COVID-19 Support for Business

Coronavirus business support measures  

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants.  Use this simple business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business. START 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.

New guidance launched to help get Brits safely back to work

New ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are available to UK employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.

This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
1. Work from home, if you can
All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

New – Top Up Grants Announced

A discretionary fund has been set up to help certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures. Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. The maximum grant will be £25,000.
Guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly, no details on application process yet. Read more

Support for businesses that pay business rates

Small Business Grants – To Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses
Grants will become available as soon as possible and we plan to try and make payments over the next few days. Businesses who qualify for the grants will receive an email or letter from the council’s Business Rates Team to make an application online. If you believe you are eligible, please use the form on our Business Rates webpage to apply.

Grants include:
• £10,000 to small businesses already eligible for Small Business Rate Relief on 11 March 2020
• £10,000 to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value up to and including £15,000
• £25,000 to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000, that qualify for the expanded Retail, Hospitality and Leisure discount.

You can find out more about eligibility for the retail, hospitality and leisure grant online here and check your rateable value here.  You can qualify for one grant for each property that your business pays business rates for, subject to State Aid rules.

Kingston has already distributed almost £26m of grants to businesses eligible for small business rate relief, and many businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. If you qualify for one of the current grants you must complete this simple online claim form as soon as possible. This will help ensure payment goes to the correct account for you. Enquiries to: 020 8547 5007 or [email protected]

Business Rate Reliefs:
Some businesses will qualify for 100% rate relief for a 12-month period. This means that eligible businesses in England will not need to pay rates in the 2020 – 2021 tax year.
This includes retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, and eligible childcare providers, whatever the rateable value. It also includes employment agencies, estate agents and letting agents and betting shops. The council will rebill eligible businesses to reflect this relief. There is no action required from you to ensure you receive the new rate relief, if your business is eligible.

Contact Kingston Council’s business rates team on [email protected] for urgent enquiries. Further details on rate relief are available on the council website here

Job Retention Scheme – reimbursing 80% of salary costs

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’. The scheme has been extended until October 2020.Claim here

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

June and July: The government will pay 80% of 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.
August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

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. All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.

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.

Bounce Bank Loans

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t 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. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme is now open – For eligibility criteria visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

Support for 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:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
    traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

You can now check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
You can use the online tool to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim. Your tax agent or adviser can also use the online tool on your behalf. You’ll need your:

  • Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
  • National Insurance number

The claims service opens on Wednesday 13 May.  Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended – with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

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.

Insurance

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.

Sick pay

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.

Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

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.

Benefits for employees and self employed

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.

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.

London Councils Lorry Control Scheme suspended

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.

Innovation Grant

£20 million to help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of coronavirus and similar future situations. Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here.

Useful Websites:

 

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