Covid-19 business support announcements from the government
For individual businesses, the first port of call for advice and support is the Coronavirus Financial Support page of gov.uk.
The Business Support Helpline number in England has changed to freephone 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19. You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on web chat about support for your business. The Business Support Scotland helpline is 0300 303 0660, Business Wales helpline is 0330 060 300 and the Invest Northern Ireland helpline is 0800 181 4422.
HMRC has a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Find all the information here. The number is 0800 0159 559.
19 January 2021
Scotland extends lockdown until at least the middle of February
Current lockdown measures will stay in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the middle of February, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
In addition, Barra and Vatersay will move into lockdown from 00:01 on Wednesday following a sharp increase in infection rates. The rest of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will remain in level 3.
Schools across Scotland will also continue to use remote learning until at least the middle of February except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers.
During an update to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said that although lockdown appeared to be having an impact on case numbers, transmission of the virus remains too high to relax restrictions.
Nobody who lives in an area under lockdown should leave or remain outside their home except for an essential purpose like caring responsibilities, outdoor exercise and work that cannot be done from home.
The measures will be kept under consideration and the Scottish Parliament will be updated following a review by the cabinet on 2 February.
15 January 2021
Businesses win pandemic insurance payouts after Supreme Court ruling
Small businesses have won the right to insurance payouts after Britain’s highest court ruled their policies should cover losses caused by coronavirus lockdowns (From Reuters).
Six of the world’s largest commercial insurers – Hiscox, RSA, QBE, Argenta, Arch and MS Amlin – argued many business interruption policies didn’t cover widespread disruption after Britain’s first national lockdown last March.
But the Supreme Court dismissed appeals by the insurers after scrutinising non-damage insurance policy clauses – which cover disease, denial of access to business premises and hybrid clauses – in a victory for the regulator and policyholders.
The test case has pitched the industry regulator against major insurance companies since last May and has been expected to affect 370,000 policyholders, 60 insurers and billions of pounds in claims.
But policyholders are now bracing for the next stage in their fight for payouts.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Calculating how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Guidance has been updated to include new information about claiming Employment Allowance. For more information, click here.
Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Guidance has been added with information about how to request that HMRC do not publish claim information. For more information, click here.
Kickstarter Scheme: Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant: Guidance has been added about how to add new job placements to the grant agreement in ‘After you have applied’. For more information for 29 or less job placements, click here. For 30 or more job placements, click here.
Help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus (Covid-19): Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus. New videos have been added about the Self-Employment Income support Scheme Grant Extension. For more information, click here.
Find examples to help you calculate your employees’ wages: Check examples to help you calculate your employee’s wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you’re claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Two new examples about how to calculate your employees wages if they are paid a fixed annual amount have been added. For more information, click here.
Closing certain businesses and venues in England
Guidance has been updated for business closures in line with the latest government guidance. For more information, click here.
Coronavirus advice for pregnant employees
Advice for pregnant employees on risk assessments in the workplace and occupational health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been updated to reflect the new national lockdown restrictions in England. For more information, click here.
Welsh Government to strengthen legislation to ensure workplaces and shops are safer
The risk assessments will be the starting point for implementing the reasonable measures that are required to be taken to minimise exposure to the coronavirus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.
This involves considering issues such as:
- whether ventilation is adequate
- ensuring physical distancing is taking place
- use of PPE and face coverings.
It will also include considering how employers maximise the number of people who can work from home.
The highly contagious new strain of the virus means Wales has had to look again at the rules regulating workplaces and premises that remain open to the public.
First Minister, Mark Drakeford said:
“Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly, whenever circumstances change and I want to make clear in law this includes whenever the coronavirus Alert levels change in Wales.
“Recording the risk assessment will only be required by those who employ 5 or more people. We are working closely with employers, trade unions, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider the detail on how to keep work settings safe.
“Ministers have also met this week with key retailers to discuss their vital role during the pandemic. They set out the actions they are taking from providing sanitisers for hands and trolleys on entry; limiting the numbers in store at any one time; and making regular announcements reminding people to keep their distance from others.
“We will strengthen regulations to ensure retailers take these steps so that their premises are as safe as possible for shoppers and their employees alike. Many are already operating high standards and we need to raise the bar for those who could and should improve.
“However, we all have a personal responsibility to help make shops as safe as possible. We all need to shop alone if we can, observe the 2m rule, practise good hand hygiene and wear a face covering unless exempt. Any abuse directed at store employees who remind people of their responsibilities will not be tolerated.”
Scotland tightens rules around click and collect services
Only shops selling essential items – and certain non-essential items – will be allowed to offer click and collect services from now on in Scotland.
The non-essential retailers which can continue to operate click and collect services are:
- clothing and footwear stores
- homeware stores
- garden centre/plant nurseries
- baby equipment shops
- electrical shops (including repairs)
- key cutting and shoe repairs
Online services for essential and non-essential goods, which are delivered to a person’s home or business, are permitted.
One-off cash grants of up to £9,000 announced for retail businesses
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
- £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
- £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
- business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner:
- the Scottish Government will receive £375 million
- the Welsh Government will receive £227 million
- the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £127 million
- small businesses in the devolved administrations should also be able to benefit from other UK-wide measures in the government’s package of support for business, including the various business lending schemes and the extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme
Businesses in England need to apply through their local councils here. Businesses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will need to contact their local authority to find out if additional grants are available.
A further £594 million is also being made available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. Businesses should apply to their local authorities.
The new one-off grants come in addition to billions of existing business support, including grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses, and up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.
The government has also provided 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, £1.1 billion existing discretionary funding for local authorities, the furlough scheme is now extended to April and 100% government backed loans, extended until March.
Testing for HGV drivers using the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel before leaving for France
- Guidance has been updated to reflect that HGV drivers leaving England for France can only cross the Channel with evidence of an authorised negative COVID test conducted within a 72-hour period before their departure. For more information, click here.
- Testing at haulier advice sites: Free Covid tests for HGV drivers are now available at some haulier advice sites and will be available at more advice sites soon. Haulier advice sites are at motorway service stations and truck stops. Most haulier advice sites are open between 6am and 10pm, 7 days a week. To check if your nearest haulier advice site is offering free Covid-19 tests for drivers of HGVs, light goods vehicles, and vans, click here.
For more information on testing for HGV drivers click here.
England and Scotland announce full lockdowns from midnight
All areas of England and Scotland, except for the Scottish islands, are to move into full lockdown from midnight.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the lockdown in England until 15 February was needed due to surging Covid-19 cases and patients.
People can’t leave their homes except for certain reasons, like the first lockdown last March, which include essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who can’t do so from home.
Non essential retail can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
Schools and colleges will close until at least mid-February.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said people will be expected to stay at home and work from home wherever possible.
People in Scotland will only be allowed to leave home for essential purposes, such as shopping for food and medicine, exercise and caring responsibilities but construction and manufacturing will be able to continue.
Click and collect and online services can remain open. Schools will also be closed.
Wales has been under “stay-at-home” lockdown restrictions since 20 December after a rise in Covid-19 cases, while Northern Ireland’s Stormont Executive is meeting to discuss stricter measures.
Northern Ireland was put into a six-week lockdown on 26 December, which saw all but essential shops forced to close.
More retailers in England closed as areas move into tier 4
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the whole of England will be moved into tiers 3 and 4 (except for the Isles of Scilly) meaning more businesses will be forced to close from 31 December.
Find out which tier your business is in with the gov.uk postcode checker.
All of the following areas move into tier 4, which means non-essential retail must close (see what the rules are in tier 4):
- Leicester City
- Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
- Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
- Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
- Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees)
- North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
- Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
The following areas all move into tier 3, which means retail can still open for business (see what the rules are in tier 3):
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
- Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
- York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)
Click and collect services will be able to operate in tier 4.
More areas of south-east and south of England move into lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will all move up to tier 4 on Boxing Day.
Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest, and the parts of Essex and Surrey not already in the toughest restrictions will also enter lockdown.
Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, the Isle of White, the New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire and Warrington move up to tier 3, with Herefordshire and Cornwall moving to tier 2.
The Isles of Scilly, home to around 2,000 people, is now the only area of England still in tier 1.
Non-essential retail to close again in London, south-east and east of England
Boris Johnson says London, the south-east and east of England will enter a new tier four level of restrictions from Sunday morning (20 December).
Non-essential retail will close until at least 30 December, although click and collect services will still be able to operate in tier 4 if goods are pre-ordered and picked up. See what rules apply in tier 4.
The tiers will be equivalent to national restrictions which were introduced in England in November.
Residents in those areas must stay at home, with limited exemptions.
People should work from home when they can, and shouldn’t enter or leave tier four areas.
People shouldn’t travel into a tier four area, though support bubbles remain unaffected as do the exemptions for separated parents and their children.
For those in tiers one, two and three, rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only.
Christmas bubbles for those in tiers one to three won’t be able include anyone in tier four.
In tier four, people shouldn’t mix with anyone outside their own household, apart from support bubbles.
Meanwhile, the whole of Wales will be placed under lockdown from midnight with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day. Non-essential retail will close as will gyms, beauty salons, bars and pubs. Businesses which sell a range of products, such as supermarkets, may only sell those items that a business listed in the exceptions column would generally sell. This means for example that supermarkets may not sell most homeware items, electrical goods, toys and clothing.
And most of Scotland will return to the toughest level four restrictions from Boxing Day, meaning non-essential retail will have to close.
The restrictions will last for three weeks and apply to all areas except the islands which will remain in level three.
Northern Ireland is still set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December, with non-essential shops closing after Christmas Eve. A set of stricter measures are being put in place from 12.01 am on 26 December to 12.01 am on 2 January.
Furlough scheme is extended until the end of April
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the government’s furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had previously been extended until the end of March.
The government will continue to pay 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April. Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked.
Businesses will also be given until the end of March to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These had been due to close at the end of January.
Meanwhile, the spring budget has been announced for 3 March 2021.
More English areas put into Tier 3
As well as London, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire – Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire have all been put into Tier 3 regulations, as well as parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
Herefordshire has been moved from tier 2 to tier 1, while Bristol and North Somerset move from tier 3 to tier 2.
The changes come into effect at 00:01 on Saturday 19 December.
Meanwhile, Wales has announced that it will be going into another lockdown after Christmas.
Non-essential shops will close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve, with an alert level four lockdown starting four days later on 28 December.
The level four alert in Wales will be reviewed every three weeks, with the first due on 18 January 2021.
And Northern Ireland will also go into a lockdown starting on 26 December. During the first week, until 2 January, all essential retail will have to close by 20:00.
Non-essential retail will close for at least four weeks from Boxing Day, with the measures reviewed on Friday 22 January.
11 December 2020
In response to pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department for Transport has introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales.
This temporary relaxation will apply from 12:01am on 10 December 2020 and will run until 11:59pm on 30 December 2020.
Find out about who the relaxation applies to and information on using the relaxation here.
Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021. This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants 3 months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.
Further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will also be published shortly. A review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation has also been announced, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions. More information is available here.
Quarantine exception for a senior executive working in England: Senior executives can temporarily leave quarantine in England if they are undertaking business activities which are likely to be of significant economic benefit to the UK. Find out who is exempted, how to comply with the exemption and examples of activity that would or would not likely to qualify for an exemption here.
08 December 2020
Retail to reopen across Scotland and NI from Friday 11 December
The 11 areas put into tier 4 restrictions in Scotland will be downgraded to tier 3 on Friday.
That means toy shops will be able to reopen in some of the country’s busiest shopping areas from 06:00 on 11 December, including Glasgow and much of central and western Scotland.
Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders move from tier 1 to tier 2, while Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus move from tier 3 to tier 2.
Meanwhile, business owners in England affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will now be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021.
Toy shops in Northern Ireland will also reopen on Friday.
30 November 2020
English shops given permission to open for longer, subject to approval
Retailers will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run-up to Christmas and through January, but only after getting permission from their local authority.
Local authorities will be able to temporarily waive the rules restricting retail opening hours and councils will decide how long stores will stay open.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says the changes will be a boost to business, help ease transport pressures and make socially distanced shopping easier by giving people greater flexibility to choose when they shop and avoid peak times.
Restrictions may be imposed by individual local authorities when they grant planning permission for individual stores.
Typically, such conditions limit the opening hours that a business may trade, for example, from 9am to 7pm unless a separate arrangement is agreed in writing with the relevant local planning authority.
A retailer normally needs to apply to remove or vary such a condition under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which can be a lengthy process, taking several weeks.
26 November 2020
English tiers revealed as government website postcode checker crashes
The government has published a page which sets out the full list of local restriction tiers by area from Wednesday 2 December.
Tier 1: Medium alert
- Isle of Wight
- Isles of Scilly
Tier 2: High alert
- Liverpool City Region
- Warrington and Cheshire
- North Yorkshire
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
East of England
- Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
- Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
- Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
- all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
- East Sussex
- West Sussex
- Brighton and Hove
- Bracknell Forest
- Windsor and Maidenhead
- West Berkshire
- Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
- South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Wiltshire and Swindon
Tier 3: Very High alert
- Tees Valley Combined Authority:
- Redcar and Cleveland
- North East Combined Authority:
- South Tyneside
- Newcastle upon Tyne
- North Tyneside
- County Durham
- Greater Manchester
- Blackburn with Darwen
Yorkshire and The Humber
- The Humber
- West Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire
- Birmingham and Black Country
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
- Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
- Derby and Derbyshire
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
- Leicester and Leicestershire
- Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
- Kent and Medway
- South Gloucestershire
- North Somerset
23 November 2020
England to come out of lockdown on 2 December and return to tier system
Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen in England from 2 December, as the country returns to a regional tier system.
Shops will be allowed to stay open in all three tiers – tier 1 (medium alert), tier 2 (high alert) and tier 3 (very high alert). Which areas in England are in which tier will be announced on Thursday by the Prime Minister.
- In tier one, the government will reinforce the importance of working from home wherever possible.
- In tier two, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals (like a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal), along with accompanying drinks. Last orders will now be 10pm, with one hour to finish drinks
- In tier three, all hospitality will close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through; hotels and other accommodation providers must close (except for specific exemptions, including people staying for work purposes or where they cannot return home); and indoor entertainment venues must also close.
Spectator sports will also be able to resume in tiers one and two with limits on attendance.
The three-tiered system will end on 31 March 2021, with government reviews every two weeks.
Pay VAT deferred
You can pay now or get ready to opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme. If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:
- pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021;
- opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021;
- contact HMRC if you need more help to pay.
Check how you can pay your deferred VAT.
If you want to opt in to the new payment scheme: You can’t opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself; your agent cannot do this for you.
Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. For more on the opt in paying system check here.
22 November 2020
Northern Ireland to close non-essential retail for two weeks from Friday
All non-essential retail will close in Northern Ireland from Friday (27th November) for two weeks until Friday 11 December.
Hospitality services will only be allowed to provide takeaway services but schools will be allowed to remain open.
People from different households in Northern Ireland will still not be allowed to mix indoors but “bubbling” is allowed with one other household of any size.
20 November 2020
How to claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Guidance on claiming for employees wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated by the government:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until 31 March.
- 30 November (a week on Monday) is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October.
- Claims for furlough days in November must be submitted by 14 December.
- Guidance has been updated with detail on employer claim information that HMRC will make public.
- Guidance on calculating how much you can claim for furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees has been updated with clarification of information relating to claim period deadlines and timings
- Language has been changed to make it clear that for claim periods starting on or after 1 December you can’t claim for any days on or after 1 December during which the furloughed employee was serving a contractual or statutory notice period. Find out more here.
- Eligibility criteria has been made clearer for employees who are made redundant on or after 23 September and you have re-employed and employees that have a fixed term contract that expired after 23 September. Find out more here.
Providing apprenticeships during the Coronavirus outbreak: Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations has been updated with information about the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the national restrictions guidance, the package of support available for those who have been made redundant on or after 15 October, and functional skills.
Kickstart Scheme: employer resources: ‘Tips’ for making a successful Kickstart Scheme application has been updated.
17 November 2020
Toy retailers to close in Scotland as 11 areas move to tier 4 lockdown
Retail will be closed in 11 areas of Scotland from 18:00 on Friday and reopen on Friday 11 December. Those areas are:
- City of Glasgow
- East Renfrewshire
- East Dunbartonshire
- West Dunbartonshire
- North Lanarkshire
- South Lanarkshire
- East Ayrshire
- South Ayrshire
- West Lothian
However, in letter to the BTHA – Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills – told us that click and collect, online services and outdoor retail, such as garden centres, outdoor markets and car lots, will remain open and non-essential items will still be available to buy within essential retailers.
Shops in the rest of Scotland will stay open and will remain at levels two (high) and three (very high) of its five-tier system, launched at the beginning of November. East Lothian and Midlothian will move from tier three to tier two next Tuesday (24 November).
12 November 2020
New guidance issued on grants available for toy retailers in England
- Coronavirus grant due to national restrictions (for closed businesses): The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Closed) Addendum) supports businesses in England that have been required to close due to the national restrictions between 5 November and 2 December. Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 28-day period under national restrictions. To check your eligibility and for more information, click here.
- Coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses): Businesses in England that were open as usual and were then required to close due to local restrictions (local COVID alert level: Very High) may be eligible for the local restrictions support grant. Eligible businesses are entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14–day period they are closed. To check your eligibility and for more information, click here.
- Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses): The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Open)) supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions. Businesses that have not had to close but which have been severely impacted due to local restrictions (Local COVID alert levels: High or Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Open). Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 28–day period under local restrictions. To check your eligibility and for more information, click here.
- Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant: The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) supports businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed. The scheme provides local councils with grant funding to support closed businesses that do not directly pay business rates as well as businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted. In addition, larger grants can be given than those made through LRSG (Closed). To check your eligibility and for more information, click here.
Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan: The Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. New options are available to top up existing loans, extend the loan period, make interest-only repayments, or pause repayments.
The scheme is open to applications until 31 January. If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 January. For more information about the scheme click here.
Claiming Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to Coronavirus: Find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The online service to claim back SSP is now available. For more information on who can use the scheme, click here.
How HMRC will continue to support customers and the economy: HMRC’s work has been at the centre of the government’s response to COVID-19. HMRC have issued a briefing on how they will work with customers and stakeholders over the coming months, while COVID-19 continues to impact the country.
09 November 2020
Toy shops reopen in Wales after “firebreak” lockdown ends
The 17-day firebreak lockdown in Wales has ended, meaning toy shops can now open again.
Households can now travel anywhere in Wales, form a “two-family bubble” but travel to and from England is banned (unless you have a reasonable excuse).
15 people can meet indoors for organised activities and 30 people can meet outdoors for organised activities if social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid-19 safety measures are followed.
Groups of four people from different households can meet indoors or outdoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Meanwhile, England remains in lockdown until at least 2 December, Scotland is staying at levels two (high) and three (very high) of its five-tier system, launched at the beginning of November, while tighter restrictions in Northern Ireland are due to end on Friday 20 November.
Members may also be interested in the rules for retail opening across Europe. The information has been drawn together by Toy Industries of Europe (TIE), of which the BTHA remains an active member.
Please note the information is correct as far as possible from TIE’s sources as of 10 November and that local/regional variances may be in place in the different countries.
This information should not be shared outside member companies.
05 November 2020
Government extends furlough scheme further – until end of March
Further to Sunday’s extension of the furlough scheme until December, the Chancellor has now extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until the end of March.
Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. There are currently no employer contribution to wages for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions for hours not worked. For an average claim, this accounts for 5% of total employment costs or £70 per employee per month. The CJRS extension will be reviewed in January to examine whether the economic circumstances are improving enough for employers to be asked to increase contributions.
Support for millions more workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
Rishi Sunak also announced an increase in the upfront guarantee of funding for the devolved administrations from £14 billion to £16 billion. This uplift will continue to support workers, business and individuals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
01 November 2020
Government extends furlough scheme as England prepares for second lockdown
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until December as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown from Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December.
