From RBKC’s Economic Development Team
We have now launched a COVID-19 Business Interruption Fund to support RBKC businesses and self-employed that fall through the gaps of the various measures announced by Government. This discretionary fund has a link on the Council's RBKC COVID 19 BUSINESS PORTAL, Details below.
The Council has set up a fund which will allow smaller, private enterprises in the borough, with either fewer than 20 employees or a turnover of less than £2 million, access to a grant of up to £5,000. This emergency fund is only open to those who have experienced disruption to trading and income due to the Coronavirus and have not been able to source working capital from any other Government support scheme to cover essential business costs.
We will also expect any applicant to demonstrate what they’ve done to mitigate the various impacts themselves which is not just other Government schemes.
To Apply for the Business Interruption Fund, businesses will need one of the following documents:
A copy of the business' accounts
A copy of your tax self-assessment for the previous two years
If started recently, a copy of your most recent management accounts or trading summary showing turnover figures.
Businesses will also need:
A copy of the most recent bank statement for your business, showing the name, address and account details (we need this to be able to pay any grant awarded to you) - the transaction details can be redacted.
One form of identity documentation for the named applicant (driver's licence, passport).
Small but important note: The size of the fund is £500,000. That would for example provide 100 successful applicants with maximum £5k.
This was our First Tuesday Question & Answer Event with our expert panel; Graham Hart, Head of Economic Development at RBK&C Council, Robert Moore, Managing Partner at Bright Graham Murray Accountants, and Anthony Wilcox, Partner - Employment Law at TWM Solicitors.
Members and guests put questions to our expert panel about business support during the COVID-19 crisis. The event was chaired by Michael Stone, our Chairman.
RBK&C - the businesses for SBRR will have been identified off the current register and contact attempted. The portal includes a form for registering and also a dedicated email at email@example.com. Access to this information is included on the portal at www.rbkc.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19
Anthony Wilcox TWM Solicitors for help re the Staff Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) Tel: 01483 752 784 Email: Anthony.Wilcox@TWMSolicitors.com
Bright Graham Murray Accountants for help re HMRC and business loans please contact Andrew Boyd Tel:07375 072091 Email: AndrewBoyd@bgm.co.uk
Coronavirus is having a devastating impact on people and businesses in the UK and abroad.
Over the last few days the government has announced a number of measures to help and support UK business and I set out below a summary of the main measures you need to be aware of.
Job Retention Scheme
An employee may be furloughed (laid-off) and remain on the payroll, with the government paying 80% of the employee’s salary up to a cap of £2,500 a month for 3 months. Both the employee and employer must agree the furloughed status. Under the arrangement employees would be paid as normal with tax and national insurance deductions, and the employer will make a separate claim to HMRC for reimbursement. During the furlough period the employee should not carry out work duties.
Statutory Sick Pay
Where an employee is off work due to Coronavirus, they can be paid Statutory Sick Pay for up to 2 weeks and which the employer can reclaim from HMRC.
Small Business Rates
If your business qualifies for small business rates relief, then you can apply for a £10,000 grant from your local council.
Retail. Hospitality and Leisure Businesses
Are exempt from business rates for the 2020-21 tax year, and are eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000 depending on the rateable value of their business property.
All VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 are postponed until the end of the current tax year in March 2021. The postponement is automatic and no claim is required.
PAYE and Pension Payments
Are due to be paid as normal.
Income Tax Payments
The 31 July 2020 self assessment tax payment has been postponed to 31 January 2021.
Business Loan Guarantee Scheme
If you borrow money from a bank, the government will pay the first 12 months interest on the loan together with any arrangement fees, and guarantee 80% of the debt to the bank in the event of default.
If you have any outstanding tax liabilities you can agree time to pay with HMRC by telephoning 0800 0159 559.
If you require further detailed information on the above measures then please do not hesitate to contact the Chamber, by email to Nicola@KCCCLondon.org, or refer to the government advice at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The Kensington & Chelsea Chamber of Commerce has been supporting businesses for over 50 years and will continue for many years to come.
Please stay safe and healthy.
