In this difficult and busy time, we’re aiming to help you by keeping this page updated with useful sources of financial support for farms and rural businesses.
Those who have diversified into leisure, retail, holiday accommodation, campsites and other hospitality will be particularly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and - subject to eligibility - may be able to access some of the schemes below.
As we learn more, we’ll update the page so please bookmark this page and come back to it regularly.
1. Government support
Information on the support for UK businesses can be found on the respective Government websites:
We give summaries of the schemes offering financial support below.
Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Talk to your local authority to find out about eligibility, reliefs and grants.
One-off grant for businesses paying little or no business rates
Small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 (up from £3,000 announced in the March budget). Your local authority will contact you if you are eligible.
Business rate holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
There will be a business rates holiday in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. This includes those mainly being used for hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. This will apply to your council tax bill in April 2020.
Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
Businesses can defer VAT payments for 3 months from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. They are both automatic offers with no applications required.
Tax payment: HMRC’s Time to Pay service
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 for information.
Reclaim Statutory Sick Pay
Legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The rebate scheme is in development and we’ll post a link when legislation is passed.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off. HMRC will reimburse 80% of ‘furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to £2,500 per month.
Additional 3 months to file accounts
Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. You must apply for the extension. See the Government website for information on applying for more time.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, has launched. See the section in ‘2. Bank Support’ for more information.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility is run by the Bank of England, who will buy short term debt from larger companies that "make a material contribution to the UK economy" to allow them to finance their short-term liabilities. It will also ease the supply of credit to firms. More information on the Bank of England website.
2. Bank support
Mortgage repayment holidays
If you are worried you may be unable to make your monthly mortgage payments, you should contact your lender sooner rather than later. If you take a repayment holiday remember that interest will still be calculated over the period of the payment holiday and then added to the loan. So, once you resume your payments, the monthly payments will be higher to cover the amount added.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
Although run by the British Business Bank it is administered by your own bank. Talk to your bank or finance provider in the first instance.
This will support eligible small and medium-sized businesses to access bank overdrafts and loans of up to £5 million to support working capital or cashflow. The first 12 months (updated from 6 months initially announced) of that finance will be interest-free. Qualifying businesses will have a turnover of less than £41 million per year and must meet other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.
Note: over the weekend of 21-22 March a link on the BBB website implied that specific agricultural uses were excluded, and some were eligible at a reduced threshold. Now (update: 23 March) this link has been removed and the website states that fishery, aquaculture and agriculture businesses may not qualify for the full interest and fee payment. We are finding out more about this scheme and eligibility from our lending sources and hope to add more to this information soon.
More can be found on the British Business Bank website, in particular:
Alternative bank or lender support
If you find that your bank or other lenders can’t help you (which could increasingly happen as banks prepare to protect their capital positions), our team is available to listen to your circumstances and to offer advice on other options.
3. Farming support and advice
CLA: are keeping a useful page of information updated covering, amongst other things, labour availability, key workers and insurance.
NFU: also have a dedicated section on Coronavirus support, including advice on supply contracts and extending credit to buyers. Some of the content is exclusive to NFU Members.
NFU Cymru: regularly updated advice on the immediate, long term and sector issues.
NFU Scotland: includes a link to a Q&A page giving answers to the most common questions they are receiving.
AHDB: are offering insight to Coronavirus and how it will affect different farming markets and sectors.
4. Wellbeing support
Finally, we want to signpost you to the following charities who do great work supporting the rural community in times of need.
Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution: offer financial support, practical care and guidance to farming people of all ages, including farmers, farmworkers and dependants. Helpline: 0808 281 9490
Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution: provide emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector including farming and crofting. Helpline: 0300 111 4166
Farming Community Network: supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. Helpline: 03000 111999