Tuesday 07 April 2020

Latest News

20 March 2020

Economic Support Measures - Covid

Budget announced £30 billion package of support.  On 17th March, support to individuals and businesses was extended, including package of £330 billion of government-backed and guaranteed loans – equivalent to 15% of GDP.  The measures announced to date are likely to be the opening salvos.

Local Authority Hardship Fund

  • £500 million Hardship Fund which will help local authorities to support economically vulnerable people and households – this funding is expected to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through similar measures.
  • MHCLG will set out more detail on this funding, including allocations, shortly.  Any questions on implementation of this Fund should be directed to MHCLG.

 Statutory Sick Pay Refund for Businesses

  • To support businesses experiencing increases in costs or financial disruptions, small and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.  The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
  • Employers will be able to reclaim up to two weeks for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19;
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • The eligible period for the scheme commenced on 13th March.  System redesign is needed as current is not designed to provide refunds.

Business Rates Relief

  • Increase the business rates retail discount to 100% for one year for all eligible businesses (no rateable value threshold) and includes leisure, hospitality and nursery sectors. Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be rebilled by their local authority. Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.  Businesses have been directed to contact their relevant local authority ref eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs.
  • Guidance for local authorities on the application of the expanded retail discount will be published by MHCLG by 20th March.

Small Business Grant Funding

  • All businesses currently eligible for small business rate relief or rural rates relief will receive a one-off grant of £10,000 per business, benefitting around 700,000 businesses in England.
  • All active businesses currently in receipt of these reliefs will be eligible for this grant.
  • All eligible small businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will receive a cash grant – not just those in receipt of SBRR.
  • Businesses in these sectors with a property with a rateable value below £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000, while businesses in these sectors with a property with a rateable value of between £14,999 and £51,000, will receive a flat grant of £25,000.
  • Government has stated that they will be working with local authorities to deliver these grants ‘as quickly as possible’. Local authorities will need to contact these businesses to collect their bank details in order to make the payment, as they do not already hold these.
  • The Business Secretary will write to all local authorities this week to set out the outlines of these grant schemes. People/businesses are to be directed to their local authority for more information.

Takeaways

  • All pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to offer takeaway and delivery services if they wish.  
  • Permitted Development Right will be introduced shortly to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to act as hot food takeaways without going through the usual planning process.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • New temporary Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, to be launched next week to support businesses to access bank lending, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance up to a value of up to £5 million.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and will also cover the first 6 months of interest payments and fees.
  • More information on the scheme, including the list of lenders who will be offering finance under it, can be found on the British Business Bank website

www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Other

Information about the package of measures announced at Budget 2020 (and subsequent) to support public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873676/Covid-19_fact_sheet_18_March.pdf

The government’s COVID-19 Action Plan can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-COVID-19-information-for-the-public

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