Financial Aid for Your Business Under COVID-19 Lockdown

April 08, 2020 By Magdalena Laas 0 Comments

Working from home and 'social distancing' has become the new normal since the middle of March 2020.  Necessary measures? Yes, but with serious financial consequences.  What resources are available to you in the Netherlands to steer your business sucessfully through this uncertain time?

‘Stay home, save lives’ is now our daily mantra. According to public health experts, social distancing and isolation are necessary measures to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The aim of these actions is ‘to flatten the curve’.  By spreading out the infection rate, the medical services won’t be overwhelmed and lives will be saved. The Netherlands extended these measures until the 28th of April, which will be revised again on the 22nd of April. As we look at how the infection rate and daily deaths are still growing in the Netherlands and around the world, many would probably agree that these emergency measures are crucial.  Only with hindsight would it be clear whether this was the best approach. Unfortunately, these lockdown measures have a dire impact on the economy which directly affects your business, especially as an entrepreneur, a small business owner or a self-employed professional (ZZp’er). Some people have lost their jobs; others are losing clients and income and are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

The Dutch government announced an emergency financial package of billions of euros to protect jobs and incomes and to support businesses, SME entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals (ZZP’ers) who are suffering as a direct result of COVID-19.

 

The Financial Aid Measures

  1. Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment

As of 17 March, the unemployment benefit for werktijdverkorting, WTV (short-time working), has been cancelled.  This is due to an unprecedented amount of applications received.  The Tijdelike Maatregel Overbrugging voor Werkbehoud, NOW (emergency bridging fund for sustained employment) replaced the WTV and currently provides employers with financial help to cover wages for three months.  Applications for this compensation are open from Monday 6 April till 31 May 2020. If you are eligible, your business will receive an advance payment within two to four weeks.

 

Requirements

  • Expect a loss of 20% turnover or more, as from 1 March 2020
  • Cannot dismiss employees on economic grounds during this time
  • Can retract a dismissal
  • Pay employees in full
  • This compensation can only be used for wages
  • Be transparent and inform both employees and the work council about the grant received
  • Keep correct records for five years
  • Inform Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) of any changes in your business status or circumstances
  • Notify the municipality, if your business already receives a wage subsidy
  • If, after three months, you ask for another three months extension, the conditions may be adapted
  • Submit a statement from an accountant for claims exceeding a specified amount (not yet determined)

 

How much can you claim?

  • Turnover loss of 100%, pay 90% of wages
  • Turnover loss of 50%, pay 45% of wages
  • Turnover loss of 25%, pay 22.5% of wages

The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will advance 80% of the expected payout within two to four weeks if your application is successful.  A correction can be made if there is a discrepancy between the estimated and the actual compensation. 

 

How to apply?

  • For March, April and May 2020, you can apply from 6 April 2020 at 09:00 to 31 May 2020
  • Have the following details handy:
    • Company name, contact person, address, phone number, email address (this has to be a Dutch one)
    • WTV case number if you previously applied for short-time working unemployment benefit
    • Payroll tax number
    • Indicate which three months you expect a minimum of 20% turnover loss
    • Indicate the percentage of turnover loss
    • Dutch bank account details, which is used by the Belastingdienst (tax administration)
  • Go to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) website.
  • Click on the application page (all in Dutch).
  • Once completed, sign the declaration of intent, which asks whether
  • you have entered all the details correctly and truthfully
  • you understand and agree to the Algemene wet bestuursrecht, Awb (General Administrative Law Act)
  • you can legally represent the company
  • bankruptcy has not been filed
  • you agree to your data being stored and processed per GDPR

 

  1. Financial Aid for Self-Employed Professionals

Under the Besluit bijstandsverleninging zelfstandige, Bbz (Decree on Assistance to the Self-employed), a temporary financial aid scheme Tozo has been made available to self-employed professionals. These include eenmanzaak (sole proprietors), vennootschap onder firma, VOF( general partnership) and Besloten Vennootschap, BV (private limited companies).

This temporary aid scheme (Tozo) takes two forms: income support and a loan for business capital. Depending on your family situation, for three months, you can apply for an amount of up to €1500 per month, without a partner or capital test to compensate for a loss of income. This subsidy is not a loan and does not need to be paid back.   

You can also apply for a business capital loan of up to € 10 157, which has to be repaid. The interest rates are lower than a standard business loan, and you can apply for an extension of repayment. 

This scheme can be backdated to 1 March 2020 and is in place till the 1 June 2020. Apply online.

 

Requirements

  • Self-employed (zzp, vof, bv, etc.)

  • Older than 18 and not receiving state pension (AOW)

  • Registered company with Kamer van Koophandel, KvK (Chamber of Commerce) before 17 March 2020 at 18:45

  • Legally live and work in the Netherlands

  • Work more than 23.5 hours in your business

  • You would need to prove that you are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19

  • Live in the municipality area where you apply

 

How to apply? ( in Dutch)

  • Have your and your partner’s DigiD and passwords, KvK number, copy of latest bank statement and turnover handy

  • Go to your municipality’s website

  • Log in with your DigiD

  • Fill in your income

  • Fill in your KvK number

  • Check the details of you and your partner

  • Attach a copy of your bank statements

  • Complete a declaration

    • I need financial aid

    • I belong to the target group

    • I know I have to repay the loan and that I will be fined if I give false information.

    • I will inform the municipality if my income status changes

  • Sign and send (with your partner’s signature)

If you are successful, you will receive payments within two to four weeks.

 

  1. Deferral of payment of tax and reduction of fines

Payments of income tax, corporate income tax, turnover tax and payroll tax can be extended for three months. You need to submit a written request to the Belastingdienst (tax administration), explaining how the COVID-19 outbreak and measures have caused your business financial hardship.  If you expect lower profits due to the corona crisis, you can ask the Dutch Belastingdienst to reduce your provisional assessment.

