Industry FAQs during the Coronavirus outbreak

Job Retention Scheme, Loan Scheme, VAT deferral, SSP reimbursement and anything else that needs clarification.

COVID-19 is having a huge impact on all aspects of the advertising industry, from productions being shut down and campaigns being put on hold. At the IPA, we are still here to help you get through what are undoubtedly difficult and uncertain times. Here, the IPA Directors answer some of the biggest questions that you’ve been asking us over the past few weeks.

Where can I find Government advice and help for businesses?

The Government’s range of advice and support for businesses can be found on their website. Key pieces of information include:

If you have further questions about how you can access the Government’s support for businesses, please contact IPA Director of Legal and Public Affairs Richard Lindsay or IPA Finance Director David Clasen.

Job Retention Scheme FAQs

Who can I speak to if I have employment law questions?

IPA Associate Director, Employment Law Juliet Bawtree is on hand to answer any questions that members may have regarding employment law.

Please see the updated Job Retention Scheme FAQs, following the publication of government guidance for both employers and employees. (IPA members only).

Where can my staff go for advice and support?

This is a difficult and stressful time for everyone, including agency leaders and agency employees. NABS is the employee support organisation for the advertising and media industry and can help provide advice and support for a wide range of issues through their Advice Line, including:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Emotional support
  • Redundancy
  • Ill health
  • Financial assistance
  • Family and relationship issues
  • Legal or contractual queries
  • Maternity or paternity rights
  • Discrimination

If you’d like help with any of the above or similar, give NABS a call on 0800 707 6607 between 9am – 5.30pm or email for tailored advice and guidance, whatever your level or experience. They will respond to all calls and emails within 24 hours.

My job is new business. What should I be doing now?

It is undoubtedly an uncertain time for new business in our industry, but that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities out there. IPA New Business Group Chairs Pedro Martins and Laura Vipond recently outlined their advice on making new business a success when working remotely with Campaign. For more on the IPA New Business Group please contact Joyce Kelso.

Are productions shutting down?

Productions have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, with nearly all live-action productions being cancelled or postponed. IPA Production Consultant Kim Knowlton outlined her advice to agencies on how to keep the industry going in her recent IPA blog.

I work in management. What should be on my to-do list?

What changes do I need to know about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

The IPA have created some short SSP FAQs detailing the current and former regulations including how is eligible for the new SSP refund.

What IPA learning is still running during the Coronavirus outbreak?

We have made our entire training suite of courses, qualifications and exams free for IPA member agencies, their employees, and individual members for six months, until 2 October 2020.

The move has been made in recognition of the financial, emotional and physical impact that COVID-19 is having on agencies and their employees.

This new suspension of fees for its entire portfolio and for all exams taken during the period will allow IPA members to use furlough or any other downtime during this time of crisis to enhance their qualifications in a range of industry areas, with no associated costs for them or their employers.

Please see the full list of free IPA courses and qualifications.

Will the IPA be running some of their planned events as webinars?

Yes. While we have postponed some of our upcoming events we are looking at ways to run them online and will share more details in due course.

Will you still be releasing TouchPoints 2020 in September and what will the data look like?

We are fortunate to run our IPA TouchPoints fieldwork over four months and while some of this will fall within the period of the strongest governmental restrictions much of it has already been completed.

We are also fortunate that all of our recruitment happens over the phone and not face to face. A significant proportion of our recruiters already work from home which further protects the process.

Currently we are expecting to release the 2020 data as scheduled but this does depend on a number of unpredictable factors. Recruitment is ongoing and we expect to be able to complete recruitment on time and achieve the required sample size. However, processing may be delayed due to limited resources within our research contractors – potentially impacting on the scheduled launch date.

Of course, even if we are able to release the data on time the data itself is expected to be quite different to 2019 and comparisons will be both interesting and problematic.

When released, TouchPoints will be in a unique position to provide insight into the media habits of the nation during this period. Around two thirds of our final sample will have been collected in the run-up to the more severe isolation measures and so we will be able to look in great detail at how media consumption changed over the course of March & April.

If you have any more specific questions please do get in touch directly via the email address.

I’m working from home and would like to use TouchPoints to better understand some of my client’s segments, are there any handy tools which can help me to do this?

