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What is Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)?

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS“) is open for applications to provide small businesses with a loan of up to £5m to assist with the Covid-19 outbreak. The Scheme is aimed at businesses who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, and who otherwise would be denied support from lenders, to be supported by a Government backed guarantee. The Scheme will initially run for six months with the possibility to be extended where required, so businesses should only approach a lender under the Scheme as and when they require assistance.

Related FAQs

What guidance has the CMA issued about how it expects businesses to behave in response to the global pandemic?

On 30th April 2020, the CMA issued a guidance note setting out its views about how the law operates in relation to refunds.

Where a contract is not performed as agreed, the CMA considers that in most cases, consumer protection law will generally allow consumers to obtain a refund.

This includes the following situations:

  • Where a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services
  • Where no service is provided by a business, for example because this is prevented by Government public health measures
  • A consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.

In the CMA’s view, this will usually apply even where the consumer has paid what the business says is a non-refundable deposit or advance payment.

This positon reflects the CMA’s previous guidance which they had issued in relation to the requirement of fairness in consumer contracts under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which was that a clause in a contract that gives a blanket entitlement to a trader to cancel a contract and retain deposits paid is likely to be unfair, and therefore unenforceable – it would be unfair to a consumer to lose their deposit if the contract is terminated without any fault on their part, and if they had received no benefit for the payments made.

The CMA’s latest guidance therefore confirms their view that the Covid-19 outbreak does not change the basic rights of the consumer, and that they should not have to pay for goods or services that they do not receive.

What is the penalty for failing to comply with the individual consultation obligations?

Failure to comply with the individual consultation obligations could render the dismissal unfair and expose you to a financial penalty of the lower of up to 1 years gross pay or the maximum statutory limit (currently £88,519).

What is the claim period for Flexible Furlough?

Employers had until 31 July 2020 to make any claims for claim periods up to 30 June 2020. That was the end of the old scheme.

From 1 July 2020, claim periods must start and end within the same calendar month and must be for at least 7 days unless you are claiming for the first few days or the last few days in a month.

You can only claim for a period of fewer than 7 days if the period you are claiming for includes either the first or last day of the calendar month, and you have already claimed for the period ending immediately before it.

For example, if an employee is furloughed for 7 days spanning a month. You can claim the last 3 in one month, and 4 from the next.

The crucial point is that you cannot make claims that cross calendar months.

The first time that you could make a claim for days in July 2020 was 1 July 2020. You could not claim for periods in July 2020 before this point.

ONLINE EVENT: Contracts, managing supply chain issues and the role of directors

Hosted by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Partners Damien Charlton and Jane Garvin discussed in this webinar contracts, managing supply chains and the role of directors, with  a particular focus on cancellation of events and businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

You can find a recording of the webinar from NGI here.

Capability issues

All organisations have underperformers. Capability is a potentially fair reason to dismiss and is separate to any redundancy procedures.

Generally, capability falls into either absences through illness or underperformance in the role. Those who are absent through sickness can be furloughed, but when furlough comes to an end they will need to go back onto sickness. If you are looking to tackle absence then you need to tackle long term and short term absence in a different way.

Long term absence: You need to establish whether the employee is able to return to work (with or without reasonable adjustments) in the medium term. This requires medical opinion and be careful of disability issues. Reasonable adjustments are likely to be important.

Short term absence: You will need to demonstrate that you have fair absence triggers in place and there is normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal. Be careful of disability issues.

As for underperformance: To tackle this, you will need to have clear SMART objectives in place and evidence of the employee failing to meet these. There would then normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal.