*This post was last updated 1 December 2020.
Based on the World Health Organisation’s announcements, Coronavirus (COVID-19) was classed as a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January and from 11 March was characterised as a pandemic.
The outbreak has impacted many businesses and their staff. In order to help ensure BID members are fully informed, we have created this useful page to link you to the advice and guidance you may need for your business. We are also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity plan, developing an understanding of the potential impacts to your supply chains, customers or other factors critical to your operations.
For a summary of all the business support available from the Government during this challenging time, how to access the support, who is eligible and how to apply, please visit the Government’s Coronavirus business support webpage: gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.
Some of the business support from the Government will be delivered locally by Winchester City Council: winchester.gov.uk/covid19
Please visit the Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpages for the latest information and advice for businesses, employers, employees and the self-employed. ACAS have also published advice for employees and employers including information on how to protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.
Please follow the NHS public advice to help control the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The National Business Crime Centre has shared advice on crime prevention for businesses which are open and those which have been required to temporarily closed. The Police Service have also issued top 10 security tips for closed business premises and top 10 cyber security tips for working from home.
Fire and Rescue Service Advice
The National Fire Chiefs Council has issued advice on fire risk assessments and safety during Coronavirus.
Kind Words: Ideas for helping your business through Coronavirus… and beyond
The authors of the BID’s quarterly Winchester Business Barometer John Kind (Honorary Professor, Winchester Business School) and Sara Arnold (Principal, Secret Genius) are sharing ideas to help local businesses through Coronavirus in a new publication entitled Kind Words. Click here to read Kind Words: Issue 1 (June 2020).
WINCHESTER ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS GRANT (announced 1 December)
Winchester City Council have published information about the Additional Restrictions Grant on their website. Applications are now open and will close at 5pm on 14 December. To find out more and to apply: winchester.gov.uk/business/additional-restrictions-grant
SUPPORT FOR RETAILERS AND WET-LED PUBS (announced 30 November and 1 December)
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced shops will be able to open for longer in the run up to Christmas and through January sales and the Prime Minister announced additional funding for pubs which do not serve food in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas in England with a one-off payment of £1,000 in December.
WINCHESTER AND HAMPSHIRE IN TIER 2 WHEN NATIONAL RESTRICTIONS END 2 DECEMBER (announced 26 November)
Local COVID-19 Alert Levels for when the lockdown in England ends on 2 December have been confirmed and a full list of local restrictions by area is now available. Winchester and Hampshire will be placed in Tier 2 (High Alert). The Prime Minister announced that much of England will be placed in the top two tiers and recognised the challenges this brings, particularly for the hospitality sector. The tiers will be reviewed every 14 days with the first review 16 December. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
WINCHESTER COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES (updated 25 November)
Winchester City Council have produced COVID-19 posters and signs which businesses can use in their premises to help inform and reassure their staff and customers. winchester.gov.uk/no-listing/business-advice/covid-19-resources-for-businesses
COVID-19 WINTER PLAN (announced 23 November)
The Prime Minister has announced the COVID-19 Winter Plan which sets out how the Government will manage the virus through the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021. The plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality. The plan sets out the Government’s approach to ending the national restrictions on 2 December. Details of the updated Local COVID-19 Alert Levels are expected to be confirmed on Thursday 26 November and an announcement regarding Christmas rules later in the week. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s Statement.
WINCHESTER LOCAL RESTRICTIONS SUPPORT GRANT & ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS GRANT (announced 16 November)
Winchester City Council have published information about the Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant on their website. Applications for the Local Restrictions Support Grant are now open and further details of the Additional Restrictions Grant will be announced on the Winchester City Council website very soon. To find out more and to apply: winchester.gov.uk/business/business-rates/important-information-on-business-rates
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 5 November)
The Chancellor has announced that businesses and people across the UK will be given certainty over winter months with further support. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will now be extended until the end of March 2021, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The next Self-Employed Income Support grant will also increase from 55% to 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500, covering November to January. Click here to find out more.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 2 November)
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is increasing funding from 40% to 80% of average trading profits in November (or 55% covering November to January). People will be able to apply from the end of November rather than the middle of December, with support provided faster. Application deadlines have been extended to 31 January for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans, Bounce Back Loans and the Future Fund. Click here to find out more.
