 31 March 2021.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – or CBILS – is a government-backed loan programme which is offering UK SMEs up to £5 million in debt financing over a maximum of six years.

The capital is provided in the form of loans, invoice finance, asset finance and revolving credit (overdrafts).   

The government will pay the lender fees associated with all CBILS financing, as well as first 12 months of companies’ interest payments. 

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, including several major institutions, and is backed by the British Business Bank. The government is providing lenders with a guarantee for up to 80% of the loan’s value.

18 December Update

On 18 December the Exchequer extended the application deadline for the three main government-backed Coronavirus loan programmes until the end of March, including the CBILS.

Companies now have until 31st March to apply for these schemes, four months later than the original deadline of 30 November. 

3 April Update

On 3 April Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced widespread changes to the CBILS. 

Originally, CBILs were only available to companies which had been turned down for a commercial loan. As a result, companies which took out a CBIL were being charged interest rates as high as 30%. The government has changed this by making CBILs available to businesses that haven’t been refused a loan. 

Also, businesses borrowing up to £250,000 now no longer need to provide personal guarantees. 

Chancellor Sunak also announced the launch of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, a sister scheme targeting larger companies.

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses based in the UK 
  • With an annual turnover of up to £45 million
  • Or businesses that meet the British Business Bank’s other eligibility criteria

The following kinds of businesses are not eligible:

  • Banks and building societies
  • Insurers 
  • Public-sector organisations
  • Employer, professional, religious or political organisations
  • Trade unions

How do I apply?

The first step is to find an accredited lender. You can find a complete list of accredited lenders here.

You should then approach the lender directly, ideally through their website. The lender will then make a decision whether to grant you the loan. If they say no, you can apply to as many other lenders as you like.

Update: The CCFF was closed to new purchases on 23 March 2021.

The CCFF helps larger firms overcome cash flow issues by providing working capital in exchange for short-term debt in the form of commercial paper. 

The CCFF is delivered jointly by the Bank of England and the Treasury and will support eligible companies for up to 12 months.

Who is eligible?

  • Non-finance companies 
  • Companies that make ‘a material contribution to the UK economy’ 
  • Companies that can demonstrate they were in sound financial health before the impact of the Coronavirus. This means they had a short or long-term investment-grade rating as of 1 March 2020, or equivalent

How do I apply?

You should contact your bank and ask about this scheme. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance has published a list of banks that do. 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme offers financial support for UK businesses so they can retain employees that would otherwise have been laid off because of the virus. 

When an employee is ‘furloughed’ they are effectively put on a leave of absence, meaning they can’t do any work for their employer. 

In Budget 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government was extending the Furlough Scheme until the end of September 2020.

The state will continue to supply 80% of salaries for furloughed workers, up to a monthly cap of £2,500, through June. 

During this time, businesses are only required to pay for National Insurance and employer pension contributions, accounting for just 5% of staff costs.

The treasury will then ask employers to contribute 10% of wages in July, and 20% in August and September.

Employers can top up staff salaries to 100% but are not required to.

The CJRS permits both flexible and full-time furloughing.

The extension of the Furlough scheme means that the Job Support Scheme – billed as a partial replacement for the CJRS – has been delayed indefinitely.

R&D Tax Credits and furloughed staff
Can you claim R&D Tax Credits for furloughed staff? We explain all in our comprehensive blog.

Who is eligible?

  • All UK employers 
  • With employees paid through PAYE, regardless of the kind of contract they’re on
  • Who set up their PAYE system on or before 28 February 2020 

How do I apply?

You can claim for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme through the Government Gateway. You will need your Government Gateway user ID and password.

Companies wishing to furlough more than 100 staff must upload information on each worker, including their name, national insurance number and payroll number.

Update: The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) was closed to applications on 31 March 2021.

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme – or ‘CLBILS’ – is a government-backed debt funding initiative targeting larger companies.

Under the CLBILS companies with an annual turnover of over £45 million can borrow up to 25% of their turnover in state-secured loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance, up to a maximum of £200 million.

Repayment windows range from 3 months to 3 years.

The government is guaranteeing up to 80% of the value of CLBILS financing.

18 December Update

On 18 December the Exchequer extended the application deadline for the three main government-backed Coronavirus loan programmes until the end of March, including the CLBILS.

Companies now have until 31st March to apply for these schemes, four months later than the original deadline of 30 November. 

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses based in the UK 
  • With an annual turnover of over £45 million 
  • Which have been unable to secure regular commercial funding 
  • Have not received support through the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility, of CCFF

The following kinds of organisation are NOT eligible:

  • Public-sector bodies
  • Banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • Grant-funded further-education establishments
  • State-funded schools

How do I apply?

