The news is full of stories this week of the UK Government approving the Pfizer vaccine and who will be first to be offered the jabs and how the vaccine will be rolled out. People are more optimistic about the ending of lockdown and a return to some form of normality.

The vaccine is truly great news, but the reality is it is going to take many months, with several vaccines, to immunise everyone over 50, and then there is the rest of the population.

So let’s be realistic and accept the fact that most of us will not have immunity for the large part of 2021 and that the evidence suggests continued strict lockdown until at least March 2021. This is evidenced by the fact Government supports to businesses, such as the Furlough scheme, have been extended to this date.

For many business owners, 2020 has been the worst of the worst years, and the UK economy is expected to shrink by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-Covid size until at least the end of 2022. Government borrowing will rise to its highest outside of wartime to deal with the economic impact.

That said, we have been amazed at the resilience of clients and how they have energetically repurposed or pivoted their businesses into new areas, products and services. Businesses have redesigned delivery and payment systems, moved their entire processes digital, accepted remote working or new safe working environments and adopted to new technologies to survive and indeed prosper in this Covid-19 era.

The Government continues to roll out supports for businesses affected by the lockdown. Here is a summary of this week’s news. Please contact us about any of these supports and how we can help you make a claim.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Guidance has been updated to reflect that 30 November claims deadline has now passed. There is a new section on holiday pay updated with further clarity on when employees can be furloughed.

Please talk to us about helping your business make a Furlough claim. We have much experience on doing this over the last 10 months!

Claim a grant through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The third grant for SEISS is now open. To make a claim for the grant, your business must have been impacted by coronavirus on or after 1 November 2020. You can make a claim for the third grant if you are eligible, even if you did not make a claim for the first or second.

To make your claim you will need your:

  • Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • UK bank details including account number, sort code, name on the account and address linked to the account

You may also need to answer questions about your passport, driving licence or information held on your credit file.

You must make your claim between 30 November 2020 and 29 January 2021 using the government website.

Government announces £1,000 Christmas Grant for ‘Wet-Led Pubs’ in England

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3, who will miss out on turnover during the busy Christmas period.

Pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food, have been asked to make sacrifices over the festive season. They will be eligible for a one-off £1,000 to help make ends meet.

The payment will be a one-off for December. It will be paid on top of the existing £3,000 monthly cash grants for businesses. This will cover those in tiers 2 and 3 forced to reduce their operations as a result of the latest regional measures put in place to contain transmission of the virus.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

117 lenders have now signed up for the scheme.

The CBILS provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months. The scheme is open until 31 January 2021. If you haven’t yet applied for this loan we advise that you do so asap as the lenders are slowing down.

Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan (BBL)

29 lenders have now signed up for the scheme.

BBL enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months, the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021. If you already have a BBL but borrowed less than you were entitled to, you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 January 2021.

VAT deferred due

If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021
  • opt into the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021
  • contact HMRC if you need more help to pay

You can pay your deferred VAT in full by 31 March 2021.

You cannot opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself; we cannot do this for you. We will advise you on how to make the claim. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.

Local Restriction Support Grant (for open businesses)

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Open)) supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions.

Businesses that have not had to close, but which have been severely impacted due to local restrictions, may be eligible for LRSG (Open).

Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14-day period under local restrictions.

Local councils have the discretion to provide grant funding for businesses under this scheme. They will use their discretion in identifying the right businesses to receive this funding, based on their application process.