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Support and guidance for SMEs

Support and guidance for SMEs

Navigating a continually changing situation whilst understanding how to adapt, remain resilient and plan recovery can be a challenge for small businesses. We remain committed supporting you.

Below you will find key updates, information to address specific concerns, and relevant guidance and resources from RICS. This supplements the range of guidance we have already published in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Our approach for SMEs regulated by RICS in light of COVID-19

In times of uncertainty, it is vitally important that as a profession, we deliver confidence to the public, clients, investors, markets and governments. That is why our commitment to regulation and upholding professional standards remains as consistent and resilient as ever, while also ensuring that we support our regulated members as much as possible through difficult times. We adopt a risk-based approach, which is balanced and proportionate to a firm’s size, scope and complexity, and accounts for the current unprecedented operating conditions.

(Last reviewed 23 September) 

Regulatory Review Visits

Following commencement of the Covid-19 lockdown, in recognition of the associated practical and logistical difficulties, we took the decision to temporarily suspend all routine Valuer Registration, Client Money and DPB regulatory review visits (RRVs), both on-site and remote. In light of the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions and our continued engagement with regulated firms, we anticipate the resumption of routine review activity early in the second half of 2020.

(Last updated 10 July 2020)

RICS professional subscription renewals

If you are having any financial difficulty renewing your subscription, please contact us. RICS already has a policy on subscription concessions which can be viewed here. In light of COVID-19, concessions will remain open.

(Last reviewed 23 September) 

Business resilience for sole principal firms 

RICS published additional advice and template documents to help sole principals put arrangements in place to safeguard their business continuity should they unfortunately become unwell during this crisis, or at any time in the future. The documents are available here.

(Last reviewed 23 September) 

Advice for candidates working for SMEs

We understand that many candidates working for smaller companies facing financial pressure as a result of COVID-19 will be understandably anxious about their futures and professional development. 

We can confirm that all candidates will continue to have access to the Assessment Resource Centre. If you are completing APC structured training, remember any relevant work experience you have gained since you enrolled on the APC will be valid and will still count towards your minimum 400/200 days requirement.
If you have to defer your assessment during this period, you will be given a 6- month extension on the validity of your case study(ies) for example from 24 months to 30.

This also applies to any apprentices who have applied for their assessment. 

We know that this may be an unsettling time if the firm you are working for is no longer trading and for further support, we encourage you to engage with Lionheart an independent charity for RICS professionals and candidates globally, which offers free and confidential advice, financial support, professional counselling, and legal advice in certain jurisdictions.

Using digital communications platforms

RICS has set up an Insight Community on the Yammer platform for RICS professionals and related industries to connect, stay up-to-date, share insight, knowledge and best practice.

Search for and join the new Our Mental Health group to openly discuss mental wellbeing with fellow professionals, share your views and experiences and access supporting resources.

To join the Insight Community please email: digicommunities@rics.org

(Last reviewed 21 January 2021) 

Our approach for SMEs facing insolvency and closure

We have received many requests for guidance and have developed detailed guidance for businesses to support them on business continuity measures or winding down of their businesses. This covers the steps that a firm will need to take to close in an orderly way and highlights the support that is available. Read more

(Last reviewed 23 September 2020)

Professional Indemnity Insurance

When you close your firm, whether temporarily or permanently, you must ensure that all previous work is covered by appropriate and adequate professional indemnity cover.

If the closure is permanent contact your broker to discuss obtaining run off cover. Run-off cover is necessary because of the way professional indemnity operates. This is on a 'claims made' basis rather than 'losses occurring' basis. This means the responsibility for paying the claim lies with the insurer on cover when the claim is made (or the insurer is notified of circumstances that may give rise to a claim), which will not necessarily be the insurer on cover when the alleged negligence took place.

To support firms with run-off requirements, RICS amended their minimum policy wording for Professional Indemnity in April 2019 to include mandatory run-off cover for consumer clients for 6 years. No premium payment will be required to trigger this. Firms can obtain run-off for longer periods than six years, or with higher cover levels, if they deem that adequate and appropriate. Firms should consider what run off cover for commercial claims would be adequate and appropriate. Your insurer may charge an additional premium for covering commercial clients.

RICS also recently made changes to the Assigned Risk Pool (ARP) to include a run-off pool. This allows firms that cannot reasonably secure run-off for commercial claims on the open market an additional option to gain cover.”

(Last updated 3 June 2020)

UK Government assistance for SMEs

The latest UK Government guidance relating to business and supporting employers can be found here. This includes:

The UK Government also launched a series of webinars about supporting and retaining staff, and for the self-employed. 

Scottish Government: New measures to protect business tenants 

The notice period for commercial leases extended from 14 days to 14 weeks. 

The notice period before a commercial lease can be terminated for non-payment of rent has been extended, as part of new measures to help businesses introduced in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act. 

Minister for Public Finance Ben Macpherson has written to business leaders to promote new powers in the Act, which was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last week. The full text of Macpherson’s letter is available at: 

Full text of letter 

Previously commercial tenants served with a warning letter for non-payment of rent would have 14 days to pay outstanding rent. 

This period has now been increased to 14 weeks. It applies to all commercial property leases, including those where a warning notice has already been issued and has not already expired. 

Separately the Scottish Government has announced a substantial package of support for our business base, and businesses can now apply for grants to help them deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The one off grants of £10,000 are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery and more than 90,000 ratepayers across Scotland will be able to benefit. Local authorities are the most efficient way to deliver this support and we have worked closely with them to put in place the mechanisms required to process applications and eligible businesses can apply now. The grant support is additional to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion. 

Details on the range of emergency measures to support business are available on the Scottish Government website.  

The Scottish Government has also set up a free helpline to provide support to businesses: 0300 303 0660 

(Last updated 16 April 2020)