Rural businesses have been advised on the latest position regarding the various government support schemes in place for those adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The second round of support under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was launched this week and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will close to new applications in September.
Elsewhere, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) will close to new applications in November.
With the scheme having reopened on Monday 17 August, applications for the second round of SEISS funding can now be submitted.
The scheme is open to the self-employed - including partners in a partnership - whose business has been adversely impacted by Covid-19, since 14 July.
A one-off government grant of 70% of average monthly trading profits, for 3 months, will be paid to those who are eligible for the scheme.
The total payment will be capped at £6,570 and applications must be made by 19 October.
Martyn Dobinson, partner at Saffery Champness, said the second round of the scheme, announced at the end of May, would be a lifeline for self-employed individuals.
"The eligibility criteria are the same as for the first round, but the payment is reduced, and those eligible should be contacted by HMRC to notify them of the availability of the funding.
"Any claims suspected of having been claimed under false pretences will be investigated by HMRC,” Mr Dobinson said.
The CBILS scheme provides loan funding of between £50,000 and £5,000,000 for UK businesses with an annual turnover of up to £45m.
The first 12 months’ interest and fees are covered by the government and a 12-month repayment holiday is available.
The loan term is up to 6 years. It is expected that the scheme will close to new applications at the end of September.
Similarly, the BBLS provides loan funding of between £2,000 and £50,000, up to a maximum of 25% of annual turnover.
Again, the first 12 months’ interest and fees are covered by the government, a 12-month repayment holiday is available and the loan term is up to 6 years. This scheme is expected to close on 4 November.
Mr Dobinson said with the full impact of Covid-19 yet to be felt by many farming and rural businesses, these loan application deadlines may come too soon.
“Unlike funding under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or SEISS, the loan funding will need to be repaid," he said.
"Many will have attempted to negotiate this phase by using their own resources without resorting to emergency debt finance, however appealing it may have seemed.
"However, as the crisis continues and the impact takes hold, it’s likely that many will realise that they will need to access this additional funding to stay afloat after all."
Other factors affecting farming businesses, including the weather, pricing of inputs, and market and commodity price fluctuations, may pose additional risk to these businesses during the coming months.
Similarly, those that have diversified into other areas, such as events, holiday accommodation, attractions and tourism, for example, may not have felt the full impact of the virus yet.
Mr Dobinson said a seriously shortened season would pose a severe challenge in terms of turnover and profitability.
He said: “Budgeting will help to determine whether there is a need to access funding through these loan schemes, which could be crucial for many businesses as the winter bites.
“Whilst it remains possible that both these loan schemes could be extended, in the absence of any announcements, anyone wishing to benefit should ensure that they take advantage, and that applications are made in good time.”