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A guide to staying active at home during the Coronavirus outbreak.
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Here is a summary of government support announced so far, kindly provided by our Member of Parliament, Robert Largan:
Robert says: “I am writing to offer my support to you during this difficult time. The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by businesses across High Peak, and I am doing as much as possible to inform people of the support available and how to access it.
“I am working round the clock, raising issues on behalf of local people with Ministers and pushing for urgent support to be provided. See here and here for examples of questions I have raised in Parliament.
On 20 March, the Chancellor announced a combination of measures unprecedented for a government of this nation. For the first time in our history, the Government will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, and covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages. The Government is also deferring the next three months of VAT until the end of the financial year. This is an injection of over £30 billion of cash, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to help businesses pay people and keep them in work.
On 17 March, the Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP. Any business which needs to improve its cashflow will be able to access a Government-backed loan on attractive terms. If demand is greater than the initial £330 billion announced.
This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, which included £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
The Government will take new legal powers in the COVID-19 Bill, enabling it to offer whatever further financial support it thinks necessary to support businesses.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the Government has provided the following information on how your business can access the support that has been made available.
If you are a business looking for help to retain staff, you can apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
- HMRC are working night and day to get the scheme up and running and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.
- There will place no limit on these grants.
- Any employer in the country, large, small, charitable or for profit, who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.
- Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month, which is above the median income.
- The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open initially for at least three months, and the Government will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.
If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
- This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period. Guidance on self-isolation can be found here.
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
- The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.
- The Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.
Some businesses, including nurseries, in England will be eligible for a Business Rates holiday for 1 year from 1 April 2020.
- If you are currently receiving the retail discount for your Business Rates bill, you will receive a revised bill with 100 per cent relief shortly.
- If your business occupies a property in the retail sector with a rateable value of £51,000 or more, or if your business occupies a property in the leisure or hospitality sectors you may also be eligible for the 100 per cent discount on your business rates bill.
- You will shortly hear from your Local Authority. If you have any questions, you should contact your Local Authority.
- If you are a nursery, you will be entitled to the 100 per cent relief for the next year. You should contact your Local Authority for more information.
- Guidance for Local Authorities by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) can be found here.
If your business is eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief in England, you are entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000.
- If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector in England, then you may also be entitled to a cash grant. If you have a property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 then you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000, whether or not you are entitled to small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
- If you have a property with a rateable value of between £14,999 and £51,000 then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £25,000.
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will provide guidance for Local Authorities on how to administer these grants shortly.
- If you are an eligible business, your Local Authority will then be in touch in the coming weeks to provide details of how to claim this money.
If your small-or medium-sized business in England is facing cash flow issues as a result of COIVD-19, please read the following information.
- A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch at the start of next week to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
- The government will provide lenders with a partial guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
- The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. The first 12 months of these loans will be interest- free, as the Government will cover these payments.
- Businesses will be able to get finance under the scheme from a large number of providers, including the main high street banks, as of next week.
- Businesses will remain responsible for repaying any facility they take out.
- For further information, please visit the website here.
If you are a large business facing cash flow issues as a result of COIVD-19, you may want to read the following information.
- Companies commonly sell short term debt (‘commercial paper’) to the market. This is a quick and cost effective to raise working capital.
- The new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility means that the Bank of England will buy short term debt from companies.
- This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
- Further details can be found here in the exchange of letters between the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor, found here.
If you are self-employed or own a business and you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax bills because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for support through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Time to Pay service.
- If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice: 0800 0159 559.
- These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
- For more information, please check the HMRC site here.
If you own a pub that serves food or a restaurant in England, you will be able to operate a hot food takeaway to serve people staying at home, without going through the usual planning process.
- The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will shortly legislate to bring forward a temporary Permitted Development Right to allow for change of use from A3 (Restaurant) and A4 (Pub) to A5 (Hot Food Takeaway).
- The intention is that once the legislation has come into force a pub or restaurant will be able to notify their Local Authority that they are now operating as a takeaway without any prior approval.
If you contract your services to large- or medium-sized organisations outside of the public sector you should read the following information.
The government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) – that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector – will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.
Businesses and individuals do not need to take any action.
“I am aware that there is an issue with insurance companies refusing to cover coronavirus-related losses. I am putting pressure on the Government for help with these difficulties.
- Businesses that have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic-related losses should note the Government’s full package of support, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and business rates holiday.
You might find it useful to share additional advice from the Government with your employees who might be facing financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
If your employee is self-isolating because of COVID-19: From 13 March, employees can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check their sick pay entitlement, the employee should talk to you, and visit www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.
- When does SSP apply? The Government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of an employee’s absence from work if they are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March.
- Is a sick note required? From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a “fit note” after seven days of sickness absence.
- What if I am self-employed or not eligible for SSP? If you are not eligible for SSP, for example, if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance. For more information on how to claim, please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit and www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance.
- What if I am self-employed and receiving Universal Credit? If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self- employed UC claimants will receive support.
- If someone needs to claim Universal Credit but has COVID-19 or is self-isolating, they will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus.
- If someone is eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.
The Government is strengthening the safety net for those who need it by increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year. This is a cash injection of nearly £7 billion in the welfare system.
- The Government is increasing the Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 a year.
- Together these measures will benefit over 4 million of our most vulnerable households.
- In addition, the Government has announced nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.
Guidance on how how to access government financial support if you have been affected by COVID-19 is available here.
Information on business support from High Peak Borough Council is available here and how to contact them is here.
Coronavirus advice from Derbyshire County Council for employers and businesses is available here and the online application for the business emergency relief fund (COVID19) is here.
All the government advice and guidance to the public, businesses, and other sectors are available via the gov.uk online hub here.
We are facing an unprecedented economic situation. That is why I am pushing the Government as hard as I can to do whatever it takes to make sure everyone in High Peak has the tools they need. Together, we can get through this.
“I hope this information helps you to get the support you need during this period. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or require assistance.”
Robert Largan MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak
18 Market Street, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, SK23 7LP
t. 01663 769 779 e. firstname.lastname@example.org
www.robertlargan.co.uk twitter: @robertlargan
Keep up to date on local issues by following Robert on Facebook at facebook.com/RobertLargan4HighPeak
Keep up to date on the Government response to COVID-19 at https://www.robertlargan.co.uk/coronavirus