You can apply for an extension with an online form on the Belastingdienst website.

This form is called  ‘Verzoek bijzonder uitstel van betaling voor 3 maanden’ in Dutch.

 

How to apply?

  • Have your DigiD, RSIN and your BSN number handy
  • Go to the Belastingdienst website page
  • Click on  ‘verzoek bijzonder uitstel van betaling voor 3 maande.’
  • This will take you to a DigiD login page
  • You will be asked for your RSIN number and your citizen service number (BSN).

Fines for late payments have wavered.  The collection interest rate for paying after the payment term ended is low;  almost 0% and the tax interest rate is temporarily set at the lowest possible.

Further payment extensions have been given on excise duty, landlord levy, environmental taxes, insurance premium tax and betting and lottery tax. 

The obligation for employers to report permanent employees’ contracts has been extended to 1 July 2020.

Under certain circumstances, your G-account can be unblocked. The form is in the Belastingsdienst website under ‘Deblokkering g-rekening.’

If you are unsure, as all the information on the Belastingdienst website is in Dutch, you can also contact the 

Tax Information Line on 0800 0543 

 

  1. Extension of the Business GO Scheme

Medium to large businesses can temporarily take out bigger loans of up to €150 million under the Garantie Ondernemingsfinanciering, GO (business loan guarantee scheme). 

 

  1. SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (BMKB)

The BMKB scheme has been extended from 16 March 2020 to 1 April 2021 to help SME entrepreneurs secure bank guarantees and bridge financing.  Only those SME’s financially struggling due to the COVID-19 outbreak can apply for the  BMKB-C scheme.  

 

  1. Extension of Loans to Agricultural and Horticultural Businesses

Similar extensions have been granted to businesses in the agriculture sector. They can apply under the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Agriculture (BL-C) for a bridge loan of up to €1.2 million.  

 

  1. Deferment of payments and reduction of interest by Qredits

Entrepreneurs are given a suspension of loan repayments for six months by microcredit provider, Qredits. During these six months, the interest will also be reduced to 2%. The government is putting six million euros to Qredits.

 

  1. Compensation for Entrepreneurs in Affected Sectors (TOGS)

A once-off compensation of €4000 is granted to entrepreneurs in specific sectors, affected by COVID-19. This compensation is called Tegemoetkoming Ondernemers Getroffen Sectoren COVID-19, TOGS in Dutch. 

 

Eligible Sectors

  • Food and beverage

  • Hair, nail and beauty care

  • Travel agents and tour operators

  • Swimming Pools, sports clubs, fitness centres, saunas, and sport events

  • Private cultural organisations such as musea, circuses, theatres and music schools

  • Event locations and organisers

  • Casinos

As of 30 March, this compensation has been extended to retail. You can simply enter your business KvK number into the SBI-code search tool of the RVO website to establish if your business is eligible.

 

Requirements

  • Company must have a physical address in the Netherlands and registered with KvK before 16 March 2020

  • No more than 250 employees

  • Not a public company

  • No bankruptcy or suspension of payment filed.

  • Loss of turnover of at least €4000 from 15 March to 15 June 2020 expected

  • Expect the cost of at least €4000 from 15 March to 15 June 2020

  • Company has not received more than €200 000 in government support across the last three fiscal years (includes the current year)

  • Non-hospitality type businesses must have at least one branch, with an address other than the owner's home address. Transactions in the hospitality sector with SBI codes 56.10.1, 56.10.2 and 56.30 are exempt. These companies must lease, rent or own at least one location. 

 

How to apply?

 

  1. The Incentive Scheme eHealth at Home (SET)

SET has been extended to support healthcare organisations to invest in apps, software and hardware to be able to offer their clients online health solutions.  At the time of writing, due to an overwhelming amount of applications, this subsidy is temporarily suspended.

 

  1. Further Extensions

The export credit insurance facility will be extended to make it possible for businesses to apply for a short-term guarantee with a shorter run time than two years.  The Dutch Trade and Investment Fund (DTIF) will also be extended to include pre-delivery advances. 

 

Other Considerations

Domestic Workers

Many  Amsterdam Mamas families may often pay domestic workers, such as cleaners, gardeners and babysitters, in cash.   Many of these employees are vulnerable to this economic crisis and rely on regular work and pay to support their families or pay rent or buy food.  Please consider how to strike a fair balance between reducing unnecessary contact and supporting their employment and security.

Technically all home services employees - whether you have a written contract or not -  are entitled to sick pay, holiday pay and a reasonable notice period.

 

Supporting Hospitality Industry

Restaurants, bars and cafes have been shut since 15 March. You can still support your local or favourite eatery by ordering online.  

Thuisbezorgd and other delivery companies have contactless options to pay and will leave deliveries at the door to reduce close contact. Remember to tape a tip to your door.  

 

Small Businesses Targeted to Families

If you have a small business, struggling due to COVID-19, think of how you can offer your services online.  Feel free to advertise your online classes and services in our Corona Crisis Advertising post so we can help keep this community going. And don't forget to join Amsterdam Business Mamas to work together, network and get more ideas for how to keep your business going.

 

Quick Reference Links:

Infographic - Government COVID-19 Aid 

An overview of the government aid and tax measures

The coronavirus and your company: government measures to help businesses

https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19/veelgestelde-vragen-per-onderwerp/financiele-regelingen

https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/nl/home/content/coronavirus


Magdalena Laas is a freelance visual storyteller. Born in South Africa, adopted by New Zealand, welcomed by the United Kingdom and now learning to cycle in the Netherlands, with her husband, son and well-travelled cat. Also look  for her on Instagram  or LinkedIn and DutchReview


Photocredit: Canva

 

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