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COVID-19 Lockdown 3.0 - What Emergency Funding Is Available for Individuals and Businesses?

As is now abundantly clear, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on individuals, families, businesses, and public institutions across the UK and worldwide. Nearly 70,000 people have died, many businesses have gone into administration, including many household names, and tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs. Many families across the UK are struggling to pay for basic essentials and are deeply worried about their futures. For this reason, it is vital to understand the financial assistance available. In this article, we will outline some of the COVID-19 financial assistance measures currently in place for individuals and businesses in the UK.

Financial Support For Individuals And Families

There are a range of new financial assistance packages currently in place to assist individuals and families to weather the COVID-19 storm, as follows:

COVID Winter Grant Scheme

Local authorities and councils are overseeing the administration of the COVID Winter Grant Scheme, which is designed to support households suffering hardship as a result of COVID-19. The government has earmarked £170 million of funding to cover the period up to the end of March 2021. Money is available for items such as:

  • Food
  • Utility bills (e.g. gas, electricity, and water)
  • Essentials (e.g. warm clothing, soap, sanitary products, blankets or other essential household items)

If you need assistance with any of these, you will need to contact your local council who will be able to advise you of the application process. To be eligible, you will need to show you:

  • Are aged 18 or over, or
  • Are a parent or carer, or
  • Are under 18 years of age and are pregnant or have dependent children or;
  • Are under the age of 18 and estranged from parents/ living without parental financial support; for example, living in supported accommodation.
  • Are living in the local authority area at the point of requesting assistance
  • Have had an adverse change to your circumstances as a result of COVID-19
  • Have had an unexpected change to your income or have had unexpected outlays which mean you cannot afford the cost of food, fuel or other essential household items
  • You have no access to other funds – such as savings, help from relatives

COVID furlough scheme for employees

The furlough scheme (also known as the COVID Job Retention Scheme – CJRS) which was introduced in Spring 2020 was further extended on 5th November for five-months into Spring 2021. Employees who are eligible for CJRS funding will receive 80% of their salary for any hours not worked as a result of COVID-19. This means that those who have had their hours fully or partially reduced due to the virus will be eligible.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Those who are self-employed will be able to claim 80% of their average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500 until the end of January 2021. For migrants currently in the UK, it is important to note that you will be able to claim under this scheme if you are self-employed as this is not classed as seeking “recourse to public funds”, which is specifically prohibited for those with the NPRF restriction.

Financial Support For Businesses

In addition to the financial assistance for individuals, families, and employees, funding is available for businesses in the UK, including the:

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

CBILS, which will be available until the end of March 2021, is designed to assist small and medium businesses to access loans and other types of funding of up to £5m – the government will act as a guarantor for 80% of the loan value and will pay both interest and any fees for the first year.

Coronavirus Future Fund

The coronavirus Future Fund will provide government loans to innovative businesses based in the UK which are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible for a loan of between £125,000 and £5m, businesses will need to show they have raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years. The eligibility rules also require that businesses:

  • have no shares traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venues
  • were incorporated on or before 31st December 2019
  • and have half or more employees based in the UK OR have half or more revenues from UK sales

Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan (CBBLS)

The CBBLS, which is available until the end of March 2021, is intended to allow smaller businesses to access funding of between £2,000 and 25% of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000. 100% of loans are guaranteed by the government, and fees and interest are paid for the first year. At the end of the first year, the interest rate is limited to 2.5% per year.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

CLBILS is intended to allow larger businesses to access funding of up to £200m with the government acting as guarantor for 80% of the loan amount. The scheme is available until the end of March 2021. Eligible businesses will need to show they have a turnover of at least £45m and they have not received funding from the Bank of England’s COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will purchase short-term debt from large companies through commercial lenders. According to the rules defined by the Bank of England, companies applying will need to show they:

  • Make a material UK contribution
  • Are investment-grade rated (or equivalent) as of 1st March 2020 (as supplemented by the ongoing credit quality review described below)
  • Are not PRA- or FCA-regulated
  • Are not a public undertaking
  • Are not a leveraged investment vehicle

Final Words

There is a range of funding options available at present to assist individuals, families, employees, and businesses across the UK to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these are set to expire at the end of March 2021, and there is no guarantee they will be extended further. As such, if you need assistance, it is important to review the options available to you and to determine your eligibility before the schemes come to an end. We can only hope that further extensions to COVID-19 funding will not be needed and that the current vaccination programme will be a resounding success, allowing businesses to resume normal operation.

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