COVID-19

October 23rd – Further information from HMRC on the latest changes to government support for businesses announced by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

HMRC have published further information on the Job Support Scheme – including how you can check if you’re eligible and when you can make your first claim. You can find this on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK by searching ‘Job Support Scheme’.

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will open on 1‌‌‌ ‌November and run for six months, until 30‌‌‌ ‌April 2021. The government has said it will review the terms of the scheme in January 2021. There are two variations to JSS – JSS Open and JSS Closed.

The UK government announced yesterday it will significantly increase the generosity and reach of its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus.

In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the Chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes.

JSS Open will provide support to businesses that are open where employees are working shorter hours due to reduced demand. Your employees will need to work at least 20% of their usual hours. You will continue to pay employees for the hours they work, and the UK government will pay a contribution of 61.67% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £1,541.75 per month. You will pay 5% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £125 per month, and can top this up further if you choose. This means employees should receive at least two thirds of their usual pay for hours not worked.

The caps are reduced according to the proportion of hours not worked. Further guidance on this will be available on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK shortly.

You will need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

JSS Closed will provide support to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one of the four governments of the UK. This includes premises restricted to delivery or collection-only services from their premises, and those restricted to providing food and/or drinks outdoors.

For JSS Closed, the UK government will fund two thirds of employees’ usual wages for time not worked, up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month. You will not be required to contribute, but you can top up the government’s contribution if you choose to. You will still need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

You’ll be able to make your first JSS claim in arrears from 8‌‌‌ ‌December, for pay periods ending and paid in November. We’ll let you know more about how to make a claim by the end of this month.

Your employees will be able to check if you have made a Job Support Scheme claim on their behalf through their online Personal Tax Account. Employees can set up a Personal Tax Account on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK, by searching ‘Personal Tax Account: sign in or set up’.

Job Retention Bonus (JRB)

You’ll be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every eligible employee you furloughed and claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), kept continuously employed until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021 and who meets the other eligibility criteria. You do not have to pay this money to your employee.

You will be able to claim the bonus between 15‌‌‌ ‌February and 31‌‌‌ ‌March. To do this you must have submitted PAYE information for the period up to 5‌‌‌ ‌February 2021 on time.

Further information on eligibility and when you can claim can be found on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK by searching ‘Job Retention Bonus Guidance’ and further guidance on the claim process will be published by the end of January 2021.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – closes on 31‌‌‌ ‌October

Please note that this scheme closes on 31‌‌‌ ‌October and you will need to make any final claims on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌November. You will not be able to submit or add to any claims after 30‌‌‌ ‌November.

From 1‌‌‌ ‌October, the UK government has paid employers 60% of usual wages up to a cap of £1,875 per month for the hours furloughed employees do not work.

You continue to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grant yourself.

The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. For example, if your employee is furloughed for half their usual hours in October, you are entitled to claim 60% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to £937.50 (half of £1,875 cap). You must still pay your employee at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they don’t work, so for someone only working half their usual hours you’d need to pay them up to £1,250 (half of £2,500 cap), funding the remaining portion yourself. For help with calculations, search ‘Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

You’ll also continue to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions from your own funds.

You must keep the records that support the amount of CJRS grant you have claimed in case HMRC needs to check it. You can now view, print or download copies of your previously submitted claims by logging onto your CJRS service on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK.

Claimed too much in error?

It’s important that you check each claim is accurate before submitting it, and we would also recommend checking previous claims and repaying any amount over-claimed, so you will not have to pay interest and penalties if we subsequently discover you have claimed too much.

If you have claimed too much CJRS grant and have not already repaid it, you must notify us and repay the money by the latest of whichever date applies below:

  • 90 days from receiving the CJRS money you’re not entitled to
  • 90 days from the point circumstances changed so that you were no longer entitled to keep the CJRS grant.

If you do not do this, you may have to pay interest and a penalty as well as repaying the excess CJRS grant. For more information on interest search ‘Interest rates for late and early payments’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌UK.

How to let us know if you have claimed too much

You can let us know as part of your next online claim without needing to call us. If you claimed too much but do not plan to submit further claims, you can let us know and make a repayment online through our card payment service or by bank transfer – go to ‘Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌‌‌‌UK.

Further support

Guidance and live webinars offering you more support on changes to CJRS, JSS and JRB, and how they impact you, are available to book online – go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search ‘help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus’.

Our phone lines and webchat remain very busy, so the quickest way to find the support you need is on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK. This will leave our phone lines and webchat service open for those who need them most.

Protect yourself from scams

Stay vigilant about scams which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic. Search ‘scams’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

October 22nd – Latest changes to government support for businesses announced by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

For full details see the government website.

The government today announced it will significantly increase the generosity and reach of its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus.

Financial Support for Jobs and Businesses:

  • open businesses which are experiencing considerable difficulty will be given extra help to keep staff on as government significantly increases contribution to wage costs under the Job Support Scheme, and business contributions drop to 5%
  • business grants are expanded to cover businesses in particularly affected sectors in high-alert level areas, helping them stay afloat and protecting jobs
  • grants for the self-employed doubled to 40% of previous earnings

In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the Chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes, and expanding business grants to support companies in high-alert level areas.

This builds on agreements reached with Local Authorities moving to Alert Level very high, with extra support for businesses, jobs and the economic recovery.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

I’ve always said that we must be ready to adapt our financial support as the situation evolves, and that is what we are doing today. These changes mean that our support will reach many more people and protect many more jobs.

I know that the introduction of further restrictions has left many people worried for themselves, their families and communities. I hope the government’s stepped-up support can be part of the country pulling together in the coming months.

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

Recognising the pressure businesses in some sectors and areas are facing, today’s announcement lightens the burden of keeping on staff.

When originally announced, the JSS – which will come into effect on 1 November – saw employers paying a third of their employees’ wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33% of their normal hours.

Today’s announcement reduces the employer contribution to those unworked hours to just 5%, and reduces the minimum hours requirements to 20%, so those working just one day a week will be eligible. That means that if someone was being paid £587 for their unworked hours, the government would be contributing £543 and their employer only £44.

Employers will continue to receive the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus. The Job Support Scheme Closed for businesses legally required to close remains unchanged.

Self-employed grant

Today’s announcement increases the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.

This is a potential further £3.1 billion of support to the self-employed through November to January alone, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.

Business Grants

The Chancellor has also announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas. These grants will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for Local Authorities moving into Tier 3 which, if scaled up across the country, would be worth more than £1 billion.

These grants could benefit around 150,000 businesses in England, including hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and many more who aren’t legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.

