Coronavirus – Information and contacts for companies
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Coronavirus – Information and contacts for companies

The spread of the coronavirus not only endangers health, but is also an increasing concern for the economy. Companies in North Rhine-Westphalia are confronted with interrupted supply chains, delayed payments and falling consumption.


NRW Emergency Aid 2020

In order to cushion the damage to solo self-employed persons and micro-enterprises as a result of the Corona crisis, the Federal Government has set up a Corona emergency aid program. The NRW State Government has decided to pass along the Federal Government's offer to the target groups on a 1:1 basis and, in doing so, to expand the circle of companies addressed by the program to include the group of companies with up to 50 employees.

We are working on the electronic application procedure. The website with the electronic application forms will go online on Friday (27 March 2020). The link will be made available here. Please have a little patience until then.

Questions and answers on NRW emergency aid can be found here:

Who is eligible for aid?

Applications may be submitted by commercial and non-profit enterprises, self-employed persons and members of the liberal professions, including artists, with up to 50 employees (converted to full-time equivalents), who are primarily

  • economically and thus permanently active on the market as companies/ freelancers/ self-employed,

  • have their principal place of business in North Rhine-Westphalia, and

  • already offered their goods or services on the market before 1 December 2019.

What is being funded?

The companies are to be supported in securing their economic existence and bridging acute financing bottlenecks, including for ongoing operating costs such as rents, loans for operating premises, leasing instalments and the like, and in maintaining jobs by means of a grant. (To reduce personnel costs, there is the short-time working allowance)
 
Prerequisite: Considerable financing bottlenecks and economic difficulties as a result of Corona. This is assumed if

  • the month in which the application is made shows a decrease in turnover or fees of at least 50 percent compared to the average monthly turnover (based on the current and the two previous months) in the previous year. Calculation example: Average turnover January to March 2019: 10,000 euros, current turnover March 2020: 5,000 euros

 or

  • the business was closed by order of the authorities because of the Corona crisis

or

  • the available funds are not sufficient to pay the short-term liabilities of the company (e.g. rents, loans for business premises, leasing rates) (= financing bottleneck) 

The emergency aid applies to applicants who were not in difficulty on the cut-off date of 31 December 2019, but who have experienced or are experiencing difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

How much is the support?

Emergency aid is provided in the form of a one-off, non-repayable grant. It is staggered according to the number of employees and for three months it amounts to:

  • 9,000 euros for self-employed persons eligible to apply and eligible applicants with up to 5 employees,

  • 15,000 euros for eligible applicants with up to 10 employees,

  • 25,000 euros for eligible applicants with up to 50 employee 

How is the number of employees counted?

The cut-off date for the calculation of the number of employees is 31 December 2019. For the conversion of part-time employees and 450 euro jobs into full-time employees:

Employees up to 20 hours = factor 0.5
Employees up to 30 hours = factor 0.75
Employees over 30 hours & trainees = factor 1
Employees on 450 Euro basis = factor 0.3

The entrepreneur him/herself is to be counted.

How does the application procedure work?

The application procedure is completely digital. Applicants can fill out and submit their application online. They will then receive an automated confirmation of receipt. All applications are processed according to the date of receipt.
 
The link to the application procedure will be made available on Friday here and on the websites of the five district governments (Arnsberg, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Münster).

Important note:
Please do not send your application by post or e-mail to the Ministry of Economic Affairs or the district governments. These will not be processed. Printed applications cannot be processed.

What information is required for the application?

  • For identification purposes an official identification document (identity card, passport, etc.) is required.
  • The application must include the commercial register number or another register number (if available) and the name of the corresponding district court.
  • In addition, the tax number of the company and the tax ID of one of the owners are requested.
  • Information on the bank details (IBAN + credit institution) of the company account for the payout.
  • In addition, the type of commercial or freelance activity (so-called classification of economic sectors) is also requested. Further information here.
  • The number of employees is required as part of the application. For assistance with the calculation of full-time employees, see above. 

Note: North Rhine-Westphalia provides funding under the federal small grants scheme. A so-called de minimis declaration is not required.
 
As a precautionary measure, it is pointed out that the applicant, in lieu of an oath, has given all the information in the application form to the best of his/her knowledge and belief and truthfully.


Further questions and answers

  • Until when can I submit my application?

Applications must be submitted by 30 April 2020 at the latest.

  • Is the form of enterprise relevant (e.K., GbR, GmbH)?

The form of enterprise and the corresponding entry in the register must be indicated in the application.

  • Is the subsidy taxable?

The subsidy is taxed as business income.

  • How soon is the payout?

