We understand it’s hard keeping up with the ever-changing coronavirus guidance offered by the Government. As such, we’ve created a one-stop guide to help protect your business and employees. Here you’ll find a list of the latest Government information, resources, and information presented in an easy-to-read format.
The Government advice that affects businesses
Here's a timeline of the latest business-related COVID-19 updates published by the Government. Please note, we will be updating this as frequently as possible:
The Government has uploaded a YouTube video about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension. This is useful if you want information about how the scheme works, who is eligible to claim, and when to start paying SSP.
For businesses claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, new examples of how to calculate employees’ wages have been added to the guidance document. You can find these on pages 3.14 and 3.15, here.
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has updated their ‘Working Safely During Coronavirus’ guide. Here you’ll find additional information about national restrictions that affect ‘the visitor economy’ and ‘hotel accommodation.’
- The Cabinet Office has updated their ‘Stay at Home’ guide to include further do’s and don’ts during the third national lockdown. This comprehensive guide covers everything from childcare to exercise, so if you have any doubts about what your business is allowed to do, we recommend giving it a read.
- If you work in a food-related business, we recommend reviewing the latest amendments to the Government’s guidance documents. These have been updated in line with national lockdown, and include guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable.
- The Government has made amendments to the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Closed)) in light of the third lockdown. As such, businesses required to close due to national restrictions imposed by the government, as of 5 January 2021, may be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000. You can find further information about these updates on the LRSG page.
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated for carers. If one or more of your employees is unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, you can find guidance here.
- The Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses) is available for companies required to close due to Tier 4 restrictions. For clarification on guidelines and restrictions, see the LRSG page.
- The Government has added a new guide for employers and their employees who may not work due to self-isolation or if they're clinically extremely vulnerable. For more information about what to do in situations where work absences are caused by COVID-19, head to the guide here.
- Businesses that offer MOTs or vehicle repairs are allowed to stay open in all areas of Great Britain. This also applies to businesses in Tier 4 areas in England, protection level 4 areas in Scotland, and alert level 4 areas in Wales. Confirmation can be found in the following guidance.
- The guidance that sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues in England under the different local COVID alert levels has been updated. You can find new guidelines for your region by heading to the following page.
- If you're currently providing apprenticeships, or looking to expand your team by hiring an apprentice, you must refer to new Government guidelines. These incorporate guidance on tier 4 and phased returns.
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated after it was extended until the end of April 2021. Head to this guide to find the information you need to provide to claim for employees' wages.
- If you're receiving the Kickstart Scheme, you'll find updated terms and conditions set out by the Department for Work and Pensions. The changes are listed in the 'summary of changes' document, which can be found on this page.
- Guidance for the Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant have been amended to reflect the UK's updated state aid agreement with the EU Commission.
- Guidance for the Kickstart Scheme Grant has been updated to include a link to the Kickstart gateway. You'll also find an added link to the Disability Confident scheme under 'Further Support and Help' by clicking here.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus, has been extended to accept new applications before 31 March 2021. More information here.
- Likewise, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme have extended both application deadlines to 31 March 2021.
- The Government has updated the guidelines for working safely during the coronavirus. For instance, if you run a hotel or guest accommodation, the self-isolation period is now 10 days instead of 14. You can find out more about these updates in each sector by reading the Government’s “working safely” literature.
- Check if you’re eligible for the Christmas Support Payment. This grant supports wet-led pubs that have been severely impacted over the Christmas period due to temporary local restrictions.
- Please be advised that the Government has updated guidelines for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. As of 10th Dec, “employers do not need to be facing a wide reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus.” You’ll also find updates to holiday pay and unpaid sabbatical or unpaid leave.
- You can now find information about what to do “If you have missed the claim deadline” by reading the following guidance surrounding Job Retention.
- Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain, and report incidents of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated to include an ‘early outbreak management action card example’. You can use this guide as a basis for dealing with outbreak information.
- The Government guidance that sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues has been updated to reflect the introduction of local restriction tiers that came into effect on 2 December 2020. You find out more here.
- A new temporary reduced rate of 5% VAT was announced on 8 July 2020 for admission to certain tourist attractions and hospitality. This notice has now been updated to reflect that the VAT reduced rate has been extended to 31 March 2021. More information here.
- Following the second national lockdown, the Government has asked all businesses to follow the guidance set out by their new tier system. If you’re unsure what rules apply to the tier you’re in, or want to search for restrictions across the U.K, head to the Government’s postcode search tool.
- The payment period for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LSGR) has changed from 28 days to 14 days. As such, eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14-day period under local restrictions. More information here.
- The Government guidance surrounding track and trace for businesses has been updated to reflect the new local tiered system implemented on 2 December 2020. If your venue can open in the tier it is in, you must continue to follow the guidance. If your venue must close in the tier it is in, you must follow the guidance when you are allowed to reopen.
- The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been updated to provide clarity on verifying your eligibility with HMRC after having a new child.
- There is new information for taxis and PHVs to reflect the local tiered system.
27th November 2020
- The UK government has updated their ‘help and support’ page for businesses affected by coronavirus. Here you can now watch videos and register for free webinars that discuss topics which include the Job Retention Scheme, Self-Employment Income Support, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), and more.
- You can now use the GOV.uk website to find out what coronavirus restrictions are present in your local area. Rules differ depending on what tier your business is in, so use the postcode search facility to make sure you’re following guidelines.
24th November 2020
- The Government has extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to include a third grant. If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership, and have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19), find out if you can claim. If, however, you were ineligible for the first and second grant based on the information in your Self-Assessment tax returns, you will not be eligible for the third scheme. The third taxable grant is worth 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. You can find further information about the third grant here. There’s also an updated page on how your circumstances affect eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
20th November 2020
- There is some new information released by the Government today about how to pay VAT payments deferred between 20 March and 30 June 2020. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest-free. However, please bear in mind that all instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. All the information you need is on this page via Gov.UK.
19th November 2020
- NHS Test and Trace is a crucial part of the country’s ongoing COVID-19 response. As a result, designated venues in specific sectors must have a system in place to request and record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff. If you own a venue in hospitality, tourism, close contact services, or the leisure industry, we recommend reading this updated guidance page on maintaining records.
- On the 19th of November, the Government made updates to several of their guides on claiming for employees’ wages through the Job Retention Scheme. There have been some tweaks and new information over recent days, so we recommend working through the following list, so you stay compliant when claiming:
18th November 2020
- If you’re operating a taxi or private hire vehicle during the pandemic, you must take certain precautions with your passengers. The Government have created a guide to these rules and regulations in an easy-to-read format, here.
13th November 2020
- Looking for a guide that explains what you need to provide a claim for your employee’s wages? If so, you’ll find everything you need in this updated step-by-step guide produced by the Government. It talks about what you need to show HMRC to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as well as the process involved. Please note that if you are an employer making a claim, you need to follow the processes explained in the guidance page Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
- If you own a nightclub, dancehall or adult entertainment business, you may be eligible for a coronavirus grant due to national restrictions. This falls under the Local Restrictions Support Grant, where businesses are entitled to cash from their council for each 14-day period they are closed. You can find more information here.
10th November 2020
The Government has made several updates to their guides on grants and statutory sick pay as a result of the second lockdown. Here’s a list of the key pages where amendments have been made:
6th November 2020
- There has been an update to the Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), which enables smaller businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, from 10 November you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021, and you can find further information here.
5th November 2020
- As COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb, the government has put nationwide restrictions in place to control the spread of infection. Therefore, from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, certain businesses and venues will be forced to close. There is a full list of businesses deemed unsafe to operate on the Gov.uk website, including non-essential retail, hospitality venues, accommodation, leisure, entertainment, and community centres. Businesses and venues which can remain open include essential retail, petrol stations, banks, medical services, and funeral directors.