As with the CBILS, the first step is to find an accredited lender. You can find a complete list of CLBILS lenders here.

You should then approach the lender directly, ideally through their website. The lender will then make a decision whether to grant you the loan. If they say no, you can apply to as many other lenders as you like.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme reimburses employers up to two weeks worth of Statutory Sick Pay for employees who are eligible for SSP due to the Coronavirus.

The scheme covers all form of employment contracts, including full-time, part-time and fixed-term. Companies can claim from both the Furlough scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employees, but not for the same period of time.

Employers are not required to produce a doctor’s note for their employees.

Who is eligible?

  • UK based businesses 
  • Who have already paid out sick pay
  • Which are claiming for employees who qualify for sick pay because of the Coronavirus
  • That have a payroll scheme that was started on or before 28 February 2020
  • With fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 

How do I apply? 

You can claim your Statutory Sick Pay rebate back through this online portal.

Update: The government withdrew guidance relating to the deferring income tax payments on 6 July 2021.

The government is allowing some businesses to defer their Income Tax Self-Assessment payments. 

If your second self-assessment payment is due on 31 July 2020, you can defer it to 31 January 2021.

Who is eligible?

  • UK Businesses 
  • Whose second self-assessment payment is due on 31 July 2020

How do I apply?

There’s no application. You just don’t pay HMRC. And you won’t be charged a penalty or any interest.

Update: The VAT Deferral Scheme is now closed.

The government is allowing all UK businesses to defer their quarterly VAT payments until 31 March 2021.

This ‘deferral window’ applies to VAT due between 20 March and 30 June 2020. The support applies to regular VAT, but not VAT MOSS. 

The government is paying out VAT refunds and reclaims as usual. 

In early 2021 the government will launch a new VAT deferral payment scheme that will allow businesses to repay owed VAT in 11 monthly instalments, without incurring interest.

Companies opting for the new deferral scheme must pay all the VAT they owe by 31 March 2022.

Who is eligible?

  • All UK businesses

How do I apply?

You will still need to submit your VAT returns by the deadline, you just don’t have to pay the VAT you owe. And you don’t have to tell HMRC that you’re deferring. 

If you do want to defer, make sure you cancel your Direct Debit if you have one set up.

Companies will have to opt in to the new VAT deferral repayment scheme, which will come online later this year.

Following the largely successful Future Fund, delivered more than £1 billion in funding to nearly 1,200 cash-strapped startups, the government has launched a similar, sequel initiative called Future Fund: Breakthrough

Like its predecessor, the £375 million Breakthrough scheme will see the treasury take equity in R&D-intensive, high-growth companies.

Through British Patient Capital, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank and the UK’s largest domestic investor, the treasury will participate in investment rounds worth over £30 million and provide up to 30% of the required capital, with the remainder coming from traditional equity investors. 

This means Breakthrough will focus on more mature scaleups that align with the government’s wider technological goals.

All told, at least £1.25 billion in public and private development funding will be allocated through the Breakthrough scheme. 

You can read more about Future Fund: Breakthrough in our detailed blog

On 5 January 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England and Scotland will receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, to help them through the latest wave of national restrictions.

The grants will be delivered on a per-property basis, and tiered based on a recipient’s rateable value:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 and under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000

An estimated 600,000 properties are expected to receive the grant, which will cost the government close to £4 billion.

The Exchequer is also providing local councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a further £600 million to support businesses that are ineligible for the grant.

Who is eligible?

  • Companies based in England and Scotland
  • In the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors 
  • Which occupy properties on which they must pay business rates

How do I apply?

To apply for this grant, contact your local council.

On 5 November the treasury announced it had scrapped the Job Retention Bonus, following its five-month extension of the Furlough Scheme.

Update: On 1 November 2020 the government announced it was postponing the launch of the Job Support Scheme after it extended the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. 

On 24 September Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the Job Support Scheme, a new wage subsidy programme designed to protect “viable jobs” in vulnerable industries.

The Job Support Scheme was originally scheduled to run for 6 months between 1 November and 30 April 2021, but has since been postponed following the arrival of new national restrictions.

Instead of launching the Job Support Scheme, the government has decided to expand and extend the Furlough Scheme until the end of April, helping more companies retain and staff during the ongoing local and national restrictions.

If and when it goes live, the Job Support scheme will help businesses cover the costs of retaining employees whose hours have been severely reduced because of the Coronavirus.

Eligible employees need to work at least 20% of their usual hours, and will be paid normally for this time. Employees will receive 66.67% of their pay for any hours they lose due to Coronavirus, with employers footing just 5% of these wages, up to a maximum of £125 per month.

The government will cover the remaining 61.67%. 