First, an electronic notification is sent. The emergency aid is then transferred directly to the applicant's account by the regionally responsible granting authority (district government) after the application has been examined. Please understand that the speed of payment depends on many factors. We will make every effort to ensure that payment is made quickly and immediately.

Payouts can only be made until 30 June 2020.

  • How do I submit the application – online or by post?

The application procedure can only be carried out digitally without media discontinuity. Please do not print out the application. You will find further details above. Those who do not have access to digital media can get help from the local chambers and authorities.

  • Is there enough money for everyone?

Yes, the Federal Government and the State of NRW are set up to ensure that all companies with the above-mentioned economic and financial problems can benefit from the program.

  • If I have several companies, can I get a grant for each of them?

If it is an affiliated company, only the company as a whole is to be considered with regard to the financing bottleneck.

  • If the subsidy is also paid for part-time self-employed persons?

Solo self-employed persons and micro-enterprises with up to five employees are only entitled to apply if they earn their main income from their self-employment.

  • Is multiple funding possible?

Cumulation with other public aid is permitted, provided it does not result in overcompensation.

  • What does the form look like?

Here you can view a sample of the application form.

The effects are burdening the liquidity of some companies. However, the state government is keeping support options available to all companies in North Rhine-Westphalia to help them overcome this crisis:

Various public financing options are available to companies in North Rhine-Westphalia to bridge liquidity bottlenecks. For example, NRW.BANK has made the terms of its universal loan more attractive and now assumes up to 80% (instead of 50%) of the risk from the first euro onwards.

Loans to bridge liquidity bottlenecks can be secured through the Bürgschaftsbank NRW (up to 2.5 million euros) and the Landesbürgschaftsprogramm (state guarantee program) (from 2.5 million euros, also large enterprises). The guarantee framework will be very substantially – both for the state guarantee program and for Bürgschaftsbank NRW, as soon as the EU Commission allows this. The guarantee ratio will be increased from 80 percent to 90 percent as soon as the necessary European framework conditions come into force.

The Bürgschaftsbank facilitates a 72-hour express guarantee (up to 250,000 euros), in the case of the state guarantee program, processing within one week is aimed for. You will find further information and contact persons on the respective websites.

Small companies and start-ups have the possibility to apply for equity capital of up to 75,000 euros directly from the micromezzanine fund at the Kapitalbeteiligungsgesellschaft (KBG) in Neuss. The company does not have to provide collateral for this. This not only immediately strengthens liquidity, but also improves the rating of the company and thus its creditworthiness. You can find further information on the micromezzanine fund here.

If you are not sure or need general information, the state business development bank NRW.BANK will be glad to help you:

NRW.BANK's development consultants provide individual and discreet information and advice on the state's development instruments. It is important to contact them as early as possible to sound out all possibilities in a targeted and timely manner.

If bridging financing is necessary, the house bank should be consulted as soon as possible, because the granting of guarantees, indemnities and favorable loans always requires the support of a house bank.

With an emergency aid package of initially five million euros, the state government is supporting freelance professional artists who run into financial difficulties due to the cancellation of engagements. They will receive a one-off payment of up to 2,000 euros to secure their livelihood. The immediate aid can be applied for with a simple form at the responsible district governments and does not have to be paid back later. Further information and the application form can be found at https://www.mkw.nrw/Informationen_Corona-Virus.

The Ministry of Culture and Science is currently in talks within the state government and with the district governments regarding the concrete form of financial support for the further education sector.

The NRW tax authorities accommodate affected companies by granting tax deferrals and reducing advance payments upon request and use their discretionary powers to the greatest possible extent in favor of the taxpayers. If you as a company or freelancer wish to make use of this, please contact your local tax office or use the application form. Further information and the form can be obtained from the NRW tax authorities.
 
We have agreed important immediate measures between the Federal Government and the Federal States (e.g. within the framework of the disaster decree), which come into force immediately and apply until 31.12.2020:

  • Interest-free deferral of taxes due or becoming due (income / corporation & value added tax)
  • Reduction of tax prepayments for income / corporation tax and (by means of a similar state decree) also for trade tax (subsequent reduction is possible with reasonable justification)
  • Suspension of enforcement measures including remission of late payment penalties

Here you will find the application form for the immediate tax measures and further information. At the urgent request of companies, we are going beyond the above-mentioned tax measures in North Rhine-Westphalia and are setting special advance payments for long-term extensions of VAT for companies affected by the crisis to zero. We are thus making funds in excess of EUR 4 billion immediately available to companies at their request, which will strengthen their liquidity.

If companies in Germany suffer order bottlenecks as a result of the coronavirus, compensation is possible in the form of short-time work compensation.

