Saturday, 7 November 2020

Business support to get us through this pandemic

I know that people are frustrated with the new restrictions that have been imposed on our lives, both over the last few weeks, and the new National Restrictions in place until 2nd December. 

In Northumberland, we have already faced further restrictions on our all lives since mid-September, so I know how difficult this will be. However, we do need to face the fact that infection rates across the country are high, and rising. SAGE now estimates that the R rate is between 1.1 and 1.3. That means on average, 10 people will infect between 11 and 13 others. The epidemic is growing between 2% and 4% per day.

Without the action the government has taken, there is a serious risk of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed. If we run out of NHS capacity, it means those who suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and who require cancer care won't get the treatment that they need.

The new National Restrictions mean, far as possible, you should stay at home, except for work, education, exercise or to provide care. Non-essential retail is closed, alongside pubs, bars and restaurants.

These closures will have a significant impact on the economy, and as such, the government has taken steps to introduce new economic support packages.

Extending the Furlough scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) scheme was first introduced in March to help businesses pay the wages of employees who could not work because of coronavirus. The scheme was due to last until June, but was extended until the end of October.

As a result of these new National Restrictions, the government has extended the scheme until the end of March, providing certainty over these winter months.

Employees who are furloughed will continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 per month. Employers will only need to cover pension and National Insurance contributions.

Flexible Furlough continues, so employees can continue to work part-time if necessary, with the government covering 80% of wages for the hours not worked.

Boosting support for the self-employed

The Self Employed Income Support scheme has offered support on the same level as that offered to employees in work. 

In order to reflect changes to the Furlough scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will open for a further grant at the end of November, covering up to 80% of average trading profits, up to £7,500 per three month period. This is an increase from the previously announced amount of 55%. A fourth grant, covering February 2021 to April 2021 will also be paid, with further details to be set out in due course.

Mortgage Payment Holidays

In March, the government introduced mortgage payment holidays to help those affected by COVID-19. These have been extended.

If you have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday, you can apply for a six month holiday. If you already have a mortgage payment holiday, this can be extended up to six months without being recorded in your credit file.

Business Support Grants

In order to support business properties that are forced to close as a result of these new restrictions, the government is providing grants, based upon their rateable value. 

Business properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive £1,334 per month

Business properties with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £50,999 will receive £2,000 per month. 

Business properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over will receive £3,000 per month

Councils will also receive £20 per head (approx £6.3m) to support businesses more broadly, using targeted schemes. 

Bounce Back Loans

The government has also improved the Bounce Back Loan scheme. Businesses can now apply for loans until 31st January, and for businesses that have already had a loan, they can top up their existing loan to the maximum amount if required. 

As ever, my team and I are here to help. My Coronavirus website - - contains all the latest information and FAQ's, or you can get in touch by email - 

This is going to be tough, but we will get through this by working together and looking out for each other.