Latest Updates as of 20th March 2020
What’s Included in COVID-19 Emergency Funding? Government-backed loans with attractive terms for payment of rent, salaries, suppliers or stock.
For businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure, business rates will be waived for 12 months for 2020/21.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme expanded from £1.2m to £5m with an interest waiver for the first 6 months.
Grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief will be increased from £3,000 to £10,000.
Further £25,000 grants for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from smaller business premises defined as those within a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
£10,000 one-off grant to businesses that pay little or no business rates due to small business rent relief or rural rate relief.
Small and medium-sized business will be able to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) for sickness due to COVID-19.
Support for liquidity for larger business with a new scheme from the Bank of England.
The advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres is sufficient to trigger a claim under business interruption insurance.
Pubs and restaurants are able to provide a takeaway service without a planning application.
Full details of how these initiatives will work are due for release early next week. Further initiatives are also expected in the next few days focused on employment-related issues.
TreasuryI am in frequent contact with the Treasury to try to understand what mechanism they are putting in place for employers to reclaim the new SSP relating to Covid-19. I have also asked if the expected national minimum wage (NMW) increase will go ahead on April 1 2020.
It has been confirmed (19 March) that the Off-Payroll Working rules (IR35) have been postponed until 6th April 2021. My general sense is that HMRC are working quickly, to deliver on the PM’s emergency measures. They are being quite open and sharing information for release while the ink is still wet!
RatesThe Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has issued their first guidance to Local Authorities regarding the rate relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure industry. The concern is that it will take upwards of three months for Local Authorities to be in a position where they can start processing the applications as they too are working on skeleton staff like many other businesses.
My understanding is that Councils will auto-award to businesses that meet the relevant criteria. Westminster Council is the exception and will issue forms. Government funds are expected to be distributed to Local Authorities in early April.
Mortgage repayment holidaysPlease speak to your mortgage lender as each lender will have their own rules for applying for the mortgage breaks. The mortgage holiday should not affect your credit rating but you will need to make up the payments so you do not lengthen the overall term of your mortgage. I have had good reports from people using both Virgin Money and Barclays saying that they made the process exceptionally straight forward and inexpensive for home-owners.
Self EmployedHaving spoken to Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge & Malling, today he is expecting an announcement to be made relating to Payments on Account. It is expected that Jan20 Payments on Account are to be refunded and the July payment postponed, but this is not confirmed yet.
InsuranceYesterday the FCA issued guidelines to the ABI, Association of British Insures, that they are to be sympathetic to businesses and not put up premiums if policies are changed due to new working arrangements.
I know Cash Flow is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment but don’t forget to inform your insurance provider of any changes to protect future cover. The three key areas to consider are:
1. staff now working from home
2. business premises may be unoccupied
3. change of business operation ie offering a new service
Whilst the situation continues to change daily, I will endeavour to update clients via this newsletter and the website. If you have any questions or concerns, please do call us on 01732 449888 and myself and the team would love to chat and see how we can help.