The RIAS has prepared the following Q&A around support for businesses and employees. We are monitoring updates and will continue to share these with you via the RIAS website.
Q1 – What financial help is available to my business?
Q2 – What help is available to employees?
Q3 – What support is available to businesses paying sick pay to employees?
Q4 – Will my insurance cover my business during this time?
Q5 – Where should I look for advice regarding support for my business?
Q6 – What other measures are currently available to help my business?
Business Support Fund (Scottish Government)
All practices should note that the Scottish Government has set up a grant scheme which will make a one-off £10,000 grant available for the ratepayers of properties which had a rateable value of £18,000 or less and were, on 17 March 2020: 1) in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), 2) in receipt of Rural Relief, or 3) eligible for SBBS but in receipt of Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief.
Conditions are straight forward and applications must be submitted through your local authority- deadline 31 March 2021- but don’t delay.
Self-employment Income Support Scheme
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
All UK businesses with a turnover of no more than £45 million per year are eligible.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.
It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.
For a list of further funding sources available to support businesses in Scotland facing coronavirus, please visit find business support.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). On 12 May the Chancellor announced that the scheme has been extended and will run untl the end of October.
Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.
The UK Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19.
However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.
The Find Business Support website gives the latest information and advice. If you run a business you can get advice by calling the helpline: 0300 303 0660. It is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. Select option 1 to speak to the COVID-19 team.
HMRC has also set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19. Call 0800 0159 559 for help and advice.
A selection of useful online resources are listed below:
• Guidance documents for employees, employers and businesses in providing advice about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
• Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for individuals and businesses in Scotland
• Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed
• Coronavirus: what it means for you
• Funding sources to support businesses in Scotland facing coronavirus
Time to Pay service
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.
Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19
Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Support for business water bills
A package of measures worth £60 million has been agreed between the Scottish Government and the water industry to help businesses facing difficulties with water charges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers - who supply water services to businesses - can be flexible with their own customers at this difficult time.
Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
The government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. All UK businesses are eligible.
Help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus (COVID-19)
To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21.