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Coronavirus and Government Financial Help

Coronavirus and Government Financial Help
Dear Member,

COVID-19 means we are in unprecedented times – personally, and in business.

As your local Chamber of Trade, we will do what we can to offer support to our members and the local business community throughout this challenging period.

As you may be aware, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced various measures to help businesses survive the current situation.

The initial tranche of measures were announced in the Budget on 11th March (which feels like a long time ago now) and further measures have been announced in the last couple of days.

Detailed information of how to apply or access financial help is simply not available yet. However what we do know is detailed below and we will share further information as soon as it becomes available (local authorities are expected to issue more details before the end of the week).

The measures have a total budget of £350 billion, split into £20 billion direct grants and £330 billion in the form of government guaranteed loans.

Kind regards,
Chamber Administrator
Guaranteed Loans
In yesterday’s announcement The Chancellor said:

That (guaranteed loan) support will be delivered through two main schemes:to support liquidity amongst larger firms, I have today agreed a new lending facility with the Governor of the Bank of England to provide low cost, easily accessible commercial paperto support lending to small and medium sized businesses, I am extending the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme I announced at the Budget last week, so that rather than loans of £1.2 million, it will now provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first six monthsBoth of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week.

OUR UNDERSTANDING:

This loan scheme will be known as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and it will be administered by British Business Bank. It will temporarily replace the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and the British Business Bank web pages will be updated in the coming days, as more information becomes available. We suggest you bookmark this page. 
Small Business Grants
The Chancellor said yesterday:

I also announced last week that we would be providing £3,000 cash grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses.

In light of the new circumstances, and to support their cash flow, today I can increase those grants to £10,000.

… Local authorities in England will be fully compensated for the costs of these measures, and the devolved administrations will receive at least £3.5 billion in additional funding as a result to provide support to businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

OUR UNDERSTANDING:

Approximately 700,000 businesses in England are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR) and will be eligible for this emergency funding. Our reading of this is that if the business operates from home without being registered for SBRR or RRR then they will not be eligible for this grant.

The guidance found here from The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says that they will be writing to local authorities this week to outline the scheme, and encourage local authorities to prepare. Once operational the local authority will contact the business rather than you needing to apply. The anticipated timescale is the beginning of April, but we imagine that this will largely depend on the local authority and also on how many staff they have available to implement the scheme.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Sectors
The Chancellor said:

I announced last week that for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with a rateable value of less than £51,000, they will pay no business rates this year.

Today, I can go further and provide those businesses with an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business – to help bridge through this period.

Additionally, I also am today extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in those sectors, irrespective of their rateable value.

That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant – and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector – will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months, and if they have a rateable value of less than £51,000, they can now get a cash grant as well.

OUR UNDERSTANDING:

All Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector businesses will not be liable to pay business rates for 2020/21, regardless of rateable value.

Businesses in these sectors with premises with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will also be eligible for a grant of UP TO £25,000.
Financial Distress (Tax) Helpline
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Employers and Sick Pay
Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee. This will be via offset within the PAYE scheme.
Finally, A Warning
Coronavirus is an enormous challenge for both individuals and businesses. Unfortunately it is also seen as an opportunity by scammers and criminals.

Please be extremely vigilant and suspicious of any emails, letters or phone calls purporting to be from HMRC, the Government or similar and offering grants and loans.

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