Coronavirus Advice For Businesses

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The Government has recently updated Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses. It has also made an Eligibility Checker for loans, tax relief and cash grants for your business.

The Kent & Medway Growth Hub is operating a Coronavirus hotline that is open to all Ashford businesses to provide advice and support. Call 03333 602300 8:30am-5pm Monday-Friday to speak with an adviser.

Due to the exceptional circumstances, Environmental Health are working closely with Trading Standards and the Police in enforcing the business closure regulations. Please read the detailed government guidance on what business types are required to close. Please email us if you need further case specific guidance.

You may also wish to view our service disruption page for specific advice on the impacts on Licensing and Environmental Health, such as application changes, social distancing in the workplace guidance and food safety requirements.

Certain companies have a legal responsibility to to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises, and to display NHS QR code posters.

If you are a company that is offering to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) please contact us by sending an email to PPE@ashford.gov.uk.

View our frequently asked questions surrounding support for businesses.

The NHS have information online about protecting your – and your employees' – mental health.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced the following guidance documents to help businesses operate at this time:

The government has produced guidance for those returning to the workplace:

 

The government has announced a number of measures to help businesses cope with the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak, including:

Current Business Support
Measure Description Mechanism Update (25.9.2020)
Job Support Scheme

The government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand. The company will continue to pay its employee for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction). The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third.

Government will publish details soon. Find out more on gov.uk.
Scheme opening on 1 November and will run for 6 months
Job Retention Scheme

HMRC will provide grants to business to cover the wages of people on furlough or flexible furlough – 70% of salary to a maximum of £2,187.50 per month.

Employers will top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% (up to £2,500)

Complete online claim application Scheme extended to October
Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the Job Retention Scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021 No update at this time
Statutory Sick Pay SMEs can be refunded cost of sick pay for up to 14 days for an individual Applications will be with HMRC. Applications now open
Retail Business Rates Holiday 'Retail Discount' A 1-year business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, leisure, hospitality sectors from 1 April 2020. To see who fits into these sectors please see government's detailed guidance Ashford Borough Council Business Rates team will automatically apply this to their systems. No need for businesses to apply New bills have been issued and discounts have been applied
Retail Grants A Cash grant for businesses in the retail, leisure, hospitality sectors for up to £10,000. This will apply to businesses with a rateable value up to and including £15,000 This scheme closed on 28 August 2020 This scheme closed on 28 August 2020
Retail Grants B Cash grant for businesses in the retail, leisure, hospitality sectors for up to £25,000. This will apply to businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 but under £51,000 This scheme closed on 28 August 2020 This scheme closed on 28 August 2020
Small Business Grants Any businesses in receipt of for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR) can apply for a grant of £10,000 for ongoing business costs

This scheme closed on 28 August 2020

This scheme closed on 28 August 2020
Discretionary Business Grants

A new discretionary fund has been set up by the government to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

This scheme closed on 26 July 2020

 

This scheme closed on 26 July 2020
Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Complete online application form Applications open until the end of November
Grants for Social Enterprise

There are several regional and national schemes operating, for example by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Kent Community Foundation.

Find out more on our Coronavirus Funding page No update at this stage
Dairy Farming and Fisheries Grants

England’s dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Eligible farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to Coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

The Fisheries Response Fund (FRF) of £9 million will directly contribute towards the fixed business costs of over 1000 catching and aquaculture businesses that have been adversely impacted by the loss of export and domestic markets for fish and shellfish.

Read about the Dairy Response Fund and apply by 23:59 on 11 September 2020

 

The Marine Management Organisation will directly contact eligible fishing businesses

The Dairy Response Fund closed on 11 September 2020.
Reduced VAT for tourism and hospitality sectors The VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sectors will remain at 5% until 31st March 2021, a 15% reduction. Read more on the gov.uk website Extended until March 2021
Time to Pay - Extra time for tax Individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities will be able to access support to agree a bespoke 'time to pay' arrangement Apply to HMRC through their helpline on 0800 0159 559 No update at this stage
Bounce Back Loans The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 10 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

Apply to an accredited lender. A list of lenders and more information is available at the British Business Bank website.

A new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system will provide flexibility for firms repaying a Bounce Back Loan. This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.

