Local Authority Grants may be available to you again
Some local authorities are offering additional rounds of discretionary grants to businesses with trading adversely impacted by COVID-19. Please note that this funding is being offered to all types of businesses, not only those in hospitality, retail and leisure sectors (who can also access a further top-up grant of up to £9,000 per property, and Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 per month per closed property and up to £2,100 per month once they reopen).
Each Local Authority is administering their own allocation of grant funding for these schemes, so we are recommending that businesses contact their local authority as soon as possible to find out what funding is available to them. Speed is particularly important, as some areas have limited funding available and are being operated on a first-come-first-served basis. You can find the contact and website details for your local authority using this .GOV tool.
Check if further help and funding is available from your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
For example, in Buckinghamshire we have a Bucks Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) which is a grant of up to £4,500, with applications open until midnight on 31 January 2021, as well as a £1,000 grant for wet-led pubs. LEP support and eligibility is listed on their websites and you can find your Local LEP website here.
Culture Recovery Fund, 2nd round now open
A second round of grant funding is now available for cultural organisations based in England. For the purposes of this programme, “cultural organisations” refers to charitable; not for profit; and commercial organisations operating within the arts, museums, heritage (including built, natural and intangible heritage) sectors, including independent cinemas.
The deadline to register is 12 midday on 21 January and the deadline for applications is 12 midday on 26 January, so we are urging those who may eligible, to prioritise completing their applications. The grants range from £25,000 to £1 million for profit making organisations and up to £3 million for non-profit organisations. You can find further details, watch webinars and apply for these grants via Arts Council England here.
Job Retention Scheme open to those unable to work due to home-schooling
HMRC has updated its guidance to state that employers ‘can’ (not ‘must’) furlough employees whose health has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other conditions. This includes if they are unable to work from home, or working reduced hours, because they are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus or have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household). This resolves an area of uncertainty, which is whether parents who stay at home to look after school-age children are eligible to be furloughed, which they are.
The guidance further states that short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. Also, please remember that the deadline to make December Job Retention Scheme claims is this Thursday 14 January.
Plan ahead for tax and accounting changes this year
In addition to assessing the government support available to your business, it is worthwhile to plan ahead for wider changes coming in this year. Whilst we can’t foresee all the tax and accounting changes that might present themselves, particularly with a Budget announcement set for the Spring, there are several changes which businesses can plan ahead for. You can read our summary of these here.
If you are looking for a proactive team of accountants and tax advisors for your business, please do contact us to discuss how we can support your business.