HAVE YOUR SAY: As a chamber network we have answered a number of questions around coronavirus, these can be found here  If you have a question that you would like answered about these issues or any other Coronavirus support announced by the government, please email our policy team

Coronavirus Support & Guidance – What you need to know

As the uncertainty around COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to grow, the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce would like to reassure our members and partners that we are here to help. Below you will find the most up to date information to help guide you through this challenging time.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now open for claims

People who may be eligible can now go online to check their eligibility. Take a look at the details here.

Find out how HMRC will work out your income and profits if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership in the UK and have lost profits due to coronavirus (COVID-19). How HMRC works out total income and trading profits for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The initial guidance for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been published. In summary:

What is it?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Is this grant subject to tax?

Yes – individuals will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they are replacement for income in line with normal practice for benefits or grants that replace income. The grant is recognised as income for the purposes of Universal Credit and Tax Credits and may impact the amount claimants are entitled to.

What should self-employed people do while they wait to be paid?

In the interim, self-employed individuals may be eligible for universal credit. The government has provided over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for those affected by Covid-19.

Why does this scheme not cover small businesses who are incorporated?

Self-employed individuals who are owner-managers and pay themselves a salary through PAYE will be eligible for support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. SMEs can also access support through the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. This new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open to anyone who reports trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment. Self-employed individuals who work through a company do not report their trading profits in this way.

UPDATE: Government introduces legislation to relieve burden on businesses and support economic recovery. The government has introduced the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill in Parliament.

UPDATE: The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is hosting a range of webinars to help businesses find out how to make the workplace more Covid-19 secure 

UPDATE: Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances. £40m boost for cutting-edge start-ups

UK government business support helpline. The Business Support Helpline number has changed to freephone 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes advice on the Coronavirus outbreak

Updated information on symptoms COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

Clarification added on the guidance for the freight transport industry on international travel following government advice for British nationals. Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for the freight transport industry

Announcing new safer travel guidance for members of the public and safer transport guidance for operators. New transport guidance for passengers and operators has been announced 

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap to easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread.

Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak. Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. Guidance on how to stay alert and safe (social distancing).

Government postpones the planned Business Rates revaluation. A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus. Business rates revaluation postponed

 Personal protective equipment (PPE): export control process – Removed notification form, clarified the date the changes came into force and added a link to the EU’s updated FAQ

Isle of Wight residents will be the first to get access to a new contact tracing app as part of government action to minimise the spread of COVID-19. Coronavirus test, track and trace plan launched on Isle of Wight

Business Improvement Districts will receive funding in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. £6.1 million funding boost to help high streets and town centres through pandemic.

A Letter has been published from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, to the UK’s energy sector. The letter thanks all those who are working tirelessly within the energy industry during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Skills Toolkit offers free digital and numeracy courses to build your skills.

The UK government’s online service for booking a Coronavirus test is now live across the country. Any employee who has to leave home for work, not just those classed as essential workers, can now request and get a Coronavirus test.

Vital routes for supplies and people have been protected today through a coronavirus support package to keep the flow of goods and services running smoothly in and out of the UK, and around the country, throughout the pandemic. Action will protect the transport links the country relies on

UPDATE: Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated with information on training and assessing apprentices in line with the government’s new safer working guidelines, calculating wages for furloughed apprentices, off-the-job training, and redundant apprentices. 

What educational settings need to know when making decisions on cluster or hub models, during the coronavirus outbreak. Using clusters and hubs to maintain educational provision

High street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic. New measures to protect UK high street from aggressive rent collection and closure

The Economic Secretary, John Glen has written a letter to front line staff working to provide essential banking services. Letter to front line staff providing essential banking services

Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register. Companies House support for businesses hit by COVID-19 

Temporary relaxation of the EU and GB drivers’ hours rules for drivers carrying goods by road. Extended until 31 May 2020.

Air navigation service providers across Europe will share a £1.1 billion support package to maintain services, as the fall in air traffic has led to a dramatic reduction in their income. £1.1 billion support package for air navigation service providers across Europe affected by COVID-19 events.

UK-wide plan announced to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) gets to where it is needed most. Government sets out plan for national effort on PPE 

Manufacture of Coronavirus testing capacity and testing kits. The UK government is requesting industry involvement in the manufacture of Coronavirus testing capacity and testing kits. Businesses who meet this specification should review the guidance on helping the government increase testing capacity and register here

Annual inspection waiver for tank vehicles. Notice allowing tank vehicles, with extended roadworthiness test certificates, to remain in service and on our roads without a valid ADR 1(C) certificate.

Letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, to those working in manufacturing. Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to the manufacturing sector. The letter thanks all those who are working in manufacturing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs) has robust plans in place to maintain services for CICs and protect the welfare of employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Community Interest Companies (CICs)

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

Chancellor waives import taxes on vital medical equipment including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing. Chancellor waives duties and VAT on vital medical imports

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19

The Government is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports without compromising on safety. Regulations temporarily suspended to fast-track supplies of PPE to NHS staff and protect companies hit by COVID-19

Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business Use this service to tell us how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.

Guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers

Further guidance has been issued with an updated list of those businesses which must remain closed

HMRC Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus

Coronavirus Business Support Campaign Communications Toolkit

Companies House: guidance if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts.

Due to the unfolding COVID-19 situation, cars and vans and motorcycles due their MOT from 30 March 2020 will have their MOT extended by 6 months. New rules on MOT testing for light vehicles 

For the latest information and advice, UK employers and business owners should visit the official guidance for employers and businesses.

Support available for employers through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Businesses can receive daily updates by email to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information subscribe to receive email alerts

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components. If you can help visit Production and supply of ventilator components

A number of private lenders are making funds available to small businesses impacted by Coronavirus, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

Coronavirus industry guidance for specific sectors

These pages have been updated and include further information on grants. Local Government pages outlining items such as bin collections, parking, support and volunteering Leeds Bradford  York North Yorkshire 

Ofqual sets out details for schools, colleges, students, parents & carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s exams. How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020. 

Cash support for food redistribution during coronavirus outbreak. The government has announced a £3 million fund for food redistribution organisations help them cut food waste during the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out how Coronavirus is spread and how to avoid catching or spreading germs NHS information

Advice and support while self-isolating or working from home can be found here Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Government advice for employees

The government has updated the guidance on the new measures the PM introduced on Monday 23rd March New rules on staying at home and away from others. 

HSE has issued guidance to provide first aid cover and what to do if first aid certificates are due to expire on or after 16th March 

UPDATE: NCSC has published guidance to support businesses moving from physical to digital delivery in response to Covid-19.  Security questions to ask your IT service providers during the coronavirus lockdown

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance covering how employers should handle data if they decide to test employees for Covid-19. ICO guidance on workplace Covid-19 testing

New FAQs added. As a Chamber network we have developed a number of FAQs on the JOB RETENTION SCHEME

Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. Furloughed workers to receive full parental leave entitlement

Free impartial support is being offered to help businesses recruit quickly to keep up with the demands of Covid-19, support businesses who have employees at risk of or facing redundancy and to help individuals find new employment opportunities. Here are details for business support and  individuals 

New guidance has been provided to the College of Policing on how Coronavirus government legislation should be enforced by the police. Please note that this guidance is for England only – the BCC team is ascertaining whether similar guidance has been issued in other nations. In relation to staff travelling to work, the guidance states the following:

  • Anyone who cannot work from home is allowed to travel to their workplace.
  • You do not have to show that you are a key worker or that your work is critical.
  • The police are advised not to ask for proof that you are going to work, the guidance requires them to ‘police by consent’.

New guidance on social distancing in the workplace Advice for employers on social distancing during coronavirus (COVID-19)

New legislation making major changes to existing employment regulations came into force on Monday 6 April 2020 Employment law changes

All Chamber members have the benefit Chamber HR –  access 24/7 to online HR support including sample policies and guidance  here

For those with employees who need to stay home with confirmed or possible Coronavirus infection, guidance can be found here Stay at home guidance

Guidance on advice to provide to staff

ACAS published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

Following government announcements that all schools are to close from today (Friday 20th March), those children of workers considered vital to maintaining the economy, protecting public health and keeping essential supplies moving will be exempt. Schools will be contacting parents directly. The list of key workers can be found here. If you have any questions as to whether your business and employees fall into this category then please contact the Chamber policy team

With employees working from home, self-isolating and schools closed, what is the right thing for employers to do?  Later today (20/03/20) an announcement is expected from government offering business advice on safeguarding jobs, until then and as a chamber member we are here to support you at this difficult time by signposting you to FREE expert advice;

CIPD here

Here are some tips on keeping disruption to a minimum;

– Assess working from home capability, ensure you check your HSE obligations and your company insurance policy
– Identify business critical roles and have a contingency plan, consider redistribution of workloads.
– As workload reduces, reduce working hours, if feasible allow holidays to be utilised as a means to avoid reducing pay.
– Change all employees holidays into hours instead of half-days / days to help with intermittent home working & child-care
– In households with both parents/carers ask that they share responsibility for childcare, and attend designated work place on reduced hours (unless you are self-isolating)

Government extends maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50 million to £200 million. Larger businesses to benefit from loans of up to £200 million

A new online service will be launched on 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees, the government announced today (19 May 2020). Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch. 

