Covid support: guidance for the travel industry

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With Covid continuing to impact the travel industry, here is a checklist of support currently available to travel companies, self-employed travel agents and employees of the travel agent industry.
Wage costs

• The Job Support Scheme (JSS) from 1 November 2020, the successor to the furlough scheme, funds wage costs at two levels, depending on whether employees are working reduced hours, or the business has to close due to Covid regulations. An employer can claim both levels at the same time for different employees.

• Employers can also claim a Job Retention Bonus in February 2021 for employees brought back from furlough who they continue to employ until at least 31 January 2021. Employers claiming JSS may still claim the Job Retention Bonus in respect of the same employee if they are eligible.

• Businesses with fewer than 250 employees can reclaim up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay per employee

Loans

Coronavirus loans backed by the government remain available until 30 November 2020.

• Bounce Back loans can unlock between £2,000 to £50,000 and are 100% backed by a government guarantee, and with no set-up fees and no repayments for the first twelve months. The first 12 months of interest payments is also covered by the government.

• The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) can unlock up to £5m for smaller businesses, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) can unlock up to £200m

• A Future Fund offers convertible loans from £250,000

• In addition, the Bank of England offers a Covid 19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) for very large businesses that make a material contribution to the UK economy. This is available until mid-March 2021.

Grants

Depending on the area of the country in which they operate and the rateable value of the property, business may qualify for local authority grants and business rate relief, and they should contact their local councils for further information.
Insolvency law
• Under the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Act 2020, the government has made changes to corporate insolvency law and governance arrangements to help businesses focus on survival. These important company law and insolvency measures provide flexibility under the law and a breathing space to reassess operations and initiate a restructuring plan.
Business rates
• Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-2021 tax year.

Self Employed Travel Agents

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) pays self-employed individuals a grant representing a percentage of their profits. This funding has been extended, with two further grants being made available in February and May 2021.

• For those self-employed who cannot access SEISS, they can consider a Bounce Back loan. This is easier to apply for than the CBILS, and many self-employed have already made use of this.

• HMRC has scaled up its Time To Pay service for those with tax liabilities, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments over an agreed period of time.

• Businesses which deferred their VAT payments will have more time to repay the money owing.

• Provisions have also been put in place to prohibit forfeiture of a leases for non-payment of rent until 31 December to give commercial tenants more time.

Employees

For employees, the furlough scheme and its Job Support Scheme replacement ensure security, although the less generous scheme from 1 November does not provide the same level of comfort as furlough. Nevertheless it will help to keep people in work.

• The government has also boosted the universal credit regime and put more resources into helping people apply for it.

• There have also been payment holidays on most debts, including mortgages, overdrafts, credit cards, personal loans, etc.

• The Kickstart scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.

Further information

More information is available from the Government Website:

Disclaimer

The information and suggestions contained in this guide are of a general nature and are not a substitute for professional advice. Whilst we have taken every effort to ensure that the information contained within this guide is accurate and up to date, you should not rely solely upon nor act upon anything here without first contacting us and seeking specific professional advice. In the preparation of this guide, every effort has been made to offer the most current and correct information possible. Nonetheless, errors can occur, and UK tax law can change. Bishop Fleming does not accept any responsibility for any damage or loss occurring by any person as a result of any use or any action you take or do not take in reliance on any information in this guide.