Updated Information on how small businesses and the self-employed can weather Covid 19 – March 20th, 2020

I want to try and keep the information as clear and as simple as I possibly can for everyone, so I won’t be writing out everything again, I will just be writing out the highlights.

The government have published some very clear guidelines on what businesses and workplaces should be doing in regards to staff. It’s a very lengthy document so I’m not going to publish all of the information but this is the link to read: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Yesterday, further information was released on the various packages the government has created to help support businesses during these uncertain times.

1) Statutory Sick Pay:

If your employer requires evidence, those who have symptoms of Coronovirus can get an isolation note from https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 and those who are living with someone who has symptoms can get a note from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/. The government is going to work with employers in the upcoming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible. They have also added new criteria to access this scheme – your business must be UK based.

2) Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

A bit of further guidance on this specific relief has been published – your business must be based in England and the properties that will benefit from this relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, live music venues, places used for assembly and leisure, and hotels/guest and boarding premises/self-catering accommodation.

You don’t need to do anything to access this grant. It will be applied to your next council tax bill in April 2020. You may find that your local authority will have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge, and they will be doing this as soon as possible.

If you wanted to estimate the business rate charge you will not have to pay you can use the business rates calculator: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates

If you need further guidance on this you can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance

3) Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses:

To find out if you are eligible for this, you need to contact your local authority.

4) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:

The government has published further guidance on the eligibility for this scheme – your business must be UK based and have a turnover of no more than £41 million per annum and your business must meet the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

You can find out the full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders by going here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/. All of the major banks will be offering this Scheme once it’s fully launched.

You are advised to talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible to discuss your business plan with them. Your lender can then act quickly once the Scheme has launched. You could also ask for a repayment holiday on any existing loans that you have.

5) Support for businesses paying tax:

The government has released more information about who is eligible for this type of support. Your business must pay tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

The information and policies are continually being updated by the government, so I urge you to keep on top of the information by visiting the relevant website for your area.

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
Wales: https://gov.wales/business-and-employers-coronavirus
Northern Ireland: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/

I will be trying to keep myself as informed as possible and will share relevant information on my fb business page: https://www.facebook.com/ihelmenterprises/

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