Government invests £35 million to protect critical freight routes. Ensuring there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies.

Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Information has been added about the extension of the scheme. Information added for workers that are furloughed that want to volunteer. ‘Employees that you can claim for’ section moved to a new guide called ‘Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October Chancellor extends furlough scheme 

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • Furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • New flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

The Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) is open for grants of up to £50,000 for the very best small British development charities tackling coronavirus.

Information about tax has been added to the Guidance for businesses setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) document 

HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have set out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Coronavirus crisis. This includes a three-month extension to a number of consultations

PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period. Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costs

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 6 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. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. This scheme is not available yet. It will launch on 4 May 2020.

The online service to claim under the Job Retention Scheme is now live. Companies will need a Government Gateway ID and password and will need to have enrolled for PAYE online. The following information is required for each employee – name, national insurance number, claim period and claim amount CLAIM NOW  A step by step guide for employers has been released details can be found here.

The Cabinet Office have published a tool for businesses to ascertain what support is available to them. Find coronavirus financial support for your business

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has urged insurers to pay out for business interruption claims that covered a coronavirus shutdown

Future Fund – New government funding announced. Future Fund will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. This scheme is not available yet.

All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million. Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses 

Delaying import duty payments as a result of Coronavirus. HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted their business finances and cash flow.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund The £5million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future.

Information for employees on the Coronavirus job retention scheme. Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave (‘furlough’) because of coronavirus (COVID-19)

New Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). CLBILS will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects. UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this competition is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic

Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus 

The HMRC has a  phone helpline set up to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. The tax helpline number is changing. You can now call them on 08000 241222. Opening hours are from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected automatically.

HMRC have produced guidance on temporary changes to the use and supply of denatured alcohol and duty-free spirits, to help businesses who produce hand sanitiser and gel

Insurers know this is an incredibly difficult time for families and businesses as people seek to make the right decisions for their own health and that of their family. The Association of Business Insurers (ABI) has provided guidance and answers to common questions. If you are unsure what your policy covers you for then check with your insurer or insurance broker.

Insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease may be able to make a claim 

How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19 

The government have issued the following guidance Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance

Covid Corporate Financing Facility – what steps does my company need to take?

In response to extensive BRC pressure and widespread consumer demand, the contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45. This is being introduced as a measure in response to the coronavirus epidemic, to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale.

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Measures support ongoing conversations between landlords and tenants about voluntary arrangements. Latest measure builds on the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The British Business Bank (BBB) has produced revised and updated Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) FAQs for SMEs with more complex questions that SMEs have been asking Lenders including a Q&A on exporting.

You can apply for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) support delivered by Business Enterprise Fund

CBILS Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. The government website is now updated 

Whether a lender requires a personal guarantee for a loan supported by the (CBILS) is at the discretion of the lender, who is accredited by the British Business Bank. However, a lender is not allowed to take a personal guarantee against a borrower’s principal residence under the scheme. So even if a personal guarantee is required under the lender’s credit policy, it cannot be taken against the borrower’s home. Some major lenders have announced that they are not going to require personal guarantees on loans under CBILS the scheme (of any size). If businesses are worried about the specific terms of finance facilities available under this scheme, they should speak to their usual lender. Further Information on CBILS 

Below is a summary of the key points:

– The government has confirmed that it will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs
– Available to UK-based businesses with annual turnover of up to £45m per year
– All 40+ accredited lenders will be ready to provide CBILS today.
– New: There will be an expedited process for overdrafts – no fees or interest 12 months. 6/7 lenders will be available to provide this from today.
– Eligibility criteria widened – aim to not turn down otherwise viable businesses which have been hit by the Coronavirus.
– They are moving away from EU State aid de minimis. ‘Membership’ organisations can now use CBILS, some other sectors restrictions have also been dropped. Awaiting more detail.
– No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme. At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under
– Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
– Those business that are growing won’t be subject to CBILS – even if they are helping to combat Covid-19.

If you have any concerns or would like to ask our professional team a question please contact contact our team

Our phone lines are open and we are on hand to answer any questions you may have 01274 230049


Page last updated 22/05/20  22:34