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UK government support measures

The UK government has announced a series of measures to provide support for businesses affected by Coronavirus.

There may be some variations to the below measures announced among devolved nations. Further information on support for businesses in the devolved nations can be found:

Please read this information in conjunction with the official guidance from the UK government. These will be amended as and when we receive updated information. The material is provided only as a guide and is not legal advice. You are strongly advised to seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner regarding your individual circumstances.

If you have any queries please contact:

UK Chambers of CommerceGlobal British Chambers of Commerce




Business Rates

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

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What is it?

The UK government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates discount to all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England to 100% for 2020-21, irrespective of rateable value.  Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

There may be some variations among the devolved nations.In Northern Ireland there will be a three-month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities. The effect of this is that no rates will be charged for Q2 2020 and will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill. Business rate bills will also not be issued until June 2020. In Wales, retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive a 100% business rates discount.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used: as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues, for assembly and leisure, as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. For more information on eligibility please refer to the Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance.

What do I need to do to access it?

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge.

Who do I need to speak to?

In England, speak to your local authority (likely to be the billing authority for rates).For details on accessing schemes in the devolved nations follow the links at the bottom of the document.

Lending Schemes

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

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What is it?

The Bounce Back Loans scheme will offer loans from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover or £50,000, whichever is lower. On 2 November, the BBLS rules were amended to allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan. Businesses will be able to take-up this option from week commencing 8 November and they can make use of this option once. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. The government has then set the interest rate for this facility at 2.5% per annum for subsequent years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Length of the loan is for six years. There will be a short, standardised online application to apply for a loan. new ‘Pay as You Grow’ flexible repayment system will provide flexibility for firms repaying a Bounce Back Loan. This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses. BBLS is now open for applications until 31st January 2021.

Am I eligible?

Your business must be able to self‑declare to the lender that it:

  • has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • was not a business in difficulty at 31 December 2019 (if it was, you must confirm your business complies with additional state aid restrictions under de minimis state aid rules).
  • is engaged in trading or commercial activity in the UK and was established by 1 March 2020.
  • is not currently using a government-backed Coronavirus loan scheme, unless the Bounce Back Loan will refinance the whole of the CBILS, CLBILS or CCFF facility.
  • is not in bankruptcy or liquidation or undergoing debt restructuring at the time it submits its application for finance.
  • derives more than 50% of its income from its trading activity (this requirement does not apply to charities or further-education colleges).

Bounce Back Loans are available to businesses in all sectors, except the following:

  • Credit institutions (falling within the remit of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive)
  • Insurance companies
  • Public-sector organisations
  • State-funded primary and secondary schools

The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.

What do I need to do to access it?

You will need to fill in a short application form online, which self-certifies that your business is eligible for a loan under BBLS. If your business is eligible, it will be subject to appropriate customer fraud, Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer checks. Some state aid restrictions may apply to your application.

  • A guide how to apply can be found here.
  • An FAQ on BBLS can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

You should speak to your business banking provider or one of the accredited lenders. With high demand for BBLS facilities, finance providers recommend that you approach a lender via their website. Phone lines are likely to be busy and branches may not be able to handle enquiries in person.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

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What is it?

This scheme delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable small and medium sized businesses to apply for a loan, up to £5m, with the government providing a guarantee of 80% on each loan and with no interest due for the first twelve months. CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities. Personal guarantees of any form cannot be taken under the scheme for any facilities below £250k. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders. CBILS lenders can extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for businesses who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders. CBILS lenders can extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for businesses who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans. CBILS is open for applications until 31st January 2021.

Am I eligible?

A link to British Business Bank’s eligibility checklist can be found here.

The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.

What do I need to do to access it?

A guide how to apply can be found here.

An FAQ on CBILS can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

You should speak to your business banking provider or one of the accredited lenders. With high demand for CBILS facilities, finance providers recommend that you approach a lender via their website. Phone lines are likely to be busy and branches may not be able to handle enquiries in person.



Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

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What is it?

UK government will provide a guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans to firms with turnover of more than £45 million of up to £200 million. Companies borrowing more than £50m through CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. The maximum size for invoice finance and asset finance facilities under the scheme is £50m. Facilities will be available from 3 months up to 3 years and will be offered at commercial rates of interest. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders. CLBILS is open for applications until 31st January 2021.

Am I eligible?

Your business must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the Coronavirus.
  • Not have received a facility under the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

Lenders will need further information to confirm eligibility. All lending decisions remain fully delegated to the accredited lenders.

The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.

What do I need to do to access it?

A guide how to apply can be found here.

An FAQ on CLBILS can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

You should speak to your business banking provider or one of the accredited lenders. With high demand for CLBILS facilities, finance providers recommend that you approach a lender via their website. Phone lines are likely to be busy and branches may not be able to handle enquiries in person.

Future Fund

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What is it?

Aimed at start-ups and high growth businesses, the scheme will provide convertible loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal matched funding from private investors. There is no cap on the amount that the matched investor(s) may loan to the company. The scheme is open for applications until 31st January 2021.

Am I eligible?

The company must have raised at least £250,000 in equity from third-party investors in previous funding rounds in the last five years (from 1 April 2015 to 19 April 2020, inclusive)

If the company is a member of a corporate group, it must be the ultimate parent company

The company does not have any of its shares or other securities listed on a regulated market, a multilateral trading facility, a recognised investment exchange and/or any other similar market, stock exchange or listing venue

The company must be a UK incorporated limited company

The company must have been incorporated on or before 31 December 2019

At least one of the following must be true for the company:

  • Half or more employees are UK based
  • Half or more revenues are from UK sale

What do I need to do to access it?

This is an investor-led scheme, meaning that a lead investor applies on behalf of themselves and may provide information about other investors making up the investment round, in connection to a company:

Investor applies - The investor, or lead investor of a group of investors, certifies they meet the scheme eligibility criteria and provides key investment details. Information for investors can be found here.

  • Company confirms - The company confirms the accuracy of the investment application details provided, before submitting the full application.
  • Contract is finalised - In the case of approved applications, all parties will execute an agreement (in the template form provided) and satisfy certain conditions set out in the agreement before the funds are released.

Future Fund portal is now live and can be accessed here.

An FAQ on Future Fund can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

Speak to your investor(s)/potential investor(s). The Future Fund does not offer a ‘matchmaking’ service where companies can find investors on the portal. Investors are strongly recommended by the British Business Bank to confirm the commitment of any other investors investing alongside them before submitting an application for an Investee Company.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

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Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

What is it?

The Bank of England will provide funding - aimed at large businesses - by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity. The facility will offer financing on terms comparable to those prevailing in markets in the period before the impact of Coronavirus. The facility will look through temporary impacts on firms’ balance sheets and cash flows by basing eligibility on firms’ credit ratings prior to the Coronavirus shock. The scheme will operate for at least 12 months.

Am I eligible?

The scheme is open to firms that can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to the impact of Coronavirus. Companies who wish to use the scheme do not need to have issued commercial paper before. Here is further information for firms looking to participate in the scheme.

If your firm does not have an existing credit rating from the major credit ratings agencies, the Bank of England recommend that you speak to your bank in the first instance.

If that bank’s advice is that the firm was viewed internally as equivalent to investment grade as at 1 March 2020, then contacting the Bank of England at: [email protected] to discuss your potential eligibility. The central bank will then make an assessment of whether you can be deemed as equivalent to having a public investment grade rating.

When can I access the scheme?

The scheme is open for applications.

Who do I need to speak to?

Speak to your bank. It is important to note that not all banks issue commercial paper. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance has provided a list of those banks that are able to assist.

Business Grants

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed)

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What is it?

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible to receive the following:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grant of £1,334 per 28-day qualifying restriction period.
  • For properties with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000, grant of £2,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period.
  • For properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, grant of £3,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period.

Am I eligible?

Businesses that are eligible are those that have been mandated to close by Government and include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses.

What do I need to do to access it?

Access to the grants can vary by Local Authority. Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Government guidance for Local Authorities can be found here and accompanying addendum for Local Authorities can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Local Restrictions Support Grants (Open)

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What is it?

UK government are providing additional funding to allow Local Authorities (LAs) for in high-alert level areas which are not legally closed, but which are severely impacted by the restrictions on socialising. The funding LAs will receive will be based on the number of hospitality, hotel, B&B, and leisure businesses in their area.

LAs will receive a funding amount that will be the equivalent of:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £934 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000, grants of £1,400 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 and over, grants of £2,100 per month.

With national ‘lockdown’ restrictions being imposed, the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) currently ceases to apply, as relevant businesses will receive funding from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed). However, businesses who have who have already been subject to enhanced restrictions (Local Covid Alert Levels ‘High’ and ‘Very High’) will still the receive the grants backdated up to August 2020 if they’ve been operating with enhanced restrictions since then.

Am I eligible?

The grant is aimed at hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses. Local Authorities will have discretion as to how to award grant funding to individual businesses.

What do I need to do to access it?

Access to the grants can vary by Local Authority. Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Government guidance for Local Authorities can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Additional Restrictions Grant

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What is it?

Local authorities in England will receive one off funding of £1.1 billion to support businesses more broadly over the coming months which they can use this at their discretion. This will be distributed to local authorities on the basis of £20 per head of population.

Am I eligible?

The UK government will provide grant funding to Local Authorities under national and tier 3 restrictions. Local Authorities can determine how much funding to provide to businesses from the ARG funding provided, and exactly which businesses to target.

However, the UK government are encouraging Local Authorities to develop discretionary grant schemes to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. .

What do I need to do to access it?

Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Government guidance for Local Authorities can be found here.

Who do I need to speak to?

Speak to your Local Authority for more details.

Job Support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

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What is it?

Businesses can claim for some of your employee’s wages if they have put them on furlough or flexible furlough because of Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until 31 March 2021, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The extension will apply UK-wide and eligible employers across the UK, small or large, including charitable or non-profit, will be able to claim for the extended CJRS. Businesses will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time and shift pattern, including furloughing them full-time. Employers will need to agree a furlough agreement with the employee. For the hours not worked, employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim. For the hours worked, employers will need to cover employees’ contracted wages, National Insurance and employer pension contributions.

