For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.
The government recognizes the huge challenges faced by many businesses in light of the Coronavirus epidemic. In both the Budget, and subsequent Downing Street Statements, the Chancellor has announced a range of support for businesses and the economy.
Businesses that can open
- Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers can re-open, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
- Hotels or accommodation sites can re-open.
- Some leisure and tourist facilities can re-open, provided they can do so safely. This includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
- Outdoors pools can re-open
- Performing arts can take place outdoors, with a socially distant audience.
- Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas can re-open.
- Indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools and sports facilities can re-open.
Public venues, such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants must close by 10pm, and are limited to table service only.
Unfortunately, some 'close proximity' venues such as nightclubs and soft-play areas will need to remain closed.
Making your workplace COVID-19 secure
For businesses that can remain open, the government has published social distancing guidance to help keep everyone safe.
COVID-19 QR Codes
Public venues such as businesses, places of worship, community organisations, events, and other physical locations open to the public should display a QR code, which visitors can scan using the NHS COVID-19 app.
Support for businesses affected
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
For the first time in British history, the government is stepping in to pay people's wages. The scheme was due to end at the end of June, but the government has extended the scheme until the end of October - providing a total of eight months support. Since 1st July, businesses have been given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Individual firms can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.
Starting in August, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme has been slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work.
VAT and tax payments
The next quarter VAT payments can be deferred, and no business will pay VAT between now and mid-June. Businesses will have until the end of the next Financial Year to repay those bills. Click here to find out how to defer a VAT payment.
- All businesses in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through the HMRC's Time To Pay service.
Support for businesses paying sick pay.
The government will allow employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for absence due to coronavirus.
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of coronavirus.
- 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
Business Rates Holiday
The government is offering a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses in the 2020/21 tax year.
Nurseries are also eligible, if they are providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register, or are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
There is no action required for you. Northumberland County Council will be in touch and may need to reissue your bill.
Bounce Back Loans
Smaller businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.
These will be available from 9am next Monday, 4th May. There will be no forward-looking tests of business viability, just a simple, quick, standard form for businesses to fill in. The government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SME's with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs.
The government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan, to give lenders the confidence to continue providing finance.
COVID-19 Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The COVID-19 Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme covers all firms with a turnover of more than £45m, who can each apply for up to £25 million of finance. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders confidence in continuing to provide finance. The scheme will be available on the British Business Bank website, and will launch on Monday 20th April.
More information is available from the Bank of England.