Coronavirus update – How we’re supporting small businesses

With the impact of coronavirus being felt by businesses across the UK, we know that many of you are concerned about how your business and staff will be affected. During these uncertain times, we are here to support small businesses and help you through this difficult period.

To help you find key information for your business, on this page we have set out:

  • A summary of the latest financial and budget announcements
  • Information for small businesses on staffing and working from home
  • Links to other useful resources
  • FAQs for businesses that have a loan with Funding Circle
  • Contact details if you need to get in touch

We regularly update this page with new information and for the most up to date news please go to the UK Government website.

Last updated 30th March 2020.

Latest information for small businesses

Government support 

We have applied to be an accredited lender through the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. We hope to be accredited in the coming weeks so we’ll be able to provide further support to those businesses affected.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – This scheme allows businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million through a registered lender, and the government will cover up to 80% of any of the lenders’ losses. Under the scheme the first 12 months of the loan is interest free, as the government will cover your interest payments.  You can apply for the scheme here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – If you’re struggling to pay wages, rather than laying off employees you can instead ‘furlough’ them (put them on a leave of absence) and claim back 80% of their wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per worker per month. You can backdate to March 1st and the scheme will run for 3 months initially, although it will be extended if needed. It is open to all UK employers.

Statutory sick pay refunds – If you have fewer than 250 employees, the government will pay the first 14 days of statutory sick pay. 

Cash grants to small businesses – The UK’s smallest businesses will also be able to claim a £10,000 cash grant. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local authority. You do not need to apply.

Business rates holidays and cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure – The government is introducing a business rates holiday in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for businesses in these industries. If your property has a rateable value of £15,000, you will also receive a cash grant of £10,000. If it’s between £15,000 and £51,000, you’re entitled to a cash grant of £25,000. Your local authority will let you know if you’re eligible for these grants, so there’s no need to apply.

Business rates holiday for nurseries – The government is introducing a business rates holiday in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for nurseries. This will apply to the next council tax bill in April 2020. You do not need to apply.

VAT deferral – VAT payments are being deferred from 20th March 2020 until 30th June 2020, so you don’t need to make VAT payments during this period. This applies to all UK businesses. It’s an automatic offer and no application is required. 

Income tax deferral for the self-employed – For Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on 31st July 2020 have now been deferred until 31st January 2021. This is an automatic offer for all self-employed individuals so you don’t need to apply.

Dedicated helpline for tax affairs regarding coronavirus – A dedicated helpline (0800 0159 559) has been created to support self-employed individuals and businesses in financial distress or with outstanding tax liabilities. Businesses may be able to arrange a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement if they’re concerned about not being able to pay their tax on time due to coronavirus.

Taxable grants for self-employed individuals – Self-employed individuals can claim a taxable grant through the new Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will be worth 80% of their trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. You can apply for the scheme here.

You can find more information on all these measures at gov.uk.

Staff

Self-isolation and school closures – Current guidance is that anyone who shows symptoms should self-isolate for 7 days if they live alone or, if they live with others, the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days. As of Friday 20th March schools are also closing indefinitely. You can find a good summary of what this means for you and your staff on the ACAS website and from the FSB.

Working from home – The government has urged employers, wherever possible, to implement remote working policies. There are lots of tools that can help you and your team work remotely, such as free video calls with Google Hangouts. You can find more tips for working remotely from Hubspot and the Guardian

At Funding Circle our top tips are to have frequent video calls (it can be boring working from home and face to face is much better than email) and ensuring people take breaks to go for a walk.

Accounting

Extended time to file accounts with Companies House – Companies House can offer extensions for filing accounts if coronavirus has disrupted your company. You should apply for an extension before your deadline. You can find more information here or apply here.

FAQs for businesses with a Funding Circle loan 

What steps have you taken to ensure you can continue to serve customers? 

All of our team are now working remotely and we have extra capacity across all our support teams to continue serving customers. 

I have a loan with Funding Circle. If my business is affected by coronavirus, what help are you able to offer?

We understand that this is a really challenging time, and we want to help you as best we can. If your business has been affected, there are a range of potential options we can explore. We’ve applied to be an accredited lender through the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. We hope to be accredited in the coming weeks so we’ll be able to provide further support to those businesses affected.

Are you still offering loans to businesses? 

You can apply for finance as usual by logging in to your account. As always, we will assess each application individually, although it may take longer than normal to provide you with a decision at this time.

The Bank of England has cut the base rate. Will you be changing your interest rates?

All our loans are fixed rate, so if you have a loan with us already there are no change to your monthly repayments. For new loans, we review our rates on a regular basis with the aim of giving every business a fair and affordable rate. 

We’re here to help

If you have further questions or need support with your loan, please get in touch with our team on 0203 966 1186.