The most up to date information can be found on the Governments dedicated business support website here
We know that many of you are facing some of your toughest challenges ever and it’s new for all of us. However, we want to reassure you that the council, Kingston First and Kingston Chamber of Commerce are all working together to make sure we’re providing you with clear, timely and consistent updates to reduce some of the stress and uncertainty.
Recent Government announcements have set out a range of financial support measures for businesses in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The Government is currently finalising how these financial measures will be managed and administered by Councils.
Details are slowly emerging and in some cases the timing has not been confirmed yet but we know how important this is, so as soon as these details have been confirmed we will be in contact and update our web pages.
Below is a summary of important guidance from council services including Licensing and Trading Standards and financial support measures announced by the Government.
Business Premises closures:
Guidance on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further social distancing measures has been updated. The guidance is available here.
There is no action for you. The Direct Debit payments for those eligible for this relief have been paused and funds should not be taken from your account. The Council will send revised business business rates bills reflecting this relief when we are able to start applying it.
We recommend that businesses register online in order to view your business rates account; This will help you see when your rate relief is applied to your account before bills are posted.
If you remain eligible to pay rates in the coming year, (not qualifying for the 100% relief above), the Council can change payment plans by one month to start in May. If this is agreed with the Council, you will get a revised bill to confirm this.
Businesses affected by the grants and reliefs will receive either a letter or a revised bill soon – some may need to provide their bank details to enable payment of grants. Contact Kingston Council’s business rates team on [email protected] for urgent enquiries.
To check your eligibility for grants and reliefs you can find out your current Rateable Value here
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. This will apply to those designated as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
There is no action to take at present. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open for applications, to help businesses access bank lending and overdrafts, delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. This makes available £330bn for which the Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee. Small businesses can apply for up to £5m from their High Street bank.
Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as the Government will cover the first six months of interest payments.
These loans will not be administered by the council. Full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available at British Business Bank.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) Growth Hub provides information and a useful checklist for businesses to manage the impacts of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). A phone call with a business advisor can be booked through the Growth Hub site.
The Federation of Small Businesses has produced some useful guidance for small businesses and the self-employed.
The government has announced that Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
The money will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not be available until the start of June at the earliest. Further details will be available on the Government website.
You cannot apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online. You will access this scheme only through GOV.UK.
If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.
Pubs and restaurants that want to operate a hot food takeaway to serve people staying at home, will soon be able to do this without going through the usual planning process. The government will shortly legislate to bring forward a temporary Permitted Development Right to allow for change of use from A3 (Restaurant) and A4 (Pub) to A5 (Hot Food Takeaway)
This will mean that pub and restaurant owners will be able to notify their Local Authority that they are now operating as a takeaway without any prior planning permission approval.
We do not currently have more information on this but will provide updates as soon as we do.
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 etc 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 package of measures of support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees is to be put in place. More information is available on the Government website.
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’s Time To Pay service. 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.
Businesses may also be able to defer VAT payments.
The Government has issued advice about claiming benefits, which will continue to be updated on the Government website.
If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.
More information is available on the Government website COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses page.
London Councils is suspending enforcement of the London Lorry Control Scheme with immediate effect to help the freight and logistics industry cope with increasing pressures and demands from the rapidly developing situation.
Working together is key to supporting our local business economy. Please read a message of support for local business from the CEO’s of Merton, Kingston and Wandsworth Chambers