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Guidance

Coronavirus: Information for businesses

Last updated: 3pm 20 May 2020

Government business support

The Government has published all the details of the schemes the Chancellor has announced to support businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in one place on its website, GOV.UK.

HM Government: Coronavirus Business Support

Use the Business Support Finder tool to see what financial support is available for you and your business.

Coronavirus Business Support Finder

Sign up for email updates

Sign up to receive email updates for the latest business support information from the Council during coronavirus COVID-19

Sign up for business email updates

Business Rates

A number of measures have been announced by The Chancellor to support businesses. The schemes that will affect business rates bills are:

  • Small business grant funding
  • Retail discount (for properties with a rateable value of under £51,000)
  • Pub relief
  • Nursery relief

Horsham District Business rates are administered by LGSS. For further up-to-date information, visit the LGSS website.

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat has developed a Business Continuity Management Toolkit in partnership with stakeholders to help the commercial and voluntary sector implement continuity plans.

Business Rates Discount

The retail discount was due to be increased from one-third to 50% and has now been increased to 100%. The discount has also been extended to include businesses within the leisure and hospitality industries.

This relief has now been granted to those we have identified as eligible and a revised bill will be issued. If you do not receive a revised bill and feel you may be eligible, please contact us by email at hdc-revenues@milton-keynes.gov.uk.

Business Grant schemes

So far 1,775 local small businesses have benefitted from business rate grant funds, as part of a package of measures introduced by the Government in response to the coronavirus outbreak. £22.23m has been paid out.

We are working through these as quickly as we can.

The team are prioritising the payment to your nominated accounts and it is likely that you will receive your payment ahead of any payment advice, so please ensure you check your account directly for payment.

If you’ve received an acknowledgement of your application please don’t ring or email to find out where it is because this creates extra work, slowing down how quickly we can issue the grant to you.

Small Business Grant Scheme

The government will 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.

Register for Small Business Grant Funding

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme

This scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

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

Register for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funding

Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund

On Friday 2 May 2020 the Government announced a new local discretionary fund to provide additional support for businesses.

We have received guidance from the Government on the delivery of the new local discretionary fund to support a range of businesses who were not eligible under the Small Business or Retail, Leisure and Hospitality grant schemes. Given the limited funding available to support this scheme it is important that the Council makes careful consideration of the delivery of this funding to ensure that it is available to those businesses most in need of help as a result of the current COVID 19 pandemic.

Visit the LGSS website for more information about the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund

Job Retention Scheme

All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of affected employees wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will need to designate affected employees as 'furloughed workers' and claim online. Use the following links to help prepare your claim, then click the button below to start your claim.

Claim for wages through the Job Retention Scheme

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Small and medium-sized businesses (fewer than 250 employees) will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks' SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. A rebate scheme is being developed.

Find out more about Statutory Sick Pay Relief on the Government's business support website.

Coast to Capital Backing Business Grants

If you are an independent small business or social enterprise (excluding charities) based in Horsham District with 5-50 FTE (full time equivalent) workforce who has been trading for over 2 years and have an annual turnover of under £10m, you can apply for a grant of £5,000-£25,000 to fund specific measures to help you to adapt, evolve and innovate to the various economic impacts brought about by the pandemic.

New applications for the grant scheme are now paused. Going forward, Coast to Capital will continue to accept eligibility checklists which will be added to a waiting list.

Find out more about the Backing Business Grants

Emergency funding for the heritage sector

Funding support is available for heritage organisations that are struggling during the coronavirus situation. The schemes below are both prioritising supporting not-for-profits, voluntary groups and small organisations.

Historic England Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund

National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund

Package to help sport & physical activity

Sport England have announced a £195 million package to help sport and physical activity through coronavirus. The money will help Sport England partners, clubs and community organisations cope with the short and long-term impact of the pandemic.

Find out more about the support on Sport England's website

Deferral of VAT

Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments are to be deferred for three months (20 March until 30 June 2020). If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

Find out more about deferral of VAT on the Government's business support website.

Time to Pay Service 

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. The HMRC dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.

Three-month extension period to file accounts

Businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts. This joint initiative between the government and Companies House will mean businesses can prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years.

The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

Eligibility criteria for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme can be found on the Government's business support website. 

Visit the British Business Bank website for more information.

Bounce Back Loans Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan scheme aims to help small and medium size businesses and offers loans of up to £50,000. The government will guarantee the loan and there will be no fees, interest or repayments due for the first 12 months.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is now open.

