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 now have a second round open of the ‘Bucks Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)’. This is a grant of up to £3,000 for businesses with a 30% reduction or more in turnover in January 2021 compared to January 2020 (the first round of funding under this scheme closed on 31 January and was for the December month). Applications are open until midnight on 28 February 2021, with further details here.
In Buckinghamshire, there is also a £1,000 ‘Christmas Support Grant’ for wet-led pubs with an application deadline also of 28 February 2021, with
further details here.
You can find details of the LEP support and eligibility in your area by visiting their websites and you can find your Local LEP website 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..
Scheme deadlines approaching
As it stands (and subject to no extensions being announced) the following deadlines apply for the various business support schemes:
- 22 March 2021 – COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – The CCFF will close and the government will make no purchases of commercial paper after 22 March 2021.
- 31 March 2021 – Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBIS) – The deadline for new applications under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBIS) is the end of March 2021.
- 31 March 2021 – VAT cut for the hospitality sector – A temporary VAT cut from 20% to 5% for hospitality and tourism businesses came into force from 15 July 2020, is due to end on 31 March 2021. From this date, traders can apply for an 11 month interest-free payment window for their deferred VAT.
- 31 March 2021 – Commercial tenant eviction ban – A ban on commercial landlords evicting tenants is due to end on 31 March 2021.
- 30 April 2021 – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – From the end of April, support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be withdrawn for workers not able to carry out their usual duties. There are also no further grants planned under the scheme for the self-employed. We may see some form of incentive launched for employers keeping staff on after this period (in keeping with the previously withdrawn £1,000 bonus per employee), but this has not yet been announced.
- 30 April 2021 – The Self–employment Income Support Scheme – The scheme will close following the forth and final grant covering the period 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021. Further details about the 4th grant, including who can claim, how much help they will get and the application deadline, will be announced on 3 March 2021, perhaps as part of the Budget announcement.
VAT deferral new payment scheme – join from 23 February
If you deferred paying VAT due in the period from 20 March to 30 June 2020, you should pay it by 31 March 2021 if you can.
If you can’t afford to pay it by 31 March 2021, you can join the VAT deferral new payment scheme and pay your deferred VAT over a longer period.
The online service will open on 23 February 2021 and close on 21 June 2021. You can make up to 11 monthly instalments, interest free. The earlier you join, the more months you can spread your payments across. You can join the scheme online so that you are ready when the scheme opens at GOV.UK here, without the need to call.
If you need further time to pay, you can contact GOV.UK 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.