Keep up-to-date with all of the necessary information and guidance for employers to help your business through the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus and business

On 23rd March the government introduced new measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These included the closure of many businesses in a several sectors. To see which sectors are included and what the exceptions are click here.

For those businesses still permitted to operate the following advice was given:

  • employees should work from home where possible;
  • where working from home is not possible travel to work is still permissable;
  • when working the social distancing rules still apply – ensure people maintain a 2m (6ft) gap;
  • for full guidance on going to work click here.

National Minimum/Living Wage

Although not related to the coronavirus situation employers must note that the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates have increased as of 1st April 2020.

Full information about the new rates can be found here.

Support for Business

New 100% government backed loan scheme for small business

Furloughed workers to receive full parental leave entitlement

Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund guidance

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This temporary scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years.

The government will provide payments to the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees.

Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

UK employers with a PAYE scheme can access government support to help pay part of the salary for employees who would otherwise have been laid off or made redundant as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Employees asked to stop working can have 80% of their wage costs up to a maximum of £2,500 paid for by the government. It can be backdated to 1st March anyone already laid off an will initially run until October, more here.

For full guidance on eligibility and what’s covered click here.

Guidance on claiming for wage costs – Government guidance here.

Which employers are eligible for the job retention scheme- government guidance here.

The Chamber legal and HR advice provider has issued guidance for furloughing workers – click here.

Furlough Job Retention Scheme FAQs/factsheet – click here.

Retail, hospitality & leisure sector support

The crisis particularly affects businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Special measures have been put in place to help these businesses out in this time.

  • Business Rates Holiday – businesses in these sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year.
  • Cash Grant – business in these sectors will receive a cash grant per property depending on the rateable value of the property (up to £15k rateable value receives £10k; £15k-£51k rateable value receives £25k)

The grants will be issued by the relevant Local Authority. They will contact any business that qualifies. New systems are having to be put in place so payments will not be immediate.

Small Business Grant Funding

Small businesses in all sectors have access to a grant of £10,000 which will be issued by their Local Authority. To qualify the business needs to be in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief on their property. Further information can be found here.

Discretionary Grant Fund – click here.

Further support/information

  • A guide for businesses, agencies and others understand how to provide safer workplaces – click here.
  • Guidance, designed for competition delivery partners and elite sport organisations has been published – click here.
  • Updated guidance for the providers of outdoor sport facilities, personal trainers and coaches, the public and elite athletes, – click here.
  • Guidance for personal trainers or coaches – click here.
  • Advice on how passengers should make journeys safely – click here.
  • Managing risk and Risk Assessment guidance – here.
  • Guidance for providers of outdoor sport facilities – click here.
  • Government guidance on cleaning your workplace safely – click here.
  • Updated information for parents and carers about the wider opening to nurseries, schools and colleges from 1 June – click here.
  • Guidance on how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 – click here.
  • Advice about coronavirus in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students – click here.
  • Latest guidance for people using transport or working in the transport sector – click here.
  • The Future Fund – this scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails – click here.
  • Guidance on avoiding and reporting internet scams and phishing – click here.
  • Examples of HMRC related phishing emails and bogus contact – click here.
  • Protective Security Management Systems -(PSeMS) – Pandemic Self-Assessment Checklist –  click here.
  • Statutory Sick Pay Rebate – SMEs can claim upto 2 weeks of SSP payments for employees off work due to coronavirus.
  • Support for Paying Tax – businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
  • Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility – Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies to support them if affected by a short-term funding squeeze.
  • VAT Deferral – VAT payments accrued during 20th March and 30th June will be deferred until the end of the 2020/21 tax year.
  • Carrying over holiday – to help businesses continue once the outbreak is over the government has introduced new legislation allowing up to 4 weeks holiday to be carried over for a 2 year period.
  • Lay-offs and short-time working – as a last resort to help avoid redundancies an employer may need to consider temporary lay-offs and short time working.
  • Chamber HR service is at your disposal – online templates and a telephone support line – click here.
  • Furlough Leave – template letter – click here.
  • Insurance Protection for overseas debts from Chamber Patron Member Lorica. 
  • Customs Disaster Relief – no import duty or vat on medical supplies or equipment.
  • ABI Q&A around business insurance – some helpful information on your policies/cover.
  • Computer Software Service Fraud – as more people work from home, fraudsters may capitalise on slow networks and IT problems.
  • Mandate Fraud – with more people working at home, it may be easier for fraudsters to impersonate senior decision makers.
  • Bank Mandate Fraud Guidance from Police Scotland.
  • The College of Policing and National Police Chiefs Council briefing in relation to Coronavirus.
  • Coronavirus scams – how they could affect you, and how to protect yourself.
  • UK Export Finance expands its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) meaning UK businesses will be eligible to secure export insurance.
  • For further information about the range of government support available – click here.
  • For the answers to frequently asked questions on these support measures – click here.
  • Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers
  • Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus: sector guidance.
  • Counter Terrorism Policing information: COVID-19 has created a new environment. One of the features of this is the queues outside shops and other businesses as people maintain social distancing.
  • Delivery drivers’ hours: Rules have been relaxed for 30 days for drivers supplying supermarkets.
  • Destroying spoilt beer: Temporary measure to help brewers and publicans
  • Eviction protection for commercial tenants: A ban on eviction for businesses who cannot pay their rent.
  • Filing accounts and annual statements: 3-month extension from Companies House.
  • Gender pay gap reporting: Deadline suspended for one year.
  • Hotel accommodation for key workers: Letter to hotel chief executives allowing them to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people.
  • Intellectual property services alterations: Patent applications.
  • MOTs suspended: vehicle owners have been given a 6-month exemption.
  • Off-payroll working rules (IR35): The new rules have been delayed by 12 months.
  • Right-to-work checks: Temporary adjustments will make it easier for employers to carry out.
  • Taxable expenses: Find out what is taxable while employees are working from home.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser: New suppliers will be able to bring products to market more quickly and easily.
  • Government Export Working Capital Scheme: its benefits, eligibility criteria and how to apply.

For more information on what to do about costs associated with your commercial property – click here.

Support from your Chamber

Throughout the coronavirus outbreak the Chamber will be here to provide support and advice to our members.

Coronavirus Support Hotline

The Chamber has established a dedicated line for you to call with your coronavirus concerns.

We can help with advice on the support available, problems you’re having accessing funding, issues with supply chain to meet demand and anything else related to the outbreak.

Call 01772 653 000 and choose option 0.

‘Get informed’ with Chamber online events

In these unprecedented times it is essential for businesses to know how best to deal with the situation. As we can’t meet face-to-face the Chamber has arranged a series of online events to give you the information you need. Two of these sessions have already taken place with ore due shortly. 

Webinar Recording: British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Adam Marshall answers questions from Chambers and Chamber members

BCC Resources

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) have also produced some useful resources:

Frequently Asked Questions – Businesses

BCC Coronavirus Hub