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Coronavirus resources for SMEs

We’ll be updating this page daily and sending out regular briefings with all the new information that’s been added.

We are living in unprecedented times. And because of this, the Government is introducing unprecedented measures to support businesses through this difficult period. The current and rapidly changing advice on Covid-19 can be overwhelming but we want to help you get the full picture.

We’ve compiled this resource hub to provide some more clarity for SMEs who are looking for more information on the provisions and support available to them. We’ll keep this page as up to date as possible, but for all the latest information and measures the Government is taking to support employees, employers and businesses, please visit the UK Government website.

Latest updates

  • May 26th— The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme launches today. If you’re a business with fewer than 250 employees, apply here.
  • May 25th—Boris Johnson sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June. Subject to the Government’s coronavirus tests and if they follow safety guidelines, outdoor markets and car showrooms in England will be permitted to reopen from 1st June and all other non-essential retail in England from 15th June.
  • May 20th—Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances.
  • May 20th—The government’s Future Fund, which supports companies that have raised at least £250,000 in equity from investors, has opened for applications.
  • May 19th—The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme is being expanded from 26 May. The maximum loan size available has been increased from £50m to £200m.
  • May 19th—The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch on 26 May. The Scheme will repay employers the SSP paid to current or former employees, covering a period of up to two weeks. If you’re a business with fewer than 250 employees, find out how you can prepare.
  • May 18th—The UK Treasury has released further details on the Future Fund today which is due to launch this Wednesday. Further details below.
  • May 15th—Up to £90 million is available in continuity grants, paid upfront, to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19. Apply here.
  • May 12th—The chancellor has extended the government’s furlough scheme from June to October. The scheme will continue at 80% of an employees pay. Employers will be encouraged to bring workers back at least part-time from August – and share the wage cost with the Government.
The rapidly evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak means that information and advice can change quickly. For all the latest information and measures the Government is taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.

Loans and Grants

The Future Fund

  • Now open for applications – link to apply here.
  • Announced by the Chancellor on 20 April, the Future Fund issues convertible loans to innovative UK companies with good potential, that typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19.
  • The scheme, will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and the recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. The Scheme is designed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank.
  • The Government has made £250 million available for the Future Fund, and will keep this amount under review. The scheme is initially open for applications until the end of September 2020.
  • UK-based companies provided with between £125k and £5m in government support, with third-party investors at least matching the government commitment. This means the minimum loan to a company is £250k with no maximum, since there is no upper limit on the amount that additional investors may co-invest.
  • Scheme operates on a commercial basis to deliver an initial commitment of £250m of new government funding.
  •  Financing will be unlocked by additional third-party investment on a match funded basis.
  • The lead investor (not necessarily the largest investor) has to submit the application.
  • Applications submitted via an online platform based on a set of standard terms and eligibility criteria.
  • Applications are expected to take a minimum of 21 days from initial application to funding being awarded, according to the BBB.
    • Eligibility criteria:
  • Companies must be UK-incorporated and if part of a corporate group, only the parent company is eligible.
  •  Companies in receipt of the loans will be required to have previously raised at least £250k in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
  • Only eligible companies that can attract at least 50% of third-party investment will receive funding.
  • Companies cannot have any of their shares traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venue.
  • The company must have been incorporated on or before 31 December 2019.
  • At least one of the following must be true for the company:
    • – Half or more employees are UK based
    • – Half or more revenues are from UK sales
  • Full details on what information startups will need to provide as part of the application process are listed via these FAQs.
  • For more details click here.

Bounce Bank Loan Scheme 

  • The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. They will be able to access this cash within days of applying.

  • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
  • Banks will only be able to charge 2.5% interest once the interest free period for the first 12 months is over.
  • Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
  • The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.
  • You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
  • The new Bounce Back Loans scheme is now open for applications.

