The government support schemes unveiled over the past two and a half months have been unprecedented in their size and scale. They’ve been a lifeline to many businesses negatively impacted by coronavirus and have also been adapted since launching to better serve more businesses’ needs.
With a variety of loans and grants now available to small businesses, it’s worth understanding which can be used together and which can’t. You don’t want to rely on funding you’re not eligible for (or waste your time applying).
What government support is available?
The UK Government announced a few useful financial support measures to help businesses, including tax deferral and business rates relief for some. On top of these, the Treasury created the following funding schemes or grants:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS / ‘Furlough scheme’)
- Claiming back employees’ Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to COVID-19
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
- Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
- Future Fund
- Business Support Grants
Any business can claim back SSP and furlough staff, regardless of any loans or grants they receive. However, you can only apply for some, not all, of the loan schemes. We’ll go through the following support schemes below, explaining which can be combined and which can’t:
Our dedicated COVID-19 Impact Support Hub is where you’ll find all our coronavirus related articles and advice to help get you through this period. Our individual guides to the CBILS, BBLS, Future Fund and Furlough scheme detail the specific support available and how to access them.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been updated and significantly expanded since it was first announced on 17 March. There’s now a variety of lenders you can approach to receive up to £5 million in the form of term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance (and we’re one of them). These loans are available until 30 September this year.
If you weren’t eligible to begin with, it’s worth checking the British Business Bank website to see if you are now. You can also approach lenders who initially turned you down.
What other coronavirus support can I combine it with?
If you already have, or are in the process of applying for, CBILS funding, you can’t get a Bounce Back Loan. However, you can access the British Business Bank’s other venture, the Future Fund.
Don’t worry if you’re getting other kinds of financial coronavirus support that’s not through the BBLS. You’re still eligible for the scheme if you’re getting any other direct grants, repayable advances, tax or payment advantages. However, some of this money may count towards the amount of cover the government will pay on the interest and fees. This is known as Business Interruption Payment (BIP).
If your company received funding through the Enterprise Interruption Scheme (EIS), you’re still eligible for support from CBILS, unlike accessing the BBB’s Future Fund. Having a private equity investor, even if they hold a majority or controlling stake, won’t affect your eligibility either. Your business will be considered separately to your PE investor and its other investments.
We covered the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) when it was introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by COVID-19. Through the scheme, you can borrow between £2,000 and 25% of your turnover, up to £50,000.
The government covers all interest for the first year which is set at 2.5% per annum. There are no repayments due in the first 12 months but after the first year you must pay interest, and you must pay off the full loan amount within six years.
What other support can you access?
You can’t access the BBLS if you’ve got a loan through CBILS, CLBILS or the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, unless that loan will be refinanced in full by your Bounce Back Loan. You can, however, access the Future Fund regardless, and the standard government measures such as furloughing employees and VAT deferral.
The Future Fund
We went through what the Future Fund is, who’s eligible and how to apply here. It’s aimed mainly at UK-based startups and other ‘innovative businesses’.
To recap: it issues convertible loans between £125,000 and £5 million that automatically convert to equity at your next funding round. You’ll need to secure match funding that’s at least equal to the amount you’re requesting, and the application process goes through your ‘lead investor’ rather than your business itself.
This one is the most flexible in terms of what other support you’re allowed. You can apply even if you’ve received or are applying for other types of government business support related to COVID-19. That includes CBILS, BBLS and any other grants.
However, while sole traders can access the CBILS, they’re not eligible for the Future Fund. Another issue is that it’s not compatible with EIS or SEIS, which may put off some of your investors, meaning you can’t apply.
Business Support Grants
The following can all be combined with any coronavirus government support if you’re eligible. They aim to help the smallest businesses.
Small Business Grants
If your business is in England and its rateable value is less than £15,000, you’re entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000 from your local council. If you have more than one property that you use for business, you can claim one grant on each.
Hospitality, retail and leisure business grants
You can’t claim the small business grant as well as the retail, hospitality and leisure grant on the same property.
Authority Discretionary Grants
Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that aren’t eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.
What government support should I apply for?
Working out which support packages are right for you is important as they’re targeted at slightly different groups. Last week, UK banks warned that 40-50% of the 608,000 Bounce Bank loans that have been taken out probably won’t ever be paid back.
If you’d like more detailed information on the above loan schemes head to our COVID-19 Impact Support Hub. The Government website has a Coronavirus Support Finder that can help you understand your options.