Find out more and apply for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme

Loans for Larger Firms

To support larger firms, the Bank of England has announced a new lending facility (the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility) to provide a quick and cost effective way to raise working capital via the purchase of short-term debt. To access the scheme you will need to contact your bank.

More information about loans for Larger Firms can be found on the Bank of England website.

Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment.

Find out more about the Future Fund

UK Export Finance (UKEF)

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions. Help from UKEF:

To find out if UKEF covers your region, email customer.service@ukexportfinance.gov.uk

Ban on Evictions for Commercial Tenants

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the government has announced. Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the Government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

These measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months. As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the Government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords' cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.

Protections from aggressive rent collection

The government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands (made between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020) and winding up petitions presented from Monday 27 April, through to 30 June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus.

This will be included in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, which the Business Secretary Alok Sharma set out earlier in April.

Read more about the protection measures

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus. This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. This may be extended if needed.

Find out more about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme on the Government's Business Support website.

Relaxation of Planning Rules

Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways. The Government will set out measures to enable businesses to deliver this service without a planning application for a period of up to 12 months. Businesses will be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends.

Tourism sector webinars

A series of three free webinars organised by Experience West Sussex, Sussex Chamber of Commerce, South Downs National Park Authority and Coast to Capital Growth Hub aim to bring together and support the tourism sector at this difficult time. The sessions will involve industry leaders and business experts.

View upcoming tourism webinars

Advice for food businesses

Switching to a take-away service

In response to the Coronavirus situation, Horsham District Council is giving support to local food businesses wanting to diversify their business model to develop take away and delivery ‘meals on wheels’ style services to support vulnerable customers.

Organisations wishing to now offer take away and home delivery services do need to ensure they have sufficient control measures in place.

Find out more advice about switching to take-away services

Put leftovers to good use

Businesses are encouraged to make arrangements now regarding food that may go out of date, especially if there are alternative ways of storing them.

In the event that a food business cannot find ways of using or storing food safely, then they should make efforts to provide food that is still in date to local food banks.

Find out more advice about donating food to local food banks

Advice for licensed pubs

Pubs that are still open for people to consume food and drink on the premises will face prohibition notices, potentially unlimited fines and the loss of their alcohol licence, new legislation has stated.

Horsham District Council’s Environmental Health and Licensing team and Trading Standards Officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support if appropriate.

However, pubs with off-sales licences can still offer takeaways (of both food and drink) during this period and planning rules have currently been relaxed to assist this.

Find out more advice for licensed pubs

Annual leave rules relaxed

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to Coronavirus will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.

Emergency Volunteering Leave

A clause in the Coronavirus Bill 2020 creates a temporary new form of statutory unpaid leave for employees and workers who wish to volunteer - Emergency Volunteering Leave. The clause also includes certain rights and protections for employees and workers who take Emergency Volunteering Leave, including, for example, the maintenance of terms and conditions of employment during any period of leave and protection from detriment for taking the leave. The clause also provides an obligation on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to establish a compensation scheme to compensate eligible volunteers for some loss of income and expenses incurred.

The total consecutive amount of Emergency Volunteering Leave an individual can take is 4 weeks in any volunteering period of 16 weeks. There are exemptions for micro businesses (those with 10 or fewer employees).

Health and safety advice for employers

For information and advice on health and safety measures, including fire safety and RIDDOR reporting, visit our Coronavirus: Workplace health and safety page.

Employment Support

Journey to Work

Journey to Work is still available to residents of the Horsham District that need employment support during this difficult time. However, support will be conducted remotely via telephone or email. Please visit the Journey to Work page to get in touch.

WISH Club

Following government guidance, all WISH clubs have been cancelled with immediate effect and until further notice. If you need support, which we can provide remotely, please call 07783 222956 or email wish@setas.org.uk

Insurance

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19.

However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

The Association of British Insurers has produced a COVID-19 Information Hub

Coast to Capital Business Support Request form

Coast to Capital is inviting businesses to complete their Priority COVID 19 Business Support Request Form. A member of the team will follow up with one-to-one advice and signposting.

Request support from Coast to Capital

SME Emergency Response Clinics

The Coast to Capital Growth Hub team has a team of Growth Champions who can help you to develop business resilience and answer any questions you may have.

This week the team are running a series of one-to-one advice sessions called Emergency Response Clinics. Book a slot online on your preferred day to get expert advice tailored to your situation. Topics include:

  • Finance
  • Grants and funding
  • Technology
  • Innovation
  • Mental resilience

Find out more about the SME Emergency Response Clinics.

Key contacts

Below is a list of key organisations to communicate with, and what they can advise you on: