(Updated 25 March 2020, 9am GMT)
The scenes in London and around the UK at the moment are unlike anything many of us have seen before. The rapidly-changing situation of COVID-19 means Governments and agencies are constantly updating and reviewing advice and support, especially for the health and safety concerns of people. Sometimes this barrage of information is confusing and it can be tough to get your head around the details of what’s available.
So while we always recommend you get in touch with your local authority to get specific information and advice, here are some measures you should consider when seeing if Government assistance can help you, writes Planday’s Director — Customer Success for the UK and Ireland, Brett Smith.
As I write this working from home for a longer period than I ever have before, it’s pretty surreal.
The constant stream of news, the lockdown here in London and the unprecedented global travel restrictions have changed the way so many of us work, socialise and interact. As someone who’s worked in the hospitality sector for years, it’s pretty heartbreaking to see the scenes around the world at the moment.
Speaking with customers and colleagues across the globe, it’s clear that no matter where you do business, the way you do it will have been changed by the outbreak of COVID-19. We understand this is a really tough time for many businesses and those in the hospitality, retail, healthcare and leisure and entertainment sectors across the world.
We have tips for each of these sectors to invest now and come out the other side of this crisis as strong as possible. Head over to The Planday Blog to find out more on what this means to you. We are also planning special webinars — together with partners from across the payments ecosystem — for customers and those interested to take part in and will have more to say on that soon.
But, it’s a pretty scary and uncertain time for all of us. It’s nice to see Governments around the world step up and help those businesses and the people they employ who are affected by change in working conditions or circumstances. So here’s a quick list of some of the support measures your business might be able to access in the UK to help you bounce back stronger.
The UK Government has announced it will pay 80% of people’s wages if their employment is affected by COVID-19, up to £2,500 a month. This is so people who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis can continue to get the support they need to get through.
2. Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, leisure and entertainment companies
For businesses that are in retail, hospitality and the leisure and entertainment industries, there is a rates holiday available for the 2020-2021 tax year for businesses in England. If your business received a retail discount in the 2019-2020 tax year, that will be reimbursed by your local authority as soon as possible.
If you run a business in the UK but outside England, we advise you to get in touch with your local authority and see what eligibility criteria apply for you.
You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:
- your business is based in England
- your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
And your business is mainly using your premises:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- for assembly and leisure
- as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
How to access the scheme
There is no action for you right now. This will be applied to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.
3. Cash grants for retail, hospitality, leisure and entertainment businesses
A series of cash grants are available for retail, leisure and entertainment and hospitality businesses under the UK Government’s Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme. It gives some of those businesses in those sectors affected by the COVID-19 crisis a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.*
There are similar criteria for this as there is above, but as always you should check official websites and check in with your local authority to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date information.
4. Deferring VAT payments
All businesses will have VAT deferred for three months, running from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. The Government’s advice is that this is automatically applied to all businesses so you won’t have to make an application to access this. If you’re a business which pays its VAT or income tax via direct debit, you should make sure you cancel it.
5. Help with paying your people while they’re sick
It can be tough covering things when you have sick staff at the best of times, but it’s even more stressful these days. Businesses with fewer than 250 people working there will be able to claim two weeks’ worth of sick pay back from the Government if they have been off work because of COVID-19.
6. Support for self-employed businesses
For the many business owners who are self-employed, you can apply for assistance to get a cash grant of 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profit over the past three months, capped at £2,500. While this will help businesses such as hairdressers, who will often have several people in your team, if your taxable profit above £50,000, you will be excluded from the scheme.
As well as the limits on the number of staff, there are a number of other things to consider:
- the size of an business is defined as the number of people they employed on 28 February 2020
- you should maintain records of staff absences and payments, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
6. Loans and finance for businesses affected by COVID-19
There is a loans and finance scheme in place for businesses whose trade has been interrupted by COVID-19. Up to 40 lenders will be able to administer the scheme to businesses like yours, including all the major banks.
This means businesses like yours could be eligible for access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The Government will cover the interest payments for the first year and any fees levied by your lender, as well as offering a guarantee of 80% (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders the confidence to assist you in getting access to finance should you need it.
Stay safe. Look after yourself. Look after your people.
We know this is a really tough time for a lot of people and the challenge of living in the COVID-19 crisis changes every day. We are proud to help thousands of UK businesses as a communications tool that brings your team together in tough times like this.
This piece is general in nature and should not be taken as professional, legal or qualified advice. Before taking any action at this time, we urge you to read the terms and conditions of each of the relevant agencies and seek your own specific professional advice before making any business decision. All information has been sourced from Government agencies and websites and links are contained within.
If you or your business are a Planday customer and need help, please contact our Support team and find out how they can assist your business bounce back stronger once this crisis ends.