Support package for jobs and economy to be continued in third quarter
The outlook for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic is positive and the virus appears to be on the wane. However, there are still many uncertainties for workers and businesses. Some businesses have had to draw heavily on their reserves. The government therefore plans to extend the support package for jobs and the economy into the third quarter of 2021. It is also taking additional measures to help businesses deal with their increased debt burden.
The announced extension of the support package is expected to cost €6 billion. The government has now provided a total of €80 billion to support businesses and workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government wants to help as many fundamentally healthy companies as possible to weather the crisis. Continuing with support measures for too long is risky, because it makes normal economic development more difficult. On the other hand, there is still great uncertainty about the near future and some businesses have run out of reserves. The support packages are designed to be responsive to changing needs: higher losses in turnover will trigger extra support. But as the economy opens up further, businesses will be able to generate more turnover and will grow out of the support packages.
The return to a healthy economy, with normal economic dynamics, is very important for the Netherlands’ earning power. In view of the current situation and developments, it has now been decided to continue the package in the third quarter. The government will continue to monitor the situation closely and address any issues that arise.
TVL and NOW
The government plans to continue the Fixed Costs Grant Scheme (TVL) and the Temporary Emergency Scheme for Job Retention (NOW) in the third quarter. In order to better support startups, growing businesses and businesses that have got into difficulties as a result of the standard reference period for calculating a TVL grant, they have been able to choose between two reference periods since the start of the second quarter. In addition, the TVL grant ceiling for large companies will be raised to €1.2 million for the second quarter. The new reference month for NOW grants will be February 2021. The scheme’s extension and adjustment are expected to cost €2 billion.
TOZO and TONK
The government also intends to continue the Self-employment Income Support and Loan Scheme (TOZO) and the Temporary Support Scheme for Necessary Costs (TONK) in the third quarter. When future applications are being considered, TOZO will focus more on supporting and encouraging businesses so that they can get back on their own feet as quickly as possible. Repayment of TOZO working capital loans has been deferred by six months to 1 January 2022. Until then, no interest will be charged. The term of the loans has also been extended from 42 to 60 months. The Minister of Social Affairs and Employment has asked the parties concerned to apply this scheme generously, give it more publicity and extend its reach. Several large municipalities have already announced their intention to do so.
The government is also taking a number of measures to ease the debt burden of businesses and improve their financial position.
Concurrent use of NOW and TVL
Starting from phase 3 of NOW (i.e. the grant periods from October 2020), TVL grants will no longer count as turnover when calculating NOW grants. This change means that many employers will receive more money when applying for a definitive grant after the start of phase 3. This will give them more breathing space and help them stand on their own feet again. The measure will cost around €1.5 billion.
Businesses can start later and take longer to pay off the tax debt they have built up as a result of the coronavirus crisis. They will now only have to start paying from 1 October 2022 and will have five years to do so, instead of having three years from 1 October 2021. Businesses are, however, expected to start paying tax again as normal from 1 July 2021.
The payment conditions will also be further relaxed. Late payment interest, an incentive to pay tax on time, will gradually return to the old level. This means that on 1 January 2022, late payment interest will be set at 1% instead of 4%, and will then be raised step by step, until it reaches 4% on 1 January 2024.
At present, over 250,000 businesses have been granted tax deferrals worth a total of €16 billion. This has therefore been a key measure in supporting businesses through these difficult times. Many businesses have already paid at least part of the amount they owe; a total of €36 billion in deferred tax was outstanding. To prevent inequality between businesses, no generic waiver of outstanding tax debts has been granted.
The government wants to provide viable businesses with further help if the above measures are not sufficient for them to continue. The Tax and Customs Administration can help by adopting a flexible stance, especially if other creditors do the same. The government is holding talks on this matter with such creditors. Roundtable discussions will be organised shortly to accelerate the process. Possible measures include creditors giving up their preferential status.
Certain other tax measures taken due to the pandemic, such as mortgage payment holidays and tax-free travel allowances, will be extended until 1 October 2021.
Agreements have been made with the implementing organisations on lenient rules for repaying government funding if too much was received. Tailor-made solutions will be sought wherever possible.
Time Out Arrangement (TOA)
Since the start of this year, businesses have been able to use the Court Approval of a Private Composition (Prevention of Insolvency) Act (WHOA) in order to reach an arrangement with creditors. The act helps businesses that have had to incur debt as a result of the crisis. The government is also providing €200 million in low-interest loans for SMEs so that they can restart, expand or modify their operations after concluding a WHOA arrangement. TOA loans are part of a set of measures to enable companies to get back on track after the crisis.
- The government has taken a detailed look at additional options for large retail and other businesses. All things considered, it has decided not to introduce a separate grant scheme for this purpose. A new scheme would be very untargeted and also complicated to implement. Tailor-made support remains the best way to prevent viable large companies from going bankrupt.
- The credit guarantee schemes for SMEs, such as the BMKB-C, KKC, GO-C and the bridging loan scheme involving the microfinance organisation Qredits, will be extended until 31 December 2021.
- After June 30, the government will discontinue the supplier credit reinsurance guarantee scheme. Thanks to the favourable economic outlook, the scheme is no longer necessary. Insurers will continue to offer cover even without a guarantee from the Dutch state, based on a thorough risk analysis.
- The support package for culture and the creative industries will be continued in the third quarter of 2021, so that the cultural infrastructure remains intact and jobs are preserved. €25 million is available in direct support for self-employed persons in the cultural and creative industries, and €45 million for cultural institutions forming part of the basic national infrastructure (BIS) and institutions with a mandate under the Heritage Act. An additional €25.75 million is available in loans for monuments and historic buildings that are open to the public.
- The support measures for sport and agriculture and horticulture that applied in the first and second quarters will in principle be extended for another quarter.
- For zoos, the government is allocating €42.5 million for the period in the second quarter of 2021 when they were still closed. This funding is for ongoing costs, such as caring for the animals. Zoos are now open again but have put coronavirus measures in place.