NEW NATIONAL RESTRICTIONS FOR ENGLAND FROM 5 NOVEMBER (announced 31 October)
The Prime Minister has announced a four week lockdown in England beginning on 5 November in response to evidence which suggests that the virus is spreading faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of the Government’s scientific advisers. From 5 November until 2 December the public are advised to stay at home and can only leave for specific reasons, including for education, for work if you cannot work from home, for exercise and recreation outdoors, for medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm, to shop for food and essentials, and to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer. Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues must close, but click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open. Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except for takeaway and delivery. Workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home. The furlough scheme will be extended through November. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement and click here for further guidance on the new restrictions and click here for further information on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Rentention Scheme and other economic support.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 22 October)
The Chancellor has announced three further steps to support businesses and jobs. First, a new grant scheme for businesses impacted by Tier 2 (high) restrictions, even if they are not legally closed. The Government will fund local authorities to provide businesses in their area with direct cash grants worth up to £2,100 for every month Tier 2 restrictions apply. Second, the Job Support Scheme will be made more generous for employers. Under the original scheme employees had to work for 33% of their normal hours and this will be reduced to 20%. Also, the employer contribution will reduce to 5%. This will apply to eligible businesses in all alert levels, so businesses that are not closed but face higher restrictions will be able to access greater support. Third, the next round of Self-employed Income Support will be doubled from 20% to 40% of people’s incomes, increasing the maximum grant to £3,750. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
LOCAL COVID-19 ALERT LEVELS AND SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 12 October)
The Prime Minister has set out how the Government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID-19 Alert Levels in England. The levels will be set at medium, high and very high. Click here to find out more about the new COVID-19 Alert Levels. The Chancellor has also outlined an expansion to the Job Support Scheme (announced 24 September and extended 9 October) to protect jobs and support businesses legally required to close their doors for some time over winter as a result of Coronavirus restrictions. This will include the Government paying two thirds of employees’ salaries up to a maximum of £2,100 per month for businesses required to close and cash grants for affected businesses of £3,000 per month. Click here to find out more about the expanded Job Support Scheme.
CHANCELLOR’S WINTER ECONOMY PLAN (announced 24 September)
The Chancellor has unveiled the Government’s Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months as we continue to tackle the spread of Coronavirus. Central to the plan is a new Job Support Scheme, extending the Self-employed Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying Government-backed loans. The new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand over the winter months due to Coronavirus. Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the Government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand. Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the Government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on the employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS TO THE NATION (22 September)
In response to rising levels of Coronavirus and the upgrading of the UK’s Coronavirus alert level from 3 to 4 the Prime Minister announced a package of tougher measures in England. Office workers who can work from home should do so, but in all professions where homeworking is not possible, people should continue to attend workplaces. From 24 September, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm. The requirement to wear face coverings is extended to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors COVID-secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s address to the nation.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 16 September)
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have announced that the Government has extended support to prevent business evictions until the end of 2020. This move will help businesses over the coming months and protect people’s jobs. This is an addition to the £160 billion package of support available to businesses during the pandemic. Click here to find out more.
NHS COVID-19 APP LAUNCH (announced 11 September)
The new NHS COVID-19 App will be released 24 September. Businesses should download and display QR codes and prepare for the launch. The codes will be an important way for NHS Test and Trace to contact people if Coronavirus outbreaks are identified. Using QR codes will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises. Businesses which are already using their own QR system are encouraged to switch to the NHS Test and Trace QR code. An alternative check-in method, such as a handwritten register, must be maintained to collect the contact details of those who don’t have the app. Click here for a pack setting out the benefits and functions of the NHS COVID-19 App and you can find further assets and materials here: covid19.nhs.uk/information-and-resources.html
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: RULE OF SIX AND NHS TEST AND TRACE (announced 9 September)
The Prime Minister has set out new measures to restrict the spread of Coronavirus as we enter autumn and approach winter. From 14 September it will not be possible to meet with people from other households in groups of more than six. This will apply indoors and outdoors. Education and work settings are unaffected and other exceptions include weddings, funerals and organised sport. Businesses will have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace and from 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, which must be kept for 21 days. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT (announced 13 August)
The Prime Minister has announced that bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos can reopen from 15 August as well as indoor and soft play centres which comply with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will also be able to offer all close contact services. Indoor performances will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences and the piloting of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will resume. Click here to find out more.
