Although the government is slowly reversing the implemented corona measures, business remains fragile. The Dutch government therefore announced its second emergency package of support measures on May the 20th 2020. This emergency package is an extension of the measures that have been in force since March 17 (for example the GO-C and the Tozo), but also includes some new initiatives to support entrepreneurs who are in financial difficulty.
SME entrepreneurs in certain sectors (such as the catering industry) receive, in addition to the NOW scheme, a tax-free allowance of (maximum) twenty thousand euros to pay fixed material costs. The total budget is one billion euros. The TVL is expected to be opened in mid-June 2020. The TVL is the successor to TOGS, which expires June 26, 2020.
Despite the various measures that the government has taken to support employees, there are groups of employees who were not entitled to support from the government. This included flex workers, but the new TOFA scheme is aimed to provide support to this group.
This scheme provides flex workers (on-call or substitute workers and temporary workers) who have seen their income fall, but who are not eligible for unemployment benefits, assistance or other schemes, with an income of 550 euros gross per month, for the months of March, April and May. The allowance results in a one-off payment of 1,650 euros gross.
Applications will be processed by the UWV from monday the 22nd of June up and until Sunday the 12th of July.
This measure is to support people who lose their jobs as a result of the crisis and who need to make the transition to another type or sector of work. The total budget for this program is fifty million euros. The scheme is expected to start in July 2020.
The government is extending the Tozo measure, whereby an additional requirement, being a partner income test, has been added as criteria.
The previously announced financing measures are being continued, with new applications being processed. The Corona Small Loan Guarantee Scheme (KKC) is currently being developed. The cabinet has opened a second tranche for the Corona bridging loan (COL) with a budget of 150 million euros.
The government has also taken several measures for Dutch entrepreneurs operating internationally. For example, for certain existing schemes - such as the Dutch Trade and Investment Fund (DTIF) and the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) - additional options have been created. Next to this, emergency desks have been created by the Chambers of Commerce (KvK) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RvO) to support entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs operating in an international setting are also supported via digital services from the various Dutch embassies regarding the corona measures abroad that these businesses must take into account.
In order to give medium-sized and large companies quick access to loans and guarantees, they can use the GO scheme. With this scheme, the government gives a guarantee on bank loans and guarantees of up to fifty percent. This applies to facilities from one and a half million to a maximum of fifty million euros per individual application, with a maximum amount of one hundred and fifty million euros per company. The government has also increased the total guarantee ceiling for the GO-scheme from one and a half billion euros to ten billion euros. The warranty on the GO-C has been increased (see below).
On the 28 April 2020, the government expanded the GO scheme with a so-called 'corona module' (GO-C). This increased the guarantee percentage from fifty percent to eighty (large companies) and ninety percent (medium-sized companies). The main deviations from the existing GO scheme are:
To apply for government-guaranteed financing under the GO / GO-C scheme, an enterprise can turn to the banks affiliated to the GO scheme. The bank assesses the credit application and subsequently determines whether the application meets the conditions of the GO / GO-C scheme. After the credit application has been approved, the bank decides whether to submit a guarantee request to the RVO. The following banks participate in the GO and GO-C schemes:
In addition to the standard forms, the bank also supplies the following documents:
Based on the “corona bridging loan”-scheme (COL), growing companies such as start-ups, scale-ups and innov or no use of the support measures that already existed and were mostly aimed at companies financed by debt through standard banking channels. The government has released EUR one hundred million for this COL-scheme. On 20 May 2020, The government has made an additional EUR 150 million available with the announcement of the second emergency package.
The COL scheme has the following conditions:
The ROMs aim to process assessments of applications under 500,000 euros within four to nine working days. For applications above 500,000 euros, the aim is to reach a final decision within three weeks.
You submit your application to the Regional Development Agency (ROM) of your region. See also the ROM website in your region.
The government has introduced a temporary regulation (Tozo) to support independent entrepreneurs, including self-employed persons, so that they can continue their businesses. In the second emergency package of support measures (see separate tab), the cabinet has extended the Tozo, with an additional requirement, being the partner income test. This means that only households with an income below the social minimum can apply for this scheme.
