*This post was last updated 26 March following the Coronavirus briefing by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Based on the World Health Organisation’s recent announcements, Coronavirus (COVID-19) was classed as a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January and from 11 March can now be characterised as a pandemic.
The outbreak has already 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 website: businesssupport.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
For the latest information and advice, please regularly visit the guidance for businesses, employers and employees page on the Government website. ACAS have also published information for employees and employers including information on good practice steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.
Please follow the NHS public advice to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The National Business Crime Centre has shared advice on crime prevention for businesses which are temporarily closed and those which remain open for essential goods.
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 (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).