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.


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.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:
• Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
• Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
• File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
• Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
• Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
o Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
o Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

What happens to individuals whose 2018/19 profits are very different to what they would have expected to make this year?
The government will only act on the most recently available data. This is from the 2018/19 tax year. To try to provide the most accurate possible estimate of self-employed income, we can look at average profits over 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19.

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.

How do I access it?

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from today to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

When can I access it?

Grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020.

If you are unsure of your employment status (self-employed/contractor) a clear explanation can be found on the Government website 

UPDATE: 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 

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. 

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)

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).

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

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 02/04/20  15:48