What’s the latest information and insight?
The UK government has announced unprecedented support for businesses to deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus over the past two years. With the most recent being announcements made on 21 December, which provided a variety of financial support across the UK who have been impacted by the government’s latest Plan B measures. This included reopening the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and instructing HMRC to give extra flexibility through Time to Pay arrangements to those businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors.
With some support measures set to phase out in the coming months – notably at the end of March 2022, this guidance explains the support that is still available to businesses.
UK-wide financial support
HMRC Time to Pay arrangements
The Specific CV VAT scheme has now closed. But there is still the Time to Pay system which can be used, here.
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
What is it?
The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme closes for coronavirus related absences after March 17.
Employers have up to and including March 24 to:
- Submit any final claims
- Amend claims they’ve already submitted.
After this date it will need to be removed, unless they allow a retrospective claim for a period like JRS.
The scheme enables small to medium sized employers to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) costs caused by absences due to coronavirus. This refund covers up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.
Who is it for?
Any small or medium sized business that is UK-based and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
Which employees can you use it for?
You can claim for employees who were off work on or before 30 September 2021 and you must have already paid your employee’s sick pay.
On 21 December, the UK government also announced that it would be reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Firms will be eligible for the scheme as of now and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
You can claim for multiple pay periods and employees at the same time and the scheme can be used for:
- full-time employees
- part-time employees
- employees on agency contracts
- employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
- fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends)
For more information on who you can claim for and under what circumstances, check out the government’s guidance.
How do you apply?
If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf.
Employers who are unable to claim online should have received a letter on an alternative way to claim. Contact HMRC if you have not received a letter and are unable to make any eligible claims online.
Where can I find out more?
Visit the government's coronavirus business support site.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – late claims
What is it?
The JRS, more commonly known as the “Furlough scheme”, was introduced in March 2020 to provide grants to employers to continue to pay staff salaries, despite government restrictions or operation limitations.
The scheme closed on 30 September 2021, with the 14 October being the last date to make a claim for September. But you may still be able to retrospectively claim for the support if you couldn’t meet the 14 October deadline.
Is it too late to make a claim?
For claim periods from 1 November 2020, HMRC may accept late claims or amendments if you have:
- Taken reasonable care to try and claim on time.
- A reasonable excuse.
- Claimed as soon as your reasonable excuse no longer applies.
Where can I find more information?
For more information on what is deemed a reasonable excuse and on how to apply to make a late claim, see the government’s guidance on how to make a late.
Recovery Loan Scheme
What is it?
The government launched the Recovery Loan Scheme, initially open to all UK businesses to access loans of between £25,000 and £10m. From 1 January, the scheme is only available to SMEs.
How does it work?
The Recovery Loan Scheme provides lenders with a guarantee of 70% on eligible loans, with the aim to provide confidence to lenders to support businesses through the scheme. The maximum amount of finance available to businesses is £2m per business. The scheme is open to all SME businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.
Who is it for?
The scheme is open to all SME businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You will be able to apply for a loan if your business is trading in the UK. You will need to show that your business:
- Is viable or would be viable were it not for the pandemic
- Has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic
- Is not in collective insolvency proceedings - further details will be provided in due course
- Business that have received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes will still be eligible to access finance under this scheme, if they meet all other eligibility criteria.
How do you apply?
Key points of small print
The scheme aims to help businesses affected by COVID-19 and can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including managing cashflow, investment and growth. It is designed to appeal to businesses that can afford to take out additional debt finance for these purposes. It can be taken alongside an existing COVID-19 loan. Features of the scheme include:
- From 1 January, the maximum amount of finance available is £2m per business.
- The minimum facility size varies. starting at £25,001 for loans and overdrafts and £1,000 for asset and invoice finance. The maximum length of the facility depends on the type of finance you apply for and will be: up to 3 years for overdrafts and invoice facilities and up to 6 years for loans and asset finance facilities
- No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000, and a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security
- Interest and fees to be paid by the business from the outset: Businesses will be required to meet the costs of interest payments and any fees associated with the facility
- Access to multiple schemes: Businesses who have taken out a CBILS, CLBILS or BBLS facility will be able to access the new scheme, although the maximum they are allowed to borrow will depend on their lender’s assessment and scheme requirements
- Credit checks for all applicants: Lenders will be required to undertake credit and fraud checks for all applicants. When making their assessment, lenders may overlook concerns over short-to-medium term performance owing to the pandemic. The checks and approach may vary between lenders.
When will it be available?
The scheme opened on 6 April. At the Autumn Budget, the government announced that the scheme has been extended until the 30 June 2022.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
These schemes closed on 31 March 2021. For further details on support to repay these loans, please see information on Pay As You Grow below for Bounce Back Loans. For CBILS please speak with your lender.
Bounce Back Loans and Pay As You Grow
These loans closed for new applications on 31 March 2021. The government has launched a new repayment framework for Bounce Back Loans that enables businesses to: Pay As You Grow
- Request an extension of their loan term to 10 years from six years, at the same fixed interest rate of 2.5%
- Reduce their monthly repayments for six months by paying interest only. This option is available up to three times during the term of their Bounce Back Loan
- Take a repayment holiday for up to six months. This option is available once during the term of their Bounce Back Loan.
Borrowers can use these options individually or in combination with each other and remain responsible for repaying their Bounce Back Loan and fully liable for the debt. Lenders will be in contact with businesses directly setting out the options available to them.
More information: Read more about the scheme at the British Business Bank.
There are devolved schemes operating in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales offering financial support to businesses as a result of the pandemic. View devolved government websites for more information: