I will now be sharing our weekly digest email content as a blog post here. The first one is right below...
The Weekly Meeting
Last weeks meeting is now available on Zoom and can be seen at the following link
Please note that as of this week we are changing the date and time.
The next meeting is 10:30 on Wednesday 29 April
Input from Caroline Lucas
EPIC member Becky Stevens had the following email back from Caroline Lucas MP. Not much in about future help at the moment but very good to know somethings are being thought about and discussed
Thank you for getting in touch and for your patience waiting to hear back from me.
I have been raising the urgent need for the self-employed scheme to be developed further to give support to limited company directors amongst others. It’s very useful to know a little about your personal situation and the company you run, as it helps me make the strongest possible case - so thank you for sharing those details.
In short – I completely agree that the SEISS has significant gaps. I set out my concerns earlier this month in a letter to the Treasury, which you can read here:https://www.carolinelucas.com/caroline/parliament/letter/letter-to-the-treasury-about-gaps-in-the-self-employed-income-support These are also all points I have been raising in daily briefings with Ministers too and this is the latest official advice published further to those briefings and concerning the matter of dividends:
● We understand there are still concerns surrounding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and we are continuing to engage with relevant departments to get further information. ● Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages, and is not eligible for support. This is because HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are not able to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, so do not have a clear mechanism through which to support dividend income from an individual’s own company, without also supporting dividend income from other investments. You can find more information on eligibility for SEISS here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19- self-employment-income-support-scheme ● However, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is available to all employers, so individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme may instead be eligible for this scheme, subject to meeting the requirements of the scheme - please see if you are eligible here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavir us-job-retention-scheme
To date, I have not had a specific response back from the Treasury to my letter but I am continuing to raise the SEISS at every opportunity and the lack of action was one of the many reasons I called for Parliament to be recalled (see here for more details). MPs are now sitting again so there will be more chances to stand up on your behalf and on behalf of the many other constituents facing similar challenges.
Overall I would argue that the current packages of support for businesses like yours have significant gaps and I have been calling for a range of other core support measures for businesses and individuals, including:
A temporary capped universal basic income for every UK resident.
Tax deferral through HMRC’s time to pay scheme so there is a significant and immediate temporary boost to cashflow.
A holiday on council tax, with central Government making up the loss of revenue for local authorities.
A suspension of no-fault evictions or the eviction of anyone affected by the coronavirus crisis and a freeze on rental payments for those affected (with compensation for landlords for the lost rent).
An urgent suspension of all business taxes.
Extended access to the small business grant scheme
Allowing employers to use the apprenticeship levy cost to contribute towards salary costs rather than just training, enabling them to divert all available funds to help pay employment costs.
A temporary employer national insurance contributions holiday
As you will know, there has been some progress on some of these calls - and I remain committed to securing more. This isn’t everything that businesses like yours need but, coupled with improvements to the SEISS, I hope it would make a real difference to your company and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
I am speaking with Ministers most days, asking questions in Parliament, raising issues in writing and so forth. I wish there were easy and quick fixes for all those who are struggling because of this pandemic but the Government’s strategy has clearly identified priorities. In continuing to press for measures that will give help to those who need it right now and mean our economy is not on its knees when the crisis is over, I am trying to make the case for an approach that’s as comprehensive and fair as possible. Small companies like yours are a vital part of Brighton and Hove’s hitherto thriving local economy and we need to do our utmost to protect against their disappearance.
If you need any more information about how I am trying to help, please do let me know and I hope you and yours are staying well.
Best wishes, Caroline
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
I have been asked to providde case studies to the council of possible bisinesses that, on the surface, have been rejected from the currnet grant funds but a case could be made that they should be accepted. If you have any ideas please let me know ASAP. Some members are already feeding into the project.
Find out more about theSmall Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).
Government Updates (Thank you NOEA for these!)
A new ‘support finder’ tool has been launched to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to determine what financial support is available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tool on gov.uk asks business owners and the self-employed to fill out a simple online questionnaire.
Users are then directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for. Read more about the tool here.
