What Central Government are offering

The government has a page which lists the various measures available and who is administering them: COVID-19: support for businesses

Millions of self-employed people whose business has been affected by coronavirus can apply for grants from the government from 13/5/2020. The Self Employed Income Support Scheme is designed to match the support being given to furloughed employees. For information about eligibility and how to apply, please see this page: Claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) changes

The government 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 two 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, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • the eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators 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. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

Government-backed loans available from Bank of England/British Business Bank

Government-backed loans to help pay for rent, salaries and supplies or to purchase stock will be available from the week commencing 23 March 2020. These will be delivered through two main schemes:

Small and medium sized businesses

To support lending to small and medium sized businesses - extending the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme with no interest due for the first six months: Business Interruption Loan Scheme information. Interest and fees on the loans will be paid by the government the first twelve months, making them interest free to customers. This period may be shorter for firms in the fishery, aquaculture and agriculture sectors.

The measures on 11th March included a term funding scheme aimed at SMEs delivered via the banks: Bank of England measures to respond to the economic shock from Covid-19. Ask your bank about support.

New 100% government backed loan scheme for small business 

The new Bounce Back Loans scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 27/4/2020, will allow businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and from Monday 4 May, businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. 

The Government, which has been consulting extensively with business representatives about the design of the new scheme, will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. 

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. Loans should reach businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible. 

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May. Firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders. The government will work with lenders to ensure loans delivered through this scheme are advanced as quickly as possible and agree a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan. 

The new scheme will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). 

The Government is also taking additional steps on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure that lenders have the confidence they need to process finance applications quickly, including removing the per lender portfolio cap for the government guarantee and changing the viability tests so that all banks will need to assess is whether a business was viable pre COVID-19.

Larger firms

Another scheme to support liquidity amongst larger firms: HM Treasury and the Bank of England launch a Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). There is webpage for the corporate financing facility. Information on the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF),  including which lenders to contact, is available on Bank of England’s website. Businesses can talk to their lenders from the start of the day (23/3/2020) about accessing these loans. To access the CCFF firms do not have to have previously issued commercial paper or currently have a credit rating – please take a look at the site to see what steps can be taken in order to participate. 

These support schemes sit alongside the announcement by the Chancellor of a Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme under which will provide a grant to employers to keep their workers on rather than make them redundant. Salaries will be paid at 80% of their current level up to a maximum of £2,500. These grants will be available by the end of April and in the meantime £30bn of cash flow relief has been provided through the deferment of VAT bills.

New free online learning platform to boost workplace skills

A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home, has been launched by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Free courses are available through The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

These are the skills which are highly valued by employers and sought after in a wide range of jobs. With more people expected to be working and studying remotely in the coming months, the platform offers a great opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace. Find out more information here.

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Page last updated: 13/05/2020