On Tuesday 5 May 2020, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responded to a written question regarding the steps being taken to support small businesses through the coronavirus crisis.
In his response, he outlined the support systems in place to support SME’s, and his answer can be read in full below.
Information about all of the Government’s support schemes and links to them can be found on TIGA’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
Small Businesses: Coronavirus
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 May 2020
Sir John Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support SMEs to design new ways of working in response to the covid-19 outbreak.
Paul Scully: Government is already supporting Be the Business, the business-led independent charity which launched in 2017: its key intention is to help every UK SME to improve their productivity and is backed by some of Britain’s most high-profile businesses. In response to the COVID19 outbreak, Be the Business have augmented their original offer of support by publishing a range of online advice and guidance to help SMEs adapt their business practices. This includes case studies, ‘how to guides’, podcasts and video interviews sharing the experiences of business owners and entrepreneurs who have already made changes to adapt their business to survive in the new business environment. Be the Business are also adapting their existing support programmes to help SMEs prepare for recovery and build resilience, including via one-to-one virtual surgeries, peer-to-peer learning networks and a 12-week rapid response mentoring programme.
The £9 million Business Basics Programme, launched in June 2018, is already testing innovative ways of encouraging SMEs to take-up proven technology (such as accountancy or customer relationship management software) and business practices that can boost productivity.
Our regular contact with major UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) – including with the Federation for Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce and MAKE UK, the Manufacturers Organisation and UK Finance – has been increased considerably, to understand where support is needed most for SMEs. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have held weekly calls with the BROs to gain feedback on government support measures; and we have initiated additional calls to announce additions and developments to the suite of COVID19 business finance, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme.
Government departments are also hosting a series of free webinars – via Teams, Twitter and Facebook – week commencing 4 May to help businesses understand the support available during the COVID outbreak.
This is in addition to the business support already launched in March to help businesses in COVID19: this includes
- A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to March 1 and available for at least three months, with first grants to be paid within weeks.
- Deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June – representing a £30bn injection into the economy.
- £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses.
- A Bounce Back Loans scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000 to benefit small businesses with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. These loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.
- A Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months.