Support for businesses

Finding business support

The primary source of support for businesses in the Borders is Scottish Borders Council. Find more information on how to contact them directly here.

Further coronavirus advice for businesses in Scotland can be found here on the dedicated Scottish Government business support website.

If you are considering letting staff go, please read the following information:

For the first time in history, the UK government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. 

Grants will be paid to any employers who retain their staff. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.

 Employees who were on the payroll on 19 March or earlier are eligible. The UK Government has extended the cut off period for those eligible for support.

Grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – which is above the average income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1 March and will be open initially for at least three months – and the UK Government will extend the scheme for longer if necessary. Employers will be free to top up the remaining 20 per cent, but this is not mandatory. There will be no limit on the number or total value of grants paid out.

The UK Government will also cover the cost of National Insurance and pension contributions. Employer contributions for furloughed staff will be paid by the UK Government on top of 80 per cent of salary costs. This could save businesses an extra £300 a month for each employee under the scheme.

Further information on the scheme can be found here

 

Your business will not pay VAT until the end of June:

The UK Government have announced that VAT for April, May and June will be deferred, and businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

 

Your business may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence

This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period. 

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, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.

The UK Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.

 

Your business may be eligible for rates relief and grants

If your business occupies a property in the retail, hospitality, tourism or aviation sectors you will be eligible for a 100 per cent discount on your rates bill for 1 year from 1 April 2020. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents. This discount will also cover airports and aviation businesses that are based as airports. Relief will be granted regardless of the rateable value of the property. The property must be occupied in order to be eligible.

You may be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 if your business is in the hospitality, leisure and retail sector and occupies a property with a rateable value of between £18,001 and £51,000. If your business occupies more than one property, you may be eligible for a further grant of up to £18,750 for each additional property.

You may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 if your business is eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rate Relief.  If your business occupies more than one property, you may be eligible for a further grant of up to £7,500 for each additional property.

If you are a micro-business operating without premises you may be eligible for a grant.  Further details are not yet available, but the Scottish Government have said funding will be available by the end of April.

Your business will be eligible for a 1.6 per cent relief regardless of rateable value. This measure effectively freezes the poundage rate for the coming year. This will not need to be applied for – it will automatically be applied to your bill.

You will be eligible for these reliefs even if you are already in receipt of another form of relief.

You can now be apply for reliefs and grants from Scottish Borders Council here. Further information on how to apply is available here.

Any unanswered questions can be raised with the Scottish Government via email on BESTCovidHub@gov.scot or by calling 0300 303 0660.

 

Bounce Back Loans

Small and medium-sized businesses may be eligible for a UK Government Bounce Back loan of between £2,000 and £50,000. Small businesses will be able to apply online through a simple form to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 from Monday 4 May.

These new loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and backed 100 per cent by the UK Government. No repayments will be due in the first 12 months and the UK Government will pay any fees incurred. The loan term will be up to 6 years.

The UK Government is working with lenders to ensure that approved loans are paid out within days so that immediate support is available for those that need it the most.

You will be eligible to apply if your business is UK based, has been negatively affected by the virus and was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.

You will be ineligible for these loans if your business operates as a bank, insurer or reinsurer (but not insurance brokers), a public body or a state-funded school.

You will not be able to apply if you are already claiming funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). However if you already have a loan with a lender under CBILS terms, you will be able to transfer it to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

Further information is available here.

 

 

If you are self-employed, please read the following information

The UK Government are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves get the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but this will be extended for longer if necessary.

Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. The Treasury expects people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.

The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, meaning 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed will be eligible for the scheme.

HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply. Anyone who missed the tax filing deadline in January has 4 weeks from 26 March to submit their tax return.

Further support is being made available for self-employed people who are ineligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. If you are newly self-employed and ineligible for other forms of support you will be able to claim up to £2,000 from the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund from early May.  This fund will be administered through local authorities, with further details to be announced shortly.

Right now, you can 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. You will now be able to claim online and access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus.

The minimum income floor on Universal Credit has been suspended for 12 months. This means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. If self-employed claimants’ work, and therefore earnings, have significantly reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, and the wider economic impacts of the outbreak, their Universal Credit award will increase to reflect their lower earnings.

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.

The UK Government have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year. The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase by £86.67 per month (equivalent to £20 per week), on top of the planned annual uprating. Together these measures are estimated to benefit over 4 million of our most vulnerable households.

You no longer need to phone the Government as part of your Universal Credit claim. New changes mean that if there is information that needs to be verified as part of your claim, the Department for Work and Pensions will phone you. This is in response to the large volume of calls to Universal Credit phone lines and will mean you do not face long waits on the phone trying to get through to a member of staff.

The UK Government have also deferred income tax self-assessment payments.  Income tax self-assessment payments for July will be deferred until the end of January 2021.

 

If you own a small or medium-sized business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information

 The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), delivered by the British Business Bank, is operational and is ready to support businesses.

 The scheme is working to provide funding for business through term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance.

The UK Government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan to give them greater confidence in providing loans to small and medium sized businesses.

If you obtain a loan as part of this scheme, you will not be charged for this guarantee and nor will your lender.

