6 April 2020
Today is the 6th April, almost Easter. It is warm, 17 degrees. Lovely weather. We are allowed to do our daily exercise outside but that is it. We are still in the midst of Coronavirus which is causing havoc and deaths worldwide. The UK has gone for a lockdown. Stay at home, go only out for essential shopping, medicines, pharmacy or your daily exercise or for essential travel. In the UK After being advised to avoid non-essential contact and not to travel on the 16th March, all bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants were closed from 20 March and the country went into lockdown from 24 March.
Life has changed significantly, shopping for food has become quite an undertaking, as not everything is available in the supermarkets, such as toilet paper, pastas, tins of tomatoes or bread. Stoke Newington Church Street near my home normally is a lovely almost rural street with little cafes and local shops. Except for a couple of newsagents, specialist food shops or wholefood shops they are all closed. Although the cafes and restaurants can do take away, not many have gone for that – it looks like it is not worth it so they prefer to close.
In the midst of all that I am still recovering from my Ovarian Cancer surgery in early February, so I cannot carry more than 6 kilos. This means that my friend Manuel helps me with the large shops and I do the smaller shops locally. Walking is good for me, so most days my daily exercise is going to the shops when something is needed. Initially I hopped on the bus, but now I just walk as I am getting stronger by the day and the buses are getting emptier and emptier. The large supermarkets all have queues so you have to be prepared to wait. I am working from home, I was doing that anyway after my surgery so that is nothing new.
Masses of small businesses just saw their livelihood disappear. With the economy being so interconnected and global, it is affecting huge sectors of the economy and not many are spared. Therefore, the same day that the UK went into lockdown, 23 March, the government introduced a whole series of support measures to help businesses survive and where possible ride the storm.
Other countries have got similar schemes, but here we will look at the UK and what measures are available for small businesses, in particular designer businesses.
Government Support in the UK
Deferring VAT payments for 2 months
If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to
- defer the payment until a later date
- pay the VAT due as normal
Support for businesses through deferring Self-Assessment payments on account
If you’re due to pay a self-assessment payment on account by 31 July 2020 but the impact of the coronavirus causes you difficulty in making payment by that date, then you may defer payment until January 2021
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until 31 January 2021
Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.
You need to:
- have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
- have traded in the tax year 2019-20
- be trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
- have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income should come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:
- having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
- having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period
If you have not submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, you must do this by 23 April 2020.
You cannot apply for this scheme yet.
HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible.
To access the scheme you will need to:
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. You need to register on the HMRC website (external link). Once registered, you should be able to apply for the scheme
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
You are eligible if:
- your business is based in England
- You are a business that occupies a property
- You are receiving small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March.
How to access the scheme
You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
Funding for individuals
Up to £2,500
This work includes: choreographers, writers, translators, producers, editors, freelance educators in the disciplines and artforms we support, composers, directors, designers, artists, craft makers and curators.
There are two rounds: 9 April – close 16 April and 16 April – 30 April
You should register on Grantium by Monday 13 April
You need to have a track record working in the publicly funded culture sector. This means that you have experience of making and delivering work supported by funds from arm’s length bodies (such as the Arts Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund, or the National Lottery Community Fund), local authorities, universities, other public sector bodies or trusts and foundations such as the Paul Hamlyn Foundation or the PRS Foundation. This can be direct support (you have had a grant from one of these organisations) or indirect support (you have had a grant or a commission from an organisation that itself receives public funding). We’ll ask you to tell us about this when you make your application.
Stay safe and all the best in these times