Michael Stone, Chairman
Laying off employees means that the employer provides employees with no work (and no pay) for a period while retaining them as employees; short-time working means providing employees with less work (and less pay) for a period while retaining them as employees. These are temporary solution to the problem of no or less work. However, if employees are laid-off or put on short-time working in circumstances where the employer does not have the contractual right to do so then the employer will be in fundamental breach of contract entitling the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal.
A better option is likely to be the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will pay employees' salaries of up to £2,500 a calendar month as long as they are kept on the payroll.
On 20 March 2020, the government announced new measures to help employees.
Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has said:
- Any employer in the country – small or large, charitable or non-profit - will be eligible for the scheme;
- Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off;
- Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – that’s above the median income;
- Employers can top up salaries further if they choose to;
- Workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary;
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months - and the scheme will be extended if necessary;
- The first grants should be paid within weeks and they are aiming to get it done before the end of April.
The Government website advice for employees states:
If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.
If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.
To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.
If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.
We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.
The Government website advice for employers states:
You will need to:
- designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
- This scheme covers businesses in any sector; and
- The scheme will apply in respect of all employees on PAYE, including those on zero-hours contracts.
If you need any further advice from an Employment Lawyer please contact; Claire Fountain, Partner at TWM Solicitors LLP Telephone: 07773 233147
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7361 3002.
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.
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.
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
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.
Budget 2020 Summary
March 12th 2020
Here is a summary of the key announcements in the Budget 2020 statement, made on Wednesday 11 March.
The newly appointed Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a spirited Budget with a repeated emphasis on ‘getting things done’, echoing the recent election campaign.
His initial focus was on the short-term measures needed to deal with the challenges the UK faces as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. These amounted to a £12bn fiscal stimulus, with more available if required. There was help for both businesses and individuals.
For the coming year, statutory sick pay will be available to more people and so will some other social security benefits. Business Rates will be reduced or even eliminated for some smaller businesses – at least in the short term. Other immediate support initiatives for smaller businesses include greater access to bank lending, as well as enhancements to the HMRC ‘Time to Pay’ service.
The Chancellor is due to announce another Budget in the Autumn and so there were several consultations about possible future tax changes, including new proposals on the treatment of fund management companies, pension tax administration, and aspects of research and development tax credits.
Download the full guide here budget-2020-summary
Special provisions to help businesses during the Covid-19 Pandemic
March 18th 2020
The Government yesterday announced a number of special provisions to help businesses during the Covid-19 (“Coronavirus”) pandemic.Here is a link to the Government website page with links to their advice - https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Within this page is advice for businesses, employers and employees -https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
The advice for businesses includes information on:
Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees (at 28 February 2020), the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full
A repayment mechanism will be worked on over the next few months
Businesses are encouraged to keep detailed records of any payments to evidence any future reclaim.
A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for 2020/21
Businesses should receive new bills from their local authority
Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
A grant of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
Any enquiries should be directed to the relevant local authority.
A small business grant of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million.
The loan will be interest free for the first 6 months, as the government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims)
This will be delivered by the British Business Bank (BBS) and will launch from 23 March 2020.
BBS advises that the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. Here is a link to the BBS website with further details and conditions - https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax
The number for HMRC’s dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.
These arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
The government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc. is sufficient to make a claim if businesses have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Standard business interruption insurance policies which are dependent on damage to property will exclude pandemics.
In this link Gov.UK also mention that additional resources are also being made by a number of private lenders who are making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest. This item includes links to the relevant pages of the banks websites.
If you are in difficulties with your cash flow generally, then we strongly recommend that you speak with your bank manager as a matter of urgency in order to discuss additional facilities being made available and capital repayment holidays on existing loans.
Off-payroll working (IR35) changes delayed
Finally, in a speech to the House of Commons last night the Government announced that the extension of the Off-payroll working provisions to the private sector will not now be implemented from 6 April 2020. Instead the existing off-payroll working rules will remain in force until April 2021.
The ICAEW Tax Faculty have reported that HMRC has said that Status Determination Statements (SDS) already issued will have no standing in law and will not be used as evidence in any enquiry dispute during the coming year.