The new Job Support Scheme will now not be introduced until after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.
Non-essential retail in England can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect. Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services will be able to remain open. A full list of the business closures will be published soon.
Furlough scheme extension
Employees across the UK will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ended yesterday (31 October).
Employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee doesn’t work. To be eligible to be claimed for under this extension, employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October.
Additionally, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:
- For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
£1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.
Mortgage holidays will also no longer end. Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
15 October 2020
Kickstart Scheme – funding to create new job placements
- Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant – 30 or more job placements: If you are an employer looking to create 30 or more jobs placements for young people, apply for funding as part of the Kickstart Scheme.
- Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant – 29 or less job placements: If you are an employer looking to create 29 or less jobs placements for young people, apply for funding as part of the Kickstart Scheme.
- Help employers apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant: New guidance for organisations who want to be a Kickstart gateway and help employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme is available.
New and updated guidance on Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
Claiming financial support: If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020, you’re under a legal obligation to do so, and could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. This guidance sets out who can claim support and explains how to apply.
New hotline launched to report Covid-19 fraudsters: A new hotline has been launched to stop fraudsters illegally targeting Covid-19 stimulus schemes. In an initiative between government and the independent charity Crimestoppers, the public can now call a new Covid-19 Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) anonymously and free of charge to report suspected fraudulent activity.
Updates to the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF): The CCFF provides temporary direct support to investment grade firms with short-term cash-flow problems and is designed to ensure that firms accessing government backed CCFF financing are able to repay. To ensure the CCFF continues to meet its objectives, the Treasury has introduced a new access review process. More here.
Deferring your Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus: You had the option to defer your second payment on account if you were:
Registered in the UK for Self Assessment and finding it difficult to make that payment by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus. Check what you need to do if, after 31 July 2020, you chose to defer your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year.
Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace: Guidance has been updated to add further clarification on the venues in scope of the policy. Guidance has also been added for hospitality venues on how to verify whether an individual has checked in on the NHS Covid-19 app.
14 October 2020
Non-essential retail to stay open in all levels of new government Covid-19 alert system
The Prime Minister has set out how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local Covid-19 Alert Levels in England.
Levels will be set at medium, high, and very high but non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.
The “medium” alert level – which will cover most of the country – will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September.
This includes the Rule of Six, and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions.
This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between households or support bubbles indoors. The Rule of Six will apply in outdoor spaces, including private gardens.
Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the “high” alert level.
The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.
This includes incidence and test positivity, including among older and more at-risk age groups, as well as the growth rate, hospital admissions and other factors.
In these areas, the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens, with the Rule of Six allowed in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
People will be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.
Other measures may include the closure of gyms, casinos, and leisure centres.
You can see which level your local area is in with the government’s postcode checker.
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium
This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-19 secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed
- People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors
Local COVID Alert Level – High
- This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures are in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
- People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Local COVID Alert Level – Very High
This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.
The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:
- Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.
Retail will also stay open in Northern Ireland, which has announced a national lockdown.
In addition to current household restrictions, the following measures will come into regulatory effect on Friday 16 October and will be in place for a period of four weeks:
- Bubbling to be limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households;
- No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble;
- Closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and takeaways for food, with the existing closing time of 23:00 remaining.
- Other takeaway premises will be brought in line with hospitality with a closing time of 23:00;
- Close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics.
- No indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level;
- No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply);
- Gyms may remain open but for individual training only with local enforcement in place;
- Funerals to be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings;
- Off licences and supermarkets will not sell alcohol after 20:00;
- Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships to be limited to 25 people with no receptions. This will be implemented on Monday 19 October. Venues providing the post-ceremony or partnership celebration this weekend may remain open for this purpose but may not provide other services for people who are not part of the wedding or partnership party and this will be limited to 25;
And the following advice will be added to the existing health guidance:
- Work from home unless unable to do so;
- Universities and further education to deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible with only essential face to face learning where that is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course;
- No unnecessary travel should be undertaken.
09 October 2020
Job Support Scheme expanded to firms required to close due to Covid Restrictions
The government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who can’t work – enabling businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.
The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
Employers won’t be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions. It’s estimated that around half of potential claims are likely not to incur employer NICs or auto-enrolment pension contributions and so face no employer contribution.
Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January. In line with the rest of the JSS, payments to businesses will be made in arrears, via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December. Employees of firms that have been legally closed in the period before 1 November are eligible for the CJRS.
The scheme is UK wide and the government says it will work with the devolved administrations to ensure the scheme operates effectively across all four nations.
In addition to expansion of the JSS, the government is increasing the cash grants to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was available previously.
These measures will sit alongside the original JSS – which is designed to support businesses that are facing low demand over the winter months – and the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus (JRB) which encourages employers to keep staff on payroll.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension: The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. Find out here if you are eligible and how much you can get. Guidance is available on how HMRC will work out your trading profits and non-trading income if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus. A video on how to claim the second grant step-by-step is also available.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: 30 November 2020 is the last day you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020. After this date you will not be able to submit any further claims or add to existing claims. More here.
Cyber safety guide to help small businesses work securely online: The National Cyber Security Centre’s re-launched Small Business Guide sets out five key areas for businesses to help improve their cyber security. The new-look guidance arrives at a time when many organisations have moved their operations online due to the coronavirus pandemic. It highlights accessible and actionable steps to take which have little to no cost. There is also guidance that helps small to medium sized organisations prepare their response to and plan their recovery from a cyber incident.
Companies House to resume compulsory strike off process
From Saturday (10 October) the measure to suspend compulsory strike off action will be lifted. That means the government will resume the process to remove a company from the register if there’s reasonable cause to believe it’s no longer carrying on business or in operation.
For example, if:
- company documents are outstanding, and the government has had no response to our letters
- letters sent by Companies House are returned undelivered
- the company has no directors
Companies that don’t file their annual accounts or confirmation statement will normally receive two letters from Companies House. A notice is then published in the Gazette to tell the public that the registrar intends to strike off the company.
Any person with an interest in a company which is nearing strike off should register an objection to dissolution at Companies House.
06 October 2020
Businesses affected by Coronavirus lockdowns can apply for grants
The Local Restrictions Support Grant has been launched to support businesses that were open as usual, providing services in person to customers from their business premises, but which were then required to close for at least three weeks due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government.
It is for businesses that pay business rates on their premises. Local councils may at their discretion also provide funding for businesses that don’t pay business rates. Find out more here.
Working safely during Coronavirus
- Shops and branches. By law, staff and customers of retail settings are now required to wear a face covering, unless they have an exemption. There is more information here.
- Face coverings at work: Guidance had been updated to provide further clarity for staff in indoor settings. Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in areas that are open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public. There is more here.
Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus: Businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free.
You will need to opt-in to the scheme, and for those who do, this means that your VAT liabilities due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 do not need to be paid in full until the end of March 2022. Those that can pay their deferred VAT can still do so by 31 March 2021. More information on the scheme will be available on GOV.UK in the coming months.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension: The grant extension is for self-employed people who are currently eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to coronavirus. Find out more on who can claim and what the grant extension covers here. HMRC will provide full details about claiming in due course.
28 September 2020
Clarification on wearing face masks in retail
- Where are retail staff required to wear a face covering?
- Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in indoor areas (unless exempt) which are open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with a member of the public, for example shops, supermarkets and restaurants.
- Retail staff are not required to wear a face covering in areas that the public do not have access, including an office/back of store environment/staff canteen.
- Retail staff are not required to wear a face covering on the shop floor when the store is closed to the public.
- If businesses have taken steps in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance for COVID-19 secure workplaces to create a physical barrier between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier will not be required to wear a face covering. However, if the mitigation is social distancing or handwashing, then a face covering would be required for retail staff in customer facing areas.
- What constitutes a face covering?
- The base requirement is to wear a face covering which is anything that covers the nose and mouth securely, when indoors in the relevant places listed, and you are in a public area, likely to come into contact with the public (as explained in the regulations and guidance).
- A visor does not constitute a face covering and therefore must be worn with a face covering.
- If the business however has deemed that employees need to wear respiratory protective equipment following a Health and Safety risk assessment, then they should continue to do that, and they would be complying with the face covering regulations in this case.
24 September 2020
Chancellor unveils new Job Support Scheme
The government says a new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect jobs in businesses which are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. It’ll take over from the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme for furloughed employees.
- Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.
- Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme, with further guidance being published soon.
The scheme is designed to sit alongside the Jobs Retention Bonus and could be worth over 60% of average wages of workers who have been furloughed – and are kept on until the start of February 2021. Businesses can benefit from both schemes in order to help protect jobs.
Help for self-employed workers
In addition, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is continuing his support for self-employed people by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.
Tax cuts and deferrals
As part of the package, up to half a million business who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.
Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
Flexibility to pay back loans
- Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given the option to repay their loan over a period of up to 10 years through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to 10 years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.
- The government is extending four temporary loan schemes to 30 November 2020 for new applications: As a result, more businesses will now be able to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.
Measures from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act extended to relieve pressure on businesses dealing with coronavirus: Measures put in place to protect businesses from insolvency will be extended to continue giving them much-needed breathing space during the coronavirus.
17 September 2020
Extension on rents moratorium announced
The government is extending the moratorium on commercial landlords’ right to forfeiture for the non-payment of rent (Section 82 Coronavirus Act 2020) to 31 December 2020, meaning the moratorium that was due to expire on 30 September 2020 will be extended by three months. This extension will provide businesses and employees with certainty as they continue to reopen and protect thousands of vital jobs, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors which were forced to close earlier in the year. This move will help them remain in their premises without the threat of eviction for the rest of this year, giving them the chance to focus on rebuilding their business over the autumn and Christmas period. The press notice is here.
Since March, the government has implemented a range of measures to support commercial tenants and their landlords. The objective of these measures was to preserve tenants’ businesses through the Covid-19 lockdown and to give time and space to landlords and tenants to agree reasonable adjustments to rent and lease terms, including terms for the payment of accumulated rent arrears. These measures included:
- a moratorium on the landlord’s right of forfeiture for non-payment of rent, implemented through the Coronavirus Act 2020;
- restrictions on the service of statutory demands and winding-up petitions, implemented through the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020;
- an extension of the period of arrears required before Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR), which enables landlords to seize goods owned by the tenant in lieu of rent owed, can be invoked, implemented through secondary legislation;
- publishing a voluntary Code of Practice to encourage constructive dialogue between tenants and landlords; and
- working with the financial regulators to issue a joint statement encouraging investors and lenders to consider the issues arising directly from the Covid-19 pandemic in responding to potential breaches of covenants.
The announcement, which includes further amendments to the use of CRAR, ensures that the measures are in place until the end of the year. This applies in England and Wales; Northern Ireland is consulting on its measures and Scotland has separate measures in place until 31 March 2021.
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 included a number of temporary measures that are due to expire 30 September, including the restrictions on statutory demands and winding up petitions and flexibilities around the arrangements for general meetings. The government is considering the need to extend these measures, and says it will announce a decision soon.
The Code of Practice published in June provides guidance to both parties to ensure that negotiations can progress effectively. This extension is not a rent holiday: rent is still due to landlords according to contractual obligations. The government says it wants to see parties where the tenant is unable to pay the full amount negotiate using the principles set out in the Code, which states that those tenants who can pay the full amount of rent should do so; those who cannot should pay what they can; and landlords should provide concessions where they reasonably can. This is a temporary measure being extended; however, the government says it recognises that it cannot go on indefinitely. The government says it expects both sides of the sector – landlords and tenants – to use the time to negotiate and will intervene further if necessary.
16 September 2020
New details released on Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released details of participating insurers for the government’s Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme.
- American International Group UK Limited
- Atradius UK
- Coface UK Branch
- CREDENDO – SHORT-TERM NON-EU RISKS
- Euler Hermes UK, a branch of Euler Hermes SA (NV)
- Markel International Insurance Company Limited
- Nexus Trade Credit
- QBE UK Limited and QBE Europe SA/NV
- Zurich Insurance plc
The list can also be found at the following gov.uk link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-credit-reinsurance-scheme
BEIS says all participating insurers have been writing in line with the scheme rules for a number of months. It is worth noting that most insurers have signed up to the scheme. The department is advising firms to contact their regular/ familiar providers in the first instance.
The scheme is intended to ensure that appropriate levels of cover are available to businesses. However, insurers still need to comply with their regulatory obligations in the risks that they take on. If you have seen cover withdrawn, BEIS says it is happy to raise this with the insurer directly. Alternatively, it may be prudent to explore options for Trade Credit Insurance (TCI) cover with another insurer which may have a different risk appetite.
The exit date of 31 December is subject to review and the TCI team will be updating businesses on plans for the future of the scheme in due course. This review will involve looking at the state of the economy, state of the TCI market, and the case for extending or amending the scheme beyond 31 December.
However, policies under the scheme at present can have payment terms of up to two years which should cover some of the future risks that businesses are facing.
9 September 2020
New measures to suppress Coronavirus but business meetings unaffected by new rules
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a statement on new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down.
What has changed for businesses in England:
- From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors. Covid-19 secure venues, such as restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups. Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30.
- Businesses will have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace. From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. Core Covid-19 secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced.
- The government will support local authorities and police forces to respond to breaches of Covid-19 secure guidelines. Simplified Covid-19 secure guidance is available here.
- The government will review plans to pilot larger audiences in venues this month.Planned sports pilot events will be limited to smaller, safer numbers, with strict conditions to ensure social distancing, and will not take place in areas where incidence is high. We will review our intention to return audiences to stadia and conference centres from 1 October.
- The government will restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in local lockdown areas, with the option of national action in the future. This has been introduced in Bolton, following a steep rise in cases, and will seek to restrict activities that may lead to a spread in the virus.
These measures apply to England – but there may be different rules if you operate in an area under local lockdown and you should check those rules here. If you are in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, different rules may apply.
Companies House resumes voluntary strike off process
Temporary measures to suspend voluntary strike off action have been lifted. Further details can be found here.
27 August 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention scheme changes – 27 August 2020
As previously announced, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close on 31 October.
Employers can continue to bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.
The timetable for changes to the scheme is set out below. Wage caps are proportional to the hours an employee is furloughed. For example, an employee is entitled to 60% of the £2,500 cap if they are placed on furlough for 60% of their usual hours:
- for September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed
- for October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed
Employers will continue to able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.
Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.
18 August 2020
If you’re eligible for the second and final grant, and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July, you can make a claim on or before 19 October. You can claim for the second grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant. If you have different circumstances it can affect your eligibility. If you’re self-employed or member of a partnership, find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme. Please see here to understand how HMRC works out trading and non-trading income for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
Self-isolating after returning to the UK: Guidance for employers
- Where possible people should work from home during their self-isolation period. Employees should talk to their employer about working from home before they travel.
- Employees can agree with their employer to take leave to cover the period of their self-isolation, providing they have enough leave remaining.
- Employers can also tell employees to take leave as long as they give them enough notice. Find out about notice periods.
- Employees may be able to take unpaid leave if they’re forced to travel to deal with an emergency involving a family member or dependent. Find out about time off for family and dependants.
- If you’re out of the country when a quarantine is announced. Employees should talk to their employer as soon as possible to discuss options.
Further information can be found here.
Examples to help calculate your employees’ wages if claiming through the Job Retention Scheme
Check examples to help you calculate your employee’s wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you’re claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for September and October. Find details here.
Access to Work: new factsheet
See a factsheet about Access to Work and how it can help overcome barriers to starting or keeping a job if an employee has a disability or long term health condition. The claiming process during coronavirus guidance has been updated. Find more information here. The Access to Work guide for employers can be found here.
11 August 2020
Companies House to resume compulsory strike off process – 11 August 2020
In April the government introduced temporary easement measures in response to coronavirus (Covid-19). However, following a monthly review, the temporary measure to suspend compulsory strike off action will be lifted from 10 October.
From this date, the government will resume the process to remove a company from the register if there’s reasonable cause to believe it’s no longer carrying on business or in operation.
For example, if:
- company documents are outstanding, and we’ve had no response to our letters
- letters sent by Companies House are returned undelivered
- the company has no directors
Companies that do not file their annual accounts or confirmation statement will normally receive 2 letters from Companies House. A notice is then published in the Gazette to tell the public that the registrar intends to strike off the company.
When compulsory strike off action resumes from 10 October – if there are no objections to dissolution and the 2 month period from the publication of the Gazette notice has expired, a company will be struck off shortly afterwards.
If your company is in default and you want it to remain on the register
You must file your outstanding documents or contact Companies House urgently. Otherwise, it will resume the process to remove your company from the register on 10 October.
Objections to strike off
Any person with an interest in a company which is nearing strike off should register an objection to dissolution at Companies House.
Applications for voluntary strike off (DS01)
Following the government’s July review, the voluntary strike off process will restart from 10 September.
Overtime and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Guidance on calculating how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated with a new section on how to calculate your claim for fixed pay employees who have worked enough overtime (in the tax year 2019 to 2020) to have a significant impact on the amount you need to claim.
Local lockdowns – business information
A new email address has been created by the Department of Health and Social Care for any queries that businesses and business representative bodies may have on local lockdown in their area: TTDHSCexternalaffairs@dhsc.gov.uk
31 July 2020
Trade credit insurance guarantee scheme finally approved – 31 July 2020
The BTHA has been asking government to support a trade credit insurance guarantee since early in the lockdown. The government agreed this support but has had to wait for EU approval for state support.
Now the European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a UK guarantee scheme to support the trade credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Trade credit insurance protects companies supplying goods and services against the risk of non-payment by their clients. Given the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the risk of insurers not being willing to maintain their insurance coverage has become higher.
The UK scheme ensures that trade credit insurance continues to be available to all companies, avoiding the need for buyers of goods or services to pay in advance, therefore reducing their immediate liquidity needs. The measure has a maximum budget of approximately £10 billion. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures implemented by Member States to remedy a serious disturbance in their economy.
The Commission found that the scheme notified by the UK is compatible with the principles set out in the EU Treaty and is well targeted to remedy a serious disturbance to the British economy. In particular, (i) the trade credit insurers have committed to the UK to maintain their level of protection as before the coronavirus outbreak in spite of the current difficulties; (ii) the guarantee is limited to only cover trade credit originated until the end of this year; (iii) the scheme is open to all credit insurers in the UK; (iv) the guarantee mechanism ensures risk sharing between the insurers and the State; and (v) the guarantee fee provides a sufficient remuneration for the UK.
The Commission found that the scheme notified by the UK is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the general principles set out in the State aid Temporary Framework. Furthermore, the Commission has found the scheme is in line with the Short-term export-credit Communication. On this basis, the Commission has approved the measure under EU State aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57451 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
29 July 2020
Advice for businesses on reporting Coronavirus cases – 29 July 2020
New guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus has been published. Covid-19 early outbreak management information has been created to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:
- know how to recognise and report an incident of coronavirus
- are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.
Action cards have been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face now lockdown restrictions have been eased. The cards are designed to be printed or downloaded to keep on hand in your business or organisation. Find out more here.
24 July 2020
Wearing of face masks becomes mandatory in toy shops – 24 July 2020
From today, face coverings are mandatory in enclosed public spaces – including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs. Venues such as restaurants, pubs and gyms are exempt.
Members of the public will need to wear face coverings, such as a fabric covering, scarf or bandana, that covers the nose and mouth in additional enclosed public spaces, as well as frequent hand washing and careful social distancing.
It is compulsory to wear a face covering when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops. If you are in a premises where you are able to sit down and consume food or drink that you have bought, then you can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink on-site.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):
- young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
- in order to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering.This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign but is not necessary in law.
As well as shops and supermarkets, face coverings must be worn in banks, building societies and post offices.
Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in other venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from Covid-19. These include:
- eat-in restaurants and pubs
- hairdressers and other treatment salons
- gyms and leisure centres
- cinemas, concert halls and theatres
For transport hubs in England, the requirements mean face coverings must be worn in indoor train stations and terminals, airports, maritime ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals.
The responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with individuals. Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.
Anyone who doesn’t abide by the regulations – and is not exempt under one of the categories set out in the regulations – could face a fine by the police of up to £100, as is currently the case on public transport. The fine will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. The police have been very clear throughout the pandemic that they will “engage, explain, encourage and finally enforce as a last resort”.
In Scotland, it’s been a requirement to wear face coverings in shops since 10 July. Anyone not wearing one can be fined £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days) for a first offence. People with certain medical conditions or disabilities are exempt, along with children under five. They are also compulsory in shops and libraries. But the rules do not apply in takeaways, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs or in banks and building societies.
In Wales and Northern Ireland you do not have to wear a face covering in shops, or takeaways.
Guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace includes a new section on collecting customer and visitor data, and with information on if a worker develops symptoms and orders a test.
Changes to working time requirements for Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI)
Individuals who are furloughed or who have their working hours reduced below the current statutory working time requirement for EMI as a result of coronavirus will retain the tax advantages of the scheme. Find more information here.
Bounce-Back plans for Northern Ireland’s tech sector
Exports Minister Graham Stuart has addressed tech businesses in Northern Ireland, outlining a series of measures to help recovery from the challenges of coronavirus. The new measures will help create and support jobs by increasing exports and attracting international investment. Find out more here.
Companies House phone line has reopened
Working in vehicles guidance has been updated
Updates include the change in working from home, when to wear face coverings and work related travel. Find out more here.
20 July 2020
Prime Minister sets out next stage of businesses reopening – 20 July 2020
The Prime Minister has set out the plans for moving to the next phase of the government’s response to the virus. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap to easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review as the epidemic, and the world’s understanding of it, develops.
In England, from 1 August, if prevalence remains around or below current levels, and Covid-19 secure guidelines are followed, the government will:
- Give employers more discretion on how they ensure employees can work safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
- Carry out pilots in venues with a range of sizes of crowds including sports stadia and business events. If plans progress in line with expectations, pilots will expand to build up to and prepare for a full, socially distanced return from 1 October.
People are advised that they may now use public transport but are encouraged to consider alternative means of transport where possible. More information is available here.
Face coverings at work
Guidance on face covering, their role in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, the settings in which they are recommended, and how they should be safely used and stored is available here. It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings in England, although employers should consider recommending their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place. There is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries. Employers should continue to follow Covid-19 secure guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees.
Companies House authentication code can be sent to a home address temporarily
Users can request to have the authentication code sent to a home address instead of the company’s registered office. This is a temporary service in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Find out more here.
Some aspects of business support are devolved. Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is available. In England, Growth Hubs can advise on local and UK Government business support. You can also find helpful business case studies and other useful information on the Coronavirus Business Support Blog.
13 July 2020
Recovery Advice for Business scheme launched for SMEs – 13 July 2020
The Recovery Advice for Business scheme, supported by the government and hosted on the Enterprise Nation website, gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with an expert adviser to help them through the coronavirus pandemic and to prepare for long-term recovery.
Thousands of expert professional and business services advisers are on hand to offer free advice, until 31 December. Small and medium sized businesses can sign up, take the diagnostic tool and access support. Advice will focus on key areas:
- accounting and finance
- people and building a team
- planning, strategy and pivoting
- marketing, PR and social media
- technology and digital tools
How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus
Information about ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) tests’ is available here. If you’re providing testing kits to your employees, outside the government’s national testing scheme, either directly or by purchasing tests that are carried out by a third party, no Income Tax or Class 1A National Insurance contributions will be due.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Reminder of key dates
- Claiming for employees furloughed on or before 30 June. Claim by 31 July for employees furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for periods ending on or before 30 June.
- Get ready for changes from 1 August. Employers will no longer be able to use a CJRS grant to cover National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions for furloughed employees from 1 August. You can submit August claims in advance, from 20 July.
- Working out your claims. Use HMRC’s online examples and calculator to help work out what you can claim, for claims ending on or before 31 July. From 10 July you will also be able to use these to help you work out claims ending on or before 31 August.
- Made a mistake on your claim? You can now delete a claim online within 72 hours of submitting it.
- More information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available here.
Information for businesses in Scotland
The Scottish Government published Phase 3 of its route map through and out of the crisis on 9 July. Find more information here.
08 July 2020
Chancellor unveils plan to help young people into jobs – 08 July 2020
In his summer economic update, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £2.1bn kickstart scheme to create more jobs for young people. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top that wage up. The scheme will be open for applications from next month but employers must prove they are additional jobs and must provide training and support to find a permanent job.
A job retention bonus will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed until 31 January 2021. For businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in national insurance.
Under a separate £1.6bn trainee and apprenticeship scheme, businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, £1,500 for apprentices over the age of 25 and £1,000 to take on new trainees. That’s in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16 to 18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan.
Plus, employers won’t have to pay any tax on coronavirus swab tests provided for their staff.
01 July 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention scheme changes – 01 July 2020
Businesses now have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work part time as part of the government’s plan to re-open the UK and kick-start the economy.
As previously announced, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close on 31 October.
From now, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.
From 1 August, the level of grant will be reduced each month.To be eligible for the grant employers must pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they are being furloughed.
The timetable for changes to the scheme is set out below. Wage caps are proportional to the hours an employee is furloughed. For example, an employee is entitled to 60% of the £2,500 cap if they are placed on furlough for 60% of their usual hours:
- for June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours the employee is on furlough, as well as employer National Insurance Contributions (ER NICS) and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work
- for August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough
- for September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed
- for October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed
Employers will continue to able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.
Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.
Travel Corridor Exemption list
Passengers returning to or visiting England, from countries or territories detailed in the travel corridor exemption list, will no longer need to self-isolate on arrival. This comes into effect on Friday 10 July. All passengers, except those on a small list of exemptions, will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in the UK. Find out more here.
To receive specific foreign travel advice, sign up to email updates here.
Information for travel into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be published in due course by the devolved administrations.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Guidance on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been updated with new examples for how a business could be adversely affected by coronavirus and with information on how different circumstances affect the scheme.
Scheme end: Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus
The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30 June. More information is available here.
24 June 2020
Social distancing reduced to 1m+ in England – 24 June 2020
From 4 July 2020, newly updated guidance recommends that you keep two metres away from people as a precaution or one metre when you can mitigate the risk by taking other precautions. Find the updated guidance and further details on mitigating risks here.
From Saturday 4 July, all businesses and venues in England can reopen, except for a small number of ‘Close proximity’ venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas, which will need to remain closed for now. The government is continuing to work with these sectors to establish taskforces to help them to become Covid-19 secure and reopen as soon as possible.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers and accommodation sites will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to Covid-19 secure guidelines. Some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades.
COVID Secure guides cover a range of different types of work:
- Find the new hotel and guest accommodation guidance here.
- Find the new close contact services (hairdressing, barber shops, beauty, nail bars, make up, tattooing, spray tanning, spas, sports and massage therapy, dress fitters, tailors, fashion designers) guidance here.
- Find the new visitor economy (hotels, guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, business events and consumer shows) guidance here.
- Find the updated restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services guidance here.
Please be aware Covid-19 safety guidance differs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Advisors in Scotland are still reviewing whether the 2m (6ft 6in) physical distancing rule should be eased, but a range of different shops and services can now begin planning for re-opening in mid-July. The Northern Ireland Executive is discussing the 2m rule this week, while in Wales the guidance remains at 2m.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill webinars
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will reform the insolvency and corporate governance framework in light of the Covid-19 emergency. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has planned two webinars to explain different aspects of this new legislation.
- To find out how provisions on AGMs and filing extensions will affect companies, please join us for our Corporate Governance session at 10.30am on 30 June. You can register here.
- To find out how the new rules on moratoriums, restructuring and winding-up petitions will affect companies and their associated parties, register to join our Insolvency session at 10.30am on 7 July. You can register here.
Applying for a moratorium under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
How to apply for breathing space to consider a rescue plan for your company, under measures to support companies and other types of business in financial difficulty. The directors must file for or apply to court for a moratorium. It will give the company 20 business days to consider rescue options. Find out more here.
Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back if you have over-claimed
Find out how to pay all or some of your grant back if you’ve overclaimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You can:
- correct it in your next claim
- make a payment to HMRC (only if you’re not making another claim)
- You’ll need your 14 or 15 digit payment reference number that begins with X
- Find out more here.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers
This guide has been updated with more information about flexible furlough and overpayments.
19 June 2020
More measures announced to prevent high street evictions – 19 June 2020
The government says it has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction over the summer. The extension, until 30 September, comes alongside other support to help local businesses plan for economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.
A new code of practice has been developed with leaders from the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.
The news is in addition to the financial package provided by the government to businesses. The code is voluntary for businesses and is relevant to all commercial leases held by businesses in any sector which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
It encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full if they are in a position to do so and advises that others should pay what they can, while acknowledging that landlords should provide support to businesses if they too are able to do so.
New tool to help businesses identify whether they can reopen safely
The government has developed a tool to help businesses in England to reopen safely during coronavirus. The tool encourages businesses to carry out a risk assessment and helps to identify the workplace adjustments that they should make.
Employers have the legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site, such as customers and visitors. This tool will help businesses to easily find out what they should do. Employees can also use this tool to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe. The tool can be found here.
The BTHA also has a comprehensive guidance document for retail.
15 June 2020
Face coverings to be worn on all public transport – 15 June 2020
New rules requiring passengers to wear a face covering on their journey come into force on public transport across England today. More than 3,000 extra staff from British Transport Police, Network Rail, Train Operating Companies and Transport for London will be deployed at key transport hubs and interchanges across England and hundreds of thousands of face coverings will be handed out for passenger use at many locations across the rail network.
