|Following my last update on support for workers previously issued by the UK Government I thought I would update constituents on the latest package of support – for the self-employed. I will also recap on some of the other funding announced for businesses, individuals and organisations affected by Covid-19.
I must stress that there are hundreds of different connotations of businesses and personal circumstances so, if possible you should talk to your accountant or take some professional advice. I have tried to advise individual constituents and businesses but please take some advice.
I have also indicated which Government is responsible for each scheme.
The UK Chancellor announced a new package for the self-employed, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The key features of this Scheme are:
• The self-employed will be eligible for a taxable cash grant worth 80% of a self-employed’s average monthly trading profit over the last three years;
• This will be capped at £2,500 per month and will last for at least 3 months;
• The Government has said this covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment;
The Scheme will be open to those:
• With a tradable profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 over the last three years;
• ·With more than half of their income over these periods from self-employment;
• It will not be eligible to those “who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company” (though this type of company can use the Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes as an employee of the business, even a sole employee)
The grant will be paid in a single lump sum of up to £7,500 covering all three months in June (it is taking that period of time to get the system operational)
Further information about the scheme can be found on the government website here .
This announcement was long overdue, and I am concerned that June is too long to wait to receive the grant. People need financial support now, in the coming days, and cannot wait months but you can access other support for the moment should you require it. More information is here.
The Federation of Small Businesses is also very good here.
As with the Job Retention Scheme, I understand there are a number of gaps in these measures which means approximately 250,000 people (5% of the self-employed) will not benefit from the Scheme at all.
The self-employed may not be eligible for Universal Credit if their partner is in work or if they have some savings that remove them from eligibility, and if they are unable to get financial support sooner, they may well feel pressured to work, risking their own health and the health of others. The Universal Credit system is also overloaded at this stage.
Furthermore, those who started self-employment this financial year are also not eligible to apply for the scheme.
These are just some of the uncertainties and questions left open by this Scheme, and I have already had many constituents contacting me to explain their personal circumstances and how they will not benefit.
Recap on previous measures and other support available
For those who are unable to pay VAT due between 20 March and end June 2020, you have the option to defer that payment until 31 March 2021. You will not need to apply for deferral as eligibility is automatic. Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. It is very important this is done in sufficient time.
Updated guidance is available on GOV.UK
Self Assessment – Updated Guidance
Anyone due to pay a Self-Assessment payment on account by 31 July 2020 may defer this payment until January 2021, if coronavirus is making payments difficult.
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged so long as payment is made by 31 January 2021. Individuals who are still able to pay on 31 July you should do so.
Read more on GOV.UK.
Time To Pay – Updated Guidance
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. This support is available now, and arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. Anyone who is running a business or is self-employed and is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus, can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.
More guidance is available on GOV.UK.
Business Grants – Scottish Government
The Business grants announced previously by the UK Chancellor have been broadly replicated in Scotland and are being administered by local authorities using the non-domestic rates valuation roll. Guidance for local authorities was issued this week and is published here. Businesses can find links to apply until 31 March 2021 here. Councils have committed to make payments within 10 days.
The £10,000 grants are distributed on the basis of eligibility for the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rates Relief.
The scheme has also been expanded by the Scottish Government to include self-catering properties and caravans where receipts represent a primary source (for example, one third or more) of earnings for the ratepayer and the property has been let out for 140 days or more in financial year 2019-20.
It is expected that most business properties are registered on the Non-Domestic Rates valuation roll. Those that are not, for good reason such as being a relatively new business, should raise that with Local Authorities in the first instance. Other businesses that operate from home such as some B&Bs or don’t have a business property are not currently eligible for a grant. This is because the Scottish Government has used the Non-Domestic Rates system. I will continue to advocate for those other businesses who do not have a business property.
Rates Relief – Scottish Government
New regulations introduced to the Scottish Parliament confirm a 100% rates relief for these sectors for the whole of 2020-21. This will cover a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents. In addition, a 1.6% rate relief for all properties across Scotland for 2020-21 is being rolled out being the increase for this year that is not being applied.
