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

The most up to date Government advice is available here: GOV.UK

In brief, this includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

a 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 also applies to employees who have been asked to stop working but who are being kept on the payroll, described as ‘furlough workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages up to £2,500 per month. This scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and all UK businesses are eligible.

deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
Businesses will be supported by being able to defer VAT payments for 3 months. All UK businesses are eligible and deferral will apply from 20/3/20 until 30/6/20.

Income Tax payments due in on 31 July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system may be deferred until 31 January 2021. You are eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment.

a Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
Scheme will be available to support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to the coronavirus crisis. The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2500 per month for the next 3 months. More information can be found by clicking on the following link: SEISS

a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
Employers with fewer than 250 employees (as of 28/2/20) will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 and will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off. Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.

Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required, they can obtain either from NHS 111 online (https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19) or from the NHS website here… NHS self isolation advice

More information on the COVID-19 SSP scheme can be found here: GOV.UK

a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year will be introduced. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible. Businesses based in England in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector will be eligible.

To check the types of properties/businesses that are eligible please go to: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/875613/Expanded_Retail_Discount_Guidance_25.03.20.doc.pdf

The Local Authority will process this business rates holiday automatically – you can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay by going to the business rates calculator… https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates

small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

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 (SBRR), 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.

grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between up to £51,000.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant 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 property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses which don’t pay business rates are not included in this scheme.

To receive this grant you must email North Somerset Council at:
n-somersetnndr@liberata.com and provide the following information:
• business name (i.e. sole trader or limited company name),
• property address,
• company registration number (as registered with companies house),
• VAT registration number (if applicable),
• account details (bank account number, sort code, business account name),
• your business rates account reference (the number on the business rates bill beginning with 7000, or 06) and;
• a full contact name, number and email address.

• the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 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 government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. 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 – click here… https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils-2/for-businesses-and-advisors/ to find an accredited lender.

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

This is 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

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies and 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 paying tax – Time To Pay Scheme

Businesses and self-employed people 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. There is a dedicated HMRC helpline: 0800 0241 222 that’s open between 8am-4pm, Monday to Friday.

Commercial 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 (COVID-19 has been added to this list) should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).

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.

Vehicle owners to be granted MOT exemption

A temporary 6 month exemption from MOT testing will be granted enabling vital services to continue, frontline workers to get to work and people to get essential food and medicine. All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually require an MOT test will be exempted from m=needing a test from 30/3/20. Vehicles must be in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted for driving unsafe vehicles.

Private lenders

A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. £2 billion is being made available by Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion by NatWest. Other lenders may also be launching schemes and business must satisfy themselves of the terms and conditions of this before agreeing to loan agreements. Please check with your lender or bank.

Pubs and Restaurants

The Government is relaxing planning rules to allow for pubs and restaurants to operate a takeaway for a temporary period as part of the coronavirus response. The measures will apply to hot food and drinks. The Government has introduced a time limited permitted development right to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 – drinking establishment) or a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months only.

Businesses will be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends. Please notify North Somerset Council of your intentions to operate as a takeaway for a period here: http://forms.n-somerset.gov.uk/forms/ContactUs/ContactUs. You must include the date you started operating as a takeaway.

Creative industries – Arts Council England Launch £160m Covid-19 Emergency Funding
Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a £160 million funding package to help individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

The following funding streams will be made available:

• Funding for National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) – £90 million will be made available to NPOs to help reboot their creative work and alleviate financial pressures.

• Funding for organisations outside of the National Portfolio – £50 million will be made available to organisations that are not in receipt of regular funding from the Arts Council. Organisations who have applied to National Lottery Project Grants are welcome to apply for this support.

• Funding for individuals – £20 million will be made available to individuals (including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers) so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months.

Further guidance on the emergency funding streams will be published on 30 March. Potential applicants will need to register on ACE’s application portal Grantium by Friday 3 April 2020.

More information available at: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

There is a range of other support and advice available for creative businesses. Please follow this link for more information and detail: Support for Creative Industries due to the impact of Coronavirus

Exporting businesses

For guidance on what DIT is doing to support businesses impacted by Coronavirus, including supply chain disruption support and UKEF support available for businesses who export to China, please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses

Questions from UK businesses about the impact Coronavirus may have on their business and requests for DIT support should be emailed to COVID19@trade.gov.uk

Construction businesses

The industry’s leading trade and representative bodies are collaborating to keep the sector informed across a range of issues including: funding and grants, health and safety, insurance, CSCS and employment rights. Regular joint briefings are being published to inform all aspects of the sector through online publications including: https://www.building.co.uk/news/trending/coronavirus and https://www.constructionenquirer.com/category/news/

Voluntary and Community Sector – Information from Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS)

• VANS can help organisations to identify business grants and finance – as well as supporting with applications.

• If your organisation receives any funding from the Quartet Foundation, they recognise it may be necessary to adapt your funded activities in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Use this link to get in touch with them https://quartetcf.org.uk/about-us/contact/

• The Quartet Foundation also have grants for organisations which support community-based work that has a charitable purpose. More information available here https://quartetcf.org.uk/apply-for-a-grant/

Online resources for businesses and employers

• Guidance on advice to provide to staff including: how to help prevent spread of COVID-19; what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting; advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas; and advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID19

• Information on the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19

• Government have collated a wide range of non-governmental COVID-19 support services from business representative organisations, banks and other public bodies that might be useful for employers: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/support-for-businesses-from-outside-of-government/

• Travel advice (National)

https://travelwest.info/travel_update/coronavirus-travel-advice (West of England)

• If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the Government’s Business Support Helpline.

• Keep up to date with government support for business through social media: @beisgovuk , @Innorthsomerset and North Somerset Council

Other support

For other business enquiries please contact: business@n-somerset.gov.uk

For other information about business support, growth and productivity please visit: https://www.wearegrowth.co.uk

Support, advice and guidance can also be accessed through Business West’s pages www.tradingthroughcoronavirus.co.uk

Employment and skills support including information on redundancies, careers advice and updates for colleges and training providers: COVID-19 response Skills and Employment