WINCHESTER DISCRETIONARY GRANT FUND FOR BUSINESSES (announced 7 August)
Winchester City Council is reopening the application window for small businesses and charities to allow more organisations to apply to the Discretionary Grant Fund. Details are available on the Council’s website and applications will be open from 10 August to 17 August: winchester.gov.uk/business/discretionary-grant-fund
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT (announced 31 July)
The Prime Minister has announced that plans to reopen higher risk settings from 1 August will be postponed by at least a fortnight. This means that, until 15 August at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed. Also, indoor performances will not resume. Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place. In addition, the requirement to was a face covering will be extended to other indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 30 July)
The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government has announced £20 million in new grants to boost the recovery of small businesses suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Small and medium sized businesses in England can apply for grants between £1,000 and £5,000 to help them access new equipment and technology as well as professional, legal, financial or other specialist advice. Click here to find out more.
FACE COVERINGS: WHEN TO WHERE ONE AND HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN (announced 23 July)
On public transport face coverings have been mandatory since 15 June and the Government recently announced that from 24 July the public will also be expected to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets, including pharmacies as well as in takeaway food shops and at public transport hubs, such as at railway stations and bus stations. There are some exemptions, including for young children, people living with certain disabilities and those with breathing difficulties. Click here to find out more.
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: THE NEXT CHAPTER (announced 17 July)
The Prime Minister has announced that restrictions will ease further in England and the Government has published The Next Chapter in Our Plan to Rebuild. People may use public transport for any journeys immediately and no longer only as a last resort. Advice on working from home if you can will change from 1 August and employers will have more discretion to bring staff back to work. Live indoor theatre and concerts will also be able to resume with socially distanced audiences. From October the Government intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums, while conferences and other business events can recommence. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: CLOSE CONTACT SERVICES, GYMS, SWIMMING POOLS AND LEISURE CENTRES (announced 9 July)
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that close contact services such as beauticians, tattooists, spas and tanning salons will be able to reopen from 13 July. Furthermore, indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres can reopen from 25 July. It was also announced that live performances to socially distanced audiences outside will be allowed from 11 July. Click here to read the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s statement.
CHANCELLOR’S SUMMER ECONOMIC UPDATE (announced 8 July)
The Chancellor has given his summer economic update and announced a new package of support for the economy under the title A Plan for Jobs 2020. While supporting jobs is a key theme with a jobs retention bonus, Kickstart Scheme and employment schemes, the package also includes a stamp duty holiday, green capital expenditure, a VAT reduction for many tourism and hospitality-related activities, and a discount scheme aimed to boost eating out in August. Click here to read the Chancellors statement.
SUPPORT FOR THE CULTURAL SECTOR (announced 5 July)
The Government has announced a £1.57 billion rescue package to help arts, culture and heritage industries weather the impact of Coronavirus. The future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be protected with emergency grants and loans. Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic. Click here to find out more.
WINCHESTER BACK TO BUSINESS PACK: HOSPITALITY, VISITOR ECONOMY AND CLOSE CONTACT BUSINESSES (published 3 July)
Winchester City Council have created a second Back to Business pack which includes useful guidance, tools and links to resources to help hospitality, visitor economy and close contact businesses as they reopen. There is also a new page on the Winchester City Council website with guidance to help businesses understand what is required in order to reopen and to provide all important reassurance to staff and customers: winchester.gov.uk/business/covid-19-support
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: HOSPITALITY, LEISURE AND HAIRDRESSERS (announced 23 June)
The Prime Minister confirmed that the 2 metre social distancing rule will change from 4 July. Where it is possible to keep 2 meters apart people should continue to do so, but where it is not possible people should keep a social distance of ‘1 metre plus’ meaning they should remain 1 metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission. Restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen but all indoor hospitality will be limited to table service and new guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact. Businesses will also be asked to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks by collecting contact details from customers. Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen with precautions, including the use of visors. In addition people will be free to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation such as hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites. Most tourist attractions, leisure and community facilities will reopen as well as places of worship. Updated safety guidance has been published. However, close contact services such as nail bars and beauty salons, close proximity venues such as nightclubs, soft play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will need to remain closed for now, as will bowling alleys and water parks. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 19 June)
The Government has extended measures to help high street businesses at risk of facing eviction over the summer. A new code provides support to shops and local firms planning their future recovery with their landlord. The code has been developed with leaders from the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported. Click here to find out more.