Operators will be able to stop passengers who refuse to follow the rules from travelling and direct them to leave services. The police and Transport for London authorised personnel will also be able to issue fixed penalty notices of £100, or £50 if paid in 14 days, on buses, coaches, trams, ferries, aircraft and trains. Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.
The government says face coverings are not the same as face masks. It’s important that people don’t use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. Last month, the government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items.
The change coincides with the easing of certain lockdown measures, including the reopening of non-essential retail stores.
Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- From 1 July employers can only claim for employees who have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks between 1 March – 30 June.
- Flexibly furlough employees meaning employees can come back to work for any amount of time and any work pattern.
- Still be able to claim the furlough grant for the hours your flexibly furloughed employees do not work, compared to the hours they would normally have worked in that period
- From 1 August, the level of the grant will be slowly reduced. No grant will be available for Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions from 1 August although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.
- From 1 September, you will also be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages to ensure they continue to receive at least 80% of their wages for the time they’re on furlough. Find out more information on how the amount of grant available through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.
- HMRC are running a webinar to be held on Thursday 18 June 9:45am-10:45am and Friday 19 June 11:45am-12:45pm. It provides an overview of the changes to the scheme, how employers will be affected, flexible furloughing, key dates and support available. Sign up here.
How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you’re self-employed or member of a partnership, find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme. An update from the government includes examples added, to show when the ‘adversely affected’ criteria for the first and second grants will be met. Find out more here.
9 June 2020
Toy shops can reopen on Monday, subject to strict guidelines – 9 June 2020
Toy shops will be allowed to open their doors again on Monday (15 June) provided they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines set out by the government in May. Retailers will need to take certain steps to protect customers and staff, including limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time, placing protective coverings on large items which may be touched by passing shoppers, and frequently checking and cleaning objects and surfaces.
Employers should also display a notice visibly in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed this guidance. Businesses should only reopen once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure in line with current Health and Safety legislation.
Many shops allowed to open previously have introduced extra measures to ensure social distancing including special opening hours for vulnerable people, perspex screens at checkouts, floor markings to guide shoppers and limiting the number of customers allowed inside a store at one time. Read the BTHA’s toy retail stores operations guidance.
The government also has guidance on the regulations governing which businesses can, and cannot, remain open.
Additionally there are eight workplace guidance documents now available under Working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance.
Government clarifies UK border quarantine rules and sets out exemptions
If you’re a resident or visitor travelling to the UK, from the 8 June you must:
- provide your journey and contact details
- not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’)
You may be fined up to £100 if you refuse to provide your contact details. You may be fined more if you break this rule more than once. You may also be fined up to £1,000 if you refuse to self-isolate, or you could face further action.
There are different self-isolation rules and penalties depending on whether you are travelling to:
However, there are a number of exemptions to the rules. Of particular interest to the toy industry are these groups in a list put together by the government. They are:
Travellers from within the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands)
People who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week
People who live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel between their country of residence and the UK at least once a week
Drivers of goods vehicles or public service vehicles and other employees of community licence holders for the international carriage of goods or passengers by coach and bus
Workers with specialist technical skills for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods
The government has also provided a template letter for employers to fill out if you think anyone in your company is covered by the exemptions above. Should you wish to receive a copy of the letter (Word document), please contact email@example.com
Parents returning to work after extended leave eligible for furlough
As previously reported, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until October, with new flexibilities introduced from 1 July to support the economy by allowing furloughed employees to return to work part-time.
To enable the introduction of part-time furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. This means people must be on the furlough scheme by 10 June.
However, the government has confirmed that parents on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the coming months after a long period of absence will be permitted to be furloughed.
This will only apply where they work for an employer who has previously furloughed employees and includes people on adoption leave, shared parental leave and parental bereavement leave.
Sending forms to Companies House
As an emergency response to coronavirus, Companies House has developed a temporary online service to upload a number of completed forms and send them to Companies House digitally. Find out which documents you can upload here.
8 June 2020
Working groups to be launched to help relaunch industry – 8 June 2020
The government is creating 5 new business-focused groups to “unleash Britain’s growth potential” and create jobs, as part of its plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Focused on 5 key themes, each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:
- The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
- Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
- Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
- Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
- The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK
The membership of the 5 working groups will be published in due course. There will also be an opportunity for other parties and individuals interested in this initiative to share written submissions with the Business Department. The government says it will provide further details soon. There’s more information at the Small Business Commissioner website.
Payment deferral from money laundering supervision due to coronavirus
Guidance on money laundering supervision has been updated to explain that you do not need to contact HMRC if you choose to defer payment. If you’re due to renew money laundering supervision get a payment deferral for up to 6 months or deregister if you stop trading due to coronavirus. This applies to all businesses with an annual fee due between 1 May and 30 September 2020. Find out more here.
Companies House – changes to strike-off policy and late filing penalties
Companies House has updated information on strike-off policy. From 1 June 2020, there will be an exception to the suspension of strike off activity. In cases where the government’s law enforcement partners have concluded that companies are no longer in operation following an investigation, the registrar will continue with strike off action for those companies. Find out more here.
4 June 2020
Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee – 4 June 2020
Trade Credit Insurance, which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.
The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required. The scheme will be followed by a joint BEIS/HMT-led review of the Trade Credit Insurance market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future.
- The scheme will be delivered through a reinsurance agreement that is open to all insurers currently operating in the UK market, covering both domestic and overseas trade with payment terms of up to 2 years;
- To protect businesses that the private credit market can’t insure, export credit insurance is also available from UK Export Finance to cover UK exports to 180 countries. Government-backed export insurance from UKEF can protect the 230,000 businesses that export from the UK against the risk of not getting paid when selling internationally;
- Implementation of the scheme is subject to state aid approval, agreement of full form documentation with insurers and acceptance of applications from insurers for participation.
Late payment support from Small Business Commissioner
It is more important than ever to ensure small businesses are paid on time. Many small businesses are reaching out for assistance, with disputes over delayed payments or in some cases, non-payment because of the financial hardship being experienced by all sectors during this difficult time. As many small business owners are directly or indirectly impacted by Covid-19, they will be eager to get back on their feet, so keeping on top of the business basics and maintaining cash flow by getting the money in for work carried out or goods supplied is paramount.
The Small Business Commissioner has helped small businesses recover £500,000 during the coronavirus crisis. If you’d like more information or help:
29 May 2020
Government announces changes to furlough scheme – 29 May 2020
From 1 July, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Individual firms will be able to decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them – and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.
From August, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.
The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:
- June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
- August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
- September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
- October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed. At the end of October the scheme will close.
- To enable the introduction of part-time furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June.
- From 1 July, employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with previously furloughed employees.
- When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours; employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week, for grants to be calculated accurately across working patterns.
Self-employment income support scheme extended
- Individuals can continue to apply for the first SEISS grant until 13 July. Under the first grant, eligible individuals can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. Those eligible have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.
- Applications for the second grant will open in August. Individuals will be able to claim a second taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.
- The eligibility criteria are the same for both grants, and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant: for example, they may only have been adversely affected by Covid-19 in this later phase. Further guidance on the second grant will be published on Friday 12 June.
Factsheet for SEISS and CJRS schemes (PDF, 126KB, 5 pages)
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the driver’s hours rules
The EU drivers’ hours relaxations ended on 31 May 2020. The GB drivers’ hours relaxation applies until Saturday 14 June 2020. Anyone driving the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage if goods by road can use the relaxations where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. Find out more here.
28 May 2020
Government launches NHS test and trace system – 28 May 2020
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in England will now be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period. You can find further guidance here.
There is specific guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, business, workers and the self-employed which can be found here.
Six people can meet outside under new measures
Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings will be reopened. On 15 June, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Year 10 and 12 and the equivalent groups in further education. This will help students prepare for exams next year, and we expect there to be around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.
Furloughed drivers and recording mobile working time
The government has written a guide for operators and furloughed drivers on EU mobile working time rules and EU and AETR drivers’ hours and tachograph rules. It will help you understand how:
- to record your activities when furloughed, including when undertaking other work, either on your tachograph or by manual record if a tachograph cannot be used
- being furloughed interacts with the working time rules that apply to mobile workers
- to meet your obligations relating to driver card and tachograph vehicle unit data during coronavirus (COVID-19) related disruption
26 May 2020
Shops to reopen on 15 June, subject to conditions – 26 May 2020
Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are Covid-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from next Monday, 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. All other non-essential retail including shops selling toys, clothes, shoes, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from Monday 15 June if the government’s five tests are met and they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.
Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.
Measures that shops should consider include:
- Placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures
- Storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor
- Placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public
- Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys and coffee machines
Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement, detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. You can find the guidance here.
Join a free webinar, hosted by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to find out more about how to make your retail workplace Covid-secure.
- Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches – Guidance for people who run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
Details of other free webinars, hosted by BEIS are available on how to make your workplace Covid-secure. The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to open in England. The BTHA has also produced warehouse and office safety guidelines for members only.
Coronavirus sick pay scheme opens
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now open for applications. The scheme allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 members of staff, to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay for two weeks – worth nearly £200 per employee. Money will be received within six working days.
- The current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week. Employers can choose to go further and pay more than the statutory minimum. This is known as occupational or contractual sick pay.
- Where an employer pays more than the current rate of SSP in sick pay, they will only be able to reclaim the SSP rate.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:
- full-time employees
- part-time employees
- employees on agency contracts
- employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
- other SSP eligibility criteria apply
- tax agents can make claims on behalf of their employers
- Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020. Employees do not have to provide a doctor’s fit note in order for their employer to make a claim under the scheme make a claim.
- The repayment will cover up to two weeks of SSP from either 13 March 2020, if an employee had coronavirus, symptoms or is self isolating because someone they live with has symptoms, or from 16 April 2020 if an employee was shielding because of coronavirus.
