A range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses. We'll update this page as new support and reliefs are announced by the Government once our team has reviewed the detail to understand what this means for you.

Latest Government support and reliefs 

HM Government - find out more and apply for business support

Use the index below to quickly navigate to the section of most interest to you:

Key areas

Support for Start-ups

The Government announced £1.25 billion in support for start-up companies on Monday 20 April. The Government has recognised the crucial role entrepreneurial businesses will play in helping the UK to recover after the coronavirus crisis. We've summarised the initial guidance in our blog here.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on 26 March the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, a much-anticipated and very welcome lifeline of support, of which 95% of self-employed people will be able to benefit. Initially guidance was quite high level, with more detail provided on the scheme on 14 April. Read our full analysis on the scheme here.

For the newly self-employed, who aren't eligible for the above scheme, a new fund has been set up by the Scottish Government (21 April) to help those facing hardship. Please visit the Scottish measures section below for details.

First grant deadline

The deadline for applying for the first grant under SEISS is Monday 13 July. A reminder that under the first grant, eligible individuals can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. Those eligible have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

Second grant

On 29 May the chancellor announced the scheme would be extended to allow a second round of grants. Applications for the second grant will open in August (date TBC). Individuals will be able to claim a second taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (£330bn of government-backed loans and guarantees) 

The Government has announced that any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. Should demand be greater than the initial £330bn, they will go further and offer even greater sums. This is designed to ensure that banks continue to lend to their customers.

Find our analysis on this scheme including benefits and eligibility here.

You can also find out more on the Government’s website.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

On Monday 27 April the Chancellor, in recognising the importance of small businesses to our economy, announced a new fast track small and medium sized business loan scheme which is confidently called the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). Although this gives us yet another acronym to remember, the positive news about the BBLS is that it should fast track access to additional funds within days in an attempt to replicate the speed and success of the Swiss loan scheme. 
Almost every SME business can apply for the BBLS, with some limited exceptions. We've summarised all the key guidance about the scheme in our latest blog here.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

This second business interruption loan scheme  was launched more recently to ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time

CLBILS is designed to fill a gap in need between Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for businesses with a turnover of less than £45m and the COVID Corporate Financing Fund (CCFF).

Find our analysis on this scheme including benefits and eligibility here.

Find out more on the Government’s website.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government will pay wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – every employer in the country is eligible to participate in the scheme. Phase one of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is currently in place until 30 June 2020. On 1 July phase two of the scheme will be in place with increased flexibility and important changes all employers need to understand. Visit our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme page for full details.

Next quarterly VAT payment deferred

The next quarterly VAT payment due by businesses is to be deferred. Payments are deferred from now until end of June and companies will have until the end of the financial year to pay any deferred VAT. This is a direct injection of £30bn of cash to employers, equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.

Key points to note:
  • VAT returns are still required to be prepared and filed by the normal due date.
  • The deferment is applied automatically, there is no requirement for businesses to apply to HMRC.
  • If VAT is normally paid by direct debit, a business will need to cancel the direct debit with their bank to ensure a VAT payment is not collected.
  • Similarly, payments on account (if applicable) for VAT would need to be cancelled to ensure that payments are not collected.
  • This is simply a deferment and the amount of VAT deferred will still be payable to HMRC at a future date. Payment will be due by 31 March 2021 and further guidance is expected from HMRC soon as to how businesses can repay the VAT deferred.
  • HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred.
  • The deferment is optional and businesses who are in a position to pay their VAT liability as normal can choose to do so.
  • VAT payments due following the end of the deferral period need to be paid as normal.
  • It is not absolutely clear if the deferral applies to non-resident businesses with a UK VAT registration or only to UK businesses. We are proceeding on the basis that the deferral would also be available to non-resident businesses with a UK VAT liability.
  • Deferment is not available for VAT MOSS payments.
  • VAT refund returns should be processed and paid by HMRC as normal.

Find out more on the Government's website.

Income tax Payment on Account due 31 July 2020 deferred 

All taxpayers with a second self-assessment payment on account due on 31 July 2020 can choose to defer payment until 31 January 2021. If you have a direct debit payment in place you must cancel this with your bank. 

Find out more on the Government's website.

How to apply

There will be a nationwide advertising campaign from Monday 23 March to communicate the measures.

Find out more and apply on the Government's website.

The Chancellor made a plea to all business to review all options before considering making anyone redundant.  

