COVID-19 (new coronavirus) - latest information and advice for businesses

26 May 2020

Please find below the latest tourism-related news and information for UK tourism businesses on the outbreak of COVID-19, including links to useful information and advice. The best source of information for any visitors with individual questions or health concerns is Public Health England. To stay up to date with UK Government advice on coronavirus visit the GOV.UK website.

This page will be updated regularly, as new information is made available by the UK Government. 

Advice and support for businesses 

Access information for businesses affected by COVID-19 including advice, guidance and key links to financial support and more on our Business Advice Hub

Access information about financial schemes and support on the Government's Coronavirus Business Support website

You can watch a video of the recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel Coronavirus – (COVID-19): helping employers to support employees.

Government updates affecting the tourism industry  

1 June: The Coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund has opened. The grant is for small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible.

29 May: Today the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced changes to the UK-wide Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

 The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended, with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant in August. The eligibility criteria remains the same as for the first grant, and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

 The grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. This is in line with changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as the economy reopens.

The first SEISS grant, which opened for applications on 13 May, will close to new applications on 13 July. Eligible individuals will be able to make their claim for the first grant any time until this date, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

Further details are available in this factsheet. Further guidance on the second grant will be published later this month.  

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

 From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work.

 From August 2020, the level of the grant will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work:

  • In June and July, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.
  • In August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work - 5% of average gross employment costs of those currently furloughed.
  • In September, the Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  • In October, the Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,50

 

The cap will be proportional to the hours not worked. To enable the introduction of flexible furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.

 The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June for new entrants.

 From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked. Employers will need to agree any flexible furlough arrangements with employees, and when claiming the CJRS grant will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

Further details are available in this factsheet

Other Government updates include: 

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now live

Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for up to two weeks of coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). In order to file a claim businesses must be registered with PAYE Online and must have already paid employees’ SSP. Forms are now open for employers to check whether they are eligible and file a claim online.

Guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers has been published.

The Test and Trace Service launched across England on Thursday and the new guidance means that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days even if they have no symptoms. This guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS test and trace programme to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives.

26 May:

UK Government announces new public health measures for all UK arrivals: The UK Government has announced that from 8 June everyone arriving in the UK via all modes of transport will be required to inform border force authorities where they will be staying and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. This includes returning British nationals. A very small group will be exempt from these requirements including diplomats, defence personnel and officials working on border security, as well as those returning from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. 

  • While the new regime will be in place across the United Kingdom, enforcement measures and implementation date will be set individually by the Devolved Administrations.
  • These measures will be subject to review every three weeks to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and support the UK’s roadmap to recovery. 
  • Contact locator form: All arriving passengers will be required to fill in a form to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease.
  • Enforcement: British citizens and foreign nationals who fail to comply with the mandatory self-isolation condition could face enforcement action, including a Fixed Penalty Notice of £1,000 in England or potential prosecution and unlimited fine. The Devolved Administrations will set out their own enforcement approaches.

Other Government updates:

  • Guidance on accessing green spaces in England has been updated to include a provision for visiting ticketed gardens in line with social distancing guidelines
  • Businesses can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees during COVID-19
  • Changes have been made to insolvency law to relieve burden on businesses and support recovery.  
  • The Government has also announced a timeline for retail businesses to reopen in June along with an update to their Working Safely guidance to include the retail sector. Outdoor markets and car showrooms can open on 1 June, while other non-essential retail can open from 15 June if they are COVID-secure. This is subject to progress on the five tests and social distancing measures will need to be observed by the public.

19 May: 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) maximum loan size increased 

The Government has extended the maximum loan size available through CLBILS from £50 million to £200 million. The change is to help larger firms who do not qualify for the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The expanded loans will be available from 26 May. Companies that receive help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme opens for claims on 26 May 

Small and medium-sized employers will be able to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees through an online portal from 26 May. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP. 

Repayments will be at the relevant rate of SSP that has been paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers. Guidance on making a claim is available on Gov.UK

Other Government updates: 

 

12 May: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until October

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until October. Until the end of July there will be no changes, however, from August to October there will be more flexibility to enable people to return to work part time. Businesses will also be asked to share the burden to pay people’s salaries at this time but the 80% will not be reduced. These changes will be available to all sectors. More specific details around the changes will be made available by the end of May. Download a step-by-step guide for employers.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opens for applications 13 May 

The scheme will allow those who are self-employed to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended. Check if you are eligible to claim

To make a claim you will need:

  • Self-Assessment UTR (unique taxpayer reference)
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • Bank account number and sort code that you want the Government to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)

When claiming you will have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. 