All told, employees will receive at least 73% of their normal ages, where they earn £3,125 a month or less. As with the Furlough scheme, businesses are allowed to top up employee wages to 100%. 

NIC and pension contributions must be paid entirely by the employer. 

The Job Support Scheme includes two subsidiary programmes: 

  • JSS Open – for businesses with more than 250 employees which can demonstrate, via a Financial Impact Test, that their turnover has remained equal or fallen due to the pandemic 
  • JSS Closed – for businesses which were legally required to shut one or more locations by one of the four UK governments. These businesses will only be eligible to claim during the time these restrictions were in place.  

Who is eligible?

You will be eligible for the Job Support Scheme if you: 

  • Are retaining employees for at least 20% of their usual hours 
  • Have enrolled for PAYE online
  • Have a UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man bank account

How do I apply?

Claims will be made on the gov.uk website.  

You will be able to make your first claim from 8 December 2020, which will cover November pay periods. This will be the pattern moving forward: you can claim for one month’s wages early the following month. 

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of the Coronavirus will be protected from eviction until 31 March 2021.

Under the measure, businesses will not automatically forfeit their lease if they miss a rental payment.

Tenants will still be liable for the rent owed during this time, but they will be protected from automatic eviction.

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Who cannot pay rent due to the Coronavirus 

How do I apply?

There is no application.

The government has expanded its Time to Pay service by adding more staff and launching a new helpline – 0800 0159 559 – for companies concerned about paying their taxes due to the outbreak. 

Decisions about deferring taxes will be made on a case-by-case basis, after a consultation with an HMRC representative.

Who is eligible?

There are only two criteria for eligibility. But whether you receive support depends on your situation. The criteria are:

  • You pay tax to the UK government
  • You have outstanding tax liabilities

How do I apply? 

Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. HMRC says it’s better to call before your tax payment is due. 

Government ordered closure

On 21 March the government asked a range of businesses – including pubs, cinemas and casinos – to close. 

Insurers have confirmed they will interpret this request as the government ordering businesses to shut. Companies with policies covering forced government closure, or denial of access, could be eligible for a claim.  

However, the government says most insurance policies won’t cover the impact of COVID-19, and that companies should check their arrangements.

Notifiable diseases

The government has added COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases. This will allow some companies to claim insurance money if their policy includes cover for ‘notifiable diseases’. 

Not all policies include this. In fact, most policies only cover a fixed subset of notifiable diseases, such as Anthrax. Companies holding those policies probably won’t be able to make a claim. 

However, some businesses will have insurance that covers ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. This covers all diseases included on the government’s notifiable diseases list, including those that weren’t known about when the policy was issued. 

Companies with this kind of cover should be able to make a claim, though it’s very much dependent on the specific policy.

Event coverage

Businesses whose policies cover event cancellation due to unspecified notifiable diseases should be able to make a claim for “necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption” or their event. 

Again, eligibility will depend on the policy. All businesses are encouraged to check their terms and conditions. 

Companies based in England

Businesses in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors have received a business rates holiday – a 100% discount, in other words – for the 20/21 tax year, plus April, May and June in the 21/22 tax year.  

Eligible properties must be occupied and primarily used as either:

  • Shops, cafes, bars and pubs, cinemas and live music venues
  • Assembly and leisure centers
  • Hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses based in England 
  • Working in the hospitality, retail or leisure sectors 
  • That operate an eligible property 

How do I apply?

This relief is applied automatically, so you don’t need to do anything. Though some local authorities may need to issue a new bill reflecting the change.

Update: The Local Restrictions Support Grant was closed to new applications on 31 May 2021.

Businesses with premises that are forced to close in England will receive Local Restrictions Support Grants worth up to £3000 per month.

Grant sizes will depend on property value, and will break down as follows:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive £,1334 per month they are required to close 
  • Properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £2000 per month 
  • Properties with a rateable value of £51,000 and over will receive £3000 per month

Local councils may, at their discretion, award companies that don’t pay business rates with a £1,500 cash grant. 

LRSG funding counts as de minimis state aid. Under European law, companies are only allowed to claim up to €200,000 worth of de minimis aid over a three year period.

Who is eligible?

Your business is eligible for the LRSG (Closed Businesses) if: 

  • You pay business rate on a property
  • You were required to close that property because of a local lockdown, where the first day of closure was on or after 9 September 2020
  • Your property was required to close for at least 3 weeks 
  • The lockdown prevented you from usual in-customer service 

How do I apply?

You must apply to the LRSG through your local council.

You can find your local council through the GOV.UK portal.

Update: The Local Restrictions Support Grant was closed to new applications on 31 May 2021.

Businesses which were not forced to close due to local restrictions in place from 1 August 2020 but were still severely impacted may be eligible for a LRSG (Open Businesses) grant.

