We’ll use this page to share COVID-19 support and advice for small businesses, adding updates as new announcements are made.

These unprecedented times caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic present huge challenges to small businesses. The Crunchers Edinburgh team are all working remotely, and are here to support you and your business through this difficult and distressing time.

If you need to know more about anything here or you have any questions, please get in touch with us – call 0131 502 0543 or email Hamish: Hamish.Sheppard@crunchers-edinburgh.co.uk. Please also keep an eye on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages for updates, including any of our free small business online forums.

You can also find the full Government online guidance at:


Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund – now open in Scotland for applications

This new fund from the Scottish Government opened today for applications, and will close at 5pm on 31st July.

The fund is designed to support innovative early-stage, high-growth companies in Scotland who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of eligibility criteria has been set out, with successful applicants receiving £50,000 to £300,000 – however applications are competitive, so not all eligible companies will secure funding.

According to Scottish Enterprise:

The funding is a combination of convertible loan and grant, although applications will also be accepted for a convertible loan only. A convertible loan is a type of loan funding that can either be repaid with the associated interest or converted into equity (meaning Scottish Enterprise would own shares in your company). The grant element does not need to be repaid, and will only make up a maximum of 20% (subject to eligible costs) of any funding awarded.

Find the full details and how to apply on the Scottish Enterprise website.


Temporary VAT reduction for the hospitality sector, holiday accommodation and some attractions

A temporary VAT reduction will be applied to the hospitality sector, holiday accommodation and some attractions, from Wednesday 15th July 2020.

The UK Government recently announced a temporary reduction in VAT rates for businesses that make supplies of hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation and also on admission to certain attractions. This aims to help businesses that have been particularly hard hit by the recent coronavirus lockdown.

The VAT reduction will apply from Wednesday 15th July until 12th January 2021, reducing the standard rate of VAT from 20% down to 5%.

See our short video to explain where the reduced VAT rate can be applied, and what you need to think about so that you can take advantage of the reduction. You can find the full details of the scheme on the Gov.UK website.



Deadline for claiming Self-Employment Income Support Grant: 13th July 2020

The deadline for claiming the first grant, covering March, April and May, is 13th July – you must claim yourself, your accountant cannot do this on your behalf.

See the full details and claim Grant 1 online on the Gov.UK website here.


To claim you’ll need your:

  • Government Gateway user ID and password – if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility or make your claim
  • UK bank details (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
    • bank account number
    • sort code
    • name on the account
    • your address linked to your bank account
  • You’ll have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus

Claiming the second Self-Employment Income Support grant

The scheme has been extended until 19 October 2020, and you can claim a second grant from 17 August 2020

If you make a claim for the second grant you will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

This grant will be a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

You can claim for the second and final grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.

The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30th June

VAT returns with a payment date of 30th June or after must be paid in full, on time.

If you cancelled your Direct Debit to HMRC in order to defer your VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June you will need to set up a new Direct Debit, in time for the first payment due.

Any VAT payments that you deferred must be paid in full by 31st March 2021.

See the full details on the UK.Gov website here.



The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close to new entrants from 30th June 2020. Any employees who have not previously been furloughed must be furloughed for at least a three-week period prior to the 30th June in order to qualify after this date.
  • From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked.
  • When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
  • Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.
  • Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June.

You can find out more about the furlough scheme on our dedicated webpage, or see full details on the UK.Gov website.



Update to the Job Retention Furlough Scheme

Here’s a summary of the key things you need to know:

  • From 1 July employers have the flexibility to take back employees part time
  • It is the business owner / firm that will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return,  and who will be responsible for paying employee wages while in work.
  • Remember that Employment Law still stands, and it is the employers duty to ensure there are safe work practices in place
  • June and July: the Government pays 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: The Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions
  • September: The Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  • October: The Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

You can find out more about the furlough scheme on our dedicated webpage, or see full details on the UK.Gov website.

Changes to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

  • Unfortunately if you weren’t eligible before, you will remain ineligible
  • Individuals have until 13 July to apply for first grant, of 80% of average monthly trading profits over the last 3 years, up to maximum of £7,500
  • Applications for the second grant will open in August. The grant is worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.
  • Business must have been adversely affected by coronavirus

See full details on the UK.Gov website.


26 May 2020

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now available

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the Statutory Sick Pay paid to current or former employees – this applies to businesses with fewer than 250 employees. The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including employees on agency contracts, on flexible or zero-hour contracts or on fixed term contracts.

