COVID-19 FAQS

Finance

Business Rates, property and rent

BID Levy

Hospitality Business

Delivery

Employment Issues

Insurance

Tax Issues and Legal

How can I find out more about the coronavirus mortgage holiday?


A ‘payment holiday’ means you agree with your lender that you will not have to make mortgage payments for a set amount of time. Payment holidays are designed to help you when you may experience payment difficulties – in this case because of the coronavirus situation. For more information please visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/mortgages-coronavirus-consumers




Will the mortgage holiday apply to landlords?


Landlords will be protected as 3 month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages. For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters




Will I have to apply for the mortgage holiday or will it automatically be applied?


You will have to apply for the mortgage holiday with your lender. More guidance on this process is here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/03/coronavirus-how-to-apply-for-a-three-month-mortgage-payment-holiday/




Which lenders are offering preferential terms for extensions or payment holidays for business affected by the crisis?


Banks and other lenders have announced a range of financial support to help businesses deal with the impact of coronavirus, including: Barclays, Santander, Virgin Money, Lloyds, Natwest and TSB.

Barclays has launched a free telephone helpline offering support and information to its business banking customers. It is also providing repayment holidays for personal banking customers on overdrafts and mortgages.

For more information: https://home.barclays/news/2020/03/supporting-our-customers-and-clients-impacted-by-coronavirus–co/ HSBC has announced a £5 billion package of support for businesses. Support includes repayment holidays, reviewing overdrafts and trade loans, and providing trade finance solutions to support customers with their supply chains. For more information: www.business.hsbc.uk/en-gb/gb/campaign/coronavirus Lloyds has launched a £2 billion package to help minimise disruption to business operations. Support includes repayment holidays, no arrangement fees for new or increased overdrafts, invoice discounting and finance facilities. For more information: www.lloydsbank.com/business/coronavirus.html NatWest has announced a £5 billion fund to support small and medium-sized firms to deal with the impact of coronavirus. Support includes the provision of working capital, loan repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees. For more information: www.rbs.com/news/2020/03/natwest-pledges-p5bn-working-capital-support-for-smes-during-cor.html Santander has provided details of the support it is offering to customers impacted by coronavirus. It includes a dedicated helpline and advice on managing finances. For more information: www.santander.co.uk/about-santander/media-centre/press-releases/santander-uk-outlines-support-for-customers-during-coronavirus-outbreak




How can my Business Rates bill be reduced?


Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will receive 100% rate relief for 2020/21 regardless of the rateable value. They will not need to pay business rates for 2020/21.

For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-estate-agents-lettings-agencies-and-bingo-halls-to-pay-no-business-rates-this-coming-financial-year

To support nurseries at this time, the Chancellor has also decided that they will also now be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April.

For information on temporary reliefs available to help businesses see: bexley.gov.uk/business-rates-grants




I am not eligible for any of the coronavirus business rates relief and I am going to struggle to pay my Business Rates bill.  What should I do?


If you do not inform us that you are having difficulty making regular payments, you may incur further costs.

To discuss payment or request to pay over 12 instalments:

telephone 020 8315 2174

email bexley.nndr@secure.capita.co.uk




Will the BID give me any additional time to pay for my BID Levy bill?


Please contact your BID: Bexleyheath Business Improvement District www.bexleyheathbid.co.uk/ 0208 304 0775 info@bexleyheathbid.co.uk Sidcup Business Improvement District https://sidcuppartners.co.uk/the-bid/ 020 8302 4970 info@sidcuppartners.co.uk




What are the rules about which businesses must close due to the coronavirus outbreak?


Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close to see which businesses and premises must remain closed.




I am a restaurant or cafe – will I be allowed to provide hot food take away / delivery services to my customers?


The Communities Secretary has announced that planning rules have been relaxed so pubs, restaurants and cafes can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-grant-permission-for-pubs-and-restaurants-to-operate-as-takeaways-as-part-of-coronavirus-response




I run a delivery service – but am restricted to certain hours for my drivers to work.  Due to the demand can I now extend the hours they can work?


The Government has announced measures to temporarily relax some of the regulations around drivers hours to assist with increased goods deliveries. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-drivers-hours-relaxations/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-drivers-hours-relaxations




Where can I find information on Employee issues?


There are many employment issues arising from the corona virus outbreak, including what to do if employees are off sick, self-isolating or caring for others, if the workplace needs to close and if an employee has corona virus symptoms at work. ACAS have produced a comprehensive guide covering various aspects of the crisis from an Employer point of view: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus ACAS can also help with specific queries by phone.




Can I pay staff statutory sick pay – and when can I start paying it?


Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not themselves sick. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19 Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be refunded by the Government for the cost of providing 14-days’ statutory sick pay for employees who can’t work or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19 for more information.




Will I be reimbursed for all the days the staff member is self-isolating or is there a limit?


If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19 for up to 2 weeks per employee https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19




What is the SSP weekly rate?


The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £95.85 for up to 28 weeks. It is paid: - for the days an employee normally works - called ‘qualifying days’ - in the same way as wages, for example on the normal payday, deducting tax and National insurance Use the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount, for example for a daily rate. Some employment types like agency workers, directors and educational workers have different rules for entitlement. You may still have to pay SSP even if you stop trading. https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay/entitlement Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be refunded by the Government for the cost of providing 14-days’ statutory sick pay for employees who can’t work or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19 for more information.




If I need to put staff ‘on furlough’ temporarily, can I get help from the government to pay them at least some of their wages?


Under the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Further details, including full guidance on how the scheme works, can be found here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/




What help can I get if I am self-employed or freelancing?