The scheme is implemented by municipalities. Self-employed persons can receive additional income support for maintenance for a period of three months through an accelerated procedure. This supplements the income to the social minimum and does not have to be repaid.
To be able to use the Tozo, a self-employed person must meet the hour criteria and already be active on the 17th of March 2020 (when this scheme was announced), including being registered with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). Support under this temporary scheme is also possible in the form of a working capital loan of up to 10,157 euros at an interest rate of two percent. There may be a confluence with the compensation scheme for affected sectors, the compensation of four thousand euros. These four thousand euros will not be deducted from this benefit.
There is an emergency scheme for sectors that have been hard hit by government measures resulting in their turnover disappearing either completely or for the most part. Think of the catering industry, the travel industry, the event business and some parts of the cultural sector. Companies in these sectors receive a subsidy in the form of a one-off tax-free gift of four thousand euros. One of the conditions is that the entrepreneur expects a loss of turnover of at least four thousand euros in the period March 16, 2020 up to and including June 15, 2020.
The list of SBI codes of sectors that qualify for this is extensive. Registrations under the wrong SBI code can be reported to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). In addition, the establishment requirement is relaxed.
The TOGS will end on 26 June 2020 and will be replaced by the TVL (see below).
The TVL helps SMEs to pay (part of) their fixed costs. This does not concern labour costs (the NOW-scheme exists for those costs). The allowance is aimed at costs such as rent, subscriptions, licenses and insurance that are of a fixed nature. These are partly covered by the TVL. The TVL is available to SMEs who experience a loss of more than thirty percent through the corona pandemic. The allowance can amount to a maximum of twenty thousand euros (tax-free over three months). The TVL is planned to start in mid-June, when the TOGS is phasing out.
As with the TOGS, SMEs in certain sectors may be eligible for the TVL. See the RVO website for the established list of SBI codes. This includes the catering, recreation, beach bars, gyms, events and theaters.
To enable SME entrepreneurs to pay their bills in a timely manner and to avoid payment delays, they can borrow money from their bank under more favorable conditions (up to a maximum of one and a half million euros). The state guarantees this loan with the use of the BMKB-scheme.
The government has announced that the costs of using the BMKB will be reduced (from a 3.9 percent premium to two percent). The available 756 million will also be increased to one and a half billion euros. In addition, the BMKB has been expanded to also involve non-bank financiers so that more SMEs are helped by this scheme.
In addition to the GO-C and the BMKB, which are primarily aimed at medium to large companies, there will also be a credit scheme for small businesses; the so-called KKC. This scheme will support entrepreneurs with a relatively smaller financing requirement (between 10,000 and 50,000 euros) in attracting credit. The government will guarantee 95 percent of the loans provided by the banks. The interest is a maximum of four percent with a term of a maximum of five years. As with the GO-C and the BMKB, the application will go through your bank or house financier. The scheme has been announced on the 8th of May, 2020, and is expected to enter into force in May/June.
In addition to the new KKC, existing arrangements have also been made more favourable for entrepreneurs. In order to give small and starting entrepreneurs access to finance, the government has further relaxed its regulations that focus on these companies. For example, repayments have been deferred, interest rates have been cut to make the plan more attractive and budgets for these plans have been increased.
As a response to the liquidity problems in the agricultural and horticultural sector, the government has started a temporary guarantee for working capital under the SME agricultural loan guarantee scheme (BL).
In addition, on 15April 2020, the government decided to dedicate an emergency package of 650 million euros to additional measures for the floriculture sector, specific parts of the food horticulture (together 600 million euros) and the French fries potato sector (fifty million euros). A scheme is under way for floriculture and food horticulture that ensures that entrepreneurs take the first thirty percent of their turnover loss and the government compensates the remaining seventy percent for a significant part. A similar measure is being prepared for the French fries potato sector.
On 7 May 2020, the government called on entrepreneurs in this sector to submit their application to the RVO. Although the scheme has yet to be approved by the European Commission, applications are already being adopted to accelerate final treatment and benefits.
Many Dutch companies depend on their supplies that run through a supplier credit. These credits are under pressure from the increased risks, as a result of which companies cannot be supplied and may go bankrupt with a large loss of employment. The government is therefore working on a reinsurance instrument to prevent credit insurers from providing loans to companies. For the time being, the financial commitment from the government is estimated at approximately twelve billion euros. This facility is now being developed and must be approved by the European Commission afterwards.