  • You can find further information about the scheme, including eligibility, here.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, who are an accredited lender, will enable businesses with a turnover less than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £5m (increased from £1.2 million), with the UK government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.
  • Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the government for an initial period of up to twelve months, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
  • The aim is to increase the supply of credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises and provide business advice services.
  • CBILS went live on the 23rd March and you can access the scheme through participating lenders via the British Business Bank.
  • There is further information for small businesses on the CBILS businesses and advisors page and there are 40+ accredited lenders currently participating in the scheme.
  • Larger businesses will be able to access the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, where the Bank of England will help them raise working capital by the purchase of short term debt. This scheme is now available, more information can be found from the British Business Bank.
  • Also, as of 3rd of April larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help – with state-backed loans of up to £25m available to firms with revenues of between £45m-500m. Updates to follow, watch this page.
  • Following clarification from the British Business Bank that all EIS and SEIS funded companies will qualify for the scheme the EIS Association (EISA)—the official trade body for the Enterprise Investment Scheme—have issued a statement supporting the CBILS scheme . “EISA notes and welcomes the new CBILS scheme, given its innovative design the benefits received by SMEs do not limit SMEs ability to access EIS and SEIS Funding – so this is a powerful and complementary scheme”.
  • The EISA have also clarified with the British Business Bank that if you have had de minimis aid in the past your business can still get the CBILS funding, as long as you meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria.  More information can be found in this document.
  • UPDATE 3rd of April 
  • Coronavirus Emergency business loan scheme revamped after criticism. The British Business Bank have released these following updates to the scheme:
    • CBILS has now been significantly expanded meaning more smaller businesses across the UK impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic can access the funding they need.
    • Access to CBILS has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS starting from Mon 6 April.
    • Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the CBILS.
    • Personal guarantees cannot be taken for facilities under £250K by any lender under the scheme.
    • Personal guarantees may be required for facilities above £250K but will be capped at 20% of the outstanding balance after business asset recoveries.
    • Changes should be retrospectively applied by lenders for any CBILS facilities offered since 23 March 2020.
    • However, the Treasury has not capped the interest rates banks can charge. For further information from the government click here.

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

    • Introduced on Friday 20th March, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will allow all UK businesses to continue to pay employees that would have otherwise been laid off due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • To access this scheme employees will need to be designated as ‘furloughed workers’ and notified.
    • The definition of ‘furlough’ is to allow or to force someone to be temporarily absent from their employment.
    • In this case, HMRC will cover 80% of the wages of furloughed employees, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
    • The scheme has been backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for 3 months.
    • You can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for.
    • HMRC have confirmed that PAYE salaried limited company directors can furlough themselves but only perform statutory duties.
    • Extended eligibility: Employers can now claim for employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.
    • Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough. 
    • The system of reimbursement launched on the 20th April. First payments through the system will be made by 30 April (ensure you register by the 22nd April to get money in before the end of the month).
    • Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. 
    • Keep your eye on the government’s official guidance page for updates. Acas also have some useful advice on furloughing employees.

    Small Business Grant Scheme

    • With the launch of the Budget 2020 it was announced that there would be a £3,000 cash grant for 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses to be delivered by local authorities. Following the chancellor’s announcement on the 17th March this grant was increased to £10,000.
    • All businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief are eligible for a £10,000 grant in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
    • The local authorities will contact you if you are eligible.
    • Further guidance on the scheme is still yet to be delivered and funds will not be available until early April, but keep an eye out on the government’s COVID-19 Support for Businesses page for more information.

    Business Rates Relief and Grants for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses

    • Rishi Sunak has announced that all retail and hospitality firms will be exempt from paying business rates for 12 months. This reduction applies in England for tax year 2020-21. It was initially introduced in the Budget for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000; however this limit was scrapped on the 17th March, meaning that business rates relief now applies to all retail, leisure, and hospitality businesses.
    • There will be additional grants of £25,000 offered to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000. More information from the government on eligibility here.
    • The rateable values for the £25,000 cash grant differ as follows:
      • A rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 in England.
      • A rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 in Wales.
      • A rateable value of between £18,000 and £15,000 in Scotland.
      • A rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000 in Northern Ireland.
    • According to the government the business rates relief will apply in your next council tax bill in April 2020; more information about this can be found here.
    • The government has said you do not need to do anything. Your local authority will notify you by a letter if you are eligible for this grant. However, several councils are requiring businesses to fill in an online form as they don’t hold details for all companies.
    • Guidance for local authorities on the scheme has yet to be provided. However, any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority, you can search for yours here.
    • For now, you can estimate the business rate you will no longer have to pay using the government business rates calculator.