Eligible businesses will be able to claim a cash grant for every 14-day period they spent under local restrictions.

Grant sizes depend on rateable property value, and break down as follows:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive £467 for each 14-day period they were impacted by restrictions
  • Properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £700 per 14-day period
  • Properties with a rateable value of £51,000 and over will receive £1,050 per 14-day period

LRSG funding counts as de minimis state aid. Under European law, companies are only allowed to claim up to €200,000 worth of de minimis aid over a three year period.

Who is eligible?

Your business is eligible for the LRSG (Open Businesses) if it: 

  • Is based in England
  • Operates in an area that was subject to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions, and has been severely impacted by these restrictions
  • Was established before the Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions came into force
  • Was allowed to stay open during these restrictions

How do I apply?

You must apply to the LRSG (Open Businesses) through your local council.

You can find your local council through the GOV.UK portal.

Update: The Restart Grant closed to new applications on 30 June 2021. 

The government’s £5 billion Restart Grants scheme will provide non-essential retail and leisure businesses in England with payments of up to £18,000 per premise. 

The treasury will offer £6,000 per premise to retailers and up to £18,000 per premise to companies in hospitality, accommodation, personal care and fitness. 

Restart Grants are designed to help businesses “plan ahead and safely relaunch trading over the coming months.”

We expect more information to be released about these grants, including exactly which businesses are eligible, in the coming weeks.

Companies based in Scotland

The Scottish government has announced £2.2 billion in business support. All Scottish companies will receive a 1.6% business rates relief for all properties, which effectively freezes the poundage rate for 2020-21. 

Companies operating in the tourism, retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will also receive a 100% relief on non-domestic business rates until 31 March 2022. Only occupied properties are eligible. 

A £10,000 cash grant will be given to businesses benefitting from either the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBC) or Rural Relief (RR). Businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

How do I apply? 

You don’t need to apply for these reliefs. They will be applied automatically by your local council. 

The Scottish government is asking businesses to reach out to their council to discuss eligibility for these and other business rate reliefs. 

Companies based in Wales | Busnesau yng Nghymru

The Wales Development Bank is giving all customers – some 1,000 businesses – a three-month capital repayment holiday. Customers still have to make interest payments, however.  

Who is eligible?

  • Companies in Wales
  • Who are customers of the Welsh Development Bank

How do I apply?

The Wales Development Bank has contacted customers which are eligible for the holiday. This is an opt-in benefit, meaning companies have to confirm whether they want to receive it. 

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales with a rateable value of £500,000 or below will receive a 100% non-domestic rates relief for the 20/21 tax year.

The relief will run from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Update: The Restrictions Business Fund is now closed to new applications.

The £160 million Restrictions Business Fund offers one-off payments of between £3,000 and £5,000 to Welsh companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors which pay non-domestic rates.

The fund is part of £340 million support package supporting Welsh businesses which have been affected by national Coronavirus restrictions, which came into effect on 4 December.

Under this package, a typical hospitality business will receive £12,000 and £14,000.

Companies can check their eligibility and apply for the Restrictions Business Fund via Business Wales’ online portal.

The Welsh Government’s £180 million Sector Specific Grant will provide financial support to firms affected by national restrictions introduced on 4 December 2020.

Sector Specific grants will be based on company turnover and staff headcount, and are expected to support 10,000 businesses

The grant is part of £340 million support package supporting Welsh businesses which have been affected by Coronavirus restrictions in Wales.

 

Under this package, a typical hospitality business will receive £12,000 and £14,000.

Companies can check their eligibility and apply for the Sector Specific Grant via Business Wales’ online portal.

Companies based in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has announced a three-month holiday on all business rates, excluding those paid by public sector and utilities companies. 

No rates have been charged for April, May and June 2020. As this money doesn’t need to be paid back, this relief effectively gives Northern Irish businesses a 25% discount on their business rate charges. 

Business rates bills for the 20/21 tax year, which were due to be sent out in April 2020, were delayed until June 2020. Businesses can choose to pay their delayed bill all at once, or in monthly instalments between June and March 2021. 

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses in Northern Ireland that aren’t public sector or utilities companies

How do I apply?

Both the business rates holiday and bill delay have been processed automatically. 

Companies must then choose whether to stagger their payments. If they do, their payment plans will be updated accordingly. 

Update: The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme closed to new applications on 7 April 2021.

The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme provides financial support to companies in Northern Ireland which have been required to close, or who have been financially affected by Health Protection Regulations.

The scheme provides between £800 and £1,600 for each week the restrictions apply, depending on the recipient’s size.

If you believe your business qualifies for the scheme, you should file an online application through this form.

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