Government support to keep your business on the road
OUR lives and our businesses have been stuck on pause.
It is now time to get our army of small firms – the lifeblood of the nation – up and running again.
If you’re self-employed, the government also stands ready to come to your assistance.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced unprecedented support for companies and workers during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The business grants scheme has given more than £9billion to UK firms large and small.
The Northern Ireland Executive has received £1.2billion in additional funding from the UK government to bolster public services.
The furlough scheme for workers, which businesses can claim for, has been extended until the end of October. That means your staff can continue to receive 80 per cent of their current salary, up to £2,500 for now. Some £10billion has already been handed out to 900,000 claimants.
Furlough is one element of a host of pandemic support for businesses put in place by the government, in what is widely seen as one of the most generous schemes in the world.
Whether you’re a hairdresser or a driving instructor, a retailer or a pub landlord, the government wants to give you easy access to the right support.
For freelancers, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme provides a taxable grant of 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profits. Individuals can claim online using the HMRC eligibility checker.
The initiative covers 95 per cent of those who receive the majority of their income through self-employment.
The government understands the personal sacrifices you’ve all made in our struggle to combat Covid-19 and help shield the most vulnerable in our society, and it will continue to support you all the way.
If you run a business, go to gov.uk to check if these government schemes apply to you:
- The Small Business Grant provides businesses with a £10,000 grant per property.
- The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund provides firms with grants of up to £25,000 per property.
- If you’re looking for more targeted support, the government can provide 12-month, interest-free loans of up to £50,000 through its Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
- If you’re VAT-registered, you can seek deferral on payments until the end of June. You can also seek a business rates holiday if this applies to you.
- The government has given a further £617million to local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make discretionary grants.
In addition to the UK-wide schemes, the Northern Ireland Executive has introduced the following measures:
- The Covid Small Business Grant– nearly 20,000 companies have received a payment of £10,000.
- Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme – a grant of up to £25,000.
- Fishing industry – monthly payments of between £1,050 to £4,500 per vessel.
- Creative Support Fund – a £1.5million package to support creative projects. Grants range between £5,000 and £25,000 depending on an organisation’s size.
The Executive has also announced additional support for sporting and voluntary sector organisations.
Wolf from the door
When lockdown was first announced back in March, Heather Hiram, a self-employed mum-of-three from Edinburgh, panicked.
Heather, 42, says: “I’ve put my heart and soul into building up my dog walking business, Safe and Sound Hound, which I started three years ago.”
Through her website and word of mouth Heather has built a loyal pack of canine clients. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was terrified of losing everything she had worked for.
Thankfully, applying for government help through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant was a walk in the park.
“I received a text telling me I was eligible, then logged my details into the HMRC website,” says Heather. “Immediately the amount I’d receive in my bank account six days later flashed on screen. A huge relief – I could service the van and pay for repairs.”
Now, having weathered the storm, Heather’s looking forward to being reunited with her furry friends.
“I miss them,” she says. “When they’re waiting at the door for me to collect them, their tails wagging, it’s so rewarding.”
Take Heather’s lead and apply for an SEISS grant.
Lockdown is no drag
The Grade II-listed Golden Cross is one of the grandest pubs in Cardiff.
It is also a cornerstone of the Welsh LGBTQ+ community hosting wildly popular entertainment.
However, when the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, they knew hard times were ahead.
Brewery SA Brain helpfully froze the rent but what has kept the pub afloat since has been the ability to furlough staff, including those on zero hours contracts, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a grant of £25,000 from the Welsh government.
“Without the financial support we’ve received I’d probably have to wind up within another month because of overheads like utilities, insurance and broadband,” says publican Rob Burnett.
The spirit of the Golden Cross is firmly alive as its resident drag queens are taking the show online.
Care firm stays strong
The healthcare industry may be at the frontline but many supply businesses have still been disrupted by the pandemic.
Based outside Ballykelly, County Londonderry, Seating Matters makes therapeutic seating for disabled adults and children. Its chairs are also used in intensive care and Covid wards.
The family-owned firm, established in 2008, has 50 staff on its payroll but had to furlough a quarter of them at the height of the crisis. It has since attempted to meet existing orders with a reduced team under strict social distancing guidelines. It also expanded its manufacturing to make vital shields to protect health care workers.
“I’m grateful that we can keep moving forward because there are a lot of places that have stopped altogether,” says managing director Martin Tierney. “Credit also goes to all the staff we have here.”
Demand for the company’s chairs is now rising again as hospitals and care facilities rehabilitate patients that were ill.
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