COVID-19  BUSINESS HELP AND GUIDANCE

Your Chamber as a local Growth Hub wants to support all businesses and employers affected by COVID-19.

We are working with the Growth Platform, established by Liverpool City Region LEP and the Mayoral Combined Authority, to support local business and help those business affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Government support for small businesses

Here you will find information and links to the latest support initiatives and guidance from official sites.  We will keep this updated over the coming days and weeks as guidance changes and we get more detailed information about accessing government and other support.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19):

On 17th March 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a range of support to small businesses and businesses who are retail, leisure or hospitality to assist with the current period of disruption caused by COVID-19. 

Guidelines regarding these grants have now been confirmed and the information is shown in the document below regarding the criteria and schemes in place.

Business Support

CORONAVIRUS GOVERNMENT GRANTS

Government support will initially be distributed through the Local Authority and the Buisness Rates system.  If your business is Halton based, you can find out more Information is by using the following link: 

https://www3.halton.gov.uk/Pages/business/businessrates.aspx

All businesses should complete the form and provide your bank account details so the Council has your up to date bank details so they can get the grant to you.

Even if you don't don’t think your business is eligible for support at this moment in time, it may still be worth completing this form in case additional support becomes available n the future. By providing the council with your bank details now, you are putting your business in the best position to be paid promptly.

Please email the completed form to business.rates@halton.gov.uk in order for your details to be processed.

Grants will be paid once funding has been provided by the Government, this is expected to be after 1st April 2020.

CORONAVIRUS  –  JOB RETENTION SCHEME 

The Government has announced that all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.  BCC has sought clarification from Ministers on the detail of the scheme and will update these FAQs as further information is obtained.

The official guidance states businesses will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.  The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and is initially open for 3 months but will be extended if necessary.

A template of a Furlough Leave Letter can be found here: Furlough Leave Template

Useful FAQ can be found here - FAQs Job Retention Scheme

Job Retention Scheme GUIDE

VAT Deferral – Coronavirus

Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that there will be a deferral of VAT due to be paid between 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 (see link below).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

This essentially means that businesses will automatically qualify to defer payment of the VAT due on their VAT returns for the VAT periods ending February, March or April 2020 until 31/3/2021, although VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by HMRC as usual.

Here is some more information on the Deferral of VAT 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

This guidance also provides details of support available to businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments

  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England

  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance

  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans

  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax

26 March 2020 – Added details about the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

 Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

If you’re an employer who pays more than the current rate of SSP you can only claim the current rate amount.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

have coronavirus
cannot work because they are self-isolating at home

Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 


The Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

Please find further details here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme/

 New Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)


The new CLBILS will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. 

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month.

Please find initial details here: https://bit.ly/NewCLBIL

Government Business Support Helpline

Business Support

If you want to talk to someone about how these schemes apply to your business, in England you can contact the Government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice: 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. 

Unlimited Support & HR, Legal, Tax and Health and Safety Business Advice 

As a Chamber Member you have unlimited access to HR, Legal, Tax and Health and Safety advice lines so you can gain professional expertise and support 24/7.  You also have access to all the key documents and advice/guidance fact sheets through an online Portal of over 1400 documents. 

If you have not got your Chamber log in to hand, don't worry, you don't need it for the helpline, just ring:01455 852037

To access the online portal, just send us an email and we'll get a copy of your password back to you.  

More information about this Chamber benefit and the associated insurance cover is available here

COVID 19 - Frequently asked questions from businesses

With the situation changing we realise that you will have additional questions.  Below is a link to frequently asked questions the Governments business support hub:

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk

 HMRC Webinars for employers, employees and self employed

Tens of thousands of charities face extra costs from digital tax ...

Now that the government's business support packages are live they are gathering feedback on how they are being utilised and what more can be done to support businesses to take up these offers of support.

As such, HMRC are delivering a programme of webinars on measures to support employers, employees and the self-employed through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. You can watch a video of the first recorded webinar and register for future webinars using the link below: bit.ly/HMRCWebinar

Help Recruiting and to find Work - Ways to Work Programme

The Ways to Work Project | Halton and St Helens Voluntary and ...

If you have found yourself in need of additional staff Halton People into Jobs have a database of talented people looking for employment.  They can quickly source additional labour, allowing you to focus on the selecting the right fit for your buisness.   This service is completely free of charge and fully funded to help local people find suitable employment.

Halton People into Jobs are delivering this ESF Ways to Work rogramme remotely to support newly unemployed claimants that may want help, support or advice to look for work. This can include help with job search, CV’s, applications, interview preparation and access to funding to start work again where applicable.

The Chamber is happy to provide more informiation and facilitate contact with Halton People into Jobs for support – on info@haltonchamber.co.uk and 0333 358 3480.  

With thanks to our brand partners
Halton growth hub Astmoor Halebank Dats

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