Coronavirus: Advice for Businesses

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February 8, 2020
COVID 19 Update
March 24, 2020

The Government are constantly updating their website on what support is avaliable for businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The most accurate guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Last Updated: 22/03/2020

Advice and support for businesses 

Government updates:

20 March – The Government has announced a package of measures that focus on supporting employees’ incomes. Measures on employee protection include:

  • The Government will be stepping in to pay people’s wages with a new scheme. A grant will cover 80% of wages up to £2,500 for those employees kept on the payroll. This will be backdated to 1 March, open for three months (may be extended). This will cover businesses of any size. HMRC is working to get scheme running within weeks, with first payments made by end of April. In the Q&A the Chancellor stated that the scheme will cover everyone on PAYE (incl zero-hours contracts). Further details will be published on Gov.uk shortly.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme interest-free period will be extended to 12 months. Available from Monday. Announced in the 2020 Budget on 11 March, the scheme is expected to be available week commencing 23 March.
  • Cash flow support via the tax system. Deferring next quarter of VAT payments. No business will pay VAT from now until the end of June. The payments will not be due until the end of the financial year.
  • New national advertising campaign to communicate business support. Chancellor calls for people to consider the support carefully before laying people off.
  • Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance by £1,000 a year. Working tax credit basic element will also increase by £1,000.
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for everyone impacted, allowing the self-employed to access Universal Credit up to the level of statutory sick pay.
  • Self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.

In addition, all pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other venues are ordered to close from the 20 March. This measure will be reviewed monthly. 

20 March – Further details about the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme have been published today COVID-19: guidance for businesses

18 March – The UK Government has updated its guidance for employees, employers and businesses, it includes information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses.

17 March – the UK Government announced a £330 billion financial rescue package to support and protect businesses affected by COVID-19, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This includes:

  • £330 billion of government-backed loans and guarantees that will be available from next week 
  • Over £3.5 billion in additional funding will be provided to the devolved administrations for support to businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will receive a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months.
  • 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.
  • There will be a £25k cash grant per retail and leisure business for those without specific pandemic insurance.
  • Increase in grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.
  • 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.
  • Relaxation in planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.
  • Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge COVID-19 disruption to their cash flows through loans.
  • 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.
  • The Bank of England scheme and business interruption loan scheme will be available from the beginning of next week.
  • A package of support for airports and airlines to be announced soon

Full details can be found on gov.uk: Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses 

Watch the Commons speech

Read Rt Hon Rishi Sunak’s speech

In addition, information on the Coronavirus Bill (which will be pushed through the house this week) was published. This guidance outlines the powers the government will receive.

17 March – The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice takes effect immediately.

16 March – The UK public was asked to stop ‘unnecessary travel and non-essential contact’ for around 12 weeks

11 March – In the 2020 budget, the UK Government announced support for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

4 March – The UK Government announced that statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating.

Update: 18/03/2020

Today, Stephen Holt, Chief Executive of Your Eastbourne BID took part in a video conference meeting involving representatives from across the Town.

The meeting was organised by the Eastbourne unLtd Chamber of Commerce and chaired by the Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, Councillor David Tutt. Caroline Ansell MP joined the meeting from Westminster.

Also represented were the senior management team of Eastbourne Borough Council, the emergency services, Metro Bank, the Eastbourne Hospitality Association, 3VA, Matthew 25, major businesses, the Eastbourne Herald and other partners.

Much of details of the announcements made by central Government involving loans, grants and business relief are still to be issued. However, some of the following points were raised:

  1. Whether businesses with more than one unit would be entitled to the 100% business rate relief if they were each under the £51,000 threshold
  2. What support would be offered to the professional sector?
  3. What support would be offered to the non-profit sector?
  4. What support would be offered to staff who may need to claim Universal Credit?
  5. How can businesses claim the grants offered?
  6. How can businesses apply for loans?
  7. How can individuals apply for mortgage holidays?
  8. What support was available for those who rent?
  9. How can we coordinate the many volunteers who are offering to support those who are needing to isolate?