WINCHESTER BACK TO BUSINESS PACK: RETAILERS (published 12 June)
Winchester City Council and Winchester BID have created a Back to Business pack for retailers which includes useful guidance, tools and links to resources to help non-essential retailers as they reopen. There is also a new page on the Winchester City Council website with guidance to help businesses understand what is required in order to reopen and to provide all important reassurance to staff and customers: winchester.gov.uk/business/covid-19-support
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 29 May)
The Chancellor has outlined details of the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In June and July the scheme will continue as before and then in August employers will be asked to pay National Insurance and employer pension contributions. Then in September the Government will pay 70% of the furlough grant with employers contributing 10% and in October the Government will pay 60% and employers will contribute 20%. Flexible furloughing will also be starting one month earlier in July. In addition, the Self-employed Income Support Scheme will also be extended. Applications will open in August and the second grant will be paid out in a single installment covering 3 months worth of average monthly profits. The final grant will be 70% up to a total of £6,570. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
WINCHESTER DISCRETIONARY GRANT FUND FOR BUSINESSES (announced 27 May)
The Government has awarded Winchester City Council £1.4 million for a Discretionary Grant Fund to further support local businesses. Details are now on the Council’s website and applications will be open from 1 June to 15 June: winchester.gov.uk/business/discretionary-grant-fund
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE: OUTDOOR MARKETS, CAR SHOWROOMS AND RETAILERS (announced 25 May)
The Prime Minister announced that the Government intends to allow outdoor markets and car showrooms to reopen from 1 June, subject to premises being made COVID-19 Secure by meeting the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. Then from 15 June all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small independent shops will be allowed to reopen. Updated safety guidance for the retail sector has been published. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 12, 19 and 22 May)
The Chancellor has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (announced 20 March) will be extended until October. From August to October the scheme will continue, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time and will be asked to start sharing the costs of paying people’s salaries with the Government. The loan size available under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (announced 3 April) will be increased from £50 million to £200 million. Also, homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage due to Coronavirus will now be able to extend their mortgage payment holiday for a further three months to 31 October, or start making reduced payments.
RECOVERY STRATEGY AND COVID-19 SECURE GUIDANCE (published 11 May)
The Government has published Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy which provides a roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the Coronavirus outbreak. In addition to this guidance on working safely during Coronavirus has also been updated and there are 8 guides which cover a range of different types of work and workplaces. Employers should comply with the COVID-19 Secure guidance on managing the risk of Coronavirus in their workplaces.
PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS TO THE NATION (10 May)
The Prime Minister has outlined a conditional plan to ease lockdown measures in England, restart the economy and reopen society. People who work in construction or manufacturing or who cannot work from home will be actively encouraged to return to workplaces, but only if you can keep your distance from others and use of public transport is discouraged. We await further guidance on what will need to change in the workplace to enable the phased return to work and reopening of businesses. More outdoor activity will be allowed as well as meeting one person from another household under limited circumstances. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s address to the nation.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 17, 21, 20, 23, 27 April and 2 May)
Further measures to support businesses coping with the economic impact of Coronavirus, in addition to those previously outlined, have been announced by the Government since the national lockdown extension was announced 16 April and we have summarised the key points below.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (announced 20 March) was initially available until 31 May and has been extended and will now be available until 30 June.
- There is a new Coronavirus Business Support Finder on the Government’s website to help businesses to easily identify which support is available to them.
- A new Future Fund will issue convertible loans to innovative companies with good potential, that typically rely on equity investment and are affected by Coronavirus.
- The Business Secretary has announced new measures to protect businesses from aggressive rent collection and closure.
- The Chancellor has announced new Bounce Back Loans for small businesses which are 100% Government backed as an extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (announced 11 March).
- A discretionary top-up fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.
NATIONAL LOCKDOWN EXTENSION (announced 16 April)
The First Secretary of State has announced an extension of at least 3 weeks to the UK’s lockdown, which began following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 23 March, to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Click here to read the First Secretary of State’s statement.
SUPPORT FOR CHARITIES (announced 8 April)
The Chancellor has set out plans for a £750 million package of support for frontline charities, including hospices and those supporting domestic abuse victims, to ensure they can continue their vital work. £360 million will be directly allocated by Government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people. As well as this, £370 million for small and medium-sized charities at the heart of local communities, such as those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice. The Government will also match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In on 23 April. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 3 April)
The Government has announced that it is bolstering Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans for small businesses and launching a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme which will help large businesses affected by Coronavirus to access loans of up to £25 million. Click here to find out more.