- Employers can furlough their employees who have been advised to shield in line with public health guidance and are unable to work from home, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Once furloughed, the employee should no longer receive SSP and would be classified as a furloughed employee. Where an employee has been notified to shield and has not been furloughed, the rebate will compensate up to 2 weeks of SSP from 16 April.
21 May 2020
Government introduces insolvency bill in parliament – 21 May 2020
The government has introduced the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill in Parliament, which will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19). The Bill consists of 6 insolvency measures and 2 corporate governance measures.
The corporate governance measures will introduce temporary easements and flexibility to businesses where they are coping with reduced resources and restrictions.
The Bill will do this through:
- introducing a new moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue
- prohibit termination clauses that engage on insolvency, preventing suppliers from ceasing their supply or asking for additional payments while a company is going through a rescue process
- introducing a new restructuring plan that will bind creditors to it
- enabling the insolvency regime to flex to meet the demands of the emergency
- temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors who try to keep their companies afloat through the emergency
- temporarily prohibiting creditors from filing statutory demands and winding up petitions for coronavirus related debts
- temporarily easing burdens on businesses by enabling them to hold closed Annual General Meetings (AGMs), conduct business and communicate with members electronically, and by extending filing deadlines
- allowing for the temporary measures to be retrospective so as to be as effective as possible
19 May 2020
Government loans expanded for large firms – 19 May 2020
Businesses will now be able to benefit from larger loans under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200 million to help ensure those large firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak. The expanded loans, which have been introduced following discussions with lenders and business groups, will be available from 26 May.
Companies borrowing more than £50m through CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan, including a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.
These restrictions will also apply to the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) participants that wish to borrow money beyond 12 months from today. This will ensure that the money is used to keep the company going through the crisis. The Bank of England will also publish a list of companies who have benefitted under CCFF on 4 June.
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch
A new online service will be launched on Tuesday 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees.
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.
Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers.
Apply for the coronavirus Future Fund
The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020.
These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.
The Future Fund was developed by the government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.
Anyone with Coronavirus symptoms can now be tested
The government has announced that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible to book a test, ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service. The expansion in testing eligibility comes after it was confirmed that anosmia has been added as a symptom of Covid-19. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell, and it can also affect your sense of taste.
This means people should self-isolate immediately if they have:
- a new, continuous cough
- a high temperature, or
- a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste
All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
18 May 2020
Anosmia (loss of smell) added to Covid-19 symptoms – 18 May 2020
From today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.
The government has been monitoring the emerging data and evidence on Covid-19 and, after thorough consideration, we are now confident enough to recommend this new measure.
The individual’s households should also self-isolate for 14 days as per the current guidelines and the individual should stay at home for 7 days, or longer if they still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell.
14 May 2020
Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus – 14 May 2020
This guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who:
- continue to work
- have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
At Budget 2020 the Chancellor announced details about a new coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. This scheme will allow small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees. HMRC has published online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep.
HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Details about when the new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme can be accessed and when employers can make a claim will be announced as soon as possible.
13 May 2020
Government announces Trade Credit Insurance guarantee – 13 May 2020
Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government. The government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains as they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment. HMG’s Trade Credit Insurance (TCI) guarantee will cover over £171 billion business activity currently insured and the transactions between around 13000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers. You can find further information on our Trade Credit Insurance FAQs page.
Applications for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme open early
Self-employed people or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500), paid in a single instalment.
Check if you are eligible for the scheme here.
People will be able to make their claim on a specified date between 13-18 May, based on their Unique Tax Reference number. HMRC has assigned eligible self-employed individuals a specific date to apply on and this can be checked on HMRC’s online checker at any time. People will not be able to apply before their claim date but can make a claim after that day.
The claims process is simple, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May 2020, or within six working days of completing a claim.
Government announces roadmap taskforces
Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain. Businesses and shops in indoor environments or with closer contact between people, like pubs, hotels and non-essential retail, will likely have a higher risk of transmission, as is the case with many places of worship.
The five new ministerial taskforces will look at the following sectors:
- pubs and restaurants (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy)
- non-essential retail (including salons) (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);
- recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
- places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
- international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing (Department for Transport)
As part of this science-led approach, each taskforce will work across Government and engage with key stakeholders in public health, industry, trade unions and devolved administrations to:
- ensure that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phased approach and public health directions, building on the existing guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input
- agree and ensure alignment of all relevant sectoral guidance
- provide key sector stakeholders direct access to Ministers to shape the guidance.
12 May 2020
Chancellor extends Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – 12 May 2020
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October. The scheme will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy. Furloughed workers across the UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.
From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.
The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July. Changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around implementation will be made available by the end of this month.
Coronavirus (Covid-19): safer transport guidance for operators – This guide will help businesses, agencies and others understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus in the transport sector across England.
Guidance for passengers on how to travel safely – This guidance provides advice on how passengers should make journeys safely. The advice sets out that if people who cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport. Those driving their own cars have been asked to avoid busy areas. For those who have to use public transport, the guidance recommends:
Keeping 2 metres apart wherever possible;
Wearing a face covering if you can;
Using contactless payment where possible;
Avoiding rush hour travel where feasible;
Washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel;
Following advice from staff and being considerate to others.
All the latest guidance for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here.
4 May 2020
New Bounce Back loans scheme launches – 4 May 2020
Britain’s small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to-access loans of up to £50,000 from now – with the cash expected to land within days.
- small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to-access loans from today
- businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the cash arriving within days
- loans will be 100% government backed for lenders, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form
Thousands of small firms and sole traders will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak. Small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions. The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this new scheme. To apply, see further information about the Bounce Back Loan scheme.
The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders and will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
Self-employed income support scheme opens
HM Revenue and Customs will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) from now. Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment. HMRC is also inviting customers, or their agents, to go online and check their eligibility for SEISS.
The claims service will open on Wednesday 13 May and is being delivered ahead of the original timetable. This will help millions of self-employed people, covering a wide range of industries and jobs, whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the coronavirus. The claims process will be very simple, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim. Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020, intend to continue trading, and they:
- earn at least half of their income through self-employment
- have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year
- traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted their Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
HMRC is using information that customers have provided in their 2018 to 2019 tax return – and returns for 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 where needed – to determine their eligibility and is contacting customers who may be eligible via email, text message or letter.
Webinars to support your business
Government departments are hosting a series of free webinars this week to help businesses understand the support available including:
- Multiple dates – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim
- Multiple dates – Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
Keep up to date with all the latest available webinars here.
Deferred duty payments
Duty Deferment Account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 measures in place, and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 May, can contact HMRC for approval to an arrangement for extended period for making full or partial payment without having their guarantee called upon or their account suspended.
If a duty deferment user is facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of COVID-19 and is unable to make payment of deferred customs duty and import VAT due on 15 May they should contact HMRC to request an extension.
Duty Deferment users who had a payment extension agreed for their April payment should email the Central Deferment Office firstname.lastname@example.org. The email should confirm that the payment extension is being requested for the May payment due to COVID-19 and should also indicate that their financial situation remains the same (or has worsened).
All other requests can be made by contacting the Central Deferment Office at the email address above, or by phoning 03000 594243 or the COVID-19 helpline on 0800 024 1222.
The helpline operating hours are between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
Separate arrangements are available for deferred excise payments. Businesses unable to pay excise duty owed to HMRC due to COVID-19 should contact the COVID-19 helpline to on 0800 024 1222 discuss an enhanced Time to Pay arrangement.
Please note that HMRC can only arrange Duty Deferment extended payment arrangements with the Duty Deferment Account (DDA) holder. Where a customs agent or intermediary who holds a DDA is granted an extended payment arrangement, HMRC would expect the agent to pass on the benefit of the additional time to pay to the importer if the payment arrangement was agreed on the basis that they’ve been unable to secure payment from an importer.
UK and EU preferential export procedures
Due to coronavirus (Covid-19), in addition to easements already introduced when claiming preference on imports into the UK, Government has put temporary measures in place enabling exporters to apply for, and receive, copy preference documents from HMRC via email when exporting goods under the UK and EU’s preferential trading arrangements. Further information and links to the forms themselves obtained from Notice 827: UK and EU preferential export procedures and Notice 812: European Union preferences – trade with Turkey
Business rates revaluation postponed
A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus.
The government is continuing work on the fundamental review of business rates, with the aims of reducing the overall burden on businesses, improving the current business rates system, and considering more fundamental changes in the medium-to-long term. The call for evidence for the review will be published in the coming months.
29 April 2020
Government clarifies click and collect eligibility – 29 April 2020
News stories in the past 24 hours have reported that stores can operate click and collect services. The BTHA has spoken to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to clarify the situation.
All business can continue as long as they can operate social distancing measures, and where they cannot operate safe social distancing they should adopt measures to mitigate virus transfer (such as side-by-side working rather than face-to-face).
This includes keeping warehouses and deliveries operating and has continued to include click and collect for those that can safely do so. However, this advice is in conflict with the government list of only essential retailers remaining open.
The advice from BEIS is that retailers can continue or start to operate click and collect services but only if they are able to ensure safe social distancing measures for consumers. Therefore, consumers MUST remain outside the store and collect orders at the door with social distancing measures in place to collect outside.
BEIS has indicated that retailers with their own parking area that can control collections would therefore be allowed to operate click and collect services as consumers can visit, park and collect at the door while observing the 2m rule.
Stores on High Streets and shopping centres should assess the situation as they may not be able to safely operate the social distancing rule, and if they cause obstruction will fall foul of police measures that would not see toy collection as an essential retail operation.
However, for retailers that can determine safe social distancing measures, click and collect options are able to remain operational. The government is aware that there is conflict in some of the advice and is currently working to amend guidance to relaunch to retailers. In the meantime please see the current advice here.
If you have already made a claim: Payment takes six working days from when a claim is submitted. Please do not call HMRC to chase payment as they will not be able to update you before the six working days have ended. It will automatically be sent to the bank account you nominated in your claim. Please retain all records and calculations for your claims in case HMRC need to contact you about them in future.
