Coronavirus Financial Support Measures Update 30 March 2020

If you are in business or an employee affected by COVID-19 then this is relevant for you.

The details of the various support initiatives from Government are starting to be released but guidance is not complete in many areas. Our Treasury Minister has also announced that new schemes will be revealed in the next few days for the tourist and fishing sectors but no information is currently available. Certain action can be taken now and so I would urge any business to review this article and also keep up to date with the Government website, most of which is linked ‘here‘.

Any business that wants to find out if it can be considered for support should click ‘here‘ and complete the enquiry form.

Set out below is a summary of the schemes we are aware of with some basic information. We have provided relevant links which should help direct your research. Please do get in touch if you want some assistance, but please also note that we do not have advance knowledge of the schemes and so we are all on a fast learning curve. I suspect the Government is also and so patience will be needed.

The key point to note is that whilst businesses may be waiting to receive the financial support, you are encouraged to speak to your bankers, who are supposed to be set-up to provide at least short-term funding. It is likely though that the bank will want information from you, and so again if you need support let us know, we are here to assist. The Treasury Minister also announced on Monday that where schemes are for certain sectors only, consideration would be given for applications for assistance from other sectors where adverse situations have occurred. What specific criteria will be used to assess applications is not yet known.

Please also note that employment law is still relevant and must be considered in seeking to vary an employee’s contract. The Manx Industrial Relations Services (‘MIRS’) have set up a dedicated web page ‘here‘ to assist businesses in this regard. Legal aspects of employment contracts is not an area we can advise you on.

Wage Support Scheme

This scheme offers direct financial support to the employer of up to £280 per week per full-time employee for the period from 2 March for 12 weeks. Conditions apply such as there must be at least 2 employees, employee obligations up to 28 February must have been met, the business intends to continue, and it must have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Certain sectors are excluded from this scheme (including finance sector, legal, IT, E-Gaming, businesses significantly connected with Government), but as noted above, businesses in other sectors may be considered and so on this basis we would recommend that such entities follow-up on this with Government. An appeal mechanism may be available.

The scheme will be accessed via an online application that will be available from mid-April. In the meantime, you will be able to register your interest in the scheme via email from next week after which you should be notified when the online application service opens. At the time of writing we are not aware of the specific email address, however the Department of Enterprise can be reached on ded@gov.im. Treasury is working as fast as it can to open this service. Click ‘here‘ for further details.

The Q&A on this scheme is linked ‘here‘ and the legislation ‘here‘.

Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance

This scheme enables employees who are not retained by their employer to claim support of up to £200 per week. An online claim form will become available on 6 April. If you can’t claim online you should contact Social Security on telephone 01624 685656 or email socialsecurity@gov.im  to ask for a claim form to be sent to you. But you can’t do this before 6 April. For more details on this scheme click ‘here‘.

£3,000 Coronavirus Business Support Scheme

This scheme is active, and grants or loans can be accessed now for eligible businesses. It is designed to apply only to certain sectors, but we understand that the Government may accept applications from others. For details of the scheme click ‘here‘.

Register your interest in this scheme ‘here‘. Application can be found ‘here‘.

Business Interruption Loan Guarantee Scheme

Further details will be available later this week. The relevant web link is ‘here‘.

VAT Deferment

This scheme is active from 23 March and relevant web link is ‘here‘.

NI/ITIP payroll taxes deferral

This is an item mentioned only by the Treasury Minister in a speech, but so far we have not yet found written reference to this. We understand that deferment is available for period 12 of 2019/20 and periods 1 and 2 for 2020/21. We would recommend that affected businesses contact the tax office by emailing incometax@itd.treasury.gov.im to enquire further (general telephone number is 01624 685400). We understand that at this time no penalties and interest will normally apply. There does not appear to be a specific date by which these payments must be made and it appears that the tax office are willing to work with businesses in this regard.

National Insurance Holiday

This scheme is available for relevant sectors only. Check out the web link ‘here‘.

Strategic Investment Fund

This scheme includes aspects that may allow Government to purchase legal title to assets (land, property, equipment etc.) from businesses in return for cash where the business is able to demonstrate that they will be able to maintain employment. Independent valuation of assets will be required. Click ‘here‘ for the relevant web link.

Strategic Capacity Scheme

This new £5 million fund is to help strategically important business sectors in order to preserve the future economic prosperity of the Island. Initially the fund will be made available to support the Tourism Accommodation sector with a one off payment in recognition of their lost earnings in order to support them moving to a more sustainable holding position for the rest of the season, where possible allowing them to avoid collapse. The relevant web link is ‘here‘.

Business Adaptation Grant

£3.5 million is being made available for the Department for Enterprise to support businesses looking to evolve in the current climate. The Department will meet 50% of any costs that can be shown to be involved in the adaptation of a business as a result of a changing market due to the Coronavirus outbreak that has a viable business plan going forward.

For further details, click ‘here‘.

Examples of business adaptations are as follows:

– A Distillery looking to make Hand Sanitiser

– A Restaurant looking to acquire (or rent) a vehicle to enable take away deliveries

– An affected business looking to invest in improved IT infrastructure to enable remote working.

– Work permit regulations have been relaxed. For further details click ‘here‘.

– Non-Government deferral (bank loans, mortgages, utility bills and tenants)

Please do not take action based on the contents of this email without seeking advice. The contents highlight certain news items only. Harding Lewis Limited accept no responsibility for any action taken by anyone as a result of reading the above.