Written Question: New Business Support During Lockdown

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John Stevenson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to support newly set up businesses during the second covid-19 lockdown.

Kemi Badenoch: The Government understands this is a challenging time for businesses. To reduce the risk of fraudulent claims, eligibility for many of the Covid-19 support schemes require businesses to have been trading before the end of March.

However, newly formed businesses may be able to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Businesses are eligible for the CBILS if they are UK-based in their activity, with annual turnover of no more than £45m. For start-ups, or SMEs which have traded for less than 12 months, the lender should estimate turnover based upon the SME’s forecasted turnover for the first 12 months of trading. On 2 November, the Chancellor announced that the application deadline for CBILS has been further extended to 31 January 2021.

Businesses established more recently may also be able to access funds through the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes (LRSG) and Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). To be eligible for the LRSG (Open) and LRSG (Closed) schemes at a local level, a business must have been trading on the date that local restrictions came into force. Local Authorities have been given discretion to use funds provided by the ARG as they see fit, but we encourage them to set up a discretionary grant scheme e.g. for those businesses who are affected by closures but are not legally required to close. Guidance was published on 3rd November 2020 and FAQs will shortly be issued to all Local Authorities.

Finally, newly established businesses will be able to furlough staff through the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously claimed or have been claimed for under CJRS to make a claim under the extended CJRS (if other eligibility criteria are met). The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

In addition to these measures, the Government continues to support entrepreneurs through its network of 38 Local Growth Hubs and the Start-Up Loans programme, for which almost 74,000 loans have been issued since 2012.

As we head into the Winter, the Government is continuing to engage with businesses and representative groups to ensure the support provided to businesses, including those established more recently, is appropriate.

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