COVID – 19: Urgent Support for SMEs in Times of Crisis

In order to protect businesses and the livelihoods of their employees from the catastrophic effects of Covid-19, the Government has introduced a number of measures to provide short-term financial support to SMEs.

Due to the fast-moving nature of the crisis, these measures are continuing to be revised and new measures introduced. As such, there remains a lot of uncertainty about how businesses can actually access the support in time for it to provide the necessary lifeline.

We have summarised the most relevant of these measures below, which we hope will be of benefit to you and your clients.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS):

On 23rd March, the British Business Bank (BBB) made emergency CBILS loans accessible through accredited lenders up to £5m, 80% guaranteed by the Government.

Key features:

  • Available for all UK businesses with annual turnover up to 45m
  • Applicant has a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty
  • Interest free for up to 12 months and no upfront charges
  • Term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance products all available, subject to availability from particular lenders
  • Up to £250,000 may be on an unsecured basis, subject to lender discretion
  • Can be accessed alongside other emergency Government support (see below)

Further information can be found here.

CBILS applications must be made via specific lenders who will each follow their own credit procedures and apply to the BBB. It is expected that the application process will be similar to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which has been temporarily suspended.

If you or your client requires advice on which lenders or products are the most suitable or any assistance with the application process and compiling a viable business proposal then please contact one of our Debt Advisory team.


Job Retention Scheme:

A Government grant of 80% towards employee salaries who would otherwise have been laid off as a result of the crisis.

  • All UK businesses are eligible.
  • Capped at £2,500 per month per employee.
  • Workers must be ‘furloughed’, i.e. they must stop working but not be made redundant.
  • 3 month initial duration but to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
  • Back dated to 1 March.

HMRC are in the process of setting up a new system to process requests and payments.

HMRC are also allowing business with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay for staff who have been off work due to Coronavirus.

Further information can be found here.


Tax Deferment:

Business Rates Holiday and Grant (Retail, Hospitality and Leisure)

  • No rates charged for 12 months from April 2020.
  • Cash grant of up to £25,000 per property depending on the rateable valuable of the property
  • Only retail, hospitality and leisure business are currently eligible.
  • Bill changes should be applied automatically depending on your property classification.

There is also some additional relief available for smaller businesses with low or nil rates obligations due to existing reliefs.

VAT Holiday

HMRC have agreed to allow all UK businesses to defer VAT payments due between 20th March to 30th June and they will have until 5 April 2021 to clear these liabilities.

Time to Pay Scheme (TTP)

HMRC has indicated that it will accommodate more requests to defer existing tax liabilities over a longer period, which would include PAYE/NI, CIS and Corporation Tax liabilities as well as VAT. The TTP scheme is available to all UK businesses with existing liabilities.

Moorfields has experience of assisting businesses with their cash flow at times of stress and has successfully negotiated many TTP arrangements with HMRC. If our assistance could be of benefit to your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Advisory team.


Phil Smith, Partner

Tom Straw, Partner 



For media enquiries, please contact:


Katie Smith

Tel: +44 (0)20 7186 1144



About Moorfields

Moorfields is one of the UK's leading independent firms of restructuring and insolvency specialists. Our highly skilled teams include restructuring professionals and licensed insolvency practitioners who provide leadership, experience and high quality advice to companies and their stakeholders in financially distressed situations.

View all Our News