Coronavirus - Support for Businesses

Updated: 13 May 2020

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

Please bear with us, we will upload the latest information we have as soon as received.

Please visit this page regularly or sign-up for e-alerts via our Woking Works newsletter: https://www.wokingworks.com/newsletters/subscribe.

 

Working safely during coronavirus

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of the guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan 

This scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of up to £50,000.

  • Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
  • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
  • Loan terms will be up to 6 years
  • The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
  • The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Business Support Checker Tool

A new ‘support finder’ tool will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new online platform on gov.uk asks business owners and the self-employed to fill out a quick and simple online questionnaire. They will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for. You can find out more about the tool here.

 

Billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus 

  • Chancellor announces new £1.25 billion coronavirus package to protect firms driving innovation in UK
  • package includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis, made up of funding from government and the private sector
  • SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans

Further information

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - LIVE

Link to the online portal - here

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

Self-employment Income Support Scheme - Eligibility checker now live

You can check online to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim here.


Funding for frontline charities
 

Charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. Click for more information.

Government WhatsApp Service

The UK Government has launched a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice. To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. Further information can be found here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), delivered by the British Business Bank, will be available to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

The full eligibility and rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them.

CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Please note: This scheme is just one of a number of measures announced by Government and you can find full details of the temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19 here.

CBILS: KEY FEATURES

  • 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[1], so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.[2]

  • 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

  • Loans under £250,000 will NOT require a personal guarantee

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - LIVE

Link to the online portal - here

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of affected workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not yet set up to facilitate payments to employers. HMRC will be releasing details soon expected throughout April 2020. For businesses with immediate cash-flow issues the Government recommends considering the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (please see more details below).

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

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.

Click here for the latest FAQ

BUSINESS RATES

Temporary 100% business rates - retail discount 2020/2021 tax year.

The government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Detailed advice on whether your business is classed as being within the retail, hospitality and leisure business sectors is available here. If you have a specific query about your business rates please contact us on the details given within your last business rates bill. More information about government support for businesses is on GOV.UK here.

Arrears on your 2019/2020 tax year business rates

A small number of businesses may still be in arrears with their overdue 2019/2020 tax year business rates. There is no formal Government support for these arrears, but please contact us at the details provided within your business rates bill so we may discuss options available to you. We aim to provide as much support as possible during this period of disruption.

Small Business Grant

PLEASE APPLY HERE 

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. See more information here.

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

PLEASE APPLY HERE 

Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000.  For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, will be eligible for a one-off grant of £25,000.

Please see here for more information.

Our Businesses rates department has written to eligible businesses. To check whether your business is classed as being within the retail, hospitality and leisure business sectors please visit GOV.UK here.

VAT Deferral

The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. See here for more information. All UK businesses are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. Professional advisers such as accountants will be sent full details of this support.

Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

HMRC have produced guidance to help you find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus.

Deferred of Self-assessments

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period. Professional advisers such as accountants will be sent full details of this support or see here for more information.

HMRC Time to Pay Service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. You are eligible if your business: pays tax to the UK government or has outstanding tax liabilities. If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you’re worried about a future payment, please call nearer the time. See more information here.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. All UK businesses are eligible. The scheme will be available from week beginning 23 March 2020. More information is available from the Bank of England website.

Support for businesses who are paying Covid-19 sick pay to employees

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The headline eligibility criteria for the scheme is: the refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19; employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible; employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. More details of the notification, record keeping requirement, scheme details and application process can be found here. Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May.

Temporary lowering of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for Universal Credit

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected. From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment. If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. Check your eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay. More information can be found on the DWP website.

DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally

DIT can support businesses by providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products and by offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity. British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus can contact DIT’s dedicated business support team by emailing COVID19@trade.gov.uk. This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses that trade internationally to understand how best the department can support them. UK based businesses trading internationally will be entitled for the same support measures as businesses trading within the UK, under the same sectoral and eligibility criteria.

Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

To support larger firms, the Bank of England has announced a new lending facility to provide a quick and cost effective way to raise working capital via the purchase of short-term debt. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities.

It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. Further details, including on how to access this funding will follow in the coming days, and the scheme will be available from the week commencing 23 March.

Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19

You can now apply for a 3 month extension with Companies House, allowing you to prioritise more pressing issues and avoid a late penalty.

Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete. See here for more information.

Extra protection for businesses with 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. See more details here.

SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES FOR BUSINESSES AND OTHER VENUES

The Government is asking the following businesses and other venues across the UK to close, and not to open for trade from Saturday 21 March: Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes – noting the exception for takeaway and delivery services. Hospitals, schools, care homes, homeless services and military canteens are exempt from these measures, but users should continue to follow public health guidelines.

  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars and nightclubs – noting the exception for takeaway and delivery services.
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls and bingo halls. Museums and galleries.
  • Spas and massage parlours.
  • Casinos and betting shops.
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:

  • 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).

Full details can be found on the specific GOV.UK website guidance pages and here.

WOKING BOROUGH COUNCIL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS

BUSINESS SUPPORT FOR THE COMMUNITY

If you are a business in Woking and would like to register your interest in diverting resources to support the community, or providing help in any other way, please click on the link:

https://my.woking.gov.uk/service/businesssupportcommunity

TAKEAWAY FOOD AND DELIVERIES

We understand that some local food businesses may look to change their usual business type, such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, and to diversify in order to maintain their business during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This advice is food businesses looking to offer takeaway food and deliveries where they have not done so before.

Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread through food. However, if you’re changing your usual operations, you should think about any new hazards and ensure you have control measures in place to eliminate risks.

The Government has announced Business Rates support for retail and some other business sectors. Please see the guidance below.

  • We have written to all businesses who currently pay business rates and fall into relief categories as advised by the Government.

  • Businesses will not be chased for business rate payments.

  • We will review across our corporate estate where tenants may need a flexible approach from us about delaying rent payments. Where possible we will delay the obligation to pay if that enables a business to survive and retain employees. 

OTHER SOURCES OF ADVICE AND GUIDANCE

Most business membership and support organisations are trying to disseminate the most up-to-date information on Government and other support measures as soon as it becomes available. This information is normally available to both members and non-members please use the links below (links updated 22nd March):

British Chambers of Commerce – National Chamber of Commerce
https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/coronavirus

Surrey Chamber of Commerce
– local Surrey Chamber of Commerce
https://www.surrey-chambers.co.uk/representation/how-is-your-business-doing/

Enterprise M3 - Local Enterprise Partnership (Public/Private Partnership)
https://enterprisem3growthhub.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19

Institute of Directors – Membership Organisation for Company Directors
https://www.iod.com/iod-coronavirus-support-hub

Confederation of British Industry – Represents British larger businesses
https://www.cbi.org.uk/coronavirus-hub 

Federation of Small Businesses
– Represents British micro and small businesses
https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html

Enterprise Nation – organisation supporting micro and small businesses
https://www.enterprisenation.com/coronavirus-support/

ACAS - The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service

Information for employees and employers

ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff during this time. Find out more on
https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Association of British Insurers – representing British Insurance sector
https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-qa/

Security tips for businesses

If you have been instructed by the government to close your business in line with the Covid-19 guidance or you have chosen to close, it is a good time for you to review your security to reduce the chances of your premises being targeted by opportunist thieves, or your business being subjected to cyber attacks.

Secured by Design, the Police Digital Security Centre and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office have put together the Top 10 Security Tips for Closed Business Premises, the Top 10 Cyber Security Tips for Working at Home and the latest Counter Terrorism advice following the launch of a new app. Download here.

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