31st October 2020
Businesses across the UK are being provided with additional financial support as part of the government’s plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends. You can find out more about business grants and extensions on the UK website.
23rd October 2020
- The Government has updated 14 guides on how to make your workplace COVID-secure. These documents outline the actions that you should take to keep people safe across sectors including hospitality, retail, and more.. Download the guides here.
21 October 2020
- Following the announcement of temporary restrictions on business operations in Scotland, the Government has created a COVID-19 Restrictions Fund made available to hospitality and other businesses required to close (except for takeaway). It operates as a two-tiered scheme, with a smaller grant of £2,875 for businesses with a Rateable Value (RV) of up to and including £51,000, and a larger grant of £4,310 for those businesses with a RV of £51,001 and above. An upper limit of £21,000 in total will apply to any eligible business operating multiple premises. More information.
20 October 2020
- The Welsh Government has updated its guidance for businesses and employers, including details about your responsibilities as an employer and how to implement physical distancing in the workplace. More information.
9 October 2020
- The Chancellor announced that the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions. The government will pay two thirds of employees’ salaries to protect jobs over the coming months, and cash grants have increased to £3,000 per month for businesses required to close in local lockdowns.
- If you are an employer looking to create 30 or more jobs placements for young people, you can apply for funding as part of the Kickstart Scheme. The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16-to-24-year olds on Universal Credit, who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding, so find out more
5 October 2020
- Advice for food businesses has been updated in response to the latest COVID-19 developments. The guidance is intended for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food. More information.
2 October 2020
- The Job Retention Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment made to businesses for each eligible employee furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021. Businesses can claim the bonus between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. You do not have to pay this money to your employee. You can check if you’re eligible for the Job Retention Bonus here.
29 September 2020
- Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.
24 September 2020
- The Chancellor announced that businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020, will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free. Find out more.
- The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) is available to businesses that were open as usual, but which were then required to close for at least 3 weeks due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government. Check if you’re eligible.
- Guidance on the closure of certain businesses and venues as part of further social distancing measures has been updated,
16th September 2020
- The government has pledged £750 million to ensure voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) businesses can continue their work supporting the country during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. You can see where funding is being allocated here.
- Find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related SSP. You could claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP if you have already paid your employee’s sick pay.
3 August 2020
- The Government has opened up an Animal Welfare Grant of up to £730,000 for any zoo or aquarium affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). You can apply for funding at any time until 16 November 2020.
24 July 2020
- Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is mandatory by law from July 24th, 2020. Shop owners are expected to encourage compliance and fines will be imposed for non-compliance. It is not compulsory for staff to wear face coverings, but it is advised in situations where other mitigations (i.e. screens, visors) are not in place.
23 July 2020
16th July 2020
- The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended. If you can confirm to HMRC that your business has been negatively affected by COVID-19 on or after July 14th 2020, and you were eligible for the first grant, you’ll be eligible to make a claim for the second and final grant from August 17th 2020.
13th July 2020
- Beauty parlours, nail salons, and tattoo shops can reopen from July 13th in England for certain treatments, including manicures, pedicures, and massages. Staff must wear a visor or erect a screen, and only booked appointments are permitted - no walk-ins.
- Facial treatments may be carried out once more from 1st August 2020, including eyebrow treatments, dermarolling, waxing, and the application of makeup.
10th July 2020
- Businesses can claim for employees’ wages using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Claims can now be submitted for periods starting on or after July 1st. July 31st is the last day you can claim for periods ending on or before June 30th. Only employees who have previously successfully claimed for a grant will be eligible for future grants under the government’s furlough scheme - find out all the details including if you’re eligible here.
9th July 2020
- Outdoor pools can reopen from 11th July 2020, followed by indoor pools, leisure centres, and gyms from 25th July 2020.
8th July 2020
- The government has made an announcement allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to hospitality, hotel accommodation, and admissions to attractions. The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.