Whilst we don’t yet have answers to all these questions, they are being followed up by the Council and Caroline Ansell, and we will continue to keep you updated.

In the meantime, if you need financial support, the advice is to see your current bank as they will be best placed to give you advice.

The group has confirmed it will meet weekly to update on issues. The Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce has also been asked to help coordinate the information that is being received with regards to business support. Please visit their website: http://www.eastbournechamber.co.uk

Update: 17/03/2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing concern for businesses across the country and we all need to do what we can to prevent the spread of any potential airborne viruses as much as possible.

Your business will be feeling the impact; if you need advice on how to prepare and communicate with your staff or are looking for the latest guidance for dealing with customers in your business please find below a useful guide to information available.

Guidance and advice:

Coronavirus Government response Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. Find out the latest government advice and NHS guidance on how to protect yourself and others

Coronavirus information for the public: Find out the number of cases and risk level in the UK, what to do if you’re a returning traveller and what the government is doing about the virus –

Coronavirus guidance to employers and businesses This guidance will assist you In providing advice to your staff on COVID-19, how to help prevent the spread of respiratory infections, what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in business settings and actions to take if staff come into contact with someone who is self-isolating or is a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19

Simple steps you may wish to take:

Refresh your business continuity plan and ensure clear communication of processes should self isolation be required

If staff are able to work from home ensure that they have the necessary equipment and tools to be able to do so should they need to self-isolate

Ensure staff contact details are up to date should people need to work from home

Increase messaging around hand washing, make sure toilets have soap available and that antibacterial wipes are available to clean down desks and working areas regularly

Communicate clearly with your customers the steps that you are taking to reduce risk

Budget 2020 COVID-19 Response from British BIDS

The government announced a number of measures in response to COVID-19 to support businesses, including:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available to anyone advised to self-isolate. They will be able to get a sick note through 111
  • The minimum income level will temporarily be removed from universal credit.
  • Business rates will be abolished this year for firms with a rateable value below £51,000. The rates relief will be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors.
  • There will also be a £500m hardship fund for local authorities
  • The cost of a business having to have someone off work for up to 14 days will be refunded with £2bn allocated to cover firms that lose out because staff are off sick. This will apply to firms that employ fewer than 250 staff.
  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be introduced to support up to £1 billion
  • A £2.2 billion grant scheme for small businesses
  • A dedicated helpline has been set up by HMRC for those who need a deferral period on their tax liabilities

As more information becomes available about these measures we will share and continue to communicate with you.  

Eastbourne COBRA Meeting

Tomorrow (Wednesday 18th March) we will be attending a meeting organised by the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce with representatives of the Council, the MP Caroline Ansell, the Police, NHS, EHA and a variety of other key community members.

This will help us to all work together, develop some strategies to support each other and also get more information on the actions taken to support businesses.

We will of course share the outcomes of this meeting with you. If you have any issues you would like us to raise, please do contact us by emailing info@youreastbournebid.com

Our new street ambassador team will start tomorrow too. They will be spending their time going round to BID businesses, introducing themselves and providing you with their direct contact details. Please do talk to them if you have any concerns you would like raised or ideas of how we can support you.

Keep in Touch

Your Eastbourne BID will do whatever it can to support you during this difficult time. Please keep in touch regarding the following:

  • If you are operating your business differently to enable trading to continue and wish Your Eastbourne BID to promote this, please get in touch. Depending upon the nature of your business, some businesses may be able to adapt by offering home deliveries, collections or just keeping phone lines and most operations open via staff working from home. We can help to spread the message more widely and may set up a specific page on our website for this purpose.
  • Impact – we are keen to monitor the economic impact, in order to feed back to local and national government and lobby for the support you need whilst the nation progresses through this situation over the coming months. Please do share with us information and business impact, so that we can develop support mechanisms appropriately. 
  • Anything else – please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you.