Mel’s COVID-19 Update: 1st March 2021
During COVID-19 I want to ensure that everyone is as up to date as possible with regards to Government changes and support that impacts businesses. Please note that this update is correct as of date of publishing (1st March 2021).
Fund extended to help level-up all regions of United Kingdom
The Government fund to level-up opportunities is being extended so that people in every region and nation of the UK can benefit was announced last week.
The Levelling Up Fund will be extended to the whole of the UK to help boost growth in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. £4.8 billion will now be invested in local projects, such as regeneration and transport, ensuring the government provides the same support to communities across the UK.
Further details on how the Fund will operate will be published in the Budget, including who can bid, the types of projects eligible for funding, and the criteria for assessing proposals.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Guidance has been updated for the CJRS scheme which has been extended until 30 April 2021. Claims for furlough days in February 2021 must be made by 15 March 2021. You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
There is updated information about the banded ranges and employer claim data and information about how employees can use their personal tax account to see if they were included in any December 2020 claims has also been added.
We may see some form of extension to the scheme in this week’s budget. We will keep you up to date if there are any changes.
Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Guidance has been updated to show eligible apprentices can now start their EPA before they achieve their functional skills qualifications if they have been prevented from doing so by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Letter to businesses on workplace testing – more than 50 employees
A letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to all businesses registered in England about free COVID-19 tests for staff who cannot work from home has been published. This urges employers with 50 or more employees to utilise the free lateral flow testing kits to test their staff.
The test kits are entirely free of charge until 30 June 2021 for firms that have registered by 31 March at https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests
The Department for Health and Social Care will also offer advice and guidance to support setting up testing facilities, along with a list of accredited private providers who can organise testing on your behalf if preferred. Companies with fewer than 50 employees can take advantage of community testing for their staff.
Lateral flow tests are good at detecting those who are infectious and have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases that would not otherwise be found, enabling those people to be taken out of the transmission chain. Workplaces that have introduced regular testing find they can plan with more certainty and spot individual cases before whole teams fall ill.
Companies House (CH) Update
Strike off (dissolution)
Following a temporary pause, CH resume their strike off processes from 8 March 2021. They will continue to write to companies who are late filing their annual accounts or confirmation statement and help them bring their record up to date.
They state they understand that this is a difficult time and that they are committed to supporting businesses who may be struggling with their filing requirements during the coronavirus outbreak.
Access coronavirus business innovation support package
Existing award holders and additional business advisory support services can access the scheme providing continuity grants and loans. The scheme has been updated to replace Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) with Innovate UK EDGE.
Up to £90 million is available in continuity grants, paid upfront, to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19.
These grants are for eligible organisations that expect to have a funding gap (between £25,000 and £250,000) in the remaining period of their project because they are facing loss or damages, such as reduced access to capital, cancelled orders or increases to costs, and are therefore seeing cashflow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Up to £210 million is available in continuity loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they have an award from Innovate UK.
Loans are for organisations that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This innovation continuity loan may be suitable if you need funding of between £250,000 and £1,600,000.
Business advice and support
Business advisory support services are available to around 6,000 innovative high-growth-potential, high-growth and scaling SMEs over the next 2 years managed through Innovate UK EDGE.
Innovate UK EDGE is a part of the UK innovation agency’s investment in the innovative businesses that drive economic growth. It complements Innovate UK project funding with specialist-led support for such businesses.
Each high-potential, innovative business in a portfolio benefits from the objective perspective of a dedicated innovation and growth specialist local to them. Specialists consider a business in the round and, working closely with its leadership, identifies the most productive ways to accelerate its growth.
Innovate UK EDGE brings a range of services to help ambitious, innovative SMEs scale and grow. They help businesses:
- exploit innovation, intellectual property, and connections in the UK and abroad
- enter new markets at home and abroad
- access funding and finance and getting investment ready.
How to apply
Further details are available in the guidance document.