On 15 April, 2020, the government announced that it would support the Dutch cultural and creative sector with 300 million euros. This package is additional to previous measures.
The scheme has not yet been activated but is intended to provide financial support to cultural institutions in order to compensate for the decline in visits and purchases and to enable cultural organizations to prepare for investments for the coming cultural season.
In addition, the government is making 110 million euros available to support sports associations that are in financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A large part of these funds will go to canceling the rent of sports clubs. In addition, sports clubs can claim compensation of up to 2500 euros per club to absorb the loss of turnover and ongoing charges.
Within the Coronavirus Response Investment initiative, the European Commission (EC) has released EUR 37 billion from the EU budget. Member States can use that released money to keep their health systems, investment funds and the labor market afloat. EUR 25 million is available for the Netherlands.
The European Parliament has also approved the mobilization of the EU Solidarity Fund. This is normally intended for natural disasters but can now also be used by Member States hard hit by COVID-19. A maximum of 800 million euros will be paid out from the fund.
Finally, the EC has put in place a temporary state aid framework, allowing Member States to support companies facing the consequences of the corona crisis.
On 19 March 2020, the "Temporary State Aid Framework to Support the Economy Due to the Current Covid-19 Outbreak (Covid Communication)" entered into force. The Covid Communication aims to provide Member States, in addition to existing state aid rules, with additional opportunities to support companies facing liquidity shortages as a result of the corona crisis. The aim of these measures is to ensure that companies retain the means to continue or temporarily freeze their activities without affecting long-term growth prospects. The following aid may be granted to companies suddenly faced with a shortage or even lack of liquidity:
The subsidy, the advance payment or tax benefit does not exceed 800,000 euros per company and must be granted on the basis of an estimated budget. The aid is not intended for companies that were already in financial difficulties on the 31st of December 2019.
The Covid communication creates rules on the level of the guarantee and the guarantee premium, taking into account the creditworthiness of the beneficiary and the duration of the guarantee as a variable. If the loan has a term until after December 31, 2020, it may not exceed 25 percent of the company's annual turnover for 2019. For loans with a maturity of up to 31 December 2020, it is possible to derogate from this maximum, but the Member State must be able to demonstrate that the proportionality of the aid is guaranteed.
The Covid communication creates rules on the level of the interest rate subsidy, taking into account the creditworthiness of the beneficiary and the duration of the loan as a variable. Loans with a nominal value of 800,000 euros may be granted interest-free if this loan is provided on the basis of a national scheme with an estimated budget.
Aid in the form of government guarantees and reduced interest rates may also be granted through credit and other financial institutions such as financial intermediaries. Aid through such institutions should not indirectly benefit these institutions. They must put in place safeguards with regard to possible indirect aid to credit or other financial institutions in order to limit unnecessary distortions of competition.
Credit or other financial institutions should, as far as possible, communicate the benefits of the government guarantee or the interest-rate subsidies for loans to the final beneficiaries. The financial intermediary must be able to demonstrate that it operates a mechanism that ensures that all benefits are passed on as much as possible to the final beneficiaries in the form of higher volumes of financing, a higher risk profile of the portfolio, lower collateral requirements , lower guarantee premiums or lower interest rates.
The Commission communication on short-term export credit insurance stipulates that marketable risks should not be covered by export credit insurance with the support of Member States. After conducting a public consultation on the availability of short-term export credit insurance for exports to all current countries with marketable risks, the Committee determined that, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, there is a lack of sufficient private insurance capacity for short-term export credits in generally and that the marketable risk coverage is temporarily unavailable.
On 3 April 2020, the EC extended the COVID-19 Communication adopted on 19 March 2020 to include additional capabilities that enable Member States to accelerate research, testing and production of products relevant to the coronavirus, protect employment and further support the economy in the context of the outbreak. The guidelines provide support for:
In addition, the amendment allows for flexible and more targeted support to maintain employment in the Member States. The change offers the following options:
On 13 October 2020, the European Commission has decided to prolong the Temporary Framework. All sections of the Temporary Framework are prolonged for six months until 30 June 2021, except for the section to enable recapitalisation support. This section is prolonged for three months until 30 September 2021.
