We know it’s hard to figure out how to protect your business and your employees’ health during the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve put together this one-stop guide of resources to help your business navigate these unprecedented times.
The Government advice that affects businesses
In brief, here’s the latest on what the Government has said that might affect your business. Please note, we will be updating this as frequently as possible:
23rd June 2020
- The Prime Minister has announced that restaurants, pubs and hairdressers will reopen in England from 4 July. Cinemas, museums and other attractions will also be allowed to reopen, but not "close proximity" venues like indoor gyms.
- The 2m distancing rule is being reduced to 1m plus, but we are still advised to keep 2m distance where possible.
15th June 2020
- Non-essential retailers can open from today, with social distancing measures in place. Some businesses and venues must still remain closed though. Find out more here.
26th May 2020
- The Government have announced a timeline for retail businesses to reopen in June, once they are COVID-19 secure and can show that their customers will be kept safe. Outdoor markets and car show rooms can open from the 1st June if they meet these measures. All other non-essential shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, all furniture stores, books, electronics, tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets will expected to be able to reopen from the 15th June if the Government's 5 tests are met, and they meet the the measures put in place.
- The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund has been announced to help councils prepare for the safe reopening of high streets across England.
- Changes have been made to the insolvency law, to relieve burden on businesses and support recovery.
- Businesses can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to Corovavirus.
- The Government have put together a hub page around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help businesses claim it.
12th May 2020
11th May 2020
- The Government launched a 50 page document outlining their plan to rebuild the country with their COVID-19 recovery strategy, which you can read here.
- They also released new 'staying alert and safe (social distancing)' guidance, which you can read here.
- Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic has also been released here.
10th May 2020
- The Government have announced that we must stay alert, which means you must stay at home as much as possible, work from home if possible, limit contact with other people, keep 2m apart from people if you do go out and to continue to wash your hands regularly. This still means that many businesses need to stay closed.
16th April 2020
- The Government announced that lockdown restrictions are staying in place for at least another three weeks. For this reason, many businesses need to stay closed and many workers can only work from home.
23rd March 2020
- The Government announced that the public is only allowed outside for health reasons, to buy food, or for essential work. For general information about what you need to do, visit the government coronavirus (Covid-19)
- All non-essential shops have been closed to limit the spread of Covid-19. The Government has published guidance on further businesses and premises to close to help you figure out if you are affected.
Ways to deal with finance issues
The Government has announced measures to help limited businesses through, including a small number of provisions self-employed people, which you can learn more about on the Covid-19: support for business page. They include:
- Deferring VAT payments for three months – VAT deferral will automatically apply from 20th March 2020 until June 2020 and means you’ve got until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities gathered during the deferral.
- Deferring Income Tax payments for three months – If you’re self-employed, your Income Tax Self-Assessment payments will be deferred from 31st July 2020 to 31st January 2021 – no need to worry about interest on late payments for this deferral period.
- Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses – This is for businesses in England and will last for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. The business rates calculator can show you how much you won’t be paying.
- Grants for businesses in retail, hospitality, and leisure – This is also available to businesses in England within this sector. Your local authority will write to you about it.
- Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) – The British Business Bank is offering loans of up to £6 million, and lasting for up to six years, to help small businesses struggling with cashflow in the wake of the pandemic. Check the CBILS page to find out if you’re eligible.
- Self-employment Income Support Scheme – For the self-employed, the Government is offering to cover 80% of profits, up to £2,500 per month, for the next three months. Find out if you’re eligible and how much you’ll get on the government page on the coronavirus (Covid-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
- Future Fund – Starting in May, the government will be offering convertible loans from £125,000 to £5 million for businesses facing financial trouble because of the pandemic.
- Small Business Grant Fund – To help meet operating costs, small businesses could get grants of up to £10,000 if they’ve been affected by coronavirus. Speak to your local authority if you want to apply.
- Bounce Back Loans - This government 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. The loan terms will be up to 6 years. The government are working with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
Support for your business
Keeping your business up to date on the legal side of things remains vital, but some stresses might have been lifted.
- Companies House previously announced a 3-month extension to file accounts to help businesses affected by Covid-19. It has now said it’s pausing the strike off process so that companies don’t get dissolved.
Help for your employees
Besides handling money, you might be worrying about your employees. Fortunately, there’s government support for that, too, as well as handy information.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – To encourage businesses not to lay staff off, this scheme gives support to pay part of workers’ salaries. If there is a case where your employee is unable to do their current role, you can use ‘furlough’ and you’ll need to tell both them and HMRC what you’re doing. This scheme was launched to reimburse up to 80% of employees’ wages up to £2,500 per month. Here’s more information about furloughed workers.
- The cut-off date for who is eligible for furlough has been extended from 28th February to 19th March, which means anyone starting employment before that date can now receive it.
- Since social distancing is expected to continue for a fair while, the scheme has been extended to cover furloughed employees until the end of June.
- On 20th April, this scheme opened for applications, so business owners can now claim back 80% of furloughed employees’ wages.
- Small to medium-sized businesses will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees who catch Covid-19. It covers up to 2 weeks’ SSP for each employee who’s off work with this virus. Here are more details on who’s eligible for SSP support.
- The Government has advised that employees work from home, where possible. With this in mind, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has published advice: Getting the most from remote working.
- CIPD also offers an employer response guide for ensuring smooth communication with your workforce and planning to protect your employees and your business.
What to do on health and safety
It’s important you know how you and your employees can keep safe.
- The NHS page about coronavirus (Covid-19) details what symptoms to look out for, to call 111 rather than going to a surgery or hospital if you think you might have it, who classes as a high-risk person, and what it knows about the virus so far.
- ACAS’s coronavirus guide outlines safety measures in the workplace for helping employers and employees limit the spread, how to protect vulnerable workers, what to do if someone has coronavirus symptoms, and handy best-practice steps.
- If you’re wondering ‘how much is my area affected by the virus?’ then you can find out online. Public Health England is releasing its data tracking coronavirus cases, showing how many cases have been confirmed in each area.
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you have to self-isolate for at least 7 days, but everyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms during this time then they must self-isolate for an additional 7 days, even if it goes over the 14-day period. The NHS has further advice on self-isolation.
- The government have updated their guidance on social distancing in the workplace for businesses who are continuing to trade during the COVID-19 period. You can read it here.
The situation keeps evolving, so there may well be more changes to come for your employees and your business. But this advice will help. And if you’re an existing customer in need of support for your account or billing then please get in touch with us.