 

Applications open until the end of November.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Support for businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value, available on repayment terms of up to ten years. Eligibility criteria apply Full information on the British Business Bank website. Applications made via participating lenders

Lenders may now offer loans repayable over ten years.

 

Applications open until the end of November

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

CLBILS supports large businesses, with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £800 million, to access loans of up to £200 million.

Read more on the gov.uk website

Applications open until the end of November
Zoo Support Fund

An animal welfare grant of up to £100,000 for zoos or aquariums affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Complete online registration Funding for zoos and aquariums is open until 16 November 2020.
Bank Support Other private banks are making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 Contact your banking provider No update at this stage
Eviction freeze

Commercial tenants who miss a rent payment will be protected from eviction. This protection will last until the end of 2020.

This is an automatic protection for all businesses Extended until the end of 2020.
Self-Employed Workers

Self-employed individuals will receive a direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month. The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. To qualify, more than half your income in these periods must come from self-employment

HMRC is contacting eligible applicants by text, email or letter. If you have not been contacted, but think you may be eligible, you can check here.

The scheme has been extended. A lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November 2020 to January 2021. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

 

An additional grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April

Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit will be increased by £1k per year, and Working Tax Credit by the same amount. If eligible, self employed workers will be able to access the full Universal Credit equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees, and self-assessment taxes will be deferred to 2021

View more information on claiming Universal Credit No update at this stage

 

Business Rates Grants Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be entitled to apply for a grant?+

a) If your rateable value (RV) is up to (and including) £15,000, and you were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR) on 11 March 2020 you will be entitled to apply for a £10,000 Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) grant.

b) If you were not eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March 2020 you may still be able to apply for a grant. This applies if your RV is up to (and including) £15,000, and you are in the retail/hospitality/leisure industries, and your property is a qualifying one, as at 11 March 2020. This is the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG) grant of £10,000.

c) Exclusions will apply if the property you occupy is for personal use, are car parks, or your company is liquidated/dissolved on 11 March 2020.

d) If your RV is £15,001 to £50,999 inclusive and you are in the retail/hospitality/leisure industries, and your property is a qualifying one, then you will be entitled to apply for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG) grant, this time for £25,000.

Examples of Business Rates Grants available
Business Situation Potential Grant Available
Up to (and including) £15,000 RV with SBRR or RRR £10,000 Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF)
Up to (and including) £15,000 RV, no SBRR, but in retail/hospitality/leisure industries in a qualifying property £10,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG)
RV is £15,001 to £50,999 in retail/hospitality/leisure industries in a qualifying property £25,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG)

What is a qualifying property as mentioned above?+

Currently, these are properties that are occupied as retail/hospitality/leisure industries with a rateable value under £51,000, which would have been eligible for a discount under the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme as at 11 March 2020. Again, they are excluded if occupied for personal use, are a car park, or your company was in liquidation or dissolved on 11 March 2020.

Can I apply for a grant for more than one property (hereditament)?+

Yes, if the qualifying conditions are met, you can have a grant per property (hereditament). Please note you need to submit an application per grant being requested, so if you occupy three properties you need to complete three applications.

How do I make an application?+

We have written to those accounts where we believe there is an eligibility to apply for a grant, letter dated 26 March 2020. You can apply for Business Rates Grants on our website. Further information is available on the government website.

What if I have any further queries relating to Business Rates Grants that are not answered by the above links and information?+

Please email the Business Rates Grants team.

Please be aware that we are receiving a high number of emails, so we may not be able to respond immediately.

Business Rates Holiday Frequently Asked Questions

What is this?+

The UK Government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates discount to all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England to 100% for 2020/21, irrespective of rateable value.

Who is eligible?+

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector then you will be eligible. Properties will benefit if occupied and are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues, for assembly and leisure, as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. For further information, please view the government's guidance.

How do I make sure I receive a Business Rates holiday for 2020/21?+

Ashford Borough Council is aware of the eligible properties and will be undertaking a rebilling of those accounts affected.

How do I keep informed?+

Please refer to the Coronavirus homepage on our website, which is being continually updated to keep up with the ever-changing situation brought about by Coronavirus.

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