Further information

Job Support Scheme – Open

  • The JSS starts to operate from 1 November and covers all Nations of the UK. For every hour not worked, the employee will be paid up to two-thirds of their usual salary.
  • The government will provide up to 61.67% of wages for hours not worked, up to £1541.75 per month (more than doubling the maximum payment of £697.92 under the previous rules). The cap is set above median earnings for employees in August at a reference salary of £3,125 per month.
  • Example: a typical full-time employee in the hospitality industry is paid an average of £1,100 per month. Under the Jobs Support Scheme for open businesses, they will still take home at least £807 a month. All the employer needs to pay is a total of £283 a month or just £70 a week; the government will pay the rest.
  • Employers using the scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) for each employee that meets the eligibility criteria of the JRB. This is worth £1,000 per employee. Taking JSS-Open and JRB together, an employer could receive over 95% of the total wage costs of their employees if they are retained until February.
  • For more information see the Job Support Scheme Open Factsheet(PDF, 104KB, 5 pages).

Self Employed

  • The government will provide two taxable SEISS grants to support those experiencing reduced demand due to COVID-19 but are continuing to trade, or temporarily cannot trade.
  • It will be available to anyone who was previously eligible for the SEISS grant one and grant two, and meets the eligibility criteria.
  • Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering 3 months. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021. The government will pay a taxable grant which is calculated based on 40% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £3,750.
  • The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April 2021. The government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.
  • For more information, see the HMRC website

Business Grants

  • We are providing additional funding to allow Local Authorities (LAs) to support businesses in high-alert level areas which are not legally closed, but which are severely impacted by the restrictions on socialising. The funding LAs will receive will be based on the number of hospitality, hotel, B&B, and leisure businesses in their area.
  • LAs will receive a funding amount that will be the equivalent of:
  • For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £934 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15,000-£51,000, grants of £1,400 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51,000, grants of £2,100 per month.
  • This is equivalent to 70% of the grant amounts given to legally closed businesses (worth up to £3,000/month).
  • Local Authorities will also receive a 5% top up amount to these implied grant amounts to cover other businesses that might be affected by the local restrictions, but which do not neatly fit into these categories.
  • It will be up to Local Authorities to determine which businesses are eligible for grant funding in their local areas, and what precise funding to allocate to each business – the above levels are an approximate guide.
  • Businesses in Very High alert level areas will qualify for greater support whether closed (up to £3,000/month) or open. In the latter case support is being provided through business support packages provided to Local Authorities as they move into the alert level. The government is working with local leaders to ensure the Alert Level very high packages are fair and transparent.
  • For more information see the Business Grants Factsheet(PDF, 124KB, 1 page).

October 9th – UK workers to get 67% of pay if firms told to shut

Employees who work for UK firms forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions are to get two-thirds of their wages paid for by the government.

The scheme will begin on 1 November and run for six months and will apply to businesses told to close – rather than those who choose to shut because of the impact of Covid restrictions. The support will be reviewed in January. Until November businesses that are asked to close can continue to use the furlough scheme.

The grants will be paid up to a maximum of £2,100 per employee a month and the Treasury said they would protect jobs and enable businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.

For more information contact us.

September 28th – Self-Employment Income Support Scheme extended until April 2021

The government has announced that the self-employed will receive taxable grants to cover November 2020 to April 2021 if their business has been affected by coronavirus.

Who can get the grant? The scheme has only been extended for those people who are currently eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to coronavirus. If the person has not claimed a grant under the SEISS so far, but was eligible to, they can still claim the new grant. The key difference between this grant and the previous ones is that the person must be actively trading, it does not appear to be available if they would be trading but are not able to due to Coronavirus.

How much will they be paid? The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November until the end of January. The government will provide a taxable grant covering 20% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ profits. The maximum amount is £1,875 for three months, so to get the full amount you would need to have average profits of £37,500 per annum. The second grant will cover the start of February until the end of April. The government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

How do you apply? HMRC has not yet released details of how to apply but with the previous grants, individuals were contacted directly by HMRC. You can check your client’s eligibility here

 

September 28th – Details of COVID-19 Support

For full details on the different support measures detailed by the Chancellor last week read this article on the government website.

September 24th – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak on the Winter Economy Plan – highlights

Jobs Support Scheme.

The government will directly support the wages of people in work giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours rather than making them redundant.

The Jobs Support Scheme is built on three principles.

First, it will support viable jobs.

To make sure of that, employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work, as normal, by their employer.

The government, together with employers, will then increase those people’s wages covering two-thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours.

And the employee will keep their job.

Second, the government will target support at firms who need it the most.

All small and medium sized businesses are eligible.

But larger businesses, only when their turnover has fallen through the crisis.

Third, it will be open to employers across the United Kingdom, even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme.

The scheme will run for six months starting in November.

And employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the Jobs Support Scheme and the Jobs Retention Bonus.

Self-employed Grant Scheme

The existing self-employed grant will also be extended on similar terms and conditions as the new Jobs Support Scheme

But right now, businesses need every extra pound to protect jobs rather than repaying loans and tax deferrals.

Business Loan schemes

The government is taking further steps today to make that happen.

First, Bounce Back Loans have given over a million small businesses a £38 billion boost to survive this pandemic. To give those businesses more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans, the government is introducing Pay As You Grow.

This means:

  • loans can now be extended from six to ten years – nearly halving the average monthly repayment
  • businesses who are struggling can now choose to make interest-only payments
  • and, anyone in real trouble can apply to suspend repayments altogether for up to six months

No business taking up Pay As You Grow will see their credit rating affected as a result.

Second, they are also changing the terms of their other loan schemes.

More than 60,000 Small and Medium sized businesses have now taken out Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.

To help them, the government will extend it’s on these loans for up to ten years, making it easier for lenders to give people more time to repay.

They are also extending the deadline of all their loan schemes to the end of the year. And they are starting work on a new, successor loan programme, set to begin in January.

Tax Repayment

The government are to give businesses more time and flexibility over their deferred tax bills.

Nearly half a million businesses deferred more than £30 billion of VAT this year.

On current plans, those payments fall due in March.

Instead, they will allow businesses to spread that VAT bill over 11 smaller repayments, with no interest to pay.

And any of the millions of self-assessed income taxpayers who need extra help, can also now extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from next January.

The final step they are taking today will support two of the most affected sectors: hospitality and tourism.

On current plans, their VAT rates will increase from 5% back to the standard rate of 20% on January the 13th.

So to support more than 150,000 businesses and help protect 2.4 million jobs through the winter the Chancellor announced that the government is cancelling the planned increase and will keep the lower 5% VAT rate until March 31st next year.

Further details will follow as soon as they are available.

September 24th – 2020 Budget Cancelled

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has decided to call off the 2020 Autumn Budget, quashing rumours of an imminent tax grab – for now.

The annual Budget is generally the platform that is used to announce new tax measures. The resurgence of coronavirus in an apparent second wave, and the accompanying new measures rolled out in mid-September have forced a rethink. The delay recognises that it would be both insensitive and inappropriate to make long-term financial plans when the virus is still affecting so many.