You can use the scheme as an employer if:

  • you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes
  • Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim. You can ask them to give you either an isolation note from NHS 111 or the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home due to their high risk category
  • The scheme covers all types of employment contracts

See the details in full on the Gov.UK website, including guidance on making your claim and the online claim form.


12 May 2020

Furlough scheme extended to October

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October, with furloughed workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.

From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

See the details in full on the Gov.UK website.


2 May 2020

NEW Bounce Back Loans – launching 4 May

The UK Government has announced new loans will be made available for small and medium-sized businesses, from the 4th May.

  • The goverment will guarantee 100% of the loan, and businesses negatively affected by coronavirus can apply to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
  • No fees or repayments will be charged during the first 12 months.
  • If you have already requested an interruption loan (CBILS) you cannot apply – but you can arrange to transfer your loan to the new Bounce Back scheme. This must be done by 4 November.

See the full details and find out how to apply on the Gov.UK website.


01 May 2020

Three new grants for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Three new grants, recently announced by the Scottish Government, opened today for applications.

Full details are on the FindBusinessSupport.Gov.Scot website

Key points:

  1. Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund

    1. https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/pivotal-enterprise-resilience-fund
    2. For businesses that play a critical role in supporting Scotland’s recovery
    3. Potential to continue trading and supporting employment but face immediate cash flow challenge
    4. Can demonstrate the funding will support business to be viable
    5. Not in financial difficulty before 31 December 2019
    6. Can use the grant for working capital to help meet a cash flow gap or can be used to augment other funding from Government and other sources
  2. Creative or Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund

    1. https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/creative-or-tourism-and-hospitality-enterprises-hardship-fund
    2. Fund is designed for companies that are ineligible for other COVID-19 grant support or are not yet in receipt of the funds they need to survive.
    3. You have experienced at least a 50% loss of current or projected revenue
    4. Not in receipt of other COVID-19 government support, except the Furlough Scheme
    5. Self employed / limited company
  3. Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

    1. Need to apply in your Local Authority area (find links at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/newly-self-employed-hardship-fund)
    2. Successful applicants will receive a one-off payment of £2,000
    3. You became self-employed on/after 6 April 2019
    4. Over 50% of your individual income is from self-employment
    5. Your trading profits were below £50,000 in financial year 2019-20


16 April 2020

Reclaiming furloughed staff salaries – update and instructions from HMRC

HMRC have issued additional instructions for reclaiming furloughed staff salaries – the online portal for this opens on Monday, 20th April.

HMRC have also announced an important update to employee eligibility for the scheme:

  • You can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date; this means that you will have made an RTI submission notifying us of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020
  • Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to us on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.

See the full update: Reclaiming furloughed staff salaries – instructions from HMRC

08 April 2020

Urgent – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update

Main bullet points:

  1. Businesses, and agents that are authorised to act on behalf of clients for PAYE matters, will be able to claim.
  2. Businesses will need the following information on each of their furloughed employees:
    • National Insurance number
    • Salary, National Insurance and pension contribution information that allows businesses to calculate the claim amount
  3. Service Launch 20 April
  4. Service is designed to be self-serve with guidance in place

Please get in touch if you need further information.

26 March 2020

Support for self-employed workers

The UK government has announced that self-employed workers will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the financial impact of COVID-19.

The money will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest.

See Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement on the BBC website.

We’ll update with further links once these are available.


25 March 2020

Weekly COVID-19 small business forum

We will be hosting a free weekly online forum covering:

  • COVID-19 support currently available
  • Business development – helping your business through these uncertain times
  • Question and Answer sessions

We’ll share links to each online forum on our social platforms.

City of Edinburgh Council – non-domestic rates and cash grants

The City of Edinburgh Council’s webpage includes links to guidance and support for businesses, links to forms to apply for funding, and the latest update on COVID-19 and the council’s services.

If you need to know anything about eligibility for funding, please get in touch.

East Lothian Council – non-domestic rates and cash grants

East Lothian Council’s webpage includes links to support for businesses, non-domestic rates relief, business interuption loans and an application form for one-off grants.

Deferring VAT payments

All UK businesses are eligible to defer VAT payments from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Gov.uk says: This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Deferring income tax payments

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 may be deferred until 31 January 2021.

Gov.uk says: You are eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment.

The deferment is optional. If you are still able to pay your second payment on account on 31 July you should do so.

How to access the scheme
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

18th March 2020

Video: How to help prepare your small business for Covid-19

Hamish Sheppard gives an overview of how you can prepare your small business for Covid-19 and help to mitigate the challenges of the coming months.

Watch it here.

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