*This post was last updated 25 May 2020 following an announcement by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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.
RECOVERY STRATEGY UPDATE (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).