SUPPORT FOR SELF-EMPLOYED INDIVIDUALS (announced 26 March)
The Chancellor has said that the Government will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic through a new Self-employed Income Support Scheme. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
Self-employment Income Support Scheme: The scheme will provide a grant worth 80% of profits of self-employed individuals up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the grant. Eligible individuals who have not submitted returns for 2018-19 will have until 23 April (4 weeks from the announcement) to file their returns. The scheme will be open for an initial 3 months with people able to make their first claim by June.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES AND THE CULTURAL SECTOR (announced 23, 24 and 25 March)
Further measures to support businesses and protect the economy against the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, in addition to those previously outlined, have been announced by the Government since the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 23 March. We have summarised the key points below.
- Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent due to Coronavirus will be protected from eviction.
- Arts Council England Emergency Response Package announced with £160 million of investment for people and organisations in the cultural sector.
- Business rates holiday (announced 11 March and updated 17 March) extended to include estate agents, lettings agents and bingo halls.
- Businesses can get a 3 month extension to file accounts with Companies House.
PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS TO THE NATION (23 March)
Further to the 20 March announcement, the Prime Minister has ordered all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship to close temporarily. Click here for a list of all businesses which the Government has asked to close. In addition, gatherings of more than two people in public (excluding people you live with) are banned and also all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals. These measures will be reviewed in 3 weeks. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s address to the nation.
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT AND SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (20 March)
The Prime Minister has ordered pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants to close from tonight (Friday 20 March), although they can offer takeaway services. Gyms, theatres and cinemas must also close from tonight. These measures will be reviewed monthly. Click here to read the Prime Minister’s statement.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: The Chancellor has said that the Government will step in to help pay people’s wages, covering 80% of the salary of retained workers who are not able to work (up to £2,500 a month). This will include wages backdated to 1 March and will be open by the end of April for at least 3 months (open to any employer in the country). There is no limit on the funding available for this scheme.
As well as the new job retention scheme, the Chancellor also announced further financial measures in addition to those announced on 11 March and 17 March. We have summarised the key points below. Click here to read the Chancellor’s statement.
- Deferral of next quarter of VAT payments so no business will pay VAT from now until the end of June and will have until the end of the financial year to repay bills.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (announced 11 March) will now be interest free for 12 months (originally 6 months).
- Universal Credit allowance increases £1,000 a year and the next tax self assessments will be deferred until the start of next year.
- Self-employed people will get full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
- A further £1 billion announced to cover 30% of housing rental costs.
- The Chancellor promises further measures next week to ensure larger and medium sized businesses will be able to access the credit they need.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 17 March)
Further financial measures to support businesses and protect the economy against the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic have been announced by the Government in addition to those announced in the Budget 2020 on 11 March. We have summarised the key points below.
- £330 billion of Government-backed and guaranteed loans.
- Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme cap per individual loan raised to enable loans of up to £5 million for businesses with the first 6 months interest free.
- Business rates holiday extended to ALL retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for 12 months.
- Additional business rates allowance for pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 has been increased from £1,000 to a £5,000 discount.
- Pubs and restaurants have been allowed to provide takeaways without the need to apply for planning permission.
- Cash grants for businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) increased from £3,000 to £10,000.
- Further cash grants of £25,000 for smaller retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from premises with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
- Mortgage lenders will offer a 3 month payment holiday for those in financial difficulty and there will be a 3 month cessation on repossessions.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES (announced 11 March)
The 2020 Budget was announced on 11 March and contained a series of measures that will support businesses coping with the economic impact of Coronavirus.
Business rates holiday: Shops, cinemas, restaurants, pubs and music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will not pay business rates in the year from 6 April 2020. This will also include art galleries, museums, gyms, nightclubs, theatres and guest houses. There is also an additional business rates allowance for pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 of a £1,000 discount.
Small business grant funding: All businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rate Relief will be able to access grant funding of up to £3,000. The Government will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: This temporary loan scheme will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The British Business Bank will guarantee 80% of the value of loans offered by banks to businesses, up to a £1.2 million cap per individual loan. There will also be a cap for each lender on the total value of loans they can offer. Although there is, as yet, no further detail on the level of this lender cap or routes of application for businesses, the Government has said that the scheme will support up to £1 billion of additional lending.
Time to Pay Helpline: The Government has announced that businesses and those who are self-employed can access support and advice on their tax obligations and payments via a new dedicated COVID-19 telephone helpline. Using this helpline, businesses may be able to agree a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement with HMRC. The budget also states that HMRC will waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulties contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19. HMRC Coronavirus Helpline: 0800 015 9559 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 8am to 4pm).
Statutory Sick Pay: For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
Business Support Helpline: The Government also has a Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm).