Advice for SMEs: Take advantage of schemes and financial aid
If your business is affected by COVID-19 and you are in need of guidance, please get in touch with a member of our team.
It goes without saying that our number one priority is keeping our customers, employees and all stakeholders of our business safe whilst minimising any impact on our normal service levels. We have worked hard to ensure our products continue to work without interruption, although you may see a slight delay in our response times given our teams are typically working remotely currently.
As a provider of credit and cashflow to hard-working businesses across the UK, we know we have an important role to play in keeping businesses moving. To help further during these uncertain times, we want to take the pressure off the UK’s Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by providing help and guidance throughout the crisis on where SMEs can go for help when in financial need.
The UK government, banks and financial institutions have stepped in and put financial packages in place to support SMEs during this challenging period. We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the support options available and apply for one or more of the grants, loans and scheme options that you may qualify for without hesitation if you have, or will have, a liquidity problem caused by COVID-19.
All the support packages are designed to help businesses like yours to keep going and see you through the crisis at little or no cost. It should be noted that some schemes, such as the Coronavirus Business Loan Scheme, are interest free for the first 12 months, where after interest will be applied. As such, it’s important to always read the small print. And remember, most businesses that go bankrupt, don’t go bankrupt because they are unprofitable or badly run, but because they run out of cash.
We know that as business owners you are busy and short of time, so to make it easier for you, we have listed the main sources available. Here, you can fully familiarise yourself with the support available and how to apply.
In addition, we recommend that you read through the government’s own COVID-19 – Support for Businesses guidance. This gives clear information on each scheme with instructions on how to apply, as well as qualification criteria. It is updated daily and is the formal source of information from the UK government.
If you need more information on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CIBILS), we recommend visiting the British Business Bank’s website. There, you can find the details of all participating lenders with whom you can apply for the loan, with direct access to your preferred lender.
Finally, as an alternative trusted source for information, tips and help on how to mitigate risks during the Coronavirus crisis, visit the Federation for Small Businesses website.
The government has established a COVID-19 support page for SMEs to find out how to apply for various grants and relief packages. These include:
- A funding grant of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- A £25,000 grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property valued between £15,001 and £51,000
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- HMRC is delaying VAT and self-assessment payments
- HMRC has established the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – effectively a furlough scheme for companies affected by COVID-19 to help pay 80% of staff wages up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
- A Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
The British Business Bank has developed the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers loans of up to £5 million for SMEs interest free for 12 months, while it is also supporting larger businesses’ liquidity with a separate lending facility.
The Federation of Small Businesses is providing more information on eligibility and how to take advantage of grants and funds, while advising that the UK government will provide more financial help as the situation intensifies.
Helping your business cope with COVID-19
While it’s true to say that SMEs can’t control the impact that COVID-19 is having, there is help available to minimise the effects. If you need help, contact the above organisations to see what might be available. And remember, we are here to help too. You can access our FAQs here or explore all our COVID-19 related guidance here.