Published 20th March 2020.

All information can be found on the RBKC Covid-19 portal: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-businesses 

HMRC Hotline 0800 015 9559

1. Coronavirus: advice to businesses and the self-employed

We understand just how worrying the situation is for businesses right now, and we will ensure that you are updated on all the key business support from central Government and from this Council as soon as we have it.
Our immediate advice is to keep up to date with all the government’s announcements which you can find here https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response. 
In addition, we have contacted trade and business support organisations across London and the UK to bring you as much funding and business advice as we can find, and we will also be updating you on services from the Council’s own teams.  We are here and supporting you and the local economy.
The government has updated its guidance to assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff. Find out more information on the Government website. It has also set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Find what support is being offered to businesses.  Find advice on decontamination for businesses on the Government website, where a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case has spent time while experiencing symptoms.

There is information from the Department for Work and Pensions about the support available for claimants during the COVID-19 pandemic on the GOV.UK website.

2. Central Government advice and guidance for businesses.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for UK businesses  Guidance for UK businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses  Information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses.

Coronavirus: if your company cannot file accounts with Companies House on time  If Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts, you should act before your filing deadline.

3. RBKC business rates

Support for businesses that pay business rates

A business rates holiday will be available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled as soon as possible, we are working on this now. A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and small businesses without insurance operating from smaller premises. Local authorities are still awaiting guidance from government on this, and we will advise you when we know how we will implement this.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR, to help meet their ongoing business costs. If your business is already in receipt of SBRR you will be contacted by us – you do not need to apply.  We expect central government guidance shortly.

Business rates hardship scheme The Council can grant hardship relief in some circumstances where it is satisfied the ratepayer would sustain hardship if it did not do so. For further details and how to apply, please see the Council’s website at https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/business-and-enterprise/business-rates/relief-and-discounts/hardship-relief.

4. If you are a business in council commercial property If you are renting a commercial property from the Council, be aware that the Council is working hard to develop a cross-borough plan and provide you with guidance on rent and lease questions – please watch this space.

5. Advice for food businesses

As a food business operator, we appreciate you may have some concerns, however, there is currently no evidence that you can catch Coronavirus from food.
It is important that you ensure that food is protected from contamination, so it is good practice to cover open food and wash fresh fruit and vegetables. The use of sneeze guards is recommended for open food. If you provide take-away cutlery, condiments etc for your customers then you may wish to review the storage of these so these cannot be contaminated.
You should ensure all staff handling food or working in areas where food is prepared/stored, wash their hands thoroughly and you should remind your staff of your sickness policy. You should also be reviewing your cleaning policies to ensure adequate and regular cleaning and sanitising.
Public Health England and the NHS state that the most effective way of minimising the risk of catching the virus and spreading is to wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after going to the toilet, before eating, after blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing.

You should follow the government advice on the GOV.UK website if you or any of your staff have travelled. If you or your staff are feeling unwell then you need to visit the NHS 111 Online website for advice on what to do. If you offer any shisha pipes at your establishment, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic situation you should consider ceasing this service for the time being.  If you do provide this service, then you must ensure that you provide clean/sanitised equipment and sharing of equipment must be avoided at all times.
If you have any concerns or questions, you should check the latest government advice or go to Public Health England’s FAQs on the virus. There is also further guidance on the NHS website.

If you have specific food safety or health and safety questions please contact our teams by emailing us at: environmentalhealth@rbkc.gov.uk or calling 020 7361 3002.

Finance

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch next week to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. Click here for more information.

Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.   In addition a package of measures to support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees was also announced Find out more information on the Government website.

Taxes

A new helpline to the HMRC’s Time to Pay service, so businesses and the self-employed can arrange to defer tax payments. Entrepreneurs’ Tax Relief, for business owners who sell their firms, has been scaled down to relief on profits of up to £1m over their lifetime, from the previous £10m relief on profits. Employment allowance to increase by £1,000 allowing certain businesses who employ staff to reduce their National Insurance bill by £4,000.

Nat West - Funding for SMEs impacted by coronavirus from Nat West: click here for London’s Growth Hub portal and news on Nat West’s funding

Lloyds Bank - support package for businesses impacted by coronavirus: click here for more information from Lloyds Bank

6. Benefits

The Government has issued advice about coronavirus and claiming benefits, which will continue to be updated here.

The key points are:

If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness.

Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. This will apply from 13 March 2020.

In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability related benefits.

If you have a jobcentre appointment but are staying at home on Government advice or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you will not be sanctioned if you tell DWP in goodtime.

If you are staying at home as a result of coronavirus, your mandatory work search and work availability requirements will be removed to account for a period of sickness.

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor(an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.

If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.

If you employ people, you are urged to use your discretion about what evidence, if any, you ask for when making decisions about sick pay.

If you have fewer than 250 employees, you will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee.