Following our previous updates, there have been no new measures announced by either the UK or Scottish Government. What we do have is further guidance in connection with the cash grants and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
12-month business rates holiday for all retail businesses
If your business rates bill for the 2020/21 financial year indicated you were eligible for 50% retail relief, this relief will be increased to 100%. You do not need to apply for this relief or contact your local authority about it. Local authorities are currently in the process of applying the uplifted relief against your business rate account and expect to issue revised bills imminently.
This guidance was received on 19 March 2020 and is available in full here on the GOV.UK website. The additional properties that will qualify for the relief are being identified and local authorities will be actioning this as a matter of urgency.
If you have a Direct Debit set up against a business rates account that is eligible for this relief, no payments will be taken in respect of the 2020/21 financial year. You do not need to notify the council to cancel your Direct Debit arrangement.
12-month business rates holiday for all hospitality and leisure businesses
Local authorities are currently waiting for government guidance on the criteria of businesses that will be classified as hospitality and leisure. It is anticipated that this guidance will be received today (Friday 20 March).
Once this information is available, they will update business rate accounts accordingly and issue updated business rates bills. If you are required to provide additional information to facilitate the granting of this relief you will be able to provide the information via your local authority website.
Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
Grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
Local authorities are currently waiting for government guidance on the methodology for paying these grants. It is anticipated that this guidance will be received today (Friday 20 March).
The payment of the grants will be their top priority once details are received. If you are required to provide additional information to facilitate the granting of this relief you will be able to provide the information via your local authority website.
Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) – for SME’s
This will be administered by the British Business Bank’s participating partners. Further information along with the eligibility for these loan arrangements can be found on the via the British Business Bank’s website.
Business interruption loans – all UK Businesses
The economic shock from Covid-19 is still uncertain and over the coming months activity is likely to weaken substantially in the UK. As a result of this, combined with the disruptions to supply chains, cash flows will no doubt be challenged, increasing the demand for working capital from companies.
The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which is co-ordinated by HM Treasury and Bank of England, will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy. Commercial paper, also called CP, is an instrument used for obtaining short-term funding.
This should help businesses across a range of sectors pay wages and suppliers, whilst they are experiencing disruption to their cash flows.
This will be administered by the Bank of England and further details can be found here on their website.
School Closures/Key Workers
Today (20 March 2020) will be the last day that schools will remain open to everyone except vulnerable children, and those with a parent identified as being critical to the Covid-19 response ie. a key worker.
If your work or an employee’s work is critical to the COVID-19 response, and the child or children cannot be kept at home then they will be prioritised for education provision. Guidance outlining the definition of a ‘Key Worker’ has now been provided and can be found on the Department of Education’s webpage.
It is worth noting that your employees may not fall into the key worker category, but they may have partners who do. Therefore, your employees may still be able to access schools or nurseries which could enable them to continue to work until further guidance is provided.
We will continue to keep you informed with key updates in relation to COVID-19 developments. In the meantime, if you have any concerns or queries regarding the above please get in touch.
Information correct as of 20 March 2020