Guidance for employers

New guidance for employers has been made available for construction and other outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, homes, labs and research facilities, office and contact centres, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and branches and vehicles to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely. 

Industry bodies have been contributing to industry-specific guidance which is awaiting sign off and will be available over the coming weeks.

Other Government updates

  • New guidance on safe travel has been published by the Department for Transport, this includes specific sections for each type of transport.
  • Guidance for businesses seeking to help voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been published
  • Revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021, to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by impacts of COVID-19.
  • Safer transport guidance for operators has been published, the guide will help businesses, agencies and others understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.
 

11 May:

Today the Government has published its roadmapOur plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy which outlines plans to move to the next phase of its coronavirus response. The document outlines a re-opening timetable with July 4 being the earliest date for the hospitality sector, including accommodations and attractions to start opening their premises to customers. 

The tourism sector reopening forms the third stage of a tentative timetable to ease the country out of lockdown, following earlier stages which include starting to return children to schools, the re-opening of retail and some relaxing of rules around exercise. The ambition of the third step is to open some of the remaining businesses and premises that were required to close, including food service providers, pubs, accommodation providers, public places and leisure facilities such as cinemas. However, this is dependent on whether the appropriate social distancing guidelines can be adhered to and the Government’s five tests (see page 11)- 

  1. protecting the NHS
  2. a falling death rate
  3. R less than one
  4. testing and PPE in place
  5. no risk of a second peak being met

It includes easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, stating: "In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The Government will also monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens. The Government will establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 Secure."

International travel

In order to keep overall levels of infection down the Government has set out new restrictions around international travel, in line with many other countries. A series of measures and restrictions (see page 29) will be introduced at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible.

  • The Government will require all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information.
  • Strongly advising arrivals to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
  • All international arrivals not on a shortlist of exemptions will be required to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK.
  • Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.
  • All journeys within the Common Travel Area will also be exempt from these measures.

These international travel measures will not come into force on 13 May but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly.

Other updates:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: A step-by-step guide for employers has been published. 

The Government has published new guidance on getting Brits back to work and working safely in the workplace during coronavirus. Read the news story

The Government has published a FAQ on what you can and can't do during coronavirus.

10 May: 

The Prime Minister, in his address to the nation announced that the hospitality industry and other public places could open from July provided they are safe and enforce social distancing. This forms the third stage of a tentative timetable designed to ease the country out of lockdown, and will follow earlier stages to return children to schools in June and relaxing rules around exercise.  

7 May: 

Revaluation of business rates has been postponed to 2021 to help reduced uncertainty for firms affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

4 May:

Bounce Back Loans are now open for applications from small and micro businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. 

A £14 million support fund for licensed zoos and aquariums affected by coronavirus launched.

1 May: Latest Government updates

Updates to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance (CJRS)

The following changes have been made to the CJRS guidance: 

Employee guidance

  • Furloughed employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers.
  • Confirmation that Company Directors paid annually are eligible to claim.  
  • Employees receiving Maternity Allowance during a period of Maternity Leave should not receive furlough pay at the same time. 

Employer guidance: eligibility

  • Updated in line with changes to Employee guidance.
  • CJRS grants are not classed as state aid.
  • Changed the date from 28 February to 19 March 2020 in the section on TUPE transfers and payroll consolidation.

Employer guidance: how to calculate the grant

  • The June daily maximum wage rates have been added to the table now the scheme has been extended.
  • Improved clarity in the employer National Insurance contributions section, confirmed the direct percentage method or tables method can be used and added new information for company directors.
  • The scheme opened for applications last week on Monday 20th April, this week the first grants have been paid.

Update on Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants Fund (England only):

Local authorities in England are continuing to reach out to eligible businesses directly to arrange payment. The grants are of £10,000 or £25,000 and do not need to be paid back. To ensure all eligible businesses can access these funds, government is encouraging businesses to: 

Find out more information about the schemes.

