Covid - 19 Business Support and Advice

The Government has announced as set of measures to help businesses and employees during this pandemic and the Council are working closely with Central government to get the best advice and support for businesses.

NHS QR code posters for businesses

Following the new regulations announced by the Prime Minister this week (W/c 21 Sept) , it is now mandatory for businesses to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry.  Owners should create a poster and display a QR code if they are, a business, place of worship or community organisation with a physical location that is open to the public or an event which is taking place in a physical location.  If you have more than one venue, you need to create a separate QR code for each location. You can add multiple locations in the service. Customers and visitors will be able to check-in on entry with their phone instead of filling out a check-in book or tool specific to a business. This will allow NHS Test and Trace to contact customers with public health advice should there be a COVID-19 outbreak.

If you are a business and want to create your QR code poster visit gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster.   Posters must be displayed clearly at every entrance in a minimum size of A4, no higher than 130cm off the ground to ensure it is within easy reach for wheelchair users. Ensure your posters are in a visible and safe position, making it easy for customers to scan and where they cannot be easily removed. Businesses who are already using their own QR system are being encouraged to switch to the NHS Test and Trace QR code. An alternative check-in method must be maintained to collect the contact details of those who don’t have the app, for example a handwritten register.

When someone enters a venue and scans an official QR poster, the venue information will be logged on the user’s phone. This information will stay on a user’s phone for 21 days and if during that time a coronavirus outbreak is identified at a location, the venue ID in question will be sent to all devices. The device will check if users have been at that location and if the app finds a match, users may get an alert with advice on what to do based on the level of risk.  For more information on how businesses can prepare for NHS COVID-19 app please see :https://www.gov.uk/government/news/businesses-urged-to-prepare-for-nhs-covid-19-app

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

The Government has announced the deadline to apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan has been extended to the end of November 2020.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus breakdown. The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.

Read guidance

APPLY NOW

Pay as you Grow

The government will give all businesses that borrowed under the BBLS the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. UK businesses will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times), or to pause their repayments entirely for up to six months (an option they can use once and only after having made six payments). These changes will provide greater flexibility to repay these loans over a longer period and in a way that better suits businesses’ individual circumstances.

VAT Tax cuts and deferrals

On 24 September 2020, the Chancellor announced that businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. (The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30 June 2020).

The government is extending the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This will continue to apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK.

Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free.  Businesses will need to opt-in to the scheme, and for those who do, this means that your VAT liabilities due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 do not need to be paid in full until the end of March 2022. Those that can pay their deferred VAT can to do so by 31 March 2021.

If you are still unable to pay the VAT due and need more time, see the guidance about what to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time you can also contact HMRC by phoning: 0300 200 3835.

More information on the scheme will be available on GOV.UK in the coming months.

Read more here

Business Interruption Loan scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months. The application deadline for all coronavirus loan schemes – including the future fund – has been extended to 30 November ensuring even more businesses can benefit from government-backed support.

 APPLY AND GUIDANCE ON THE SCHEME

 

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme 

If you’re an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The online service you’ll use to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the Statutory Sick Pay paid to current or former employees.

Find out more here

Future Fund Scheme

The Government has announced an extension to the Future Fund. The Future Fund will now close for new applications on Monday, 30 November 2020.

Future Fund issues convertible loans to innovative UK companies with good potential, that typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by COVID-19. The scheme will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and the recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. The scheme is designed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank.

Apply here

Coronavirus job retention scheme

Claim for some of your employee’s wages if you have put them on furlough or flexible furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19). From 1 September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a maximum cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough.

Employers will top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% (up to £2,500). The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. You can read more information about the changes.

Unless you’re making a new claim for an employee who is a military reservist or is returning from statutory parental leave, you can only continue to claim through the scheme if:

  • you have previously furloughed the employee for 3 consecutive weeks between March 1 and 30 June
  • you submitted your claim before 31 July

You can read previous versions of this guidance on The National Archives.

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months.

The company will continue to pay its employee for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.

The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the Government contribution has not been capped.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Find out more here

Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.

  • Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021.
  • Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

From February 2021, employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus through GOV.UK. More detail about this process will be published in guidance by the end of September 2020.

Find out more here

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – Grant Extension

The SEISS Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed. The grant will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19.

The extension will provide two grants and will last for six months from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

The first grant will cover 3 months’ worth of profits from the start of November until the end of January. It will be worth 20% of average monthly profits and will capped at £1,875 in total.

HMRC will provide full details about claiming and applications in guidance on gov.uk in due course.

Read more here

Kickstart scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funding will cover for each job placement:

  • 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week
  • the associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart Scheme funded job.

Find out more here

Business Interruption Loan

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The scheme helps medium and large sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £200 million.  The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender.

GUIDANCE AND ONLINE APPLICATION

 

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

This scheme helps large businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) through the purchase of their short-term debt.

Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from large companies.  This scheme will support your company if it’s 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.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Bank of England.

GUIDANCE AND ONLINE APPLICATION

Idox Open 4 Business

Idox Open 4 Business is a portal designed for SME’s to search for grants, special loans and awards depending on eligibility for each business or start up.  Registration is free and provides access to a comprehensive databases of funding opportunities and business advise services.

Businesses can search for funding, generate reports, access news items in full and set up alerts to receive updates regarding suitable funding opportunities.

To make the most of this portal, please refer to the guide which provides handy tips and hints.

IDOX Open for business

Please note: Normally, Hounslow Council pays a subscription fee to enable companies in Hounslow to access the platform free of charge via our webpages.  However, in recognition of the current very challenging business climate and to make the platform accessible to as many businesses as possible, IDOX Open 4 Business will not be charging us for a period of six months and the free service will run until the end of October 2020.  We would like to thank them very much for this generous offer and support at this time.

PAY IT FORWARD

Pay It Forward is part of the London Growth Hub’s wider support offer for London’s businesses. This includes an online hub of essential resources and free one-to-one telephone and virtual support. Find out more here

 

Other Useful links

Business Support Helpline

West London Business

HMRC Helpline

Growth Hubs

Business Services