We appreciate the business impact of Coronavirus is likely to be very high and we want to support you during this difficult time. Please bookmark the following pages for the latest updates:
The Government announced new business support measures on Tuesday 17 March including the extension of the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses, and will continue to announce new measures in the coming days.
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Based on the World Health Organisation’s recent declaration, COVID-19 is now classed as a public health emergency of international concern. The outbreak has undoubtedly already impacted many businesses and their staff, with much more expected to come. Below you will find useful links to ensure you are fully informed. We would advise businesses to build their resilience by reviewing their business continuity plan, developing an understanding on the potential impacts to your supply chains, customers or other factors critical to your operations.
For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should regularly visit the guidance for employers and businesses page on the government website.
ACAS have also published information for employees and employers including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES
The 2020 Budget (announced on 11th March) contained a series of announcements that will support businesses coping with the economic impact of Coronavirus.
Business rate holiday: Shops, cinemas, restaurants, pubs, and music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will not pay business rates in the year from April 6th 2020. This will also include art galleries, museums, gyms, nightclubs, theatres and guest houses.
There is an additional allowance for pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 of a £5,000 discount.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: This temporary loan scheme will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The British Business Bank will guarantee 80% of the value of loans offered by banks to businesses, up to a £1.2 million cap per individual loan. There will also be a cap for each lender on the total value of loans they can offer. Although there is, as yet, no further detail on the level of this lender cap or routes of application for businesses, the government has said that the scheme will support up to £1 billion of additional lending.
Time to Pay Helpline: The government has announced that businesses and those who are self-employed can access support and advice on their tax obligations and payments via a new dedicated COVID-19 telephone helpline. Using this helpline, businesses may be able to agree a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement with HMRC.
The budget also states that HMRC will waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulties contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.
HMRC Coronavirus Helpline: 0800 015 9559 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 8am to 4pm)
Statutory Sick Pay: For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
BANKS including Barclays, Santander, Virgin Money and TSB have announced they will be offering payment holidays for loans and mortgages to help businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus. Read more at www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/03/10/rbs-offers-mortgage-payment-relief-coronavirus-victims/.
Barclays has launched a free telephone helpline offering support and information to its business banking customers. It is also providing repayment holidays. Find out more at https://home.barclays/news/2020/03/supporting-customers-affected-by-coronavirus/.
Lloyds has launched a £2 billion package to help minimise disruption to business operations. Support includes repayment holidays, and no arrangement fees for new or increased overdrafts, invoice discounting and finance facilities. Read more at 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. Read more about the support at www.rbs.com/rbs/news/2020/03/natwest-pledges-p5bn-working-capital-support-for-smes-during-cor.html.
Santander has outlined the support it is offering to customers impacted by coronavirus. Support includes a helpline and advice on managing finances. Find out more at www.santander.co.uk/about-santander/media-centre/press-releases/santander-uk-outlines-support-for-customers-during-coronavirus-outbreak.
TOURISM SECTOR ADVICE
Visit Kent are providing daily updates regarding the Coronavirus from the Tourism Industry Emergency Response group (TIER), including advice, useful links and information for tourism businesses.
Please follow the NHS public advice to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.