Collated Advice for Charity Sector
The Government has collated all the advice and support available to the Charity Sector together on one page. This includes sectors on guidance for workers, guidance on fundraising and funding opportunities and guidance on Volunteers
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open for applications. The scheme helps large businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access loans of up to £25 million.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. The blog contains additional information and resources, including:
case studies from businesses who have or will be accessing government support
Coronavirus testing extended to all essential workers in England who have symptoms
The Government has extended Coronavirus testing to all essential workers and their families if they exhibit symptoms. It is important to note that this testing is available to tourism and hospitality workers who are providing accommodation for key workers or the homeless or who are providing food services.
Tests can be booked through a new online system. From today, employers can register and refer self-isolating staff, and from tomorrow employees will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are experiencing symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough.
Stand Out Research
Some have been successful. Others haven't. Stand Out would like to compile a series of test cases/examples that can be shared with the wider community.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have been successful in applying for rate relief.
We want those businesses that have not been successful to go back to their local authority, or their local MP, with information that event businesses are legible for rate relief. Please get in touch. It's vital that our industry supports each other in every way that it can.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) invites you to take part in a survey being conducted to understand the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on organisations in the digital, creative, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms, and tourism sectors and their engagement with the available government interventions.
This survey has been commissioned by DCMS to better understand the needs of its stakeholders. Your answer will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts.
We encourage organisations in the digital, creative, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms, and tourism sectors to respond. The survey should take around 10-20 minutes. The deadline for responses to the survey will be at23:59 GMT on 15/05/2020.
Please follow the link below to begin submitting your response: DCMS Business Impacts of Coronavirus Survey
CBIL. Some members experience
Many thanks to Anne-Marie and John Cass for sharing their thoughs on their experience with this. Please see their input below
I'm currently speaking to a number of our lenders and brokers as it is virtually impossible to get through to a bank at the moment to get any infomation.
I have attached a couple of documents that might be able to guide you through the process. some sensitive information has been omitted.
I'm finding that with B2B finance the help and information provided has come in very handy. As a bunch of ex bankers the guy i'm dealing with is assisting me to make sure i complete the form correctly and am asking for a loan within the companies means.
See the last page of the "B2B Finance Application" where you can find the checklist of what the banks are asking for.
The key here is to also provide a statement of where you see your company provailing after the lockdown and moving in to the future.
B2B finance will charge me £399.00 to process the entire application only if they see that I have a 90% chance that I will be accepted.
if you desire to go at it alone the first port of call has to the bank your company banks with.
Just a quick update from our experience/ professional advice:
We’re going to Lloyds direct for a loan, who we’ve been banking with for 20 years.
We weren’t going to do so until the loans up to £250k personal guarantee was scrapped, which it has now been- that was on advice from our accountant, which turned out to be accurate.
Therefore, those that went for a loan before government pressure on the banks would have seen a different position.
The amount to request in our case needed to be less than 50% of our payroll bill for the year, amongst other criterion.
In our case, we have a lot on payroll so that’s ok.
For companies who don’t deal in people, that may be harder to manage
Whatever people ask for- the lenders will need to determine it based on
over the period requirement.
I.E. Anyone going for a loan should only go for what they can prove to need and prove they are likely to be able to pay back.
We went for much less than the maximum offer for a shorter period than it was offered (up to 6 years)- and lenders will look favourably on that.
The loan will remain interest free for 1 year with no penalty to pay it back in full before then.
We are also going out for a part overdraft increase so we don’t have to pay for it until we use it- so we’ll see what they say there.
It’s worth an ask rather than just assuming a loan is the only option with banks.
We’re only at eligibility stage but have passed that.
Those are my tips from the process so far- and after writing all of this, we still may not get it.
I only know of a few companies who have opened up to talk honestly on this, so not sure if our experience is shared…..
Any more experiences please send them in and I’ll get them out to the group!
And Finally…Some resources
The following have been shared by members and are well worth a view:
Very useful resource- https://thecovidtelegraph.com/
Aiming to be the collective resource for information across the UK