You will be able to apply for loans worth up to £5 million, from over 40 lenders, interest free for the first twelve months as the UK Government will be covering the cost of the repayments.

 All viable small businesses will now be able to access the scheme, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing.

The UK Government is stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and is working urgently to speed up the application and approval process.

 While the British Business Bank has set up this scheme you should approach your lender via their website in the first instance to see if you are eligible for funding, before approaching other lenders.

The latest information is available here.

You can confirm whether or not you are eligible by reading this check list.

 

If you own a large business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information

The UK Government has set up the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) to provide loans of up to £25 million, largely guaranteed by the state.

CLBILS loans will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £25 million for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest. Further details of the scheme will be announced later in April.

Companies commonly sell short term debt, known as ‘commercial paper’, to the market. This is a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital. The UK Government is working with the Bank of England to set up a new Corporate Financing Facility, that will allow the Bank to buy short term debt from companies.

This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

Further information is available from the Bank of England here.

 

 

If you are concerned about facing insolvency, please read the following information

The UK Government is changing insolvency laws to prevent businesses being forced to file for bankruptcy. Wrongful trading regulations will be suspended retrospectively to 1 March to ensure that company directors are not held personally liable for continuing to pay staff and suppliers even if there are fears the company could become insolvent. Additionally, businesses going through restructuring will not be able to be put into administration by creditors and will continue to be able to access energy, broadband or raw materials. Further information is available here.

Scotland’s insolvency service, Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice.

The evidential requirements for individuals seeking debt relief through bankruptcy have been amended to allow faster access, providing protection from debt enforcement.

AiB is reducing the need for face to face contact, allowing access to debt relief to be maintained by accepting electronic signatures on protected trust deeds and other documentation.

If you have an ongoing debt payment plan but are worried about how you will be able to pay, AiB will not be revoking these programmes.

The latest information is available from Accountant in Bankruptcy here.

 

If you are concerned about water fees, please read the following information

A package worth £60 million has been agreed with water companies to help businesses that are facing difficulties with their water charges.

Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means water suppliers can now be flexible with their customers.

The Central Market Authority (CMA) has also agreed to suspend all ‘performance standard charges’ to allow licensed providers to focus on supporting customers.

 

 

If you operate a research-focussed SME or a high growth company, please read the following information

The UK Government has launched a £1.25 billion fund to support the most innovative businesses in the country.

If your company has been impacted by the crisis you may be able to access grants or loans. The £500 million Future Fund has been designed to ensure high-growth companies across the UK receive the investment they need to continue during the crisis.

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and launching in May, the fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the UK Government, with private sector investors at least matching that investment.

To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.

The UK Government is working with Innovate UK to provide £750 million of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms.

Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing customers. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. 

Further information is available here.

 

If you are a business owner, or are self-employed and you are concerned about your tax bill, you may be eligible for support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service

HMRC may agree, on a case by case basis, to assist with your business’ tax bill through the Time to Pay Service.

These arrangements are tailor made and based on individual circumstances and liabilities.

More information can be found here.

 

Support from Companies House

On 25 March Companies House announced that all businesses could apply for a three-month extension for filing their accounts, with those citing issues around COVID-19 immediately granted an extension. To support this measure Companies House developed a fast-tracked, online system that takes businesses just 15 minutes to complete. As of 30 April, there have so far been over 50,000 successful applications. This was supplemented on 28 March when the Government announced it will offer further extensions should circumstances require.

On 16 April Companies House announced that companies issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 will have appeals treated sympathetically and that it has temporarily paused the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will help ensure businesses struggling to update their records because of the crisis, are not struck off the register.

More information can be found here.

 

If your business is in the creative, tourism or hospitality industry, please read the following information

A £20 million hardship fund has been promised by the Scottish Government to provide support grants for creative, tourism and hospitality businesses not in receipt of business rates relief.  For companies of up to 50 employees, there will be access to £3,000 hardship grants or larger grants up to £25,000 where it can be demonstrated support is needed. Further details are not yet available.

 

If your business is in the fishing industry, please read the following information

Over £5 million in financial support has been designated for the Scottish fishing industry. Funding has been offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies to help with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.

 You will be able to access a grant if you are the owner of full time Scottish registered fishing vessel of up to 12 metres length. The initial payment will be 50 per cent of two months’ average earnings.

Full time registered vessels are defined by the scheme as a vessel which has recorded landings of £20,000 or more, and earnings are defined as recorded landing income from 2019 sales notes which were submitted to Marine Scotland by buyers.

The Scottish Government have said further support is being developed for the onshore processing industry, as well as companies in the shellfish growing sector.

Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative Associations with more details. Queries can be emailed to seafisheriesintervention@gov.scot.

f your business operates full time in shellfish growing or trout farming you may be eligible for a grant of up to £27,000. Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50 per cent of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business. To apply for a grant, shellfish and trout businesses are required to demonstrate that the business operates on a full time basis and has suffered severe hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Payments will be made directly to eligible shellfish growers and trout farmers as soon as possible.

 

If your business is a seafood processor, please read the following information

The ‘Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund’ has been launched. The fund will provide a combination of grants and loans to businesses suffering severe hardship following the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry across the UK. Shellfish and seafood processing businesses will receive immediate priority for consideration.

The latest information and application form is available here.