A minister usually announces any new government change in help for business and the individual at the daily coronavirus briefing. These are the headline-grabbing changes, such as ‘bounce-back’ loans or that the furlough scheme has been extended, but many others seem to have slipped under the radar.
So, over the last few days, I have been scouring government websites including the plethora of press briefings, as well as the financial press and have discovered a few nuggets which will hopefully be of interest to you.
£5 million Loneliness Covid-19 Grant Fund
On 28th May Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced a significant effort to tackle loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. When launching the plan, he said: “Coronavirus and social distancing has forced all of us to look loneliness in the eye. We are launching this plan now to help ensure no one needs to feel lonely in the weeks ahead. It will help everyone understand the role they can play in looking after each other and empower our expert charities and volunteers to reach more vulnerable people.”
The plan is to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness. As part of this plan, national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections are invited to apply for a share of an initial tranche of £5 million of funding, which the government is investing to help them to continue and adapt their critical work. The fund will make grants of between £500,000 and £1,000,000.
Visit the government’s Let’s Talk Loneliness website https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk/ and their Loneliness Collection page https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/governments-work-on-tackling-loneliness to find out more about their plan to tackle loneliness and the help available for those experiencing loneliness.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill
The Bill was placed before Parliament last week and is being fast-tracked through. It will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support the business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of Coronavirus.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “This is a particularly challenging time for businesses right across the UK, and we are doing all we can to support them through this period. Our proposals have been widely welcomed by business groups, and the Bill will help companies that were trading successfully before the COVID-19 emergency to protect jobs and put them in the best possible position to bounce back”.
The main provisions of the Bill are:
- A new moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue
- Prohibit termination clauses that prevent suppliers from ceasing their supply or asking for additional payments while a company is going through a rescue process
- A new restructuring plan that will bind creditors to it enabling the insolvency regime to flex to meet the demands of the emergency
- They are temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors who try to keep their companies afloat through the emergency.
- Temporarily prohibiting creditors from filing statutory demands and winding up petitions for Coronavirus related debts.
- Extending filing deadlines allowing for the temporary measures to be retrospective to be as effective as possible
The chair of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said: “The incoming Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will be an important step to helping many small firms during this crisis. The measures will immediately go some way to mitigate some of the problems small businesses are facing, such as the relaxation of wrongful trading rules which will allow directors of struggling companies to continue trading without fear of legal repercussions. The company moratorium, filing extensions and voiding of statutory demands are particularly important for smaller businesses, these provisions must continue for as long as is necessary.”
Coronavirus Future Fund
Coronavirus Future Fund is a brand-new scheme that will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies, subject to equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be an option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit. The scheme is open for applications until the end of September 2020.
For more information, go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund
Support for businesses and self-employed people during Coronavirus
When doing my research, I found myself being pleasantly surprised by the amount of help actually available on government websites, and especially by the user-friendly navigation tools. The Treasury has recently launched https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support, which is a lead-in portal to the various areas of help available and in my opinion, well worth a visit.
Bank of England & Dennis the Menace
Hot off the press; Dennis the Menace will soon be helping children learn about debt, spending and how supply and demand affect prices. The Beano rascal and several comic book friends have teamed up with the Bank of England for a 12-lesson course about financial literacy.
The scheme to be known as ‘Money and Me’ is aimed at children aged 5-11, will be launched for all schools in July. Bank Governor Andrew Bailey said he hoped it would help teachers instil confidence about using money. The initiative will be included in PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) curriculums and follows a similar scheme for secondary schools EconoMe, which has been downloaded by over 2,000 schools.
Mr Bailey said financial literacy was “essential for everyone”. “The Bank’s education programme is central to our role in equipping the public with sufficient financial and economic knowledge for their daily lives. “It will support teachers in giving young people a strong sense of the importance of economic and financial decisions from an early age.”
Beano Chief executive Emma Scott said: “Beano has been engaging children for more than 80 years, and we love bringing that experience to the classroom. “Our Beano for Schools programme translates complex topics into entertaining and engaging content for both kids and teachers and we’ve had fun producing these unique financial literacy lessons so kids can enjoy learning about money and gain necessary life skills.”
I’m personally amazed at the financial ignorance of many adults, especially those running small businesses and believe that by starting early in teaching kids about personal finances as well as the economy at large, the country will be in a much better place in a few years.
If you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.