Coronavirus Business Support Bulletin – 14th May 2020
We have been given a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel this week. The government has announced that sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open ‘should be open’, these include garden centres, food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.
If the government’s five tests are met then the lockdown will begin to ease in stages from June 1st onwards and ‘non essential’ retailers will be able open up again if they can follow the social distancing guidelines. Bars, restaurants, cinemas and personal care venues such as hairdressers will not be allowed to open until July at the earliest, because of the higher risk of transmission.
FIVE TESTS FOR ADJUSTING THE LOCKDOWN
1 Making sure the NHS can cope
2 A ‘sustained and consistent’ fall in the daily death rate
3 Rate of infection decreasing to ‘manageable levels’
4 Ensuring supply of tests and PPE can meet future demand
5 Being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS
UK GOVERNMENT RECOVERY STRATEGY
This document sets out in more detail the plans for moving to the next phase of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap to ease measures, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread.
MORE FINANCIAL SUPPORT AS THE UK LOCKDOWN CONTINUES
Many of you will have had your government grants through, if you applied but have yet to receive it, get in touch with us as we regularly send a spreadsheet of queries to Lambeth Business Rates team who are administering the grants.
Lambeth are establishing a Hardship Fund for businesses who have fallen through the funding gaps, the criteria of eligibility is still being worked out but as soon as we have this, we will let you know.
Many businesses have found the application process for these loans very easy and the money comes quickly, so worth considering if you believe you will be able to repay it within the next few years. Businesses can apply online through a short form.
EMPLOYEE RETENTION SCHEME EXTENDED
The chancellor announced the furlough scheme is to be extended until the end of October. After July, employers will be asked to contribute financially. More detail is to be announced this month and will be published on the government website.
HMRC SELF EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME (SEISS)
This scheme went live on 13 May and if you have your UTR and National Insurance number, you can check online in about 30 seconds whether you’re eligible, without signing in or talking to anyone!
The scheme offers similar terms to the PAYE furloughing scheme; namely 80% of average monthly trading profits, capped at £2500pcm for 3 months (though it may be extended). You’ll have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, and if you are applying, make sure you have the following:
- Self Assessment UTR – if you do not have this find out how to get your lost UTR
- National Insurance number – if you do not have this find out how to get your lost National Insurance number
- Government Gateway user ID and password – if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility online
- bank account number and sort code you want us to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)
- You will be covered by the scheme if more than half your income is from self employment, you traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year, and your profits are less than £50,000 per year
LAUNCH OF CULTURE AT RISK FUND
Last week, a new £2.3m fund was launched by the Mayor to support culture and creative industries at risk due to the lockdown. Organisations set to benefit are those most at risk of falling into administration and unable to benefit from Government schemes
IF YOU ARE OPEN OR CONSIDERING OPENING UP, HERE’S SOME HELPFUL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES SO YOUR STAFF AND CUSTOMERS CAN STAY SAFE
WORKPLACE RISK ASSESSMENTS REQUIRED
As the lockdown eases and staff return to work, the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 will require firms with five or more employees to undertake a specific Covid-19 risk assessment.
The BRC and USDAW published this practical guide for retail businesses to help implement social distancing when restrictions allow for reopening.
Guidance on how different types of business should update their risk assessment documents can be found on the HSE website. The website contains example templates which should be adapted to suit specific circumstances.
HIGH STREET BUSINESSES
Here is a helpful guide for businesses serving food, with specific references to Covid 19, plus some information from Lambeth about how to make your shop safer for trading during coronavirus and here are some printable posters for your shop to promote social distancing and limiting the number of shoppers in your shop at any one time.
Employers who have people in their offices or on-site should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines. The WHO have published guidance for businesses to prepare the workplace for reopening whilst putting measures in place to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
FACE MASKS, RENT AND CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGNS
The Government has updated its guidance on the use of non-medical face coverings. From now on, non-medical face coverings are advised in enclosed public spaces when it is difficult to maintain a safe distance from others, such as on public transport.
Although Londoners should still stay at home as much as possible, the Mayor is now asking all those who have to use public transport for essential travel to wear a non-medical face covering over their nose and mouth for the entirety of their journey.
AGGRESSIVE RENT COLLECTIONS
Government are to introduce measures to protect businesses from aggressive rent collection tactics. Landlords and investors are asked to work collaboratively with businesses unable to pay their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available here.
If you are having issues with your landlord, we can help too.
PAY IT FORWARD
A scheme supported by the Mayor of London and Crowdfund, which our Railway Tavern has already taken advantage of. This project allows businesses to raise funds now even if they are unable to open their doors to do business. There are hundreds of London based businesses on the site london.gov.uk/payitforward and you can sign up your business easily and get your loyal customers and new ones to spend money with you even if you are closed because of COVID19.
Station to Station, along with all other Lambeth BIDs, co signed a letter from Lambeth Council Leader Jack Hopkins supporting #RaisingTheBar; a demand that the government raise the grant threshold to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from those with rateable values of up to £51,000 to those up to £150,000.
As pubs and restaurants will be the last to go back to normal trading, the #NationalTimeOut campaign asks that rent for these businesses be put on hold for 9 months, and any loans that landlords have also be deferred 9 months. This will not cost the taxpayer anything and will go some way to ensuring that this sector is safeguarded.