This is automatic and there is no requirement to apply.
Essential work and key workers
Scottish and UK Government advice states that all individuals and businesses that are not being specifically required to close should consider a key set of questions, and at all times work on the precautionary basis:
• Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
• if so, can your staff work from home?
• if not can you practise safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements.
If the answer to none of the above questions is yes, Government advice on a precautionary basis is to close.
I have had a very large amount of correspondence from workers where their employer has not closed. You must speak to your employer in the first instance.
Exceptionally, some more nuanced cases may arise and I understand the Scottish Government will urgently establish a central Scottish Government function to provide advice and direction where needed. Further details will follow when it is set-up.
Fuller guidance is provided for businesses here;
Fuller guidance on Social Distancing is provided here;
Furloughing – UK Government
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020; open to all UK employers that have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020, it is expected to be up and running by the end of April.
An employer can claim up to 80% of wages back from the UK government – with a maximum of £2,500 each month to support their workers who have been furloughed – and the employer has an option to top up the remaining 20%. Employers can re-employ staff in order to furlough them. Your employer must use this system if they are asking you not to work and keep you in employment. It can be used for zero hour contracts and contract workers as long as you are paid by PAYE.
The UK Government published further detailed guidance of the scheme on 26th March 2020. HM Treasury has agreed that, as there are no restrictions on operating guidance, which differs between UK Government and Scottish Government, employers who are closed in Scotland but who remain open in England will still be able to claim grants for their workers furloughed in Scotland.
Some business that are not eligible for any of the formal schemes as yet should still look at their cost base. Some options are:
• Mortgages: businesses can apply for a 6-month mortgage holiday, and should contact their lender for more information.
• Debt: businesses can apply for a postponement of debt.
• Banking services: some banks are taking additional measures to help their customers during the pandemic; businesses should contact their own bank for more information.
• Council Tax: some businesses might be eligible for Council Tax Reduction; more information will be available from the relevant Local Authority.
• Rent – speak to your landlord ASAP.
On 18 March, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government announced £350 million of funding to support communities impacted by COVID-19. As yet the mechanisms are not in place to distribute this money and I will be pushing the Scottish Government on this.
I understand £7 million worth of grants to trusted partners in order to increase capacity and respond to this crisis. This includes supporting Young Scot, Age Scotland and Cash for Kids.
Some funding was supported by Barnett consequentials from the UK Budget for local authorities. The UK Government funding was for a hardship fund for councils, but in as there is already the Scottish Welfare Fund, the Scottish Government are making this money – £50m – available for use by Local Authorities as they see fit to respond flexibly to the pandemic, specifically to help people and communities. The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government wrote to local authorities on 20 March committing the full £50m with no restrictions. The City of Edinburgh Council will have some of this money to distribute.
Increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund
The Scottish Welfare Fund provides Crisis Grants to people who are facing an emergency or disaster, and Community Care Grants to help people establish or maintain a home in the community. This funding supports families and individuals in Scotland who require emergency aid.
Third Sector Resilience Fund
The £20m Third Sector Resilience Fund supports third sector organisations at risk of closure due to a decrease in income, and those unable to deliver their services as a result of the pandemic.
Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund
Creative Scotland will offer bridging bursaries to freelance artists and creative practitioners who have lost earnings as a result of COVID-19 from 3 April. This will be a one-off bursary payment of between £500 and £2,500.
Applicants can find out more at the Creative Scotland website.
Creative Scotland Open Fund
Individuals and organisations can apply for funding up to £50,000 through Creative Scotland’s Open Fund, to help support themselves during the pandemic.
Open Project is an existing fund supported by £7.5 million National Lottery funding. It has been repurposed to help applicants explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the current changing circumstances.
Applicants can find out more at the Creative Scotland website.
Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary
Freelance or self-employed screen practitioners who have lost income due to the pandemic can apply to the Bridging Bursary Fund. This is a one-off bursary of between £500 and £2,500, to act as a financial bridge to people who are most deeply impacted by the cancellation of work.