Assistance with Cash Flow - UK wide

Many businesses do not want to take in further debt so the UK Government has announced measures to assist with cash flows and other measures to help business continuity. This support takes the form of:

  • A 12 month business rate holiday in England for all business in retail, hospitality and leisure, irrespective of their rateable value (Initial exclusions to this, which included estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls, have now been removed. Find out more). In addition to this, businesses in those sectors, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, are entitled to an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help with rent costs. 
  • The smallest businesses in England, those currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or rural rate relief who are in the most exposed sectors will be able to access grants of £10,000.
  • For those businesses in certain exposed sectors which do have an insurance policy that covers pandemics, the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy.
  • Emergency planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as take-away businesses immediately.
  • England only - a discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme in England. Announced on 2 May 2020, the full details of the fund are still to be released, but at this stage we know that up to £617 million would be made available to local authorities in England.

Find out more and apply on the Government's website.

Assistance with Cash Flow - Scotland measures

In Scotland, the Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop has also significantly improved the package of reliefs and grants available for Scottish business in line with the UK announcements, to include:

  • 100% relief for all retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses from 1 April 2020. Find out more.
  • Businesses eligible for small business rates relief or rural rates relief are eligible for a £10,000 grant.  This grant may also be available for self-catering accommodation and caravans if they are a primary source of income for the ratepayer (one third or more), and they were available for let for 140 days or more in 2019/20.

    Businesses in leisure, retail and hospitality may also have access to this grant even if they do not qualify for rates relief if the combined rateable value of all their non-domestic properties is between £35,001 and £51,000. Check the Scottish Government’s website for a link to your local council’s application page. 
  • A £25,000 grant for those leisure, retail and hospitality businesses with non-domestic property with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000. This is currently only available for one property per business, but from 5 May 2020, you will be able to apply for 75% of the grant on each subsequent eligible property (either for the £25,000 or the £10,000 referred to above).   
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020.

On 21 April, the Scottish Government announced a second phase of funding to protect against the effects of COVID-19, with £100 million of further grants being made available for the recently self-employed and SMEs facing hardship.

Applications opened on 30 April to access this funding which is intended to relieve the hardship of individuals and smaller firms that are ineligible for support from the UK Government or are not in receipt yet of the funds they need to survive.

The fund comprises of three separate funds:

  • £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by local authorities, will be allocated to those facing hardship through £2,000 grants
  • £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief
  • £90 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland (originally set at £45 million but on 8 May the Scottish Government announced it was doubling the fund).

Read our blog on the details and how to apply.

A Scottish specific helpline for business has been set up, open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm to address business queries. Call: 0300 303 0660

Find out more on the Scottish Government's website.

Not sure what your rateable value is? Find out on the Scottish Assessors website.

Special help for airlines and airports 

The aviation industry has been one of the sectors affected early on, as travel restrictions have been put in place. The government outlined their initial plans to look at how they can support the industry. Scottish businesses in the aviation sector will receive 100% rates relief for 2020-21. Find out more on the Scottish Government's website.

Three month mortgage holidays and eviction halts

The UK government announced that mortgage lenders will provide three-month mortgage holidays for those that need them during the pandemic. UK banks have assured the government they will be flexible and understanding. RBS, NatWest and First Direct have already announced assistance for people affected by coronavirus, but you should contact your bank directly to discuss your personal situation.

For tenants, the UK Government's Coronavirus Bill contains legislation to place a ban on all eviction proceedings for the next three months. In Scotland, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill has extended this to six months.

Continuing to do business internationally 

Britain is not the only country announcing financial packages for businesses. Many countries have announced similar measures, which may be beneficial for businesses that operate internationally. 

  • Italy - the government has promised to "inject liquidity" to generate €340bn ($383bn) cash flows 
  • Spain - Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his government will spend €200bn ($220bn), in the largest spending package since Spain became a democracy 40 years ago. "The state will absorb the shock," he said 
  • France - on Tuesday Paris created a €45bn ($50bn) package to support businesses and workers. Another €2bn ($2bn) has been earmarked for small restaurants or tourism companies. That adds to the €500bn ($547bn) package promised on Monday. 
  • Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel promised €550bn ($603bn) in government-backed loans 
  • US - President Trump will ask Congress to approve a $850bn package 
  • Japan - the country is preparing a package of up to $193bn, that could include cash payouts to households 

For more information about how Johnston Carmichael can support you and your business during this time, please get in touch with your usual contact or another member of our team. As announcements are made, we will be updating our guidance to offer you practical help and support.