    Other grants

    • Enterprise Nation has teamed up with Salesforce, the global leader in CRM technology, to deliver grants of £5k to small UK businesses. Applications are being opened to different regions throughout June and July, more details about dates can be found here.
    • Alpro has launched the In It Together fund to support independent coffee shops. UK businesses with no more than five outlets can apply for a £2,500 grant. More details here.
    • The publisher of the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, the i and Metro is offering £3m in newspaper advertising to small businesses.
    • Clear Channel, which offers digital display outdoor advertising, is offering free advertising to 250 small businesses.
    • Sky has launched a campaign providing £1m in free television advertising to 100 small businesses.
    • Arts Council England have a number of funding opportunities for organisations and individuals within the arts.
    • Big Society Capital has announced a £100m programme of loans and investment to help fund social enterprises, charities and small businesses in disadvantaged parts of the UK. 
    • Digital Catapult has  opened applications for an impact-driven accelerator programme designed to provide practical solutions to urgent challenges in the fields of the circular economy and digital citizenship. Closes Wednesday 6th May.
    • The Prince’s Trust and NatWest have launched £5 million Enterprise Relief Fund. They will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. 
    • Facebook has pledged $100 million (around £83 million) to small businesses that use its apps around the world to help them survive the coronavirus crisis. The money will be shared across 30,000 organisations in more than 30 countries where Facebook employees live and work. The fund will be delivered as cash grants and advertising credits to use on Facebook’s ad platform.
    • UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million to support development of 5G enabled transport innovations.
    • UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million for advanced materials R&D projects partnering with EUREKA country organisations, including South Korea. 
    • UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £4 million for collaborative R&D projects addressing major cyber security challenges in the Internet of Things.
    • On the Innovate UK competitions page you can see if there are any grants that could be applied for on behalf of your business. Do note that these grants are paid in arrears.
    • Google recently announced that they will be offering $340 million globally in Google Ads credits to small businesses that have an account with them. They will also be putting $200 million into an investment fund that will “support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital.” To read the full announcement click here.
  • COVID-19 research support and funding

    • The launch of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard have committed up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments.
    • NHSX is calling on all innovators who can support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for government funding of up to £25,000 to test their solution.
    • Unprecedented is a hub for businesses directly engaged in the fight against Covid-19. It is a place to find mentors, partners and investment to help businesses get support.
    • UK Research & Innovation is offering funding for ideas that address the COVID-19 crisis. Funding available for projects of up to 18 months in duration and their is no closing date.
    • A new Accelerator run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is offering free support to help SMEs rapidly innovate during the COVID-19 crisis.

Active funds

We’re actively tracking all the UK funds that have completed investments since government measures came into force in mid-March. This is a list of active funds in the past two weeks and we’ll update this list regularly.

Last updated: 18th May 2020

Fund Fund manager
Angel CoFund
Angel CoFund
Balderton Capital
Balderton Capital
Backed VC
Backed VC
Beacon Capital
Beacon Capital
BGF Growth Capital
BGF
Blackfinch Ventures
Blackfinch Ventures
Blenheim Chalcot
Blenheim Chalcot
Calculus Capital
Calculus Capital
Deepbridge Venture Capital
Deepbridge Capital
Downing
Downing
Frog Capital
Frog Capital
Force Over Mass Capital
Force Over Mass Capital
Greater London Investment Fund
MMC Ventures
Highland Capital Partners Europe
Highland Capital Partners Europe
Index Ventures
Index Ventures
Mercia EIS Fund
Mercia Asset Management
Merian Chrysalis Investment Company
Merian Global Investors
Mobeus Equity Partners
Mobeus Equity Partners
North East Venture Fund
Mercia Asset Management PLC
Notion Capital
Notion Capital Partners LLP
Octopus Ventures
Octopus Group
Pentech Ventures
Pentech Ventures
Pontaq
Pontaq
Praetura Ventures
Praetura Ventures
Redrice Ventures
Redrice Ventures
Seneca Partners
Seneca Partners
Triple Point Investment
Triple Point
True (Startup innovators)
True
University of Oxford Innovation Fund (UOIF)
Parkwalk Advisors

Tax Payment Deferrals

HMRC’s ‘Time to Pay’ service expansion

  • Those in financial distress due to coronavirus may be eligible for HMRC’S Time to Pay service which allows SMEs and those who are self-employed to defer tax payments.
  • Decisions on how much extra time businesses get to pay are agreed on a case-by-case basis with HMRC.
  • HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business has problems meeting its filing obligations or paying its taxes due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses should contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559. HMRC have made an extra 2,000 call handlers available to cope with the increased demand.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments

  • Applying from 20th March to 30th June, the government has suspended VAT for three months.
  • All UK businesses are eligible.
  • For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
  • There is no need to apply, it is an automatic offer, refunds and reclaims to be paid as usual.
  • Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.

