We are tracking all advice and developments regarding COVID-19 closely
in order to take measures to prevent the spread of infection and provide support to our members and the many thousands of companies in the UK advertising industry.
We urge all companies to check the following links to see whether they are eligible for Government support. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. Equally if you have any feedback on any of the Government schemes that you think would be useful for us to build into our ongoing conversations with Government, please let us know.
The following measures are detailed below:
- Job protection and promotion schemes
- Loan Schemes
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Support for the self-employed and freelancers
- Other support – including VAT deferral, sick pay relief, business rates relief and a ban on commercial evictions
- Workplace safety
- Further guidance and information
Plan for Jobs Schemes
Job Retention Bonus
Employers who keep furloughed employees on through to the end of January 2021 will be eligible for a £1000 retention bonus. Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (October 2020) and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021. Further detail about the scheme will be announced by the end of July.
Employers who create new positions for 16-24 year olds will be able to claim back funding equal to 25 hours of minimum wage per week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrollment contributions. Further details about how to claim for the scheme have not yet been announced.
Apprenticeships and Training
Companies hiring apprentices aged 16-24 will be eligible for a £2000 bonus, or £1500 for apprentices over 25. Employers will also receive £1000 to take on trainees. Further details about how to claim for the scheme have not yet been announced.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency has taken a number of steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis on apprenticeships, including allowing the modification of assessments, extending assessment time frames, and support for apprentices made redundant. More information can be found here.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:
This is a temporary loan scheme, primarily supporting SMEs with accessing bank lending and overdrafts.
You are eligible if:
The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan and will not charge businesses or banks for the guarantee. The scheme will support loans up to £5 million, and businesses can access the first 12 months interest free (Government will cover the first 12 months of interest). Here is the list of accredited lenders and partners.
The scheme is available from 23 March 2020, you can apply directly through any accredited lender.
Bounce Back Loans
Government will guarantee 100% of these loans, worth between £2,000 and £50,000. They will also cover the interest on the loans for the first year. These are term loans which can be repaid over 6 years.
Businesses can apply directly through their banks – accredited lenders can be found here.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This is an extension of the CBILS for medium and large businesses who are otherwise not eligible for CBILS or CCFF. Companies with a turnover of over £45m will be able to access loans of up to £50m, with government guaranteeing 80% of the loan.
Unlike the CBILS, government will NOT cover the first 12 months of interest. Businesses must also not be eligible for commercial financing.
Find out how to claim for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme here.
Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility
The Bank of England has launched the CCFF scheme to raise working capital for large firms, who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The Bank of England will buy short-term debt in the form of commercial paper of up to one year maturity.
Companies who wish to apply to the scheme must be:
- A non-finance company that makes a material contribution to the UK economy.
- In sound financial health – best demonstrated by a short-term rating of A3/P3/F3/R3 or above, or a long-term rating of BBB-/Baa3/BBB- or above by at least one of the major credit ratings agencies.
Each application will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you think that you are eligible for the CCFF you will need to liaise with your bank. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance has provided a list of banks who are able to assist here.
You can find more information through the Bank of England here.
This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to startups facing financing difficulties due to the pandemic, who may not be eligible for CBILS due to profitability requirements. Businesses must raise equal funding from private investors.
You can see the requirements and apply to the Future Fund here.
Job Retention Scheme
Businesses can furlough their employees, and government will cover 80% of wages up to £2,500 p/m. Employees will be kept on the company payroll even if they are not working. This will also cover backdated wages to March 1.
On 12 May it was announced that the JRS will continue until the end of October. The scheme will continue as-is until 30 June.
From 1 July, furloughed employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis through ‘flexible furlough’. They will continue to receive the same level of support (80% of wages up to £2,500 p/m) through a combination of government support and employer contribution. Employers will need to pay employees for the days worked (e.g. 2 p/w) and government will subsidise the remaining amount.
