The UK Government has announced an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and support business across the whole UK during the coronavirus outbreak.
The financial support is helping firms across the nation to adapt, innovate and protect jobs. Here is how some companies have been helped, and what is available.
It was a week that felt like a year for Neil Lapping, chief adventure officer at Glasgow-based Macs Adventure, as the crippling impact of the Coronavirus on the travel industry became clear.
The thriving guided tour business, accustomed to 30 per cent year-on-year growth, first saw international bookings collapse before a deluge of cancellations from domestic customers.
Neil said: “It was emotionally devastating. We went from a growing and profitable business to zero revenue coming. “It was a week that felt like a year and I was in tears again and again.
“We were faced with laying off the vast majority of our team and facing up to the fact that a business that we had spent 17 years building up was being threatened.
“The job support scheme was a game-changer for us and I cried when it was announced.
“I am now hugely positive as the business is now viable and we have a path back to where we were before.”
Macs Adventure benefited from the UK Government’s furlough scheme with 90 per cent of the company’s staff currently enlisted. The company also received £1m from Barclays from the UK Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
Neil said: “This support and our reserves have enabled us to trade through this period until domestic travel comes back later in the year and eventually international traffic returns.
“We have been able to retain our 60 staff in the UK through the furlough scheme. We would have been unable to pay them with zero revenue coming in. The CBILS has allowed us to cover our overheads including rent, rates and IT systems.”
Neil said he was impressed by the speed at which money from both schemes was delivered. He said: “The process with Barclays was outstanding and the money was in our account in less than a week.
“The application process was painless and it was encouraging to see that the lending criteria was based on trading performance of the business before the Coronavirus.
“Once we made a furlough claim the funds were released quickly and it is great news that it has been extended until October.”
Neil said that Macs Adventure was well-positioned for the recovery in the travel market and that the Coronavirus had accelerated industry trends.
He said: “It will take us between three to five years to rebuild the business however we are very well-placed to recover. “The market for impactful and active travel is growing.”
Protecting jobs and keeping firms afloat
Here are some examples of the support available for businesses and workers:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has enabled businesses to put employees on a period of temporary leave (furlough) and apply for a UK Government grant to cover 80 per cent of those workers’ usual monthly wage costs, up to a £2,500 a month.
- The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will allow eligible self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant of 80 per cent of their average monthly profits, up to £7,500.
- UK VAT-registered firms have been given the option to defer VAT payments until the end of June. There will be no interest or penalties on any amount deferred.
- Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.
- The UK Government’s Bounce Back Loans Scheme provides loans of up to £50,000 to small businesses, with a 100 per cent UK Government-backed guarantee for lenders.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available for loans or finance of up to £5m. The UK Government will provide the lender with an 80 per cent guarantee to support the lending.
- The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of Statutory Sick Pay they pay current or former employees for sickness starting on or after March 13 2020
- The Future Fund will issue loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Details of the support available to businesses across the UK can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support