Feedback on Emergency COVID 19 Support Measures

 

Summary Table, outlining level of engagement, feedback from businesses and identified gaps and amendments- for all announced support measures.
The table, below, has been constructed around the information and feedback captured from direct dealings with businesses across the ENI network during the past week. It outlines (as at 31/03/2020): 

  • E: Level of engagement/activity, from businesses, with emergency measures so far
  • F: Feedback on measures, from 1,000s of business engagements with ENI network 
  • G: Gaps and suggested urgent amendments and additions, to the emergency measures, that have been highlighted.

 

Support Measure/Scheme Level of engagement(E) – Feedback from Business(F) – Needed urgently & Gaps (G)

25% Business Rates reduction

  • Available from 1st April ‘20.

E – Cashflow benefit will only slowly kick in from late April. 

F - Welcomed, in general, but only as a small contributor to immediate cliff-edge cash chokes that are occurring.

G - Should be extended to at least 6 months to contribute to business survival in coming year.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate (SMEs)

  • Cover up to 2 weeks SSP per employee who has been off work due to Covid-19

E – Businesses cash flowing this payment, whilst waiting on         advice from government on the system to reclaim.

F – Frustration – having to make payments with no clarity         yet as to when/how to reclaim.

G1. Clarity and 2. Sensitive cashflow support from banks          in short term

Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS)

  • Loans up to £5m, guaranteed by government. Government to cover first 12 months interest.
  • Range of borrowing should be accessible (loans, overdraft, asset and invoice finance)
  • Applications open from 23-03-20

E – Banks reporting that some loans have been disbursed.

Banks are not consistent in delivery.      

Businesses (in general) facing many unexpected hurdles and barriers.

F – Evidence of banks pushing traditional lending with interest      charges from start and looking for collateral, including PGs to         guarantee – anger emerging from many viable businesses who       need ‘survival’ support.

Many small businesses don’t have a ‘significant’ relationship with a bank so are not being welcomed to discuss CBILS.

G – Approved NI lenders must provide clear guidelines to businesses and must show that they have adhered to British   Business Bank rules on this scheme.       

Need to fast-track more approved lenders onto scheme in NI to widen the financial product offer, available to businesses.

Grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief - £10,000

 

 

 

E - Automatic payments have started to eligible businesses for which LPC hold bank account details. Portal established, through which other eligible businesses can apply. 

F - Welcomed, in general, but increasing calls for clarity and increasing number of businesses claiming they have missed out.  
 
G- 1. Confirmation of eligibility for small premises-based:

  • registered charities, 
  • manufacturing operations (industrial derating relief)
  • businesses paying combi (R&R) in shared space tenancies,
  • Businesses recently moved into premises but have yet to receive a rates ID
  • Businesses who occupy premises with NAV less than £1590.        

     2.  Many businesses (in bigger premises and no premises) need access, immediately to a £10k survival grant.
 
 

 

£25,000 grants to retail, hospitality & tourism businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

E - Details of how/when to be announced soon
 
F - Broadly welcomed – critical, however, that disbursement is       immediate as eligible businesses have experienced a sudden       termination of income but still have local suppliers to pay, wages to pay until staff retention kicks in and a range of fixed costs and overheads to service.

 

 

Job Retention Scheme – Grant to cover 80% of furloughed employees wages cost (employees kept on payroll, rather than being laid off) – capped at £2,500 per month.

E – Businesses to apply online when HMRC system for         reimbursement is available.
 
F-
Broadly welcomed, but increasing concern about small/micro      businesses ability to cashflow payments to furloughed employees      when waiting for scheme to be available and increasing requests      for advice on how to furlough employees (duty of care and legal      protection perspectives).
 
G- 
See below:

  • Flexible cashflow support from banks until scheme kicks in.
  • Amend scheme to support employees get a top-up to 80% of wages if work is reduced to 2 or 3 days per week       
  • Extend the scheme to Directors of micro companies who take income as dividends – 80% of evidenced income up to £2,500 pm    
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme - taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits (averaged over last 1-3 years) up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. 

E - Most recently introduced. Not available until June.
 
F -
Broadly welcomed but increasing evidence of a significant        number of self-employed being missed with this first iteration        and a wave of concern around having to survive to June for        many who’s sales have just stopped completely.

G - Immediate amendment needed so as to provide for start-ups and newly self-employed from during the past 12 months (they      miss out with first iteration) 

Self-employed and your earnings ceased or have been negatively impacted, you can claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria – and you aren’t eligible for above. Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed from 6th April

E - Less people, now that the measures above have been       introduced
 
F -
Angst around possibly receiving only £94 with business loans, mortgages and living expenses to pay. Evidence of long waiting times to be seen/assessed…adding to the stress.
 
G -
Immediate amendment of Self-Employed Income Support       Scheme needed, so as to provide for start-ups and newly self-employed from during the past 12 months -(they miss out with first iteration)

Tax payment deferral (selfemployed) Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the SelfAssessment system will be deferred to January 2021. 

E – Likely to be general uptake of this measure.

 
F -
Broadly welcomed by businesses.

VAT deferral.  No business will pay any VAT from 23rd March to end of June; and will have until the end of the financial year to repay those deferred bills.

E – No need to apply so all VAT paying businesses likely to avail of this. However, depending on timing the cashflow impact might be slight in the first instance. 

F - Broadly welcomed, but businesses already concerned about heavier VAT commitments for rest of year during what looks like dismal performance.

G - This should be extended to next 2 quarters with deferred bills repaid during Y/E March ’22, with no interest charges.

‘Time to Pay’ support from HMRC: HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties
E – Likely to be general uptake of this measure.
 
F -
Broadly welcomed by businesses but concerns around pushing HMRC debt into the near future to a period of real uncertainty.
 
G -
Accounting practices need to provide pro-active advice and guidance to their clients.