- The government announced the Job Retention Bonus to help businesses keep furloughed workers. Eligible employers will receive a one-off £1000 bonus for each furloughed staff member still employed on January 21st 2021.
- As part of the Plan for Jobs announcement, Rishi Sunak stated businesses will receive £2000 for every new apprentice hired below the age of 25.
- The Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme was announced to support businesses in the hospitality sector, providing a reduction of 50% for sit down meals in pubs, restaurants, and cafes from Monday to Friday, across the UK throughout August 2020.
- The majority of tourism and hospitality-related activities will benefit from a VAT reduction from 20% to 5%, designed to encourage consumers through the door and benefit businesses.
4th July 2020
- From the 4th of July 2020, businesses providing accommodation can welcome guests. Guests can stay overnight with members of their own household or support bubble, or members of one other household. Business owners can find all the guidance on doing so safely by the government here.
- Hotels are allowed to host meetings of up to 30 people indoors from July 4th, 2020 providing social distancing can be adhered to and it can be demonstrated by the venue that it has followed COVID-19 guidance.
25th June 2020
- The government updated its guidance on claiming back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus including information on who’s eligible to claim and how to make a claim.
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.
19th June 2020
- A code of practice for the commercial property sector has been published to encourage tenants and landlords to work together. The code outlines a way for landlords to structure conversations with their commercial tenants, to protect businesses from failing due to COVID-19. The code is available at uk, or you can download it as a PDF.
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 Coronavirus.
- 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 navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, including a small number of provisions for self-employed workers. You can learn more about what’s on offer by visiting the Covid-19: support for business page.
Financial support for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak includes:
- Furlough Scheme Extended and Further Economic Support announced — The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month (the original end date was Oct 31st) with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. Information about extended businesses grants and job retention schemes can be found here.
- 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.
- The Job Retention Bonus — A £1,000 one-off taxable payment to employers for each eligible employee that you furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
- The Local Restrictions Support Grant — Announced on 9th September 2020 to support businesses that are required to close during localised restrictions. You can check if you’re eligible for the grant here.
- 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 the Government has made some announcements that could save you stress and time. Here are a handful of the updates:
- 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 aren’t dissolved.
- The Government has kindly developed a service to upload certain Companies House forms digitally, instead of sending them on paper. You can find more information about uploading documents here.
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.
Besides handling money, you might be worried about your employees’ financial and physical safety. Fortunately, there’s government support for that, too:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – To encourage businesses not to lay staff off, this scheme gives support to pay a portion of workers’ salaries. If there is a situation whereby your employee is unable to do their current role, you can use the Government’s ‘furlough’ scheme. Please be advised that 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 furlough eligibility 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 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 can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees who catch Covid-19. It covers up to 2 weeks’ SSP for each employee who is unable to work. Here are more details on who’s eligible for SSP support.
- The Government has advised that employees must 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.
- The CIPD offers an employer response guide for ensuring smooth communication with your workforce — helping you to protect your employees and business.
Health and safety in the workplace
The Health and Safety Executive and several other organisations are continually publishing measures businesses must take to keep employees and customers safe. Here’s a breakdown of resources your business may find useful:
- The NHS coronavirus page shares the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus. It details symptoms, what to do if you suspect someone has the virus, which people are classed as high-risk, and more.
- ACAS’s coronavirus guide outlines safety measures to limit the spread of the virus in the workplace. Here you’ll also find information on how to protect vulnerable workers, what to do if someone has coronavirus symptoms, and several best-practice steps.
- If you’re wondering ‘to what extent is my area affected by the virus?’ then you can find out online. Public Health England is releasing its coronavirus tracking data, showing how many cases have been confirmed in each area.
- If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for at least 7 days; however, 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.
As the pandemic continues to evolve, there will undoubtedly be more changes for your employees and business. Keep a look out on this page for up-to-date guidance. And if you’re an existing customer in need of support for your account or billing, then please get in touch with us.