Instead there will be a brief statement of the government’s four-year spending plans, though there is no date set for this at present. Any new tax measures will have to wait until the virus is in decline again, and it is more likely that we will see more measures designed to help businesses get through the second wave first. Just what these may be is currently unclear, but they could be along the lines of earlier measures such as the VAT payment deferral seen earlier in 2020.

September 16th – New local lockdown payments

On 9 September the government announced that businesses in England required to close because of government imposed local lockdowns or restrictions are entitled to a new grant. What’s available?

Business rates. The amount of the grant depends on the rateable value of the business premises. Those in premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or more are entitled to £1,500 for each three-week period. The grant can be claimed for each property occupied by the business. Businesses with properties with a lower rateable value are entitled to £1,000.  If you rent your premises but someone else is responsible for the business rates you can also claim the grant. In addition, businesses not required to close because of a local lockdown but hit financially by it can apply to their local authority for a discretionary payment on similar terms.

As with all government coronavirus-related grants the payments are taxable income but are outside the scope of VAT.

A new grant of up to £1,500 per three weeks is available to businesses forced to close or financially affected by a local lockdown. The grant counts as income for direct tax purposes. It is claimed from your local authority.

July 3rd – New Discretionary Small Business Grants for Harrow

Harrow Council has paid its first tranche of applications from the discretionary fund aimed at small businesses and charities that do not qualify for one of the current business grant schemes.

Grants of £10,000 will be awarded to ensure a significant impact to help businesses. The funds awarded to Harrow for the discretionary grant are sufficient to help around 1% of businesses in the borough. The allocation to Harrow means demand for funding will exceed supply.

Harrow Council will award grants to businesses regardless that you may or may not have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, however your business must be one of those below:

  • Sole trader or Micro businesses (as defined by defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006) in shared offices or other flexible workspaces e.g. units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Early Years Nursery
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

As well as the above your business must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Employ between 2 and 9 people at the time of application. This will include furloughed employees.
  • Trading for 12 months prior to 1st June 2020
  • Demonstrate a 50% loss of income as a result of Covid 19
  • Work from part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or have annual mortgage payments below £51,000.
  • Have a Harrow trading address

Harrow Council are also now accepting applications from people working from home.

Please read the council’s policy on this scheme to ensure you are eligible to apply. Do not make more than one application as this may invalidate your application.

READ MORE & APPLY

July 1st – VAT liability deferral comes to an end

The government deferred VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June to help during these unprecedented times. What do you need to do now?

Time to take action. The VAT payment deferral period ended on 30 June 2020. This means you’ll need to:

  • set-up cancelled direct debits as soon as possible to ensure you meet the next payment deadline
  • continue to submit VAT returns as normal, and on time
  • pay the VAT in full on payments due after 30 June

Any VAT payments that were due and have been deferred between 20 March and 30 June should be paid in full on or before 31 March 2021.

Still struggling to pay? If you are unable to pay your VAT liability contact HMRC as soon as possible to set up a payment plan. Further details on HMRC’s time to pay arrangements can be found here

June 17th – HMRC Employer Update

From 1‌‌ July 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

Employers will be able to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time and decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of their business. From 1‌‌ August, employers will be asked to contribute towards wages costs.

For the latest information, join the following live webinar:

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing – we’ll take you through the changes, flexible furloughing, claim periods and key dates.

Choose a date and time

If you haven’t managed to join, we’ve also added more dates for our popular live webinar:

Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – you can get the latest on who can claim, who you can claim for, how to make a claim, what you may be entitled to, and more.

Choose a date and time

You can ask questions using the on-screen text box.

We will endeavour to bring you the most up-to-date information to keep you fully informed of changes as they develop.

Get help. Protect your business. Save jobs.

June 5th – HMRC Employer Update

As part of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), I’ve outlined below important dates that may impact you in the coming weeks.

Important dates – what you need to know now

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.

The future of the scheme

  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.
  • On 12 J‌un‌e, we’ll publish full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ to find this – webinars offering more support on the changes will also be available to book online from 12 June – please do not call us for more information, as everything you need to know about the scheme changes will be published online on GOV‌.UK.
  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.

Making changes to your claims if you have over-claimed

If you’ve made an error in a CJRS claim that means you received too much money, you must pay this back to HMRC.

We’ve updated the application system so you can tell us if you have over-claimed in a previous claim – when you apply you’ll be asked if you need to reduce the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You should then keep a record of this adjustment for six years.

If you have made an error in a CJRS claim and do not plan to submit further claims, we are working on a process that will allow you to let us know about your error and pay back any amounts that you have over-claimed. We will update guidance and keep you informed when this is available.

Protect yourself from scams

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening. Search ‘scams’ on GOV‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

For more information and if you have any queries contact us or go to HMRC

May 29th – The Chancellors Statement 

Rishi Sunak hosted the coronavirus briefing this evening and stated that we now need to reopen the economy.

As Britain returns to work we will need to adapt the emergency programmes that have been put in place to bridge the crisis. Because of the emergency programmes the country has adopted, the financial position is better than perhaps could have been expected. What has been done so far has made a real difference.

The furlough scheme cannot continue indefinitely and will remain open until the end of October. Employers will be asked to contribute but employees should see no change to the level of support they receive. After all that the government has done it sees it has a right to ask employers to contribute only a modest amount and this will be introduced slowly. In June and July the employers will be asked to make no contributions at all. In August employers will be asked to pay NI and employers pension and by September employers will be asked to contribute to paying towards wages with a contribution of 10% in September rising to 20% in October. There will be no new entrants to the old scheme after 10 June and then after eight months at the end of October, the original furlough scheme will close.

However, the biggest request that the government has faced is to provide flexibility so that employers can decide what is best for them. To assist the government will be introducing a new more flexible furlough from 1 July. This will provide employers with the maximum flexibility to decide on the right arrangements for themselves and their furloughed staff.

The economic response has also been called upon to support the self-employed and the SEISS will be extended with applications opening in August for a second/final 3 months grant. This time based around average monthly profits, with the grant being set at 70% and up to a maximum grant of £6570. There will be no further changes or extensions.

The economic response to the coronavirus has

  • Kept people in work
  • Protected peoples incomes and
  • Supported businesses

Together this has given us the best chance to recover and get back to work. Not everyone has been supported in exactly the way they wanted, but they have not been forgotten and everyone can now look forward, plan for the recovery and lead the fight back to prosperity. Not everything will look the same as before.

Today a new national collective effort begins to re-open our country and kick start our economy.

David White.

May 14th – How to make a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) claim

HMRC have published a film to guide you through the SEISS claims process. Watch it here.

May 12th – UK furlough scheme extended by four months to October 2020

The UK scheme to pay wages of workers being furloughed because of the coronavirus will be extended to October 2020.