Refunds on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch on 26 May.
  • The Government has announced that UK businesses with less than 250 employees can reclaim the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for those eligible employees who take up to 14 days off sick as a result of coronavirus.
  • The size of an employer will be determined by the number of employees they have had as of 28th February.
  • Those who are self-employed or not eligible for sick pay can claim Employment and Support Allowance immediately, rather than having to wait until day eight as was previously the case.
  • 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.
  • The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.
  • It is important employers maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a note from their GP.
  • In the case that evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 Online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS Website.

Further Relief Options

The importance of maintaining cash-flow for SMEs

  • £30 million funding is now available for innovations to help revolutionise the way we fly.
  • Simple Usability are giving away a customer insights package worth £5,000 to one lucky startup. Find out more here.
  • Both the Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner are calling on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease COVID-19 related cash flow issues.
  • This has been backed by the Entrepreneurs Network, British Chambers of Commerce, Enterprise Nation, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors, IPSE, and ICAEW.
  • Morrisons have implemented such measures and announced that their suppliers who have between £100k and £1m turnover will receive immediate payment upon presentation of their invoice. For other suppliers with less than £100k in turnover they will need to wait 14 days.
  • To battle the cash flow crisis, Tesco have pledged with “immediate effect” to pay small suppliers within five days, rather than the usual 14.
  • On the 25th March, Sainsbury’s pledged to help smaller suppliers during the coronavirus emergency by paying them immediately and making finance available.
  • Unilever have announced they are helping customers and suppliers during the pandemic with €500m cash flow relief. They will also facilitate early payment for their most vulnerable small and medium sized suppliers to help them with financial liquidity.
  • Enterprise Nation has teamed up with Crowdfunder to offer support via live chat and launch ‘Pay it Forward’, a scheme designed to help small businesses pre-sell their services on the promise that their customers can redeem them later. Already over £1,000,000 has been raised!
  • eBay UK has launched a 30-day payment holiday for all 300,000 UK businesses registered on the site. New businesses registering will not have to pay any fees to list or sell until 31 May 2020.
  • Twenty startup organisations including Tech London Advocates and The Entrepreneurs’ Network have launched a campaign called Save Our Startups (SOS) and have written an open letter to the PM calling for better support measures.

Other Resources

Technology to help support your business work from home

  • Launched by Pearson, UK Learns is offering hundreds of courses designed to support workers who find themselves either furloughed or out of work owing to COVID-19. 
  • Digital Boost is a new service helping small businesses and charities boost their digital skills. Sign up here for early access to free expert advice through virtual 1-to-1 sessions and hands-on workshops. Brought to you by F4S and BCGDV.
  • Search Marketing Consultant Micheal Brennan has created a free course, to teach businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 how to grow their website traffic and perform better on Google.
  • Playfair Capital is hosting a remote edition of its Female Founder Office Hours event. 30 VCs will join to discuss how we can increase access to funding and support.
  • The video communications provider Zoom has created some resources to help you work from home.
  • SeedLegals is allowing businesses to create a free Work from Home policy.
  • Google is providing free access to the enterprise version of Hangouts Meet to all G-Suite and G-Suite for Education users.
  • Cisco is offering the free version of its Webex service with no time restrictions. In addition, it will allow up to 100 meeting participants and has added toll-free dial-in features with a 90-day license for businesses that are not already customers.
  • Cafe X has made Challo – a collaboration service that helps you stay connected with your clients, teams and partners – available for free until July 1st.
  • Facebook’s Business Hub is now available for all businesses to access. Previously a resource for Facebook employees and health experts, it will now be opened up to the wider world.
  • VC Cafe has compiled a list of 100+ startups offering free products and services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • durhamlane, in partnership with TWM, are offering a free, comprehensive 10 week e-learning program focusing on sales development. This content is designed to reinvigorate sales best practice and help retain a winning mindset whilst based at home. Find more about the course here.
  • Please note as a result of the increased numbers of people working from home, there is an increased risk of online fraudulent activity such as phishing scams and ransomware. As a starting point, the charity anti-fraud Take Five has published advice on steps you can take to protect your business from these scams during the outbreak.
 

Ensure you look after your mental wellbeing

  • With all the emotional and financial pressures at the moment, you might be feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus. Mental health charity Mind has published some useful advice with simple things you can do to combat this and look after your mental wellbeing. Included in this are plans for staying at home if you need to self isolate, tips for managing anxiety and how to keep up with the latest news without it affecting your mental health.

General Useful Links