The global death toll from Covid-19 has exceeded 183,000, with more than 18,000 deaths here in the UK. With the country currently at the peak of the outbreak and case numbers beginning to plateau, the government is expected to release details of a lockdown exit strategy. However, the timing of these restrictions being eased is critical, due to fears of a second peak. With many businesses closed and under significant strain, we take a look at the latest business developments this week.
High street shops protected from aggressive rent collection
High street stores and other businesses which are under financial strain will be asked only to pay what they can during the pandemic. Although the majority of landlords are working with businesses to reach agreements, there are some tenants which have been subjected to significant pressure. To ease these aggressive tactics the government has banned statutory demands and winding up orders, in situations where a business is in arrears because of coronavirus. Landlords will also be prevented from using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery unless a tenant owes more than 90 days of rent.
Local authorities receive grant funding
The UK has distributed £12.3 billion to local authorities across England, which will be used to provide cash grants to many businesses. Any businesses which are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief will receive a £10,000 small business grant. In addition, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, will receive a grant of £25,000. If a business operates more than one property, they will receive separate grants for each property. There is no need to apply for the grants, as local authorities are contacting all eligible businesses.
Government launches a coronavirus business support finder tool
A new support tool has been designed to help businesses and those who are self-employed find available financial support. The tool is available on the GOV.UK website in the form of an online questionnaire, with questions designed to assess eligibility for the various financial support packages available. It is hoped that the tool will enable struggling businesses to quickly find support in the form of grants, loans, subsidies, and rates relief.
Financial support available to innovative businesses
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a new £1.25 billion support package designed to protect firms which drive innovation. The package is designed to provide investment funds for high-growth companies and SMEs with a focus on research and development. The targeted scheme provides loans of up to £750 million, with an aim to protect the most dynamic and rapidly growing businesses in the country. The loan fund is known as the Future Find and will launch in May, with any loans automatically converting into equity on the company’s next qualifying round, or at the end of the loan term of it has not been repaid.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme goes live
The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live on 20 April, with eligible businesses able to claim up to 80% of every furloughed employees usual monthly wage, up to a cap of £2,500. Employers can apply for the cash grants through a new online portal, with grants expected to be paid within 6 working days. The scheme was initially expected to finish on 31st May, however due to the ongoing lockdown measures the scheme has been extended until the end of June.
Despite the support designed to help businesses through the pandemic, there are many which remain vulnerable. However, here at BusinessComparison we can help you find competitive deals on a range of financial products. Whether you are looking to ease cash flow with a business loan or reduce outgoings by comparing business insurers, we can help. To find out more about our comparison services, please contact the team today.