News & Events

COVID-19: Guidance for businesses and employers

26 March, 2020

Self-employment Income Support Scheme – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits 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 size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Guidance on the scheme is available from HMRC website here.

 

Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed.

If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.

For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

The helpline number is 0800 024 1222 – and is an addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers.

 

The latest UK government guidance on coronavirus for businesses can be found here.

 

 

25 March 2020

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls to pay no business rates

Many high street businesses that have closed due to Covid-19 restrictions will now be exempt from business rates.

  • local authorities will be fully compensated
  • part of a business rates holiday introduced from 1 April 2020

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21.

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Today the government has announced that some of the exclusions for this relief have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the Covid-19 restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.

This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.

Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will give them the discount of 100%.

If businesses have made payments in the meantime, they will be refunded by their local authority. We are working with local authorities to ensure new bills are issued as soon as possible.

Guidance for local authorities on the application of the holiday will be published by MHCLG shortly.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers

This information below sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is a difficult time for apprentices, employers and providers of apprenticeship training, assessment and external assurance. The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time.

The support we are providing includes:

  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled
    apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
    clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks

Both the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) are keeping the developing situation, and guidance, under review and will continue updating this guidance as new information is available and/or the situation evolves.

This information should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.

Further information on guidance for apprentices, employers & training providers can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

Information on all of the governments business support measures can be found here.

 

 

24 March 2020

Further Businesses and premises that must remain closed

On 23 March the government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All businesses and premises outlined in the table below must now close.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.

The following businesses and premises must remain closed:

  • all non-essential retail stores – this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers)

A detailed list which includes exceptions can be found here.

 

Ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the government has announced.

Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.

Further information can be found on the government website here.

 

 

23 March, 2020

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to launch from today

Businesses will be able to access government support from today (Monday 23 March) to keep operating in the face of the global economic emergency brought on by coronavirus.

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will provide government-backed loans of up to £5 million to small and medium businesses.
  • The Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility will provide a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital for those large firms who need it.
  • A business information campaign has launched to ensure that businesses are aware of support available.

Businesses will be able to access government support from today (Monday 23 March) to keep operating in the face of the global economic emergency brought on by coronavirus. Details of two new loan schemes are being confirmed and an information campaign launched so that businesses know how to get help.

Key features of Scheme include:

  • Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years.
  • 80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance, subject to an overall cap per lender
  • No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.
  • Interest and fees paid by Government for 12 months: The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
  • Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
  • Security: At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Further information about CBILS can found here

 

TfL Coronavirus (Covid-19)

TfL suspends all road user charging schemes

  • Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone suspended from Monday, 23 March to support critical workers
  • Londoners asked not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary and keep roads clear
  • NHS staff to be given free access to Santander Cycles

Information about how TfL is responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here.

 

 

20 March, 2020

A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.

To ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.  The Chancellor’s workers’ support package means:

  • UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to 1st March and will be initially open for 3 months, to be extended if necessary.
  • VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment normally due with their VAT return to HMRC in that period.
  • Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses.
  • Additionally, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at Budget, will now be interest free for twelve months.
  • The standard rate in Universal credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from April 6th, meaning claimants will be up to £1040 better off.

In order to help delay the spread of Coronavirus, the Government has instructed entertainment and hospitality businesses including pubs, bars and restaurants to close from tonight.

This follows expert advice that more needs to be done in order tackle the spread of infection – following the call to action to isolate or socially distance. The measure, set to be reviewed on a monthly basis, will not affect supermarkets or retailers that supply fuel, medicines and other vital goods, which will continue to be open as normal for the public. The following businesses have been asked to close:

  • Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.
  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs.
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls.
  • Museums and galleries.
  • Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours.
  • Casinos and betting shops.
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

This measure will not impact the relaxation of planning rules announced earlier this week which will allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision on closures will be reviewed on a monthly basis, and are being implemented across the whole of the UK in agreement with the devolved administrations. If needed, the government will enforce these measures by law.

For further information please visit the UK Government site here.

 

March 17, 2020

At last week’s Budget, the Chancellor provided £30 billion of support to the economy to deal with the crisis by investing in public services, increasing support for vulnerable people and providing business with tax reliefs and loans.  He said he would take further action as the situation evolved and today outlines further measures including:

Providing £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period by:

  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
  • providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

To ensure that businesses have access to the funds they need, we are providing:

  • increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments
  • support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • including new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling us to offer whatever further financial support we think necessary to businesses

Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place.

To support the food industry and help provide meals for people who need to self-isolate, we will relax planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.

For further information please visit the UK Government site here.

 

Budget 2020

COVID-19: support for businesses

The Chancellor has announced in the Budget 2020 (11 March) a plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19.  This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  • a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs
  • small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief

Further detailed information can be found here.

 

 

We understand businesses may have concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19). We would like to reassure you that the UK Government and the NHS are well prepared to deal with the virus. Last week Public Health England (PHE) set out new guidelines for businesses and employers to follow in light of the recent outbreak.

To view the most recent guidelines and advice on the virus and best practice to prevent its spread, see here.

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