The Chancellor confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2500. But Mr Sunak said that the government will ask companies to ‘start sharing’ the cost of the scheme from August. From August the scheme would continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.

Employers currently using the scheme will then be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

The Chancellor stated that he will attempt to slowly reduce the cost to the tax payer of the furlough scheme, but full details are still to be worked out.

Mr Sunak said ‘I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it. It is not their fault that their business has been asked to close and they have been asked to stay at home’.

May 6th – Covid-19 Government and financial assistance update

It really doesn’t seem that long ago that our Prime Minister and our Chancellor were saying

  • Banks will provide flexibility and understanding
  • The Government will stand by you
  • We promise to do whatever it takes
  • It is a collective national effort with a role for people, businesses and the Government
  • Together we will pull through

So where are we now? Several weeks down the line in lockdown we have been given the opportunity for loans, grants and other benefits, but have we all lost track with where we are. Have banks really been as helpful as we were led to believe? Hopefully this summary of the up to date position on the various measures will help?

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

  • Lenders will provide eligible businesses with up to £25m loans (businesses with turnover up to £250m) or up to £50m loans (businesses with turnover greater than £250m).
  • These loans will need to be paid back within 3 years
  • The lending can be in the form of
    • Term loans
    • Revolving credit facility (including overdrafts)
    • Invoice finance
    • Asset finance
  • The business needs to be UK based and with a turnover greater than £45m
  • The borrowing proposal should be such that the lender would consider it viable
  • The lender needs to believe that the provision of this finance will enable the business to trade out of any short/medium term difficulty
  • The borrower will need to provide the following
    • Evidence they can repay the loan
    • Latest management accounts
    • Cash flow forecast
    • Business plan
    • Last 3 years full accounts

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

  • CBILS can provide loan facilities for businesses with a turnover up to £45m to include
    • Invoice financing
    • Term loans
    • Asset finance
    • Overdrafts
  • In the first instance you should apply through your own bank for a CBILS facility but if this does not get anywhere then you could consider other lenders such as Funding Circle
  • The first 12 months are interest and fee free
  • Capital repayment holidays should be available for 6-12 months
  • No personal guarantees or security can be requested for debt under £250k
  • For lending over £250k personal guarantees/security would be limited to 20% of the debt as the government guarantees 80%
  • Loans are limited to a maximum of 25% of turnover in 2019 or double the annual wage bill whichever is lower
  • At least 50% of the revenue must be from trading activities
  • The business must be UK based
  • It must be a viable business and the lender must be satisfied that with the provision of CBILS finance the business can trade out any short/medium term difficulty
  • A viable business is one that has retained profits, post dividends year after year for the last 3 years
  • When applying you will need to provide the following financial information
    • Management accounts
    • Last 3 years full accounts
    • Cash flow forecast
    • Answer some questions to support the borrowing

Business Bounce Back Loans (BBBLS)

  • A 100% guaranteed facility by the government to the banks
  • Aimed at smaller businesses with fewer than 10 employees
  • Businesses must have been trading on 1 March 2020 and must not have been an undertaking in difficulty on 31 December 2019
  • These businesses can borrow between £2k and £50k for up to 6 years
  • Borrowers can borrow up to a maximum of 25% of turnover
  • Government will cover interest and fees on the loan for first 12 months
  • Typical interest rate is 2.5%
  • There are no personal guarantees or security required
  • Apply online to receive a digital application form to fill in and simply provide documents and answer questions.
  • If successful funds will be received within 48 hours

Grants for small businesses

  • These are aimed at small businesses (less than 50 employees) with ongoing property related costs who are unable to get business rates relief
  • Local authorities will issue the grants based upon its discretion and the economic need
  • The maximum grant is £25k
  • The business must be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop in income due to the coronavirus restriction measures

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

  • This support is for sole traders as well as members of a partnership
  • The SEISS is the self-employed version of the employee furlough benefit.
  • The SEISS is a taxable grant
  • You the taxpayer and not your accountant will need to register online
  • To register you will need your UTR number and National Insurance Number
  • Once registered HMRC will advise you if you are eligible
  • If eligible they will provide a date/time for you to apply and six days later you will receive a payment in your bank account
  • The amount you receive will be based on the average trading profit over the last three years and up to 80% of the average monthly trading profits paid out in a single instalment covering three months but capped at £7500 altogether.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • This is open to any employer
  • A grant will be given to cover wages for those kept in the payroll. This grant will be 80% of salary (up to £2500 per month) per employee for retained workers.
  • The grant will cover wages back dated to 1 March 2020 for four months to 30 June 2020
  • Sole directors can be furloughed as long as they are only carrying out administration or statutory work

Other Benefits

  • There is a VAT payment holiday for a quarters payment that fell due in the period up to 30 June 2020 – the settlement of this has been deferred until 5 April 2021
  • PAYE payment holidays – just contact HMRC and ask for a payment holiday, initially they gave one month but you can extend to more
  • Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit payments have been increased to £1000
  • Self-assessment tax payments due on 31 July have been deferred until 31 January 2021
  • Business Rates Review – retail, leisure and hospitality sectors can receive a grant up to £25k if they have a rateable value between £15k and £51k
  • Enhancement to statutory sick pay

May 6th – Working from home due to Coronavirus?

Did you know that income tax relief claims can be made for employees that are obliged by the government advise to work from home?

If you have incurred expenses “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” for the performance of your employment and your employer will not re-imburse you for these expenses, then a deduction of these expenses can be made on your self-assessment tax returns.

Do not stress if you do not complete a tax return, as a claim for the tax relief can be made to HMRC by completing and submitting Form P87.

When making a claim you can either claim the actual expenses incurred as part of the performance of your employment or you may wish to use HMRC’s home working allowance of £6 per week from 6 April 2020 (£4 per week up to 5 April 2020).

In order to make a claim the conditions under s336 ITEPA 2003 must be met, please do get in touch with us and we can discuss these with you. The conditions will not be met if you are working from home under a voluntary agreement and therefore the claim may not be successful in this situation.

HMRC’s guidance states that the Form P87 claim can be made as follows:

  1. An online claim can be made by signing into your government gateway account,
  2. By post – if making a claim for someone else, and/ or are claiming a relief for more than 5 different jobs
  3. By phone – if you have already claimed expenses in a previous year and your total expenses are less than either: £1,000 or £2,500 for professional fees and subscriptions.

May 5th – Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

HMRC have moved the goalposts and have now announced that the self-employed cannot ask their accountants to make a claim on their behalf and they themselves need to register. Previously they had stated that they would be advising all self-employed of the self-employment income support they would each receive.

To make a claim the self-employed have to register through the government gateway and the full details can be obtained here.

To check if you are eligible to claim you will need:

  • Self-assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
  • National Insurance Number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password – if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when checking your eligibility online
  • Bank account number and sort code

Those that are eligible will be advised of a date they can claim from and you will be asked to provide your contact details. These details will then be used to remind you when the online service will be available. If you have been told you are not eligible to make a claim, you can ask HMRC to review this after you’ve used the online tool.

Those that are eligible will get a taxable grant based on the average trading profit over the last three tax years – 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19. HMRC will work out your average profit and then issue a grant of up to 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7500 altogether. The online service will advise you how the grant has been worked out.

The online service will be available from 13 May 2020. If you’re eligible, HMRC will tell you the date you can make your claim from and if your claim is approved you’ll receive your payment within 6 working days.

You must keep a copy of all records in line with normal self-employment record keeping requirements as you will need to report the grant on your self-assessment tax return.

Watch this space for any further developments.

May 4th – Business Bounce Back Loans additional information

The new BBBL’s were launched today (4 May 2020) and is a new form of government backed credit that is meant to help small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic. The government are offering a 100% guarantee on the BBBL’s to give banks the confidence to advance cash to businesses quickly. The move comes after strong criticism of the delays encountered with the governments Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Companies of any size can apply, but they are aimed at smaller businesses with fewer than ten employees. You must have been trading on 1 March 2020 and must not have been an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.

The new bounce back facility offers real hope in this space and under the scheme companies can borrow between £2000 and £50000 for up to six years. Businesses can borrow a maximum of 25% of their turnover and the government will cover interest and fees on the loan for the first year. Businesses will start their loan repayments after 12 months (or sooner if you prefer with no early repayment charge) and typically the interest rate will be 2.5%.

To apply for a Business Bounce Back Loan you need to apply to your bank in the first instance (but other lenders may be able to assist) by filling out a simple online form that will ask you for details such as:

  • Annual turnover
  • Bank account number and sort code
  • Permission to apply for the loan from all other account holders
  • Your company registration number
  • Amount of credit sought
  • Whether the business has been adversely affected by the coronavirus

You do not need to offer security or personal guarantees.

To get a Business Bounce Back Loan just follow these steps:

  • Apply online once you have checked your eligibility
  • Submit an enquiry online and you will receive a digital application to fill in
  • Review, sign and submit your loan documents online
  • Receive funds, if your application is successful usually within 48 hours.

Hopefully, this gives you another option and a quicker route to getting funds in your bank account.

May 4th – Government announces additional grants for small businesses.

On 2 May 2020, the Government announced that the local business grant funds scheme would receive a 5% top-up aimed at closing the support gap for businesses that don’t qualify for the existing business rates relief.

This funding is aimed at small (less than 50 employees) businesses with ongoing fixed property related costs and local authorities will prioritise

  • Businesses in shared spaces
  • Regular market traders
  • Small charity properties that would ordinarily meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief
  • Bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates

All payments will be made at the local authority’s discretion based on economic need. The maximum grant is £25000 and all recipients must be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop in income due to the coronavirus restriction measures.

April 22nd – Business Bounce Back Loans a new scheme to be launched on 4 May 2020  

A Business Bounce Back Loan is the latest new loan scheme to be launched by the Chancellor. It is a loan scheme for the UK’s smallest firms affected by the coronavirus and will help with overcoming the complicating credit decisions that are delaying the delivery of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The new Business Bounce Back Loans will be 100% guaranteed by the taxpayer and will provide firms with loans up to 25% of their turnover from £2000 up to £50000 with no fees and no interest payable in the first year. The loan terms will be up to six years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will then work with the lender to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

Small firms applying under the new scheme will just need to fill out a ‘simple standard form’ and the banks will not need to perform any ‘forward looking tests of business viability’.

You can apply for a Business Bounce Back Loan if your business:

  • Is based in the UK
  • Has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • Was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

You cannot apply if you are already claiming under CBILS.

Watch this space as further details are released ahead of the Business Bounce Back Loan schemes launch on 4 May 2020.

David White – 27 April 2020

April 22nd – Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

As with CBILS the CLBILS scheme is an opportunity run by the British Business Bank to support larger businesses who can afford lending products but lack the security necessary to be approved.

Through CLBILS lenders will provide ‘eligible’ businesses with up to £25m or £50m depending on turnover with repayment terms of up to three years. This will be in the form of the following

  • Term loans
  • Revolving Credit Facilities (Including overdrafts)
  • Invoice Finance
  • Asset Finance

An eligible business will need to

  • Be UK based
  • Have a turnover greater than £45m
  • Have a borrowing proposal that the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short or medium term difficulty
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

The lenders will need to know

  • The amount you would like to borrow
  • What the money is for – the lender will check that it’s for a suitable business purpose and the right type of finance for your needs
  • The period over which you will make the repayments – the lender will assess whether the loan is affordable to you

You will need to provide the lender with the following supporting documents

  • Evidence that you can repay the loan
  • Management Accounts
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Business Plan
  • Historic Accounts (three years)
  • Details of assets

PLEASE NOTE THIS MAY VARY FROM LENDER TO LENDER

If you need any help in gathering and presenting the information do please get in touch with our team.

April 22nd – Business Interruption Loan Scheme

CBILS is an opportunity run by the British Business Bank to support businesses who can afford lending products but lack the security necessary to be approved. CBILS can provide loan facilities to include invoice financing, term loans, asset finance and overdrafts. CBILS should in the first instance be claimed through your own bank but there are other providers who are available to offer CBILS.

Key features include

  • First 12 months are interest and fee free
  • Capital repayment holidays of 6 – 12 months are available
  • There are no personal guarantees for any debt under £250k
  • For lending above £250k PG’s are limited to 20% of the debt
  • Loans in the scheme are limited to a maximum of 25% of your turnover for 2019 or double the annual wage bill, whichever is lower.
  • At least 50% of revenue must be from ‘trading activities’ this excludes rental income.
  • The business must be UK based
  • Having a borrowing proposal that, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender.
  • The lender must believe that the provision of the CBILS finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.
  • The borrower will always be responsible for repaying the loan. The government will only repay (up to 80%) of the loan if the business cannot.
  • Lenders are only likely to lend to businesses that have recently shown affordability to support the loan.
  • Lenders are looking for between 1.5 and 2 times serviceability cover based on EBITDA less dividends less current debt repayments (retained earnings)

AS A GENERAL RULE A VIABLE BUSINESS IS ONE THAT HAS RETAINED PROFIT, POST DIVIDENDS, YEAR AFTER YEAR FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS.

What information and documents will a lender require as part of your CBILS application?

  • What is the reason of the requested facility (short term cash flow/longer term cash injection) and how will the funds be specifically used to address the shortfall caused due to COVID-19?
  • Provide sufficient detail on the amount of the borrowing request and how this amount has been derived ie how much are you requesting and why?
  • On what basis has the CBILS loan amount been calculated, what assumptions are being made?
  • When the pandemic is over how long do you think it will take your business to recover?
  • What changes are the business making in the short, medium and long term to help drive business performance back to where it was pre Covid-19?
  • What was your annual turnover in 2019?
  • What was your annual wage bill for 2019?
  • How many employees do you currently have on your books?
  • What costs do you currently have to pay in regards to running your business eg staffing costs, business premises costs, stock and/or other debt costs and what has been done or will be done to reduce these?
  • What have you been able to access in terms of government schemes in response to Covid-19 (Grants/rates non-payment/ VAT deferral/ Time to pay arrangements) and provide details.
  • What other measures have you taken – deferral of loan/agreement repayments etc
  • Is all of the tax due up to date?
  • Provide last 3 years full accounts with a detailed Profit and Loss account
  • Provide the last 6 months business bank statements
  • Provide up to date Management Accounts
  • Provide a copy of the latest aged debtors and aged creditor lists.
  • Provide full details of any outstanding debt (provider, term and repayment)
  • Provide a Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Income and Expenditure for each of the shareholders
  • Provide fully narrated cash flow forecasts to outline/determine the working capital required.

So in summary to make a CBILS claim your business must have experienced a loss in trading or any impact on business performance as a consequence of coronavirus, been able to afford this lending before the coronavirus outbreak, be based in the UK and not be part of any insolvency proceedings.

Hopefully this insight will assist in any application you make but please do not hesitate to contact me or any of my team if you require any assistance with your application.

17th April –   Financial Update  

The Chancellor has expanded the government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus so that it now covers all viable firms.

Rishi Sunak unveiled the final details of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday

  • all viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will now be able to apply for up to £25m of government-backed support
  • firms with turnover of more than £250 million can also now borrow up to £50 million from lenders
  • this complements the existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

I want to ensure that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy. That is why we are expanding this generous scheme for larger firms.

This is a national effort and we’ll continue to work with the financial services sector to ensure that our £330 billion of government support, through loans and guarantees, reaches as many businesses in need as possible’.

The Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

Coronavirus has struck a heavy blow against businesses of all sizes across the UK. Expanding this scheme will provide larger firms with the support they need during the pandemic, helping to provide job security to thousands of people and protect our economy’.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance.

The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.

The government certainly seems to be doing its bit to help but we are yet to see the lenders following their lead.

Watch this space……

17th April –   Job Retention Scheme “whistle-blower” service welcomed  

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has welcomed HMRC’s announcement that the tax authority are setting up an online ‘whistle-blower’ service for workers to use to report employers who abuse the system.

Read more 

16th April –   Update information for the self-employed

The Government have recently updated the guidance to provide clarifications to some queries they have received for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, including:

  • detail of the treatment of losses, averaging and multiple trades
  • clarifications on the calculation of self-employed profits and what is meant by total income
  • confirmation that individuals are able to continue working, including taking on employment role
  • confirmation that owner-managers of Ltd companies can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for their salary
  • confirmation that individuals can access Universal Credit and the SEISS
  • clarification on overlaps between the SEISS and CJRS (for example, you can claim the SEISS and continue working).

The guidance on how to claim a grant through the coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme is available on GOV UK here.

Details on how HMRC works out total income and trading profits for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme can also be found on GOV UK here.

16th April –   Useful Contact Information

This is the content of an email published by HMRC yesterday including useful links to help with the support for you and your business:

Dear customer,

We wrote to you last week to help you prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are now writing to tell you how and when to access the system with some more information about what you will need to have ready before the system goes live.

We are also updating you on an important change to the scheme relating to employee eligibility:

  • you can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date; this means that you will have made an RTI submission notifying us of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020
  • employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to us on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.

More information on this can be found on GOV.UK.

How to claim

As you prepare to make a claim, please note:

  • the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20‌‌ April 2020 – please do not try to access it before this date as it won’t be available
  • the only way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim
  • you can make the claim yourself even if you usually use an agent
  • claims will be paid within 6 working days; you should not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary – any queries should be directed to your agent, representative or our webchat service
  • we cannot answer any queries from employees – they will need to raise these with you, as their employer, directly.

Information you will need before you make a claim

In addition to the information in our previous email, you will need to have the following before 20‌‌ April 2020:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for:
  1. Name.
  2. National Insurance number.
  3. Claim period and claim amount.
  4. PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee
  • if you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; we will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

If you want an agent to act for you

Please note:

  • agents authorised to act for you on PAYE matters can make the claim on your behalf using their ID and password
  • you will need to tell your agent which UK bank account you want the grant to be paid into, in order to ensure funds are paid as quickly as possible to you.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims.

Guidance on GOV.UK is being regularly updated so please review it frequently.

 We continue to wish you all the best at this challenging time.

Yours sincerely

Jim Harra

First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive – HMRC

 

6th April –  Rishi Sunak statement and help for Charities during the coronavirus pandemic 

The Chancellor again reiterated that he ‘promises to do whatever it takes’. But he did say the government could not afford to bail out every charity. He said ‘local charities have not been forgotten’, and to back this up he said that the government will seek to support all charities as best it can. Charities are a critical part of the social fabric of this country.

Funding of £750m has been promised for the ‘frontline’ charity sector with £370m of this to support small local charities that are working with vulnerable people and a further £360m to help with essential services for the larger charities.

Charities are eligible for

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and are able to furlough their staff
  • Charities with fewer than 250 employees can also get support for paying sick pay to employees
  • Charities and social enterprises earning more than 50% of income from trading are eligible for loans supported by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Charities with retail arms, such as charity shops, may also be eligible for the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme – local authorities will write to eligible charities

In conclusion the Chancellor said that the whole plan around battling Covid – 19 is built on one simple idea – we depend on each other.

6th April – Guidance for employers and employees

The government is continuously updating guidance for both employees and employers and there is good information available now giving employer guidance and guidance for employees. There are a number of key areas that are covered in these notes:

  • the more detailed information on scheme eligibility
  • further information on how to calculate a claim
  • clarification of what constitutes wages.

If you would like more information please contact our Covid-19 helpline.

3rd April – Support for larger businesses

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government–backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. This will give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus but which they would not lend to without CLBILS. Loans backed by CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month.

3rd April – The Chancellor acts today to enforce bank compliance with Government CBILS measures

The Chancellor has today taken further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses. Amidst growing pressure that UK banks simply weren’t doing enough the Chancellor has stepped in to underline what he requires.

  • Lenders are banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250000.
  • It is vitally important that banks move quickly to support the economy, jobs and business.
  • Changes must be made to speed up lending approvals, while continuing its pledge to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.
  • CBILS to be extended to all viable small and medium size businesses that have faced financial difficulty due to coronavirus, meaning they no longer have to be rejected by their bank first.
  • Banks must get used to the new system and be able to hand out more loans.

In summary, the Chancellor said ‘We are making great progress on getting much needed support out to businesses to help manage their cashflows during this difficult time – with millions of pounds of loans and finance being provided to hundreds of firms across the country’.

1st April – Update from Alok Sharma Business Secretary

The coronavirus is the biggest threat we have faced in decades. The Government do recognise the extreme disruption this has brought to lives, businesses, jobs and the nation’s economy.

The Business Secretary said he wanted to thank businesses too, because through their support for their workers, the community and the NHS they are making a difference. Thousands of businesses large and small have all worked with staff to ensure they are supported in the days, weeks and months ahead with Health and Safety measures, home working, furloughing and holiday arrangements. Thanks to all these businesses that are working to keep our Economy going and supporting our people. The Government wants to support our businesses and as you will be aware from today rates relief and grants have kicked in. Money has been given to local authorities and this MUST be given to businesses as soon as possible.

The High Street banks are working really hard to support the UK through this time with mortgage holidays, increase in credit facilities and loans to businesses are also being issued through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme since it came in to operation.

Banks have been urged to ensure that the benefits of the loan scheme are passed to businesses and consumers, it is completely unacceptable if any bank unfairly refuses funds to good businesses in financial difficulty. The Government will work with the banks to do everything they can to support the businesses and the people of the UK in their time of need and they are looking at ways these businesses can get the support they need.

Together we will pull through.

26th March – Update Coronavirus update from the Chancellor for help being offered to the self-employed

In the Chancellor’s speech he announced the next step in our economic fight against COVID–19?

The self-employed need not to be forgotten, need not to be left behind and we must all stand together. His action plan to beat the pandemic has now been further widened to cater for the self-employed and as such he introduced his New Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

In summary the New Self-employed Income Support Scheme will be generous, deliverable and fair

  • Provide a taxable grant of up to £2500 per individual per month
  • The grant will be based on 80% of the average profits for the last three tax years. If you do not have three years they will look at the average of what you have got but will not look at any cases where no 2019 self-assessment tax return has not been submitted.
  • The support will be targeted and hit those most in need.
  • It will be open to anyone whose majority income is from self-employment and whose trading profits are less than £50k
  • You will only be eligible if you have submitted a self-assessment tax return for 2019 so for those that have not done this yet the Chancellor has given four weeks from today to submit your SATR
  • The scheme will run for three months (at the moment) and will be back dated to 1 March 2020.
  • The self-employed can continue to work AND make this claim
  • Due to the complexities the scheme will not accessible until June 2020
  • If eligible HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out a form to apply, HMRC will verify your claim and then pay out your grant (3 months (March, April and May) directly in to your bank account.

So what help is available now?

  • The self-employed can access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Defer payment of their second instalment of tax due in July to 31 January 2021
  • Make a Welfare System Claim – they can get an advance payment on their Universal Credit immediately after they have made their claim
  • Local authorities are helping those with most need with regards to their council tax.

Unprecedented measures for unprecedented times!

26th March – Update 

Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Bingo Halls to pay no business rates this coming financial year.

Estate Agents, Letting Agencies and Bingo Halls that have closed as a result of COVID-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21.

Eligible businesses will be re-billed by their local authority and the new bill will give them a discount of 100%. Any payments made will also be refunded by the local authority.

25th March – Update for the Self-Employed

Statutory Self-Employment Pay

As part of the Coronavirus Bill being discussed in Parliament we have observed the following. Nothing has been released by the Government but it does look like something will be done to help the Self-Employed through the Coronavirus pandemic.

  • A scheme must be introduced for Statutory Self-Employment Pay
  • Provision to be made out of Public funds to individuals who are
    • Self-Employed
    • Freelancers
  • Payments to be set so that the net monthly earnings of an individual do not fall below
    • 80% of their monthly net earnings averaged over the last three years or
    • £2917

(Whichever is lower)

  • No payment will exceed £2917 per month

So please watch this space for a formal announcement of measures anticipated by the end of this week.

25th March – Update for Landlords and Tenants

For many rent is one of the most, if not the most significant outgoing. In the current climate some tenants may not have the funds to make a payment. With a quarterly rent payment now due this could have a significant impact.

In addition to the Government Assistance to businesses and individuals we thought we should highlight the options available to the landlord and the tenant to help create some practical suggestions for moving forward.

For landlords

  • Will your tenant be paying the rent on the due day?
  • If not, when will the tenant be able to pay?
  • Have you seen management accounts and future cashflow projections?
  • Can the tenant offer you any security?
  • Is your tenant eligible for Government Assistance and do they know about it?
  • Are you eligible for Government Assistance?
  • Have you considered offering a time to pay arrangement, payment holiday or rent reduction?

For Tenants

  • Bring your financial affairs up to date.
  • Do you have current management accounts and an up to date cashflow forecast?
  • Have you asked your landlord for a payment holiday or time to pay?
  • Have you asked your landlord for a rent reduction?
  • Are you eligible for Government Assistance and have you applied?

Communication and negotiation are key from all sides, with the inevitable downturn in the economy caused by Covid-19 businesses will fail and units will be left empty. Is having a tenant that covers the outgoings of a unit more preferable to having no tenant at all?

Do your sums and communicate with each other now, before it is too late. Whatever you agree now does not have to last forever.

23rd March – Update

Useful numbers to contact:

• 0300 200 3814 – Time to Pay – this helpline will allow you to set up a payment plan
• 0800 0159 559 – If the Coronavirus has affected you as a business

Or contact our Covid-19 helpline for more advice.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will provide facilities up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruption to their cashflow.

CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products including term loans, overdrafts, invoice and asset finance. The scheme provides the lender with a government backed guarantee potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Up to £5m facility is the maximum provided under the scheme and will be available on repayment terms of up to six years for term loans and asses finance. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities terms will be three years. There is no guarantee fee for SME’s to access the scheme for smaller businesses.

Interest and fees will be paid by the government for twelve months therefore no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250k and under. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

To be eligible for a facility under CBILS and SME must

  • Be UK based in its activity with an annual turnover of less than £45m.
  • Have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short to medium term difficulty

CIBLS is available through the British Business Banks forty accredited lenders. In the first instance businesses should approach their own provider – ideally via the lenders website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need.

NOTE – If the accredited lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to use the scheme they will do so.

CBILS will initially run for six months.

Sole traders and freelancers are eligible as long as the business activity is operated through a business account.

We are expecting further announcements today on the CBILS and also further measures to help the self-employed.

20th March – Update

Update from the Chancellor on the help from the Government – 20 Mar 2020

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor stated that the Government – ‘Will stand by you.’

These times are unprecedented and the measures are comprehensive. It is a collective national effort with a role for people, businesses and the Government.

The Chancellor has already put forward a significant combination of measures and today he has added to those with arrangements to protect jobs and incomes, offering support where needed to help the employed and the self- employed. The Government is to help pay wages.

  • They have introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and this is open to any employer.
  • A grant will be given to cover wages for those kept on the payroll. This grant will be 80% of the salary (up to £2500 per month) per employee for the retained workers.
  • To claim this grant you will need to contact HMRC
  • It will cover wages back dated to 1 March 2020 for 3 months initially or longer if necessary.
  • There is no limit to supporting as many jobs as necessary
  • HMRC are working day and night to get the scheme up and running and it is hoped they should be in a position to pay grants before the end of April 2020

Other measures have been updated

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now interest free for 12 months (not 6 months as previously stated) and these loans will be available from Monday (23 March 2020). These funds are unlimited.
  • To support cash flow for businesses HMRC has deferred the next VAT quarters payment (up to 30 June 2020) and businesses have until the end of the financial year to pay these.
  • Universal Credit Standard Allowance has been increased by £1000 per annum for the next 12 months
  • Working Tax Credit Basic Element has also been increased by £1000 per annum for the next 12 months
  • The minimum income floor has been suspended allowing the self-employed to access Universal Credit at the same rate as employees.
  • For the self- employed the next self-assessment payment has also been deferred until January 2021
  • To help ‘renters’ there will also be an increase in Housing Benefit and the Local Housing Allowance
  • If you are on a zero hour contract then you will be covered by the benefits if you are in a PAYE scheme but this will also be dependent on your particular circumstances
  • Charities have been supported by the above measures and the business rates assistance
  • Voluntary and Community Groups are being reviewed to see how help can be provided.

Lots more to consider and take on board. Do contact the Covid-19 helpline to find out more.

20th March – Individuals Update

Covid – 19 advice and guidance for individuals

INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS

If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:

You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19:

From 13 March, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.

  • When does SSP apply? The government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
  • Do I need a sick note? From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a “fit note” after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
  • What if I am self-employed or not eligible for SSP? If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance. For more information on how to claim, please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance.
  • What if I am self-employed and receiving Universal Credit? If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support. If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information. If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

 If you think you may need financial support from your Local Authority in England, you may be entitled to support from the £500 million Hardship Fund:

  • Most of this funding will be used to provide more Council Tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through similar measures.
  • The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will set out more detail on this funding, including allocations, shortly.
  • If you have any questions, please contact your Local Authority.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months. This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19. If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:

  • The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.
  • This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
  • The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.
  • Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.
  • Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period. This applies to private and social renters.
  • At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, you should read the following information:

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.
  • If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID19, you should talk to your lender.
  • If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.

20th March – Business Update

Covid – 19 Support for Businesses (update 19 March 2020)

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

We 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. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  1. Your business is UK based.
  2. Your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.

How to access the scheme

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

Support for businesses that pay business rates

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

We will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  1. Your business is based in England.
  2. Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Further guidance for local authorities is available in the expanded retail discount guidance.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Eligibility

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority. You do not need to apply.

How to access the scheme

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.

Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  1. Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum.
  2. Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

How to access the scheme

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The scheme will be available from early next week commencing 23 March.

Support for larger firms through the 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.

Eligibility

All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

The scheme will be available early in week beginning 23 March 2020.

We will provide information on how to access the scheme here shortly.

More information is available from the Bank of England.

Support for businesses paying tax: 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.

Eligibility

You are eligible if your business:

  • pays tax to the UK government
  • has outstanding tax liabilities

How to access the scheme

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

If you’re worried about a future payment, please call us nearer the time.

18th March 2020 – update

In yesterday’s update the big news was the £350bn package to support businesses and the key points in that announcement were;

  • Contact your banks first, they have been instructed to work with businesses to support them through the crisis and will provide flexibility and understanding’

Business Interruption Loans

  • Small and medium businesses will now be able to apply for government backed loans up to £5m – full details will be available from 23 March 2020
  • There will be no interest due in the first six months.

Business Rates

  • Further help will be provided to the retail, hospitality and leisure industries
  • Businesses with a rateable value of less than £51k will not only have no rates to pay but will also be entitled to a cash grant of up to £25k for each business
  • All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries irrespective of rateable value will have no business rates to pay for one year

Cash Grants

  • These are available to very small businesses and have now been increased from the £3k announced in the Budget to £10k

Further announcements will be made and we will continue to update our website with the latest news and how it will impact you.

Contact HMRC’s new dedicated Covid – 19 helpline for advice and support – 0800 0159 559

In the meantime do contact your own bank to see what support they are offering and also do make other enquiries. Or if you want to discuss anything with us please contact us.

17th March 2020 – update

In the March 2020 Budget, the government announced a raft of measures to help businesses and individuals during the current Coronavirus crisis, many of which seemed complex, so we have summarised the key points below:

The UK Government has announced a package of measures to support SME businesses and Self-employed individuals affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

These measures include

  • Business Rates Reliefs
  • Business Interruption Loan and Grant Schemes
  • An extension of statutory sick pay (SSP)
  • A dedicated helpline for businesses seeking a deferral of tax liabilities

Business Rates Reliefs

  • The Business Rates Discount Scheme has been extended from the 50% planned for 2020/21 to 100% for one year
  • The relief is available to leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value of less than £51k
  • Planned rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100k will be increased to £5k from the current £1k
  • Businesses that have already received the retail discount in 2019/20 will be rebilled by their local authority but those newly eligible will need to apply for the discount from their local authority
  • Small businesses that currently pay little or no business rates (because they receive small business or rural rate relief) will be entitled to a one off grant of £3k from their local authority to help meet their business costs

 Business Interruption Loan and Grant Schemes

  • A new temporary coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be made available through the British Business Bank in the next few weeks
  • Loans up to £1.2m will be available to businesses
  • The Government will guarantee 80% of each loan at no charge to the business or bank (usually 2%)
  • Interest rates will be similar to existing bank lending

An extension of statutory sick pay (SSP)

  • SSP will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with Covid – 19 for those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice.
  • SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for infected individuals
  • Those not eligible for SSP, for example those who are self-employed or people earning below the lower earnings limit of £118 per week can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance;
    • People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate
    • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for eligible people affected by Covid – 19 or self-isolating from day one of sickness rather than day eight
  • Legislation will be brought forward to allow SME’s and employees to reclaim SSP. The eligibility criteria will be;
    • Refund (just under £200) will cover up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Covid – 19
    • Employers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020will be eligible
    • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid – 19
    • Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP note

Dedicated helpline for businesses seeking a deferral on tax liabilities

  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be able to agree additional time to settle their tax affairs through HMRC’s ‘Time to Pay’ scheme, for which a dedicated helpline has been set up.
  • These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual’s circumstances and liabilities.
  • During the coronavirus outbreak the usual 3.5% annual interest on deferred tax payments will be waived

There is more information available on the HMRC’s new dedicated Covid – 19 helpline – 0800 0159 559.

If you want advice on how this will affect you and how to take advantage of the support contact us.