After speaking to a number of you, we have attempted to answer some common questions below.

We will update some of the answers as the relevant information comes available. Please note, this is generic advice and we recognise your individual circumstances may vary. Please reach out to us if you need more detailed advice and we will help you find additional support.

The following questions are covered below:

  1. What support is being offered to businesses by the UK government?
  2. When will the grants and loans be available?
  3. How do I find out the rateable value of my property?
  4. What does it mean by ‘business rates holiday’ e.g. do we have to pay this back?
  5. What is the difference between a grant and a loan?
  6. Where can I find details of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?
  7. How can I manage my upcoming VAT and HMRC payments?
  8. Can I have advice on staff HR issues such as adjusting hours?
  9. Where can I find more information?

 

1.  What support is being offered to businesses by the UK government?

Recent government guidance can be found here:

In summary, this covers (as per the website above):

  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England. Please see eligibility criteria here.
  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • 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
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Plus – ‘Business Cash Grants’ for businesses – as per the following criteria. 

Rateable Value less than £15,000

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

Rateable Value between £15,001 and £51,000

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

More detailed eligibility criteria can now be found here (updated March 20).

 

2.  When will the grants and loans be available?

Business Cash Grants: We are still unclear as to when these will be available, though the government website says that funding will be given to Local Authorities in early April. We are also unsure as to what information you will need to provide. We will update you as soon as we know.

Loans: It is expected that the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will become available in week commencing 23 March 2020 (see below for details).

 

3.  How do I find out the rateable value of my property?

Please visit the VOA website at the link below and follow the instructions.

 

4.  What does it mean by ‘business rates holiday’ e.g. do we have to pay this back

The ‘business rates holiday’ means that should you qualify; you will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year (starting April). This will not have to be paid back. This should be applied automatically by the Local Authority (Warwick District Council).

 

5.  What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

The grant funding (as outlined above) does not have to be paid back, while the loan funding is borrowed so will need to be paid back.

 

6.  Where can I find details of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is being delivered by the British Business Bank via local lenders. Details are here:

It is due to become available the week commencing 23rd of March and will offer more attractive terms than typically available.

The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. NB – the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. The Government will also cover the first 6 (now 12 months – updated March 20) of interest payments, so businesses will benefit from lower initial repayments. The business remains liable for repayments of the capital. The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5 million pounds (the original announcement suggested a maximum value of £1.2 million.)

 

7.  How can I manage my upcoming VAT and HMRC payments?

We urge you to call HMRC and discuss this. We understand you may need to wait on the line for a little while, but it is worth it.

The helpline number is 0800 0159 559 and lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and on Saturday, 8am to 4pm.

Businesses are being offered a time-limited deferral period on HMRC liabilities (e.g. VAT, PAYE and corporation tax) owed and a pre-agreed time period to pay these back. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.

 

8.  Can I have advice on staff HR issues such as adjusting hours

Some business owners may be having discussions with staff in respect to how to manage HR resources during this period. This may be if a staff member is not sick or presenting symptoms, and not eligible for statutory sick pay, but the business is on reduced hours/services or closed. We are arranging the services of a professional HR consultant to support you with this. We will cover the cost of the initial advice and support. Please contact us if you would like this help? Please note, we are expecting the government to announce a support package for employees eminently so this may offer some relief (see March 20 Update).

 

9.  Where can I find more information? 

The FSB is a very helpful source of information and they have a FREE webinar available to members and non-members this Friday 20 March.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone. Alison and I are here and will do our very best to signpost you to the information you need as it becomes available. You can phone us on 01926 470634 or please email: info@bidleamington.com.