The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will provide financial assistance to self-employed people who have lost income due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, the self-employed can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. To be eligible, self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment. The scheme opened to claims on 13 May 2020. Go to www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme for more information. Self-employed people who may be ineligible for other government support during the coronavirus outbreak may wish to consider applying for Universal Credit. The Government has temporarily made changes to how it calculates Universal Credit entitlements to support self-employed people on low incomes. Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 or go to www.gov.uk/self-employment-and-universal-credit for more information.




I have closed or scaled back my business because of coronavirus.  Can I claim anything on my business interruption insurance?


Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks and are therefore very unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19. This includes forced closure by the authorities. Businesses may have chosen to purchase cover that will specifically provide for business interruption arising from notifiable or infectious diseases. If you are concerned about the impacts of Covid-19 you should check the scope of your cover, and check with your insurance adviser or broker. The Association of British Insurers has produced a helpful guide on insurance issues related to coronavirus including business interruption insurance: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-qa/#a




If I am going to have trouble paying my tax, National Insurance or VAT bill who should I talk to?


HMRC has launched a new helpline for businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19




What grants are available from the government to help my business survive?


Find coronavirus financial support for your business

Coronavirus (COVID‑19) support is available to employers and the self-employed, including sole traders and limited company directors. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants, whether your business is open or closed. Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business. https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder




What other grants would my business possibly be able to get?


Grants Online has compiled a list of a number of Community Foundations and other organisations that have launched funding programmes to assist local organisations in responding to the challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This list will be updated over the next few days and weeks as and when information becomes available. For more information visit: https://www.grantsonline.org.uk/coronavirus.html




What happens when a staff member is having to self-isolate with Covid19 symptoms – or is self-isolating due to another family member with Covid19 symptoms?


Employees and workers must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because of coronavirus. Further guidance available here:

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/self-isolation-and-sick-pay




If I need to lay off staff what guidance is available to me on the redundancy process?


Employers that cannot afford to pay their employees’ redundancy pay can apply for financial support. The Redundancy Payments Service makes statutory redundancy payments directly to employees on their employer’s behalf (subject to approval). Go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-assistance-for-employers-unable-to-pay-statutory-redundancy-payments/financial-assistance-for-employers-unable-to-pay-statutory-redundancy-payments for more information.




Do I still have to pay my VAT bill for this quarter?


The Government has confirmed it will defer VAT payments for three months to support businesses. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses for more information.

The following from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) provides more guidance on how this will work: https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2020/mar-2020/covid19-vat-and-self-assessment-payment-deferral




What should I do if I don’t think I can keep up my rental payments on my business premises?


The British Property Federation (www.bpf.org.uk) is encouraging its members to act responsibly with their tenants now struggling due to the corona virus outbreak. You are advised to contact your landlord as early as possible to discuss your concerns.




If I cannot pay my commercial rent will my landlord be able to evict me from the premises?


Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. This was announced by the Government on 23 March and will be included in Covid 19 Legislation:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments




Can I get help if I cannot afford my energy bills due to the corona virus crisis?


Advice on what to do is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/your-small-businesss-energy-supply/your-small-business-cant-afford-its-energy-bills/




If I am self employed can I defer payments due on my Income Tax Self-Assessment?


Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred until January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. For more information: www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businessess

ICAEW guidance on this is available here: https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2020/mar-2020/covid19-vat-and-self-assessment-payment-deferral




Due to current conditions I am going to have difficulty filing accounts or other reports to Companies House – can I delay?


Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19 according to a Government announcement on 25 March.

More information here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-more-time-to-file-your-companys-accounts




How can I start home deliveries?


More convenience retailers are looking at home delivery as an option to reach local customers that are self-isolating or otherwise unable to travel to their local shop. New guidance details what retailers should consider when starting a home delivery service. The guidance covers the following areas: How to take an order How to take payment How to operate a collection service How to manage data security Plastic bag charging for home deliveries Age restricted products For more information: https://www.acs.org.uk/advice/home-delivery




What is Universal Credit and can I apply?


Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It is paid monthly.

If you are on a low-income or out of work, then you may be able to claim for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Housing Benefit

  • Income Support

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Working Tax Credit

If you currently get any of these benefits, you do not need to do anything unless:

  • you have a change of circumstances you need to report

  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you about moving to Universal Credit

For more information visit - www.gov.uk/universal-credit




What is the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?


The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities. The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. Up to £5m facility: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5m, available on repayment terms of up to six years. 80% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, partial guarantee (80%) against the outstanding facility balance, subject to an overall cap per lender. No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme. Interest and fees paid by Government for 12 months: The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years. Security: Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. For all facilities, including those over £250,000, CBILS can now support lending to smaller businesses even where a lender considers there to be sufficient security, making more smaller businesses eligible for finance. No personal guarantees for facilities under £250,000. Personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, for facilities above £250,000. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. For more information about the CBILS, please click here.




What is the Bounce Back Loan scheme for small businesses?


The Chancellor has announced a new Bounce Back Loan scheme to support small businesses and sole traders affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Key features of the scheme: - Businesses can 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 - Loan terms of up to 6 years - The Government has agreed with lenders a flat rate of 2.5% interest - The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders - Businesses will be able to apply online through a short and simple form, with only seven questions. The scheme opened to applications on 4 May 2020. Find out more at www.gov.uk/government/news/small-businesses-boosted-by-bounce-back-loans.




What is the Future Fund?


The Department for Business has launched the new Future Fund scheme to support innovative companies that are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Find out more at www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund.




Where can I find coronavirus financial support?


The Government has launched a new tool to help businesses find coronavirus financial support. After answering a series of questions, businesses are signposted to a list of support they may be entitled to. Visit the tool at www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.




What is the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)?


The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will provide financial assistance to self-employed people who have lost income due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, the self-employed can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. To be eligible, self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment. The scheme opened to claims on 13 May 2020. Go to www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme for more information.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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