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Latest Coronavirus News Update

Coronavirus latest update
Posted – 25 Mar 2020

Stay at home!

To stem the spread of Covid-19, it is essential that everyone distances themselves from each other – keeping at least 2 meters apart – and follows the Government’s strict instructions to remain at home for a period of at least 3 weeks from Monday 23rd March.  This will not only help to stem the spread of the disease but also ease  the pressure on NHS resources.

You will be able to take an hour’s exercise each day and leave the confines of your home only to collect essential supplies. The exception currently is for Key Workers and those workers not able to carry out their work at home. In this case, strict criteria must be adhered to, as outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson HERE.

Further information is available by following the useful links on the bottom of this post or by accessing the links HERE These links will be updated daily.

NHS Information on Coronavirus / guidelines

Mental Health & Wellbeing:

As more people are working remotely, often in isolation, employers need to be mindful of their teams’ general health & wellbeing. The British Safety Council have made available Free resources to help employers and employees to help protect workforces from the risks associated with coronavirus. These courses are free until 12 April.

https://www.britsafe.org/about-us/coronavirus-resource-database/

Financial Support:

The Government has taken steps to ensure that most businesses can survive this period of unprecedented disruption to the economy by introducing:

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • SSP Relief package for SMEs
  • Business Rates holiday
  • Business Grant Funding
  • Lending facility from the Bank of England
  • HMRC Time to Pay scheme

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:

This became live from Monday 23rd March 2020 and is open for applications through the British Business Bank’s accredited lenders (list here). It is requested that due to the high number of applications expected, these should be made electronically through the lender’s website in the first instance

A summary of the key features are below, further details can be found HERE

  • Up to £5m facility, available on repayment terms of up to 6 years;
  • 80% guarantee for the lender against the outstanding facility balance;
  • Interest and fees paid by the Government for the first 12 months;

It is open to UK-based SME’s with turnover up to £45m. We would request that if you are approaching a lender in respect of the above support, please keep us informed so we can understand how the scheme is progressing from the frontline.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

A staff retention scheme for employers, whether businesses or charities. HMRC will cover 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This is initially for a three-month period (i.e. until May). Businesses will have to designate which employees they wish to furlough (if not done already) and advise the employees before they can apply via the HMRC for the grants. HMRC has yet to clarify how the grant process will work but it is expected to be an online portal for submission. Further information will be made available on this soon. As the situation with designating workers as ‘furloughed’ is new and rather unclear at this stage, it is worth flagging that any employment law implications will need to be considered when taking these steps, hopefully this will become clearer when further guidance is announced. Find out more HERE

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) support:

Small and medium sized businesses (fewer than 250 employees) will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness due to COVID-19 for up to 2 weeks sick pay per employee – read more HERE

Eligibility is as follows:

  • 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employ less than 250 employees (as at 28th February 2020)
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

HMRC Time to Pay Service:

Further information can be found here and the HMRC COVID-19 Helpline number is 0800 015 9559. We understand that HMRC have been quite accommodating to businesses that have applied since this was announced so worth a call if this is required to alleviate cash pressures as part of the package of measures.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments:

This support should be applied automatically but VAT Repayments will still be processed and VAT Returns should still be submitted.

  • Deferring Value Added Tax (VAT) payments due to be made between 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Any deferred amount will not have to be paid until the end of the current tax year;
  • Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, and no interest or penalties will be charged on the deferred amount.

Full details can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Grants administered by Stockport Council:

Cash grants of £10,000 (rateable value of up to £15,000) and £25,000 (rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000) are being administered by the Local Authorities so no application is required. Guidance on the scheme is being issued to the Local Authorities. Stockport Council has a section on its website where businesses qualifying for SBRR can upload their company VAT and Bank Account details: Stockport Council Grant scheme: https://www.stockport.gov.uk/business-rates-support-measures

The Government’s new website for all support measures

Detailed guidance is here:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873622/Expanded_Retail_Discount_Guidance.pdf

Download the PDF here

Useful links:

Government – Business Support: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Government – Financial Support:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding

Government – Business Support:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Bank of England – Financial Support:

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2020/march/the-covid-corporate-financing-facility

Stockport Council Grant scheme:
https://www.stockport.gov.uk/business-rates-support-measures

Gov.uk: Maintaining Educational Provision:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

UK Lockdown – Further businesses to close and exceptions:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF

Business Growth Hub:

www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus

https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/03/coronavirus-business-support-webinar-series

Food & Drink – advice and guidance:

Health – Updates from NHS
https://www.england.nhs.uk/news/

Health – Shielding the most vulnerable

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Travel:

https://media.northernrailway.co.uk/news/coronavirus-travel-information

Recruitment: DWP and Universal Credit

http://news.dwp.gov.uk/dwplz/lz.aspx?p1=MQsDU1NjQ5MlM2OTA0OjNCNDJBOEZCRTJDOUJEOTc1ODQ0RTRCRDNDNzk4QUNF-&CC=&p=0

Retail: An update form British Retail Consortium https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/coronavirus-latest-retailer-activity/

Retail: Ocado update to all customers

Customers will be limited to one delivery per 7 day period, and some large items won’t be available to maximise the number of deliveries each van can make. They are still not accepting new customers. 

Useful information for the Self-Employed:

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#vid

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