If you have not yet made a claim: You can still claim online for a grant for 80% of your furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month. You will receive the funds six working days after you claim, provided your claim matches records that we hold for your PAYE scheme.
Please continue to keep your furloughed employees informed and ask them not to contact HMRC directly – HMRC will not be able to provide them with any information.
27 April 2020
Government launches new micro loan scheme – 27 April 2020
The government has announced that businesses will be able to apply for new Bounce Back Loans for 25% of their turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. The loans will be available from 9am next Monday 4th May. There will be a standard form for businesses to fill in and for most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan.
High Street protections from aggressive rent collection and closure
New temporary new measures are being introduced to safeguard the High Street against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic. Statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants will be temporarily voided and changes will be made to the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery, building on measures already introduced in the Coronavirus Act.
Furloughed workers to receive full parental leave entitlement
Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.
Webinar on how to claim for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
A new government video provides a step-by-step guide on how to make a claim through the Coronavirus Retention Scheme. It includes essential information needed before starting, how to work out a claim and what happens after submitting a claim.
Scheme to keep goods and services flowing
Vital routes for supplies and people are being supported through a coronavirus support package to keep the flow of goods and services running smoothly in and out of the UK, and around the country, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
A multimillion government support package for essential freight services includes:
- up to £17 million for critical routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain
- up to £10.5 million for lifeline ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles
- further support for critical routes between Britain and the European mainland
20 April 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opens – 20 April 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme open for claims
The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been launched. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply. If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay. This is a temporary scheme in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
To prepare to make your claim you will need:
- a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
- be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’
- the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
- if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.
You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims. You can find more information on the scheme and eligibility to claim here.
An important change has been made to the scheme extending employee eligibility:
- Employers can now claim for employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.
- Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.
Further guidance is available here.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBIL) expanded
The CLBIL Scheme has been expanded to cover all viable firms. All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.
The scheme is now available through a series of accredited lenders, which is listed on the British Business Bank website. This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (see above) for small and medium sized businesses.
The current social distancing measures will remain in place for at least the next few weeks until 7 May. The advice from SAGE is that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and our economy. See the statement in full here.
Companies House support for businesses hit by Covid-19
Changes announced by the government will help businesses avoid being struck off the Companies House register as they deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Find out more here.
Holiday pay while on furlough
While furloughed you will continue to accrue leave as per your employment contract. You can agree with your employer to vary holiday pay entitlement as part of the furlough agreement. However, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.
You can take holiday while on furlough. Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at your normal rate of pay or, where your rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay you received in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if you take holiday while on furlough, your employer should pay you your usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR. Employers will be obliged to pay the additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.
If you usually work bank holidays then your employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If you usually take the bank holiday as leave then your employer would either have to top up your pay to your usual holiday pay, or give you a day of holiday in lieu.
Deferral of customs duties payments
Duty deferment account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19 and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 April 2020 can contact HMRC for approval to enter into an extended period to make full or partial payment, without having their guarantee called upon or their deferment account suspended. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email email@example.com or the Covid-19 helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how Covid-19 has impacted their business finances and cash flow.
Duty Deferment account holders will be able to use their accounts during the extended payment period agreed unless they default on a subsequent payment in that period, in which case HMRC may consider suspending their account. The outstanding payment will not affect their duty deferment limit so they will not need to increase their guarantee to cover the outstanding payment. Where HMRC agrees to an extended payment period, interest will not be charged on the outstanding payments provided they are paid in full by the agreed date.
Duty/import VAT payments not covered by a duty deferment account
Registered Importers who pay cash or an equivalent and are facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of Covid-19 can contact HMRC to request an extension to the payment deadline at the time the payment is due. They will be asked to provide an explanation of how Covid-19 has impacted on their business finances. HMRC will consider this request and decide whether or not to agree an additional time to pay. The decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis and could be refused.
If the request is approved the conditions, including the length of time offered, will depend on the importer’s individual circumstances and may require the holding of a guarantee for the period of the time extension. The government cannot offer this facility to non-registered importers. For further information, please contact the Customs Debt Policy inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org)
EU Roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures
The European Commission and Council have released the enclosed roadmap for EU member states on how to lift containment measures. The roadmap leaves a lot of flexibility to member states and also states that it “will prepare the ground for a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment”.
It stresses that restrictive measures introduced by member states have been necessary to delay the spread of the epidemic and alleviate pressure on health care systems (‘flattening the curve’).
The document states that confinement can be relaxed based on three criteria:
1) spread of the disease; 2) health system capacity; 3) appropriate monitoring capacity.
If measures are lifted, it advocates for a gradual lifting of measures, including:
- Safe alternatives should replace existing general prohibitive measures: this will enable targeting risk sources while facilitating the gradual return of necessary economic activities (e.g. intensified and regular cleaning and disinfection of transport hubs and vehicles, shops and workplaces, instead of entirely prohibiting services, and provision of adequate measures or equipment to protect workers or customers).
- For starting-up retail, look at possible gradation (e.g. maximum number of people allowed, etc.)
6 April 2020
Government provides more help for SMEs – 6 April 2020
Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
The government has extended CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible, should they need finance to keep operating. Around £90 million of loans has been approved for 1,000 small and medium sized firms so far.
A government-backed scheme to provide financing to larger companies, being operated by the Bank of England, has also provided almost £1.9 billion of support to firms and a further £1.6 billion has been committed.
The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest and fees. Please find further details here.
New Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
The new CLBILS will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month. Initial details are here.
Rules and regulations relaxed to support businesses
The government has relaxed some rules and regulations to help businesses handle any disruption they are experiencing due to coronavirus. Click here for a list of some of the ways businesses are being supported.
Pay it forward campaign – Supporting businesses through the coronavirus crisis
The Business Support campaign is working with Crowdfunder to build awareness about the support provided to small businesses through the Pay it Forward campaign. Small businesses can set up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-sell their services and diversify trading now to ensure continuous cash flow. Crowdfunder is covering all platform and transaction fees making it free to small businesses. Enterprise Nation is providing access to free training and support for business, to help with online sales, marketing, cashflow, and diversifying, if necessary. This campaign is nationwide. Self-employed, micro or small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign here.
Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments
If you can’t afford to pay your employees redundancy pay you can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) for financial assistance. If approved, the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments directly to redundant employees on an employer’s behalf.
If you need help to restructure your business or it is facing insolvency you can find a licensed insolvency practitioner in your area by searching the insolvency practitioner directory.
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. These two temporary relaxations will run until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020.
Additional guidance on social distancing in the workplace
To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published additional guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). For specific settings please refer to sector specific guidance. Guidance has been published for:
- Shops running a pick-up or delivery service
- Tradespeople and working in people’s homes
- Manufacturing and processing businesses
- Logistics businesses
- Outdoor businesses
- Farming: visiting farms for animal health and welfare
- Fishing or other short-term offshore work
- Cargo-shipping or other long-term offshore work
- Transport businesses
- Waste management businesses
Transport and travel guidance
A new hub on gov.uk brings together information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the Coronavirus outbreak. This includes information on:
30 March 2020
Government to amend insolvency law – 30 March 2020
The government is going to make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency. This will also include enabling companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue, and temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.
Intellectual Property Office services
Following the coronavirus outbreak, the Intellectual Property Office has made a number of alterations to its services. This includes alterations to trademarks and designs, patents and interrupted days.
27 March 2020
How to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.
Guidance for Employers
Employers will be able to use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. The government expects the scheme to be up and running by the end of April. The government will also cover the employer national insurance and minimum auto-enrolment pension scheme contributions employers pay on the wages they must pay their furloughed staff – on top of the wages covered under the scheme.
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
Guidance for Employees
The guidance will help workers understand whether they are eligible for the scheme, and how much their employer can claim if they are unable to operate or if there is no work due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
Annual leave entitlement to be relaxed
Workers who haven’t taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to Covid-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they don’t take it. There’s also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty. The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.
25 March 2020
Companies to receive three-month extension period to file accounts
Businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts during Covid-19. Under normal circumstances, companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty. As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around Covid-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.
Commercial protection from eviction
Commercial tenants who can’t pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. The government says no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.
20 March 2020
How to access the business interruption loan scheme
The Chancellor has announced a new set of measures to help companies retain their staff.
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. Employers will need to:
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and
- Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. HMRC will set out further details on the information required.
- HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed 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 set up to facilitate payments to employers. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
HMRC Time to Pay
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice. This can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years. The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.
Bank of England’s Covid-19 ‘Corporate Financing Facility’ (CFF)
This scheme is open to firms with a turnover of more than £45 million a year. It will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper (short term corporate debt) of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. Companies will need to be in sound financial health and have a high credit rating. The corporate financing facility can be for a period of between a week and a year. They will generally be based in the UK, with their HQ in this country and the majority of their employees in the UK. Companies must apply through their own banks (see a list of who to contact in each bank). Companies may request a loan of up to £5 million and terms will be offered which are similar to those available just before the crisis. The scheme will run for 12 months.
See also: Covid-19 – guidance for employees on benefits, SSP, sick pay, furloughed status and rent support.
17 March 2020
How the government is supporting businesses financially
The Chancellor announced additional support to protect businesses including unlimited loans and guarantees to support firms and help them manage cashflows through Covid-19. The Chancellor will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.
In addition to the above measures from the budget he announced the government are providing:
- support for liquidity among 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
- 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
- £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period by increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
- increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months. This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage in the interim.
11 March 2020
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
- People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will soon be able to obtain
an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence. Further details will be confirmed shortly.
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 eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
o This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
o Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
o Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
o Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
o The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force
o The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.
The government will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors. Taken together with existing small business rate relief (which provides full relief for businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less), an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020/21. Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority
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 because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent.
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support 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 £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.
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. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice and support. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC have made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. For Time to Pay support if you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Information for Businesses & Employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Other useful information for businesses
ACAS advice for employers and employees
Off-payroll working rules reforms postponed until 2021
Senior traffic commissioner issues Statutory Document in response to Covid-19 for heavy goods vehicle industry