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SPONSORED: Protecting jobs and supporting business

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The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and support business across the UK during the coronavirus outbreak.

There is a wide range of financial support available to firms of all sizes.

Today we take a look at how some companies have benefited from the help available.

‘Critical to Scouts’ survival’

Scouts Scotland supports 12,000 volunteers and 40,000 young people.

Scouts Scotland chief executive Katie Docherty says the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been absolutely critical to the survival of Scouts Scotland as an organisation.

Almost 80 per cent of Scouts Scotland’s 62 staff have been furloughed as outdoor education centres and campsites have been closed and fundraising events have postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The organisation, which supports 12,000 volunteers and 40,000 young people in Scotland, has suffered a £1.5 million shortfall as a result.

Ms Docherty said they had received some funding from the Scottish Government, but that furlough scheme is “the lifeline that’s keeping us going just now”.

She said: “It’s the furlough scheme that’s allowed us to keep paying our staff whilst we have no income coming in. It’s been absolutely critical. We would have had to make most of our staff redundant otherwise.”

The CJRS has been extended until the end of October by the UK Government in order to protect businesses and jobs across the country.

Furlough scheme ‘offers a lifeline to many businesses’

A Seating Matters employee producing medical equipment at the company’s workshop.

A County Derry company has been protecting health care workers by supplying high-end protective gear for intensive care units during the COVID-19 crisis.

Seating Matters, based outside Ballykelly, has been able to use the Government’s furlough scheme to protect about a quarter of its 50-strong workforce, while also helping provide box shields to protect healthcare workers while they are ventilating patients

The family-owned company has specialised in creating chairs to provide comfort, postural support, pressure management and improve quality of life for disabled adults and children since 2008.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, however, the company has teamed up with medical experts and designers to create the box shields.

Managing director Martin Tierney said: “We have been making clinical therapeutic chairs for hospitals and we are very close to the front line in that respect because a lot of our chairs are being used in intensive care and in COVID wards.”

Seating Matters was established by Martin’s mother Martina, an occupational therapist who had identified a global demand for therapeutic chairs.

It now has 50 staff but Mr Tierney said it had to furlough a quarter of its staff. He said the government furlough scheme was a lifeline for many businesses.

Mr Tierney said: “I’m grateful that we can keep moving forward because there are a lot of places that are stopped altogether. I’m just grateful that we are not in that boat.”

The firm has strict social distancing and changed an office entrance in order to safeguard staff against coronavirus infection.

Chancellor’s measures to safeguard firms and their staff

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a range of measures* for businesses and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. Here are some examples.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has enabled businesses to put employees on a period of temporary leave (furlough) and apply for a government grant to cover 80 per cent of those workers’ usual monthly wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 a month. The scheme available until the end of October has already protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will allow eligible self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant of 80 per cent of their average monthly profits, up to £7,500.

UK VAT-registered firms have been given the option to defer VAT payments until the end of June.

There will be no interest or penalties on any amount deferred.

The Government has introduced a business rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and nurseries in England.

Other schemes are in place in the other nations within the UK.

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction

The Government’s Bounce Back Loans Scheme provides loans of up to £50,000 to small businesses, with a 100 per cent government-backed guarantee for lenders.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available for loans or finance of up to £5m.

The Government will provide the lender with an 80 per cent guarantee to support the lending.

*Eligibility criteria applies.

Details of the support available to businesses across the UK can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support