In January 2021, the UK government will review the policy to decide whether economic circumstances have improved enough to ask employers to contribute more.

The Job Support Scheme and Job Retention Bonus have been postponed.

Am I eligible?

Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously claimed or have been claimed for under CJRS to make a claim under the extended CJRS (if other eligibility criteria below are met).

Employers:

  • All employers with a UK bank account and a UK PAYE payroll scheme that was registered on or before 30 October can claim the grant. This includes businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.
  • The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
  • The UK government expects that publicly funded organisations will not use the scheme, as has already been the case for CJRS, but partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted. All other eligibility requirements apply to these employers.

Employees:

  • Furloughed employees must have been employed and on an employer’s PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 30 October 2020.
  • As under the current CJRS rules, employees can be on any type of employment contract.
  • Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working, calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period.
  • If employees were on payroll as of 23 September 2020 (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 23 September) and were made redundant or stopped working for their employer afterwards, they can also qualify for the scheme if their employer re-employs them.

Click here to find out which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here to check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

What do I need to do to access it?

The extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will operate as the previous scheme did. An employer can make their claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll.

  • Claims can be made from 8am Wednesday 11 November and as previously, paid after 6 working days.
  • Employers must report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days.
  • Employers will need to report actual hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.

For information on claiming for wages through the scheme click here.

Full guidance will be published on Wednesday 11 November.

Who do I need to speak to?

Businesses can access the online portal here.

Calculatehow much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough, how much you can claim for employer NICs and pension contributions and how much you can claim back.

Employers should have all their information and calculations ready before beginning their application. They should retain all records and calculations, in case HMRC need to contact them.

Self-employment

Self-employment Income Support Scheme Extension

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What is it?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will provide grant support to self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

SEISS was extended further from November 2020 to April 2021. The extension will be in the form of two taxable grants at 40% of trading profits. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November until the end of January.

The UK Government announced on 5 November 2020 that the support to the self-employed will be increased to 80 per cent of trading profits between November 2020 and January 2021. The maximum grant will increase to £7,500. The online claims window will open on 30 November 2020.

The UK government will set out further details on the SEISS grant covering February to April, including the level of the grant, in due course.

Is this grant subject to tax?

Yes – individuals will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they are replacement for income in line with normal practice for benefits or grants that replace income. The grant is recognised as income for the purposes of Universal Credit and Tax Credits and may impact the amount claimants are entitled to.

What should self-employed people do while they wait to be paid?

In the interim, self-employed individuals may be eligible for universal credit. The government has provided over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for those affected by Coronavirus.

Why does this scheme not cover small businesses who are incorporated?

Self-employed individuals who are owner-managers and pay themselves a salary through PAYE will be eligible for support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. SMEs can also access support through the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

This new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open to anyone who reports trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment. Self-employed individuals who work through a company do not report their trading profits in this way.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)

declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:

are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus

were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus/partnership trading profits due to Coronavirus.

How do I access it?

HMRC will provide full details about claiming and applications in guidance on GOV.UK in due course.

When can I access it?

The online service for the next grant will be available from 30 November 2020.

Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay

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What is it?

Small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. SSP is payable from day one of sickness absence.

Am I eligible?

The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19

employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020

employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19

employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website

eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now make a claim for Universal Credit or a new style Employment and Support Allowance. From 6 April 2020, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

What do I need to do to access it?

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

Who do I need to speak to?

TBC, but likely to be the Department for Work and Pensions.

Tax

Time to Pay

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What is it?

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

What do I need to do to access it?

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. If you’re worried about a future payment, HMRC advice to call them nearer the time.

Who do I need to speak to?

Call HMRC’s new helpline: 0800 024 1222

Open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme

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What is it?

Businesses that deferred VAT due in March to June 2020 will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year. All businesses that took advantage of the VAT deferral can use the new payment scheme. Businesses will need to opt-in, but all are eligible. For the self-employed, they will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

Am I eligible?

All UK businesses are eligible.

What do I need to do to access it?

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

VAT returns should be filed as usual. In order to ensure payments are not taken automatically, direct debits should be cancelled. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Who do I need to speak to?

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

Temporary VAT reduced rate for hospitality and tourism extended

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What is it?

The temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) for businesses in hospitality and tourism has been extended from 12 January to 31 March 2021.

Am I eligible?

This will apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK. Businesses will also be able to charge the reduced rate of VAT on your supplies of hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks.

What do I need to do to access it?

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

Who do I need to speak to?

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

Relaxation of rules and regulations

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act

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Measures from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act extended, including allowing firms to hold virtual AGMs until 30 December 2020 and statutory demands and winding-up petitions restricted until 31 December 2020.

The UK government has published a full list of the rules that have been temporarily relaxed to make it easier for businesses to continue working through the disruption caused by Coronavirus.

Temporary ban on eviction for commercial tenants

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Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of Coronavirus will be protected from eviction. This will mean that until the end of 2020 no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment. Commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period.

Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Kickstart

Kickstart Scheme

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The UK government has introduced a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. See more details here.

Payments for employers who hire new apprentices

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The UK government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.

These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.