SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES – COVID 19 MEASURES

Measures to support businesses are being announced by Government regularly. Detailed information on these support measures is being provided to the British Chambers, Cranleigh Chambers and Waverley Borough Council as soon as available, although there is often a delay between the headline Government announcement and detailed information being available.

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

Some businesses may still be in arrears with their overdue 2019/2020 tax year business rates. There is no formal Government support for these past arrears, businesses in 2019/2020 arrears should contact their local council revenues department at the details provided within their business rates bill so they can discuss options available.

THE RETAIL AND HOSPITALITY GRANT SCHEME

Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, will receive a one -off grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, will receive a one-off grant of £25,000. Businesses that currently pay little no businesses rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief, will also be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Our Businesses rates department will be writing to eligible businesses as soon as we have received detailed guidance from the Government. To check whether your business is classed as being within the retail, hospitality and leisure business sectors please visit GOV.UK here.

WHERE THE LOCAL COUNCIL IS YOUR LANDLORD

Commercial tenants of a District, Borough or County Council. If you are commercial tenant of a local Council paying commercial rent to a Council for your business premises, please contact them via the details listed on your rent bill if you are experiencing hardship caused by the Covid-19 virus. They will be reviewing across their corporate estate where tenants may need a flexible approach about deferring rent payments to minimise impact on their business and employees.

OTHER GOVERNMENT BUSINESS ADVICE & SUPPORT

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 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.

Deferred VAT payment

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. 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.

Deferred Income Tax payments

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.

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. If you’re worried about a future payment, please call nearer the time.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, 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 perlender 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.

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

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 on the GOV.UK website.The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim 

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 byUK 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.

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

BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS (BIDs)

British BIDs current guidance is that BID levies will be invoiced by councils in the normal way and that demands for payment will apply. Under the BID Regulations, BIDs cannot raise or adjust invoices themselves and the levy rules, as described in the BID Proposals, must be strictly adhered to. More guidance on BID levy collection and possible reliefs are likely to issued by Government over the coming weeks.