Applicants can find out how to apply through Screen Scotland.
There is a wealth of advice available at the citizens advice website as well.
NHS testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
I have been inundated by requests for me to make representations to the Government on this. It is being done day and daily at UK level but this is a devolved issue in Scotland so I have been encouraging constituents to contact their MSPs to get them to raise it directly with Scottish Ministers. There is simply a lack of testing kits and PPE in the Scottish NHS. It is also true for our private and public social care homes. We need this addressed quickly.
There are a large number of front line workers, particularly in the NHS, who are at home in isolation because of symptoms of the virus. If they could be tested negative, then they would be able and willing to return to work. At the moment many are at home unable to work despite the high likelihood that they are fit and not infected.
Helping those in need
We are trying our best to match constituents in need with those who have volunteered to assist. This is no easy task. Many of your local churches and groups are doing likewise. If you need assistance can I ask that you look, in the first instance, at the official places on the City of Edinburgh Council website here.
There are also a plethora of organisations from Age Scotland, British Red Cross, Viral Kindness and many, many others who have mechanisms for residents to help others. Just search for them and see what they are offering.
My office continue to work round the clock to get constituents home. Currently the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been appallingly slow in taking decisive action. In cases where international flight have been cancelled or where airlines are price gouging the FCO must charter repatriation flights. Please continue to get in touch if you have been affected.
Thank you for your interest in these updates. I will continue to update you as frequently as possible.
Stay safe and keep well,
Marie Curie Emergency Appeal
As you can imagine Marie Curie is experiencing very challenging times both in our services and with our ongoing fundraising during the coronavirus pandemic. In light of this critical situation, we are reaching out to you to ask for your help.
As you know, every day and night, Marie Curie Nurses and frontline staff give vital support to dying people and their families, in their homes and our hospices across the UK. At this time of national emergency, when the NHS is being put under extreme strain, these crucial services are needed more than ever.
We’re appealing to the generosity of the public to help deliver our care, which is needed now more than ever. Unlike other charities that primarily give grants, we can’t just turn off our taps until the situation improves. We’ve committed to our NHS partners that we will be there to deliver care, and we’ve got to continue to be there during the coronavirus emergency.
How you can help
Make a personal gift and donate to our Marie Curie Emergency Appeal today
We have launched our Marie Curie Emergency Appeal for financial support. We hope you will consider making a personal donation today – see below.
Do a virtual collection
For those who missed out on their Daffodil Collection, or would like to take part in this way, you can still do a virtual collection amongst your friends. For more details go to: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil/virtual-collections
Share our appeal on your social media channels
To download a social media asset, click the link and choose from one of the options for Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Simply right click and select ‘Save image as’. https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/donate/emergency-appeal/support-our-emergency-appeal#Twitter
Share your local knowledge and approach your networks
Let us know if you are aware of any influential local trusts or individuals who may be interested and have the capacity to give a donation to the Marie Curie Emergency Appeal. Your local knowledge is invaluable.
Volunteer your time
We have launched a recruitment campaign asking people to join the Marie Curie Volunteer Response Team. We have a variety of volunteering roles we need to fill on a short-term basis – from telephone support to people at risk of loneliness, or families who are going through bereavement to administrative support for some of our teams. Find out more here.
We know there is not a person or family in the country who is not touched by this emergency. But dying people and their families need all our help now. We cannot thank you enough for your support, and for standing by our side at this time.
How to donate
Online: The Marie Curie Emergency Appeal is now live on www.mariecurie.org.uk
Donate directly into our Marie Curie bank account:
Name: Marie Curie
Account number: 00774870
Sort code: 83-24-18
Ref: “CV19” and your name
Cheque in favour of “Marie Curie” to:
Marie Curie Hospice
FAO Fiona Bushby CV19 Emergency Appeal
Frogston Road West
Edinburgh EH10 7DR
Update from Health Secretary of new Sick Kids Hospital: