Coronavirus - business support
The Government published its Winter Economy Plan
This follows on from HM Government: OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy . Further information and guidance from Government can also be found below:
- GOV.UK: Cabinet Office - Guidance Staying safe outside your home
- GOV.UK: Cabinet Office - Guidance Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do
The Government has published practical guidelines to make workplaces as safe as possible and to give people confidence to go back to work. GOV.UK news story: New guidance launched to help get Brits safely back to work sets out five key steps for businesses to implement as soon as it is practical:
- Work from home, if you can
The employer should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home. Those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close should go to work.
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
Employers will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. All businesses with over 50 employees should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website. If you do not have your own risk assessment form, we would recommend you use the Health and Safety Executives Managing risks and risk assessment at work.
- Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
- Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects such as door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. The Government's guidance on GOV.UK: Guidance COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings outside the home may help.
Employers should display the assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/897765/staying-covid-19-secure-2020.pdf in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and visitors that they have followed this guidance.
The new guidance covers 12 workplace settings that are allowed to be open and helps employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during coronavirus.
- GOV.UK: Construction and other outdoor work Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments
- GOV.UK: Close contact services Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers
- GOV.UK: Factories, plants and warehouses Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses
- GOV.UK: Heritage locations Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations
- GOV.UK: Hotels and other guest accommodation Guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation
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- GOV.UK: Labs and research facilities Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
- GOV.UK: Offices and contact centres Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
- GOV.UK: Other people's homes - Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes
- GOV.UK: Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services - Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.
- GOV.UK: Shops and branches - Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments
- GOV.UK: Vehicles Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar
The GOV.UK: Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers will help people travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak and is particularly relevant as businesses start to think about their employees returning to work.
For those businesses working in transport, including road hauliers etc, may find the GOV.UK: Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators helpful.
COVID-19 support for organisations in Wiltshire
Letter to businesses in Wiltshire from our Chief Executive, Terence Herbert and Director of Public Health, Kate Blackburn thanking them for the support they have given the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter also emphasises the need to make workplaces COVID-19 safe and suggests some key measures to put in place to reduce the risk of transmission.
Business communities in Wiltshire and Swindon
Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Police have issued a joint letter to local businesses relating to the new regulations about it now being mandatory for members of the public to wear face coverings in additional enclosed spaces, including shops, supermarkets and enclosed shopping centres.
Test and Trace - information for businesses and their staff
The new NHS Test and Trace service has now been launched and anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
The following materials have been prepared for employers and their staff:
- NHS Test and trace strategy launch - Q&A for external stakeholders
- GOV.UK: Press release - Government launches NHS Test and Trace service
- GOV.UK: Guidance NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace
To help businesses prepare for re-opening, we are providing a list of suppliers who have approached the council offering PPE supplies.
This list of PPE suppliers is for information only and should not be seen as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the suppliers mentioned. It only contains those suppliers who have recently contacted Wiltshire Council to indicate they can offer a range of PPE supplies. This list is not exhaustive and these are not the only routes to market; there are many other suppliers that may be local, more competitive, have a wider range of PPE available or easier to access. If you require PPE, you will need to contact suppliers, carry out your own due diligence to satisfy yourself about the quality of the products you are buying and the company you are buying from.
The government recently published GOV.UK: Updates: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) and GOV.UK: Press release Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces.
Please see these key messages on the disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Throw away any used PPE (gloves and face masks) in your normal wheeled bin at home or whilst at work, or a litter bin if you are outside
- Do not put used PPE (gloves and face masks) in your recycling bin, they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
- Please do not purchase medical grade masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments
- You are encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that you already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering
- Cloth face coverings should be washed in line with manufacturer's instructions. When the time comes it is important to also properly dispose of home-made face coverings in your normal wheeled bin
- Anyone self-isolating at home with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should continue to place all their personal waste materials, including any PPE worn at home, in normal wheeled bin. It should be double-bagged, making sure the bags are securely tied, then stored for 72 hours before placing it out for collection
- Visit the Recycle Now website for more information about recycling responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak.
- HM Government: NHS Coronavirus stay alert, stay safe at work - online toolkit which includes key messages and digital content you may wish to use.
- Animal licensing
- Coronavirus - business closures
- Covid-19BusinessSupport@wiltshire.gov.uk - dedicated contact centre for COVID-19 business information and advice
- Construction talent retention scheme - Supporting careers in construction, engineering and building services
- GOV.UK: Find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure
- Health and safety advice - including Legionella
- Coronavirus - pubs and restaurants
- Coronavirus - business support - Grants
- Get up-to-date information directly to your inbox from Wiltshire News - about COVID-19 business support
- Care providers Coronavirus help
- WorkWiltshire Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support - Information, support and guidance including volunteering and emergency temporary vacancies
The Government has announced a number of schemes to support businesses. Regular updates are being made, so please check GOV.UK: Collection Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) for the most up to date advice. We have created a graphic which outlines the various business support available. A printable version is available below.
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- You can find out more including advice, news and announcements, on the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP Growth Hub Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Support
- Wessex Chambers of Commerce is also offering help and advice to all firms, including non-members. More information is also available from the FSB: Campaign - Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed, the CBI Coronavirus Hub and Business West - Trading Through Coronavirus.
We have set up a dedicated Coronavirus - business support - Grants page of information for you relating to the grants available.
Council tax and business rates payments can be deferred for two months for those who need it, please see our news item on how to register for this:
To defer your business rates payments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01249 706290.
This scheme has been extended until October and includes improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time in July and a new taper requiring employers to contribute to furloughed employees' salaries from August.
- June/July: the Government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees' wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything
- From 1 July: businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work part-time. Firms can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return. Employers will be responsible for paying employees' wages while in work
- From 1 August: the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICS and pension contributions
- September: The Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICS, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500
- October: The Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICS, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500
Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be available on 12 June.
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June from which point, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. Therefore, the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.
No business will pay VAT from now to mid-June 2020. Businesses will have until the end of financial year (April 2021) to repay VAT bills.
A major new scheme to support liquidity amongst larger firms has been launched by the Bank of England. It will help bridge Coronavirus disruption to a firm's cash flow through loans. This scheme will operate for at least 12 months.
All eligible businesses with a turnover of more than £45 million per year will now be able to apply for up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million.
The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders. The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus.
This scheme will help SMEs to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The Government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
This scheme will remain open until the end of September 2020 and employers can apply at any time during this period.
The scheme is now available and will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. There is no complex criteria, just a simple online form. Most loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.
You cannot apply if you're already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). If you've already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.
This scheme supports businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access bank lending and overdrafts. 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 small and medium-sized businesses. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the scheme will support loans of up to £5 million. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free. Loans are now available from 40 accredited lenders.
A new £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by COVID-19, made up of funding from the Government and the private sector. The fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the Government, with private investors at least matching the Government commitment.
The targeted and tailored help aims to ensure some of the most dynamic sectors, ranging from tech to life sciences, are protected and can continue to develop innovative new products and help the UK economy grow.
SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans. Initially open until the end of September 2020, the scheme will be available through Innovate UK's grants and loan scheme.
Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding.
The Government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now reclaim 2 weeks of SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak.
The Government has introduced a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:
- occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register
- wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
We will send you a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.
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.
• For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they 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.
The minimum income level has been suspended, meaning self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay.
All Self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.
This scheme will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to COVID-19. The first grant will allow the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months. A second and final grant can be claimed in August, worth 70% of the average monthly trading profits, covering three months' worth of profits, capped at £6,570 in total. The grants will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions but do not need to be repaid.
You are eligible if you are:
- Self-employed or a member of a partnership;
- Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
- Have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019;
- Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
- Have trading profits of no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
o Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
o Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
Self-employed people can also use the online checker which will quickly confirm whether you are eligible.
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. In the meantime, tenants are encouraged to reach voluntary arrangements with their landlords about rental payments due.
The Government is increasing the retail discount on business rates to 100% for 12 months which has been expanded so it now includes retail, hospitality and leisure properties, such as museums, theatres, gyms, pubs, shops, music venues, restaurants and hotels.
If your business has received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year we will send a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.
Time to pay (HMRC)
HMRC may be able to help those in need regarding their tax liabilities, by providing a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.
If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC's dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
The Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains, particularly in non-service sectors such as manufacturing and construction, and helps businesses to continue trading with each other during coronavirus knowing they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.
The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the Government aims for agreements to be in place with insurers by the end of May 2020. The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover COVID-19 economic challenges and will provisionally last until the end of the year.
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 and other establishments 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.
A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. We are aware that £2 billion is being made available by Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion by NatWest. Other lenders may also be launching schemes and businesses must satisfy themselves of the terms and conditions of this before agreeing to loan agreements. Please check with your lender or bank.
Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the guidance and support available:
- to find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure, register or watch recorded sessions
- for topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinards or watch recorded sessions
- for international trade, register or watch recorded sessions
- for small businesses and changes to reporting, regulation and tax, watch recorded webinars