With Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown predicting further months of disruption and deadlines for emergency measures put in place to help business get through repeated lockdowns and Covid-19 trading restrictions nearing fast, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was under pressure to continue to help businesses in his Spring Budget.
Business leaders raised concern about a ‘cliff edge’ for business when support schemes were due to come to an end this Spring and some are warning that by extending the support measures, the Chancellor is simply kicking the problem further down the road.
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But with the road map predicting at least June until some normality returns, those hardest hit will need a lifeline to get through.
Here is the full rundown of the new schemes and end dates for schemes that are currently in place.
Furlough (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme)
The scheme was due to come to an end on April 30, 2021 but was extended until the end of September in the Spring Budget.
Employees will continue to get 80% of their wages. But businesses will be asked to make a contribution from July.
The government will ask for a contribution of 10% in July and 20% in August and September towards the hours their staff do not work.
Restart Grant scheme
£5billion of grant funding will be made available to businesses in England through the Restart Grant scheme from April. It aims to help firms in retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure and personal care get back on their feet as the lockdown ends and they are allowed to re-open.
Non-essential shops are the first to open in April, and can get grants up to £6,000.
Pubs, restaurants, gyms and salons will start to reopen months later where they can claim up to £18,000.
Full eligibility and details on how to apply have yet to be published but it will be handled by local government so keep an eye on your local council’s website.
Government backed loans
A new Recovery Loan Scheme will be launched on April 6 and runs until December 31. It replaces the existing government guaranteed schemes that close at the end of March. Details on how to apply here.
The Recovery Loan Scheme replaces the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
The end date for these loan schemes had been due to close at the end of January 2021 but have been extended until March 31.
The loan schemes have a 12-month interest-free payment holiday, which means that those who took up loans early will have to start paying it back in the coming months.
It was announced in February that borrowers under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme can delay all repayments for a further six months, meaning businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out. The option to pause repayments will now be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made.
The Pay as You Grow plan will also enable borrowers to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half) and make interest-only payments for six months, in order to tailor their repayment schedule to suit their individual circumstances.
The Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant
More than 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, will now be able to claim direct cash grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
The Government has now published details on how to apply for the fourth SEISS grant. The grant will be set at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500.
The fourth grant will take into account 2019 to 2020 tax returns and will be open to those who became self-employed in tax year 2019 to 2020. The rest of the eligibility criteria remain unchanged from the earlier grant schemes.
The temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to:
- hotel and holiday accommodation
- admissions to certain attractions
came into effect on July 15 2020 and will now stay in place beyond 31 March 2021. It will be extended for six months to the end of September, with an interim rate of 12.5% for another six months after that
Payment on VAT due between between 20 March and 30 June 2020 had been deferred to help businesses manage cashflow.
But the amount is now due in full on or before 31 March 2021.
There are options available beyond March with the new VAT deferral new payment scheme.
The online opt in process opened from 23 February up to and including 21 June 2021.
Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, businesses can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and early years nurseries in England have not had to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year, which ends on April 5, 2021.
- restaurant, café, bar or pub
- cinema or live music venue
- assembly or leisure property – for example, a sports club, a gym or a spa
- hospitality property – for example, a hotel, a guest house or self-catering accommodation
- Nursery on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
- Nursery providing care and education for children up to 5 years old ( early years foundation stage )
The Chancellor announced in his Spring Budget an extension of the business rates holiday for three months until the end of June before shifting to a two-thirds discount for the rest of the year.
Reduced rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) were introduced last year for residential properties purchased from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021 inclusive.
The Budget confirmed cuts to stamp duty will be extended. The £500,000 nil rate band will now end at the start of July, rather than March 31.
After that, the nil rate band will be £250,000 until the end of September and return to the usual level of £125,000 from October 1.
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