Information on COVID-19 for businesses

Last updated 01/04/2020 

To apply for the small businesses fund or the support for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure fund visit the Bath and North East Council's page.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, has a rateable value of less than £51,000 and was registered as a business rate payer on or before 11 March 2020, you may be eligible to receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

We will update this page as soon as the Government has announced details on the eligibility and timings of this grant. You do not need to apply at present.  We received further guidance on the grant on 1 April 2020 - the guidance is available to view here.

Please note: the Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud - and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government has provided additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rate Relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If your business was eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief on or before 11 March 2020, you will be contacted by the Council in relation to this grant. Funding for the scheme will be provided to us by government in early April. We received further guidance on the scheme on 1 April 2020 - available to view here.

Please note: the Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud - and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back.

 

On 23 March the Government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All non-essential premises must now close, guidance on which businesses are affected can be found here.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal. The Government has announced a relaxation of the permitted development regulations meaning that pubs and restaurants can now operate as hot food takeaway outlets without the need for permission for change of use. The legislation is time limited for a period of 12 months from the 24th March 2020. Details of the change to the regulations can be found here.

Premises that are licensed for the sale of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises may provide alcohol deliveries provided that they do so within the timings stated on their licence and subject to the conditions attached thereto – the most relevant being any age verification policy and/or requirement to provide such supplies in sealed containers (if required under their authorisation).

The sale would be deemed to take place at the point the alcohol was appropriated to the contract/set aside for the customer/loaded on the van for delivery.

This does not permit businesses to carry out house to house sales. Any queries referencing sale of alcohol please email: licensing@bathnes.gov.uk.

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

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • An Expanded Retail Discount scheme for occupied retail, leisure and hospitality premises. 
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business eligible of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Online resources for businesses and employers

For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employers and businesses. Please check the Government pages regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts. 

A new HMRC helpline has launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).Call HMRC's dedicated phoneline on 0800 024 1222 

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses with a PAYE scheme are eligible.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your 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
     
  • 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.

Support for the Self-Employed through Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

HMRC are publishing guidance on the scheme, available here. This guidance will continue to be updated.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme - FAQs

Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

We will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. All UK businesses are eligible.

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

If you are self-employed you are eligible. How to access the scheme: This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Support for businesses paying tax

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.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 024 1222 

Support for businesses that pay business rates

The Government has announced a new Expanded Retail Discount scheme for occupied retail, leisure and hospitality premises. Under the scheme, eligible premises will receive a discount of up to 100% on their bill from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Businesses that received the Retail Discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will have the Expanded Retail Discount automatically applied to their bill. 

Please check our Expanded Business Rates page for more information on eligibility, how to apply and to download an application form.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, 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 £5 million in value.

You are eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per annum & your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme, there are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them.

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

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

Support for businesses that are paying sick pay to employees

The government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
     
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
     
  • 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
     
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
     
  • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
     
  • The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

You are eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based and your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020. A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

Free individual advice sessions for businesses

Cool Ventures are offering free one-to-one business advice sessions that are available remotely, for those seeking assistance with cashflow, contigency planning, income generation and other timely subjects. We are planning a series of online workshops in addition to this support. To book a free advice session now please contact Cool Ventures on tel: 01225 580850 or email info@coolventures.co.uk 

Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

Government ordered closure

The government asked a number of different businesses and venues to remain closed from 21 March onwards.

Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for COVID-19 losses to make a claim (if the only barrier to them making a claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government had ordered businesses to close). As such, intervention by the police or any other statutory body is no longer required to trigger cover in the current circumstances.

However, most businesses’ commercial insurance policies (including for denial of access) are unlikely to offer cover for COVID-19. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Event coverage

Businesses with event cancellation policies that include unspecified notifiable disease extensions should be able to make a claim for the necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption of their event for reasons beyond the control of organisers and participants (subject to the other terms and exclusions of their policy).

Insurance for major events is often bespoke to the specific event, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their insurer or broker.

  • Protection from eviction for commercial tenants

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.

These measures will mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment up until 30 June.

There is the option for the government to extend this period if needed.

This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Commercial tenants are protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, which we are monitoring carefully.

The situation is kept under constant review and any change in guidance will be based on scientific evidence. The Governments approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England. Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.
 

Request for business intelligence. How is COVID-19 affecting businesses?

 The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain and we are keen that businesses feed back any specific concerns. 

 The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks business intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting individual businesses and business sectors.  We welcome information from you and your members on:

  • The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
  • Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
  • Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective

 Please send this information to intel@beis.gov.uk.  We understand that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly. 

You can find all updated information produced by the Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England here.