Yes. The DayLite by TouchPoints dashboard is available to all current TouchPoints subscribers and makes accessing TouchPoints data a breeze. To use DayLite, you just need to create an account or log into the IPA website using your company email address.  Once you are in DayLite you will be able to analyse the lifestyle and media behaviours at a variety of standard audiences and can even request your own client specific bespoke audiences too. Please note that bespoke audiences may take up to 3 days to appear in DayLite.

I work in media and I’m taking part in the TouchPoints Bursting the Bubble initiative – based on the current situation, is this still going ahead?

Yes. This initiative is still running and it’s certainly still worth taking part.  The results of the study will give us an interesting understanding of the changes which have occurred in our daily lives in recent weeks. Remember you have until the end of April to complete your diary and questionnaire.

What are the plans for deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus?

Last updated on 27 March 2020

Who is eligible?

All UK VAT registered businesses, so all agencies.

How do I apply?

You don’t need to apply. HMRC will defer any VAT payment due between the period from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Your agency will still owe this money to HMRC but it may be paid any time up to the end of the tax year, which we are interpreting as 31 March 2021.

Can you provide more information?

HMG states that we have “until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period”. We believe that the term “liabilities” is used in the context of VAT return payments due to HMRC in the period rather than referring to any VAT obligations arising, for example, from the raising of sales invoices during the period from 20 March to 30 June 2020.

Will there be any interest on the deferred amount?

“Officials” told the Financial Times that no interest or late payment charges would apply to the deferral; this has now been confirmed by HMRC. HMG also advise that any business that normally pays their VAT via Direct Debit, should cancel their direct debit immediately.

What has the IPA itself done?

As we pay our VAT by Direct Debit, we have cancelled our Direct Debit through our HMRC online account and with our bank. We shall reinstate the Direct Debit in time for our second quarterly payment due in August 2020. And we shall pay the deferred amount before 31 March 2021

Please look at the source documents for fuller information and context. Any square brackets in this document indicate our current expectations or estimates; we shall update as these are confirmed or changed.

What does the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) offer?

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Last updated 3 April 2020
Please look at the source documents for fuller information and context. Any square brackets in this document indicate our current expectations or estimates; we shall update as these are confirmed or changed.

What is CBILS?
CBILS is a scheme run by the British Business Bank to provide accredited lenders with a partial guarantee against loans made to agencies (and other businesses) provided certain conditions are met.

What’s the background?
The Chancellor originally announced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme at his Budget on 11 March 2020. CBILS went live on Monday 23 March 2020. The IPA had reservations about this first iteration of CBILS which it relayed to Government.

What changed on 3 April 2020?
The Chancellor announced welcome improvements to the CBILS on 3 April 2020.

  • Any small business that would be currently viable were it not for the impact of the measures implemented to address the effects of COVID-19 can now directly access CBILS rather than being offered a bank’s standard commercial lending products.
  • Lenders have been banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
  • For loans over £250,000, personal guarantees will be limited to 20% of the balance outstanding after any recoveries from business assets.

What is the reach of any personal guarantees that are taken?
Under the CBILS, lenders are prohibited from including the homes of business leaders in the scope of any personal guarantee.

What does my agency need to do to get a loan?
Much the same things as it would in better times and before the launch of the CBILS i.e.

  • Get in touch with a lender. For most agencies, this will be the bank(s) they already have a relationship with, It makes sense to select from the list published by the British Business Bank. This list includes all the main High St banks.
  • Provide the potential lender with financial projections and a business plan. It may be best to start with the business plan in the hypothetical absence of COVID-19 and then show what adjustments have been made to arrive at the current actual projections. Remember to include the bit where the lender is repaid.

Who is eligible?
Most UK business, including all marketing agencies, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million [as reported in its last filed financial statements] are eligible to apply.

How much can be borrowed pursuant to the CBILS?
Up to £5m.

What are the interest arrangements?
The Chancellor announced on 20 March 2020 that a loan taken out pursuant to the CBILS will be interest-free to the borrower for the first twelve months of the facility.

What is the CBILS guarantee?
The guarantee is made by the British Business Bank to lenders not to borrowers. If an agency borrows pursuant to the Scheme, it remains liable for 100% of the debt.

For how long will the CBILS run?
The Scheme went live on 23 March 2020 and, according to the British Business Bank, will “initially run for six months”. We are interpreting this as the period during which CBILS loans may be granted. The maximum tenor for term loans is six years.

What is the British Business Bank?

The British Business Bank is a bank owned by Department for BEIS. Its aim is to increase the supply of credit to small and medium enterprises in the UK.

Last updated 21 September 2020