A loss of working hours due to or as a result of the coronavirus and/or the associated safety measures is generally based on an unavoidable event or on economic reasons within the meaning of Section 96 (1) No. 1 of the German Social Code III. Compensation for the loss of working hours by means of the cyclical short-time working allowance is thus generally possible.

On 13 March 2020, in view of the Corona crisis, the Bundestag and Bundesrat decided on a comprehensive adjustment of the short-time working allowance; this includes, for example, reducing the proportion of employees in a company who must be at least affected by loss of earnings, to 10 percent or, depending on the case, reimbursing the employers' full or partial social security contributions for employees affected by short-time working.

The relief will take effect retroactively from 1 March and will also be paid out retroactively. This adjustment of the short-time working allowance is limited until 31 December 2020.

It is important that businesses and companies report short-time work to their responsible employment agency if necessary.

If quarantine has been ordered for employees because of the corona virus, employers can claim compensation for loss of earnings for employees, as can self-employed persons. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (Rhineland Regional Council) (administrative districts of Cologne and Düsseldorf) and the Landschaftsverband Westfalen Lippe (Westphalia-Lippe Regional Council) (administrative districts of Arnsberg, Detmold and Münster) are responsible. In particular, you will find extensive information on compensation for loss of earnings on the website of the Rhineland Regional Council.

No loss of earnings will be granted due to loss of revenue as a result of company and school closures or cancellation of events.

Contact to Landschaftsverband Rheinland
LVR service no.: 0221 809-5444

Contact to Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe
Mr. Tölle: 0251 591-8218
Ms. Volks: 0251 591-8411
Mr. Konopka: 0251 591-8136

No loss of earnings will be granted due to loss of revenue as a result of company and school closures or cancellation of events.

Portal of the State Government

Important questions and answers about the coronavirus have been prepared for the following topics in the FAQ list in the state portal:

Basic information, situation in North Rhine-Westphalia, companies, employees, child care, schools, universities, hospitals / nursing and old people's homes, justice, cultural institutions, consumers:

Contact persons/hotlines, current news, collected information etc. are listed on the state's Corona page:


Ministry of Finance NRW (FM NRW)

Here you will find the current form for an application for tax relief (tax deferral / reduction of advance payments) due to the effects of coronavirus. You will also find instructions for the refund of the special VAT advance payment:

https://www.finanzverwaltung.nrw.de/de/steuererleichterungen-aufgrund-der-auswirkungen-des-coronavirus


Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit / BA)

You will find current information from the Federal Employment Agency for companies on short-time compensation under the following link:


NRW Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK NRW)

The coronavirus poses a major challenge to the entire economy: How do I as an entrepreneur deal with the problems, what do I have to do? IHK NRW has compiled helpful links and tips for companies here: 


Landes-Gewerbeförderungsstelle des nordrhein-westfälischen Handwerks (LGH)

The LGH (state office for promotion of skilled trades in NRW) summarizes on its Corona service page mainly information for skilled trade enterprises in form of a link list. The service is updated several times a day. The range of information is supplemented by a service hotline for the NRW skilled trade organizations and an overview of the service hotlines of the NRW chambers of trade for their member companies: 


unternehmer NRW

unternehmer nrw (entrepreneurs nrw) provides the most important information on current developments from a labor law and economic-political perspective.


Federation of German Trade Unions NRW (DGB NRW)

What employees need to know: Labor law, home office, short-time working allowance
14 questions and answers for employees. Additional information in case of dismissal and unemployment but also on the company pandemic plan can be found here:

https://www.dgb.de/themen/++co++fdb5ec24-5946-11ea-8e68-52540088cada

Notwithstanding current concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the economy of our state faces major structural challenges. Despite all the concern, we should not lose sight of this and should tackle it for the future.
The state has a range of funding opportunities available to help cope with these challenges, such as digitization, mobility transition and the use of AI.

Information on support for digitization projects, for example, can be found here.

Here too, NRW.BANK provides comprehensive and individual advice on the products and services available to North Rhine-Westphalian companies.

The reopening of the program Mittelstand.innovativ! is currently under preparation. Information will follow when the program is available again.

State of North Rhine-Westphalia - important contacts:

  • Ministry of Economic Affairs: 0211 61772-555 (daily, including weekends, 8 am - 6 pm)
  • State of North Rhine-Westphalia Coronavirus Citizens' Telephone: 0211 919-1001 (Mon-Fri, 7 am - 8 pm / Sat-Sun, 10 am - 6 pm)

Current, bundled information from the entire state government and questions and answers can be found at www.land.nrw/corona

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions

NRW.INVEST GmbH
Economic Development Agency of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)
Völklinger Str. 4
40219 Düsseldorf
Germany