On 8 May 2020, the European Commission extended the COVID Communication for the second time to allow Member States to provide support through recapitalization and subordinated debt measures. Under the amended guidelines, the COVID-19 recapitalization measures must meet the following conditions:
Member States should consider the following when recapitalizing:
In June 2020 the European Commission has further extended the scope of the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020 to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework was earlier amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020.
The Commission extended the scope of the Temporary Framework by enabling Member States:
to support certain micro and small enterprises, including start-ups that were already in difficulty before 31 December 2019. This would apply, unless such companies are in insolvency proceedings, have received rescue aid that has not been repaid or are subject to a restructuring plan under State aid rules. Given their limited size and involvement in cross-border transactions, temporary State aid to micro and small companies is less likely to distort competition in the Internal Market than State aid to larger companies.
to provide incentives for private investors to participate in coronavirus-related recapitalisation measures. First, the proposed changes would allow enterprises with an existing State shareholding to raise capital similar to private enterprises, whilst maintaining the same safeguards to preserve effective competition in the Single Market. Second, the proposed changes would encourage capital injections with significant private participation also in private companies, limiting the need for State aid and the risk of competition distortions.
On 13 October 2020, the European Commission has decided to not only prolong but also extend the scope of the Temporary Framework by introducing a measure that provides support for uncovered fixed costs of companies. This new measure enables EU Member States to support companies facing a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period of 2019 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The support will contribute to a part of the beneficiaries' fixed costs that are not covered by their revenues, up to a maximum amount of €3 million per undertaking. Supporting these companies by contributing to part of their costs on a temporary basis aims at preventing the deterioration of their capital, maintaining their business activity and providing them with a strong platform to recover.
The Commission has also amended the conditions for recapitalisation measures under the Temporary Framework, in particular for the State's exit from the recapitalisation of enterprises where the State was an existing shareholder prior to the recapitalisation. The amendment allows the State to exit from the equity of such enterprises through an independent valuation, whilst restoring its previous shareholding and maintaining the safeguards to preserve effective competition in the Single Market.
The agri-food sector has been seriously affected, by among other things, the closure of the catering industry. Producers of, for example, dairy, potatoes and ornamental flowers have seen a drastic decline in the demand for their products. The European Commission therefore took a temporary set of emergency measures to help this sector on the 4th of May 2020:
The committee proposes to support private storage for dairy products (milk (powder), butter, cheese) and meat products (beef, sheep and goat meat). Under this scheme, products can be temporarily withdrawn from the market for a minimum of two to three months and a maximum of five to six months. This measure will lead to a decrease in the available supply on the market and a long-term recovery of the market balance.
The Commission will pursue flexibility in the implementation of market support programs for wine, fruit and vegetables, olive oil, beekeeping and the EU school scheme (milk, fruit and vegetables). This makes it possible to refocus funding priorities towards crisis management measures for all sectors.
For producers and interbranch organizations of milk, flowers and potatoes, the committee will allow a deviation from certain competition rules. They are allowed to take measures for six months (from 5 May 2020) to stabilize the market in consultation:
- The dairy sector will have the opportunity to plan milk production collectively.
- The potato sector is allowed to make agreements about the withdrawal and free provision of potatoes, about processing and processing, storage, joint sales promotion and temporary production planning.
- The ornamental flower sector may jointly make agreements about withdrawing products from the market and supplying products under cost price (or even free of charge), about production planning and promoting sales.
The coronacrisis has major financial consequences for health care. Increasing healthcare expenditure and declining income can put pressure on healthcare funding. The healthcare sector is therefore receiving special attention from Brussels and The Hague in view of its crucial role in combating COVID-19. For example, the European Union makes money available for medical equipment, inhalers and mouth masks.
The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) is also taking measures. The NZa has temporarily relaxed the regulations for face-to-face consultations, so that hospitals can conduct the first consultation with a patient remotely. In addition, the NZa will publish a new long-term care scheme no later than 1 July 2020, on the basis of which additional costs, such as the isolation and nursing of infected patients and extra deployment of personnel, will be reimbursed.
