Coronavirus information for businesses

This information was last checked on 30 March 2020.

Funding is available for digital solutions to help provide social care or mental health support during #COVID19.

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Government support and advice

The first port of call for businesses for advice and support is gov.uk. The Government has also created some new Business Support webpages to help businesses find the right support, advice and information to deal with the impact of Coronavirus.

If you can’t find the information that you need from the published information, advice and guidance, you can speak directly to an advisor on the Government's Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565

Financial support

The Government has announced a series of financial measures to support businesses through the economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus (COVID 19).

This currently includes:

A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where businesses may be able to claim a grant of up to 80% of furloughed employees' wages.

Deferring VAT for three months, from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Deferring Income Tax payments for the self-employed, due on 31 July 2020, until 31 January 2021.

A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs. Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank. 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. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may also want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

A new Covid Corporate Financing Facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. More information should be available from the Government this week.

The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme supporting businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities which will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. HMRC have launched a tax webchat and helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to Coronavirus.

Information for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Businesses

In addition to the above, the Government has announced specific measures for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality businesses:

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England

The relief has now been applied to all of the eligible business rate accounts. New bills were issued on 25 March confirming that the relief has been applied. If you don’t receive your new bill but you think that you should be eligible for the relief please email nndr@scambs.gov.uk and include “Expanded discount retail, leisure, hospitality claim” in the subject line.

To note: the government issued revised guidance on 25 March confirming that some of the original exclusions for this relief, such as estate agents and letting agents, have been removed.

We are currently working to identify businesses that may fall into this category, and will take action to ensure that the Business Rates Direct Debit will not be collected for this group on 1 April. Once this is done, we will look to re-issue bills confirming the relief as soon as possible.

Grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
  • Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

Guidance on the grant scheme has now been received from Government. Our staff is currently working through the details of the scheme and setting up systems to implement it. We will advise businesses of the processes for distributing the grant including eligibility as soon as possible.

You may also wish to sign up to receive your bills electronically by signing up to e-billing through our Open Portal.

Information for nursery businesses that pay business rates

The Government has also announced a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

We are currently working to identify businesses that may fall into this category, and will take action to ensure that the Direct Debit will not be collected for this group on 1st April. Once this is done, we will look to re-issue bills confirming the relief as soon as possible.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government will also provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Guidance on the grant scheme has now been received from Government. Our officers are currently working through the details of the scheme and setting up systems to implement it. We will advise businesses of the processes for distributing the grant including eligibility as soon as possible.

Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments

If as an employer you cannot afford to pay your employees redundancy pay, you can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) (part of a government agency called the Insolvency Service) for financial assistance. If approved, the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments directly to the redundant employees on your behalf.

The Government has issued guidance to help employers understand whether the scheme is right for them.

Self Employed, contractors, freelancers or ‘gig economy’ workers

The new Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed people (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You can take a look at the Government’s website for further information on eligibility and Frequently Asked Questions.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000.

The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June. You do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn’t yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.

Please note that, due to an increase in scam emails, calls and texts, HMRC have advised that if someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, please do not respond. HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for these details.

If you are self-employed, your income has significantly reduced or ceased, and you will not be eligible for the new scheme or you need financial help until it comes on line, you may wish to consider making an application for Universal Credit. This is a payment to help with living costs, it is paid monthly and is calculated based on your household and income circumstances. Universal Credit can also help you with your housing costs.

Visit: GOV.UK - Universal Credit
Phone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

You can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau if you need help with the online process.

You could also consider other options to manage your finances, for example, applying for Council Tax Support or arranging a mortgage holiday with your bank. Shelter have published some useful housing advice for people who rent or own their homes.

Other support

Advice on adapting your business’s usual activities

Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing teams across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have worked together to provide some advice on the many compliance challenges businesses are facing in having to rapidly respond to Covid-19. They want businesses to feel confident in taking these major steps to diversify their business. Their advice ranges from what you need to consider when moving into food delivery or takeaway activities to how you can manage changing ingredients of your products due to supply chain issues.

Support with trading internationally

There is new advice on the support available for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of Coronavirus. It includes:

  • DIT support for UK business trading internationally, for example in providing assistance with customs authorities or sourcing new suppliers
  • financial support for business trading internationally

Continuing apprenticeships

The Education and Skills Funding Agency is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship and to support providers during this challenging time. New guidance has been published for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations.

Mentoring

The Be the Business Mentoring for Growth scheme supports SME businesses with over 10 full-time employees and an annual turnover of at least £2m and is open to all business sectors. It has been designed for business leaders and senior management who are looking to take their business to the next level and feel that they would benefit from accessing the experience and knowledge of a mentor from a larger multinational business, such as Siemens, GSK, Accenture, Amazon and the John Lewis Partnership.

The organisers of Mentoring for Growth scheme recognise the difficulties caused by current economic environment. Therefore, although originally established to support productivity growth, they are also open to receiving applications for the free mentoring service to help eligible businesses through the Coronavirus crisis. You can find out more about the scheme and which firms would be eligible to apply on the Be the Business website.

If you’d like an initial chat to discover whether this could be the right programme for you and your business you can email Iain Crighton, who is managing the programme in Cambridgeshire, or call him on 074074 25315. 

Doing business with the Council

South Cambridgeshire District Council is committed to continuing to work with businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak. We are still issuing tenders for contracts with the Council. If you are interested in finding out what opportunities are available you can go to the Proactis portal or the Contractfinder website. You can also sign up for regular updates on new opportunities from a range of local and national public sector organisations.

Protection from eviction

The Government has announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of Coronavirus will be protected from eviction. The measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Act, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months. Tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period.

Guidance

Filing your accounts

Companies House have announced that businesses can apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Full guidance on applying for an automatic and immediate extension can be found on the Companies House website.

Business closures

On 20 March the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close. The Government then extended this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues. Further guidance has been published that provides a list of the businesses, premises or places that are required to close and those that are able to stay open. These lists will be reviewed by Government after three weeks. The guidance also outlines how access to those retail and public premises that remain open should be managed.

Online resources for employees, employers and businesses 

For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employees, employers and businesses. This includes guidance on advice to provide to staff and support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts.   

The Government has also issued guidance on the cleaning of environments in the workplace and other non-healthcare settings. There is also new guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation.

Employees can find advice from Government on staying at home and away from others, and ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

If you would like to understand which are the sectors whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and are therefore prioritised as 'key workers' for schooling, the Government has published guidance.

Further advice has been issued on the relaxation of drivers’ hours rules during the COVID-19 outbreak.

There is also new and updated COVID-19 industry guidance for:

  • educational settings such as schools or universities
  • prisons, immigration centres and other places of detention
  • shipping and sea ports
  • transport hubs including airports and train stations
  • hostels and day centres (rough sleepers)

Enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines are suspended for this reporting year (2019/20) due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The decision means there will be no expectation on employers to report their data.

How is Coronavirus impacting your business?

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is capturing the health of local business and the impact Coronavirus is having across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It will use this data to send back to Government and it will use the intelligence gathered to develop targeted support, information, advice and guidance. You can fill out a survey to let them know how Coronavirus is impacting your business.

The Department for Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills also welcomes information from businesses on the impacts of Coronavirus across supply, demand and labour markets, actions to address these impacts, and any gaps in the Government response from your perspective. Please send your intelligence to intel@beis.gov.uk. Please do copy Openforbusiness@scambs.gov.uk into your email as we are keen to understand the impacts of the crisis on the district’s businesses.

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