Posted: Thu 9th Apr 2020
In an exclusive webinar with Enterprise Nation which you can replay above, small business minister Paul Scully has said he is aware of the people falling through the gaps of government coronavirus support and is open to hearing ideas for solutions.
Speaking to Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones and taking small business owners' questions, Scully said "there is a degree of flexibility. It's why we're having these conversations".
He added: "What I want to be hearing is possible solutions. But it's about the complexity, to be able to work out a way to have a broad scheme, that's national, is deliverable, that fits as many people in as possible. We are keen to hear about those and see how we can work it through."
Coronavirus support for limited company directors
Much has been made of not enough support for limited company directors. Although they can furlough themselves through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to get a grant, it doesn't cover dividends which many directors use and they can't work on revenue generating activities while furloughed.
A listener to the webinar asked if directors can part furlough themselves. "The way the furlough scheme works at the moment, no you can't," Scully said but added that other businesses have suggested part-time furloughing to him already and "it's something I'll take back to the Treasury".
Another listener asked if directors could prove their income, are they them able to access the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which provides grants and also allows them to continue to work.
Scully said he was in the same situation eight years ago when he ran his own company.
"I structured my pay through a small amount of pay and dividends. I didn't want the hassle of a PAYE system when I only had one or two clients until I brought it up to a point where it was worth actually running a payroll. If it had happened then, I would have been caught up in exactly the same way.
"You are talking about hundreds of thousands of people but it's about proving [icome] and it doesn't become burdensome and take too long to prove it. That's where I'm trying to get to so I can feed into the Treasury a fully fledged solution they might want to consider."
Business rates grants
Another business owner asked whether the grants scheme which is handing out funding to companies with premises could be extended to other businesses in premises who can't access the grants.
"It's another example of people falling between the cracks so we need to know about it if they have examples, whether they're working in incubators etc, these are companies that are not able to get hold of a grant," Scully said.
"Get in touch with your local authority, see what more can be done and come through me or Enterprise Nation to highlight examples that we can then follow up on."
In a busy 30 minutes, the minister also discussed the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, help for fast growth businesses that can't access existing support and insurance.
On late payment, Scully said he was speaking to the Small Business Commissioner about examples of bad practices from big companies.
"I want to ensure that if it's large national companies, I can call them out. We do need to call it out because they do have a responsibility to ensure that at the end of this they can look back and say they have played their part in being a responsible company."
The latest coronavirus support information
We are keeping you updated on the latest information on how to access the government's coronavirus business support here. You can also find advice and ask a question on Enterprise Nation's coronavirus business advice hub. Follow Enterprise Nation on Twitter too for updates.