EDA COVID-19 Business Bulletin

April 15, 2020

You’ll find summary information below, but we’ve created a dedicated COVID-19 Hub. Simply use the button below to go straight there.

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Bulletins and downloads

You can also view our recent bulletins and information here:

Issued Tues 14 April 2020: Version 3 of the  Construction Site Operating Procedures authored by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and circulated by the EDA.

Thursday 19 March 2020: COVID-19 Bulletin from the EDA CEO, Margaret Fitzsimons

Is your business based in Scotland?

The EDA is representing your interests through the Construction Industry Corona Virus Forum.

This Forum is coordinated by SELECT, Scotland’s trade association for electrical contractors, and involves many trade associations right across the construction sector. If you have any questions about the Forum please call Anne at the EDA on 020 3141 7354.

Summary of financial support – updated Wed 15 April 2020

Deferring VAT payment

VAT can be deferred from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

  • All UK businesses are eligible and it is automatic, you do not need to apply
  • Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period
  • Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.
  • VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Direct Debits: Don’t forget that if you normally pay by DD you should cancel it in good time before HMRC attempts to collect.

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay Service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to support through HMRC’s Time to Pay Service.

If you have missed a tax payment due to COVID-19, or you might miss your next payment, please call the HMRC’s helpline on 0800 0159 559

Job Retention Scheme (or Furloughed Workers)

Furlough means a leave of absence. It is a term more commonly used in the US than the UK.

You ask your employees to stop working but retain them on your books so they can be brought back when you need them. It’s worth repeating, that you cannot ask your employees to do any work that makes money for your organisation or provides services for your organisation. They can can take part in volunteer work or training.

Here’s how it works:

  1. HMRC will reimburse 80 per cent of an employee’s wages, up to £2,500 a month
  2. If you are a Director and pay yourself by PAYE, you can also use the Scheme, but you must still be able to meet your statutory duties.
  3. This is a grant, not a loan
  4. The Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and is initially open for 3 months but may be extended.
  5. All UK businesses are eligible
  6. It is anticipated that the first payments will be made at the end of April 2020
  7. You have to furlough an employee for a 3 weeks minimum but it can be roll-on roll-off. So, you can furlough them for 3 weeks, bring them back for a week, and furlough them again for 3 weeks and so on
  8. If furloughed, your employees can accrue holiday, so they will still be entitled to take leave at full pay.

You should check the contracts of employment you have issued and you will, of course, need to communicate the furlough decision to those employees affected, and you should follow this up in writing. Make it clear that they should not work during this period.

ACAS has created a template letter for employers and you can download it here.

You submit information to HMRC via a new online portal. The portal is not yet live, but the launch date is expected to be Monday 20 April 2020 with payments made by the end of the month.

However, you can start planning now by gathering this information together:

  • your employer PAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • National Insurance Numbers for the employees you want to furlough
  • Names of the employees you want to furlough
  • Payroll/works number for the employees you want to furlough
  • your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

You will find more information about how the Job Retention Scheme works here.

You may find this ACAS furlough letter template useful.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) for SMEs – open for applications: updated Monday 6 April 2020

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for this loan scheme to help SMEs (with turnover of up to £45 million) with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

In summary:

  • All viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, are eligible
  • The scheme will run for an initial period of 6 months
  • Personal guarantees are not required to secure lending below £250,000
  • For any borrowing above £250,000, personal guarantees will be capped at 20% of the outstanding value of the loan. The Government is providing the guarantee for the remaining 80% of the finance.

Before applying for a CBIL, please contact your bank/lender to discuss a load or extended overdraft. The CBIL is a secondary option, if other credit is unavailable.

If you decide to apply for a CBIL, please talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers listed here on the British Business Bank’s (BBB) website – note the British Business Bank is not one of the providers.

If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments, you may also want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

You can find more details about the CBIL here on the UK Finance website.

£10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme

This scheme provides support for businesses that pay little or no business rates with a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet ongoing business costs.

You do not need to apply because your local authority will write to you if you meet the following eligibility criteria. Any enquiries regarding eligibility, or provision of the grant, should be directed to the local authority and you can find yours here:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a business that occupies a property
  • you are receiving small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March

Here’s a PDF of the Small Business Grant Fund guidance issued by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

SMEs paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – reclaim

Opening notes:

  • SME means small or medium sized and employs fewer than 250 people as at 28 February 2020
  • SSP is currently £94.25 a week and goes up to £95.85 a week in April 2020

The Government is bringing forward legislation to allow SMEs and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

The eligibility criteria is:

  •  this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • 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
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If 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
  • 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.

The Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

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