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23 June 2020

Business Support Updater Edition Nine with Summary Grid

A number of the business support schemes put in place to help businesses deal with the pandemic remain in operation and for some the terms are changing. Included below is a summary grid of the main business support measures implemented by the UK Government and the NI Executive which remain in place. There are a number of immediate issues in relation to business support worth drawing to the attention of members, including:

End of VAT Deferral Period

  • Reminder: The period of deferral of VAT payments ends on 30 June. Members may wish to note this for the reinstatement of cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment. HMRC advise reinstatement of direct debits should be done three working days before submitting their VAT return. Members should refer to the guidance available here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)- Frist Grant

For those eligible, the deadline to make an application for the first grant is 13 July 2020

Flexible Furlough- Work patterns, Claims and Parental Leave

  • Members are aware that flexible furlough is available from 1 July for employees who have already completed a full three-week period of furlough before this date. During flexible furlough, any working pattern may be adopted and employees can enter into more than one furlough agreement. This is subject to a minimum claim period of seven calendar days (unless otherwise specified).
  • The general principle is that wage caps are proportional to the hours on furlough, e.g. for an employee on furlough in July for 60% of their normal working hours, employers can apply for 60% of the £2,500 cap. The grid below includes a reminder of the progressive tapering of contributions from government and the corresponding increase in employer obligations.  Employer contributions for hours not worked begin on 1 August with payment of ER NICs and pension contributions. Firms should note that they may be able to furlough an employee returning from parental leave for the first time, despite the general deadline for first-time furlough passing on 10 June. Members should refer to the appropriate guidance if this is relevant to them. Any furlough period for any employee which was begun before 1 July must however last for the full three weeks. Guidance here and here. 

Outstanding Applications- Hardship Fund and Small Business Support Grant Scheme

With the closure of the NI Micro-Business Hardship Fund on 12 June, the link for information to check on the progress of applications is here.

Any member who thinks they may have an outstanding award from the Small Business Support Grant Scheme (which closed on 20 May) can find information here.

Code of Practice for Commercial Property- Landlord and Tenant Negotiations

The UK Government has published a Code of Practice to support businesses in negotiating affordable rental agreements. The Code is voluntary and applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. The Government has said this is part of a wider strategy to protect viable businesses and to facilitate agreements being struck between landlords and tenants. The Code emphasises the importance of sustainable agreements outside the letter of leases to support economic recovery. It emphasises candour and transparency in relation to the impacts of the pandemic on the business of landlords and tenants. It refers to the short-term shocks to cash flow as well as the impact of social distancing on trading as key factors in assessing what is reasonable.

The Code acts as a complement to the announcement of the extension of protection from forfeiture for the vast majority of commercial leases by the Department of Finance until 30 September 2020, using powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020. A range of representative bodies are signatories to the code (including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and British Chambers of Commerce) and it is to remain in place until 24 June 2021.

The Code of Practice can be found here.

Related guidance from UK Finance for Commercial landlords is available here.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
Members should consult relevant government guidance and the NI Business Info website regularly to get more details on the full range of support available. A number of changes have been made to schemes at different stages throughout the pandemic, so it is important to keep this in mind and keep abreast of updates. The Society will also continue to consider and issue information to members as appropriate. Some additional links are included below for schemes which members or their clients may be interested in.  

Coronavirus Future Fund here.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme here.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility here.

For any queries in respect of our business support guidance, please contact frank.geddis@lawsoc-ni.org.



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