The consequences of the corona crisis may also have an impact on the financial results of your organisation, causing a temporary decrease in your liquidity and/or profitability. What is more, suppliers may make extra demands in order to protect their own position. Examples are advance payments, or the provision of letters of credit (LCs) and/or bank guarantees.
It is a good idea to keep a close watch on the development of liquidity and profitability, and their impact on the financing arrangements. If these are in danger of being compromised in the future, you would be well advised to take the initiative of discussing the matter with your bank(s) when the matter is still in its early stages. Possible solutions for situations like these would involve agreeing a 'covenant holiday', the renegotiation of the (financial) covenants, the deferral of redemption obligations and/or the increasing of the existing limit, or the possibility of applying for emergency credit.
The government is now working on a package of measures which are intended to make it easier for financiers to offer (temporary) solutions. One measure is to further increase the guarantee budget under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme (or “GO” scheme), to a total of ten billion euro. This measure is accompanied by an increase of the guaranteed percentage, from fifty percent, to eighty percent for large corporates and ninety percent for SME. In addition, there is the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (“BBMKB” Scheme) which is different from the GO guarantee in the sense that it has a provision in which the government takes the first-loss. The BBMKB Scheme’s fee was lowered from 3.9 percent to two percent while the total budget was increased from 765 million to 1.5 billion euro.
The joint approach of Dutch largest banks (ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank, de Volksbank, Triodos Bank and BNG Bank) provides space for corporate clients in all sectors to receive financing up to EUR 2,5 million. Companies in this category and healthy prior to the coronacrisis are offered a six-months deferment for the repayment of their loans.
Banks will follow the developments for groups with higher liability. This can result in extra consultation steps with the Dutch government and supervisors.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is also implementing measures to encourage banks to provide credit to companies. It can be assumed that the incentives provided by governments at national and international level will be scaled up, if they expect the effects of the coronavirus crisis to last for longer and to be more severe.
Despite the incentives, the expectation is that providers of credit will be reticent when it comes to offering extra credit and flexibility. The presentation of a solid impact analysis and a well-thought-out plan with a good storyline will therefore be crucial.
If your business's liquidity is under pressure, operational working capital management will be one of the most important issues to focus on. Working capital is, after all, needed to keep your business going. In unforeseen situations, such as the current coronavirus crisis, an extra focus is required on the effective management of accounts receivable and payable, inventory development and the liquidity forecast.
In the event of liquidity issues your customers will think about delaying payments to you. An extra focus is therefore required on punctual and accurate invoicing in combination with active and effective credit management. Make sure that you start communicating with your biggest customers immediately, rather than waiting until the payment deadline has passed. The aim is to obtain confirmation that invoices will be paid (on time). By doing this you will also be able to identify any customer payment problems at an early stage. Financial instruments such as factoring can also offer a solution in this respect.
One way of improving your working capital position in the short term, is to stop paying your suppliers, or pay them later. Such an approach can, however, cause serious damage to your relationships with your suppliers and could lead to delivery problems. We therefore advise you to consult with suppliers in order to make proper agreements.
Supply chains, and particularly the supply of goods from China, have been seriously disrupted by coronavirus. Operations in factories and logistics have been halted for several weeks and in many cases they are not yet back up to speed. In order to reduce the impact on your company, it is advisable to focus on the most critical products and supplies first. Make sure you know when you can expect to receive the following order. You can also investigate whether similar goods can be purchased from other suppliers. It may be that liquidity problems mean that you can only purchase some of the goods you want. In that case you should only purchase the goods which are necessary for products with healthy margins but, above all, products with a high turnaround speed which means they are not kept in stock for long.
In times of liquidity problems it is extremely important to have an insight into cash flows for the short and medium term. Increase the predictability and frequency of the liquidity forecast in the short-term and enhance it with, for example, credit management insights. This will ensure that you are aware of any potential problems and can take suitable measures in good time.
For more information, please contact Danny Siemes.
Partner, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)65 366 53 49
Edwin van Wijngaarden
Partner, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)65 462 43 09
Diana Paans-van der Arend
Senior Manager, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)62 266 33 72