Almost as shocking as the onset of the pandemic was the extent to which Westminster intervened to prop up the economy. Though eye-wateringly expensive, the measures have largely been hailed as the right thing to do. 

Now with furlough finally finished at the end of September and the coronavirus recovery loan scheme (CRLS) ceasing for new applicants on 30 June 2022, what has the impact of these schemes been? And what can businesses that were relying on emergency support do next?

COVID-19 support packages

Since March 2020, there have been a myriad of support schemes for business. 

Grants were immediately made available for most businesses that operated from rateable business properties. These were followed by more targeted grants for hospitality unable to trade during lockdowns and for the self-employed. 

Deferral of VAT was permitted and a greater than usual understanding shown if tax bills could not be paid on time. Statutory sick pay provision was extended, as was the scope of business rates relief available south of the border and non-domestic rates relief here in Scotland.

Government-backed loans have been a feature throughout the pandemic response: the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), bounce-back loans and the (still open) CRLS.

And then there was the furlough scheme – the coronavirus job retention scheme – where at one point Westminster was paying the wages of more than nine million Brits.

What impact did these support packages have?

These measures undoubtedly saved the UK economy from flat-lining. At first, the positive impact was almost as much psychological as financial, with Westminster’s message being: “Don’t worry, we have got you covered”.

From then, the effect was operational – helping both businesses and individuals comply with the unprecedented lockdowns, staving off mass redundancies and giving people breathing space.

As the loans have evolved over the past 18 months or so, the emphasis has changed – from business interruption to bounce-back and now recovery. 

The furlough scheme ended in September and the data suggests there will not be the large-scale redundancies of an economy on its knees. Many sectors are not suffering a recruitment crisis, either – they just can’t find the staff.

The recovery loan scheme is still open

Businesses of any size can apply for the CRLS and up to £10m per business is available. You need to be able to show that business has been interrupted by the pandemic, but that you would otherwise be a viable business and that you are not in collective insolvency proceedings.

Money is available in the form of term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance through a list of accredited providers on the British Business Bank.

If you need cash to recover and grow, this is an excellent opportunity as you can use it for any legitimate business purpose, such as managing cashflow or funding investment and growth. 

What may prove to be the last major piece of pandemic-related financial support is time-limited, though. The application period was due to end on 31 December 2021, but Westminster have extended it to 30 June 2022.

What alternative business support is available?

While pandemic support looks like it will end by June next year, there are always a range of finance options on the open market, from bank loans to asset finance. 

If you are exploring longer-term funding options, we have a range of business services that can help.

Email or call 0141 221 2257 to be guided down the right path.