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.

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve now become accredited under the British Business Bank’s Coronavirus Business Introduction Scheme. We stand ready to support businesses through this difficult period. You can find further information about CBILS here.

We can also confirm that the Credit Reference Agencies have announced that businesses on payment plans due to COVID-19 should not have their credit score negatively affected. We hope this provides impacted businesses with some relief at this difficult time.

Last updated 18th May 2020

FAQs for businesses with a Funding Circle loan

Are you part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS)?

Yes, we’re pleased to announce that we’re now an accredited lender of the British Business Bank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme. You can find further information about CBILS here.

Are you part of the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS)?

We are working with the government and hope to be able to participate in this scheme so we can help more small businesses through this period. You can register for updates on this here.

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. Please contact us for more details.

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. 

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 from £50,001 to up to £5 million through a registered lender. Under the scheme the first 12 months of the loan is interest free, as the government will cover your interest payments. At Funding Circle, CBILS loans also come with nothing to pay for 12 months. You can find more information about the scheme here.  

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) – This scheme enables businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 through a registered lender. The interest rate is fixed at 2.5% and there’s no fees or other charges. You won’t be required to pay anything for 12 months, and no interest is charged during that time. Loans are offered on fixed 6 year terms. You can learn more about 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 has been extended to the end of October. It is open to all UK employers. You can apply for the scheme here.

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.

Trade credit insurance guarantee – Businesses with supply chains relying on Trade Credit Insurance who experience difficulties maintaining cover due to coronavirus will now get support from the government. They will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, covering trade by domestic and exporting firms. It’s hoped to be in place by end of this month. You can learn more about this here.

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.

Coronavirus Future Fund – Businesses that rely on equity investment who are unable to access the CBIL scheme may take advantage of the Coronavirus Future Fund. The fund offers UK-based companies with loans from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to matched funding from private investors. To qualify, you must have previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last 5 years. The scheme will launch in May. You can find more details here.

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. Your first payment should be received by early June 2020. 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.

Guidance for social distancing in the workplace – Specific guidance has been published by the government to help maintain social distancing depending on what industry you work in. These include delivery services, tradespeople, manufacturing, retail and a host of other sectors. To learn more about which social distancing practices you should be adopting in your business, visit the website here.

Updated guidance for employers and businesses – The government updated its guidance for employers and businesses as of 7th April. New guidance centres around what to do if an employee needs time off to look after someone, as well as information regarding shift-working and staggering processes. You can find all this information and more, here.

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.

Health and wellbeing

Mental health resources from FSB – With coronavirus and lockdown taking its toll on business owners and the public at large, the FSB have created a resource on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing in the midst of the pandemic. To learn more, you can visit their site here. The FSB also has other dedicated mental health services, such as FSB Care, which provides practical advice and emotional support from dedicated nurses.

Business advice and support

Webinars from FSB and Entrepreneur’s Circle – A great number of useful resources have been created by both FSB and Entrepreneur’s Circle to provide businesses with advice and support. FSB currently hosts a range of on-demand webinars, including what financial help is available to SMEs, and how to access support from local councils. Entrepreneur’s Circle’s most recent webinar looks at how to manage your business through a recession, and contains helpful tips and advice from business mentor, Nigel Botteril.

You can take a look at the first three on-demand webinars from FSB, below:

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.

All information is correct at time of publishing. While we want to help as much as we can, the information and documents found here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be considered financial or legal advice. To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, the information contained here.

If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent legal advice.