With the introduction of ‘flexible furlough’, new employees will not be able to be furloughed full time from 1 July. The deadline to place new employees on furlough is 10 June, in order to complete the mandatory 3-week minimum.
From 1 August, employers will need to pay NI and pension contributions for furloughed employees. Government will continue to pay 80% of wages, up to £2,500.
From September 1st employers will need to contribute 10% of wages, while government will cover 70%, up to £2,190.
From October 1st employers will need to pay 20% of wages, and government will cover the remaining 60%, up to £1,875.
The scheme is set to end on 31 October.
You are now able to claim for this scheme here.
Self-Employed and Freelancers
Self-employed Income Support Scheme
Self-employed and freelancers will be entitled to a taxable grant worth 80% of their average profit over the last 3 years, up to £2500 p/m. Payments will be provided on the basis of average earnings from the financial years 2016-17,17-18 and 18-19.
To be eligible you must:
- Make more than 50% of your income from self-employed activity
- Earn less than £50,000 p/a
- Have been self-employed in the 19/20 tax year (with a tax return for 2019)
- Continue to be self-employed for the 20/21 tax year
HMRC will directly contact those who are eligible based on the records that they hold and invite them to apply for the scheme. Payments will be deposited directly into bank accounts.
On 28 May it was announced this scheme would be renewed. On 1 August, self-employed and freelancers will be entitled to a taxable grant worth 70% of their average profit over the last 3 years, up to £6,570.
You can claim here.
Statutory Sick Pay for the Self-Employed
The minimum income floor for the self-employed has been lifted, meaning that they will be able to access Universal Credit at the rate of SSP for employees (£94.25 p/w).
Income Tax Deferral for Self-Employed
Self-assessment income payments have been deferred until January 2021. This is an automatic offer, no applications are required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged.
Small Business Grant Funding
The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses in England that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Other Business Support Measures
VAT deferred until June
VAT payments for the next quarter have been deferred, meaning businesses will not have to pay VAT from now until the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the Tax Year to repay.
Tax deferral through Time to Pay service
All firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. Each individual case is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have missed a tax payment due to COVID-19, or may miss your next payment you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. If you are worried about a future payment, call closer to the time.
Statutory Sick Pay Relief for SMEs
Employers with fewer than 250 people will be able to reclaim two weeks of SSP (£94.25 p/w) per employee for any employees who are off work because of Covid-19.
Employers will be able to make claims to the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May. Employers will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
You can find more information from HMRC here.
Business Rates relief
Business rates have been abolished for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, or those who qualify for small business rate relief.
Ban on evictions for commercial tenants
Commercial tenants who miss rent payments because of the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of June. Commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period. More information can be found here.
Redundancy Payments Service
If an employer cannot afford statutory redundancy payments they can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service for financial assistance. If approved the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments to employees on the employer’s behalf. More information can be found here.
3 month extension to file accounts with Companies House
Any business that has been impacted by the pandemic can apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts. Companies will still need to apply for the extension, but citing issues around COVID-19 will automatically and immediately grant the extension. More information can be found here.
Change to Right to Work checks
Right to Work checks have been temporarily adjusted to make it easier for employers to carry them out. Employers can complete Right to Work checks over video calls and prospective workers can submit scanned documents to employers. After the scheme has ended, employees will need to submit their physical documents in person.
Trade Credit Insurance Guarantee
Government have announced that they will temporarily guarantee trade business-to-business transactions currently supported by trade insurance. The policy is still under development and it is understood that any scheme will be introduced retrospectively. You can find more information here.
Workplace Specific Guidance
BEIS have issued workplace specific guidance for businesses on safe operating procedures. The guidance for offices can be found here, all other workplaces, here. All employees who can continue to work from home are asked to do so.
Further information and resource pages
Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
Department for International Trade & UK Export Finance
Department for Health information on COVID-19
Covid-19 Business Support
Covid-19 Business Support Finder Tool
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Guidance for Employers and Businesses
HMRC COVID-19 helpline regarding tax issues: 08000 241222 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)