Other updates:

Business Improvement Districts will receive £6.1 million in funding to help high streets and town centres through the pandemic

Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costsfrom 1 May 2020, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.

An update has been made to the information on tax on the guidance for Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

Temporary changes have been made to the guidance on the destruction of spoilt beer, cider, wine or made-wine if you're a brewer, cider producer, winemaker or publican.

£5.7 million government investment will protect Great Britain-Northern Ireland air passenger flights, the vital routes will be safeguarded for transporting critical workers

HM Treasury and HMRC are setting out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current COVID-19 crisis

The social distancing guidelines have been updated to provide further clarification on the requirements of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, and additional information on clinically vulnerable people.

29 April:

The Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) to investigate cancellation rights

The CMA has launched a programme of work to investigate reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its COVID-19 Taskforce, which monitors market developments and identifies the big problems facing consumers, the CMA has seen increasing numbers of complaints in relation to cancellations and refunds.

The CMA has identified three sectors of particular concern: weddings and private events, holiday accommodation and nurseries and childcare providers. It will tackle these areas as a priority and then move on to examine other sectors, based on the information received by the taskforce. The CMA acknowledges that most businesses are acting reasonably in what are unprecedented circumstances, and the current crisis is placing everyone under pressure, but consumer rights cannot be ignored.

28 April:

A new free online learning platform has been launched, ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

Register to join a free webinar hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at 11:00am on Monday 4 May to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses. The webinar will cover - eligibility for small business grants, applying for a loan, tax and claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar.

HM Treasury and HMRC are setting out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Covid-19 crisis

Update to the local authority payments to SMEs page. As of 27 April, over £7.59 billion has been paid out to 614,181 business properties. This is over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.

27 April: 

New Bounce Back Loans scheme for small businesses announced

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today, 27 April, announced a new Bounce Back Loans scheme that will be made available to small businesses from 9:00 Monday 4 May. These loans will be 100% government-backed. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest-free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. Loan terms will be up to 6 years with no repayments 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.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance on insurance
The FCA has set up the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - an independent body to provide arbitration for insurance claims of smaller businesses (with a turnover of less than £6.5 million and fewer than 50 employees). The decision of the FOS is binding on insurers up to £350,000. 

To take your complaint directly to the FOS, please contact: The Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, London, E14 9SR.

Telephone: 0300 123 9123.
Email: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Web: financial-ombudsman.org.uk

G20 Tourism Ministers’ meeting
The G20 Tourism Ministers held a meeting on COVID-19 on Friday 24 April, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston was in attendance and addressed the group. He spoke of the importance of tourism to the UK economy, the Government’s support measures and the regular discussions he is in with the tourism industry about what their priorities are for the recovery period. He highlighted the key areas of concern including how businesses can operate while there are still social distancing measures in place; what further guidance is needed; and whether there is a need for tapered support as businesses adjust.
The G20 Tourism Ministers also issued a statement on COVID-19 outlining their commitments.

Other Government updates

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) COVID-19 survey 

DCMS invites you to take part in a survey being conducted to understand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on organisations in the digital, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms and tourism sectors and their engagement with the available government interventions. Your answers will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts. 

The survey should take around 10-20 minutes and the deadline for responses is 15 May 2020. Please follow this link to access the survey to begin submitting your response.

22 April: 

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) is now open for applications.

The scheme helps all viable large businesses with an annual turnover of £45 million affected by COVID-19 to access loans of up to £25 million. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million of finance. The scheme is available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website. The government provides lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans, to give banks the confidence to lend to businesses impacted by COVID-19. CLBILS allows lenders to support businesses that were viable before the COVID-19 outbreak but now face significant cash flow difficulties that would otherwise make their business unviable in the short term.

To be eligible businesses must:

  • Be based in the UK
  • Have an annual turnover of over £45 million
  • Be able to self-certify that their business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus
  • Not have received a facility under the Bank of England’s COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender could consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic and believes it will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the British Business Bank website.

Further updates

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. The blog contains additional information and resources, including case studies from businesses who have or will be accessing government support and posts from different people across government and business.

20 April:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has opened for applications for businesses who have put staff on furlough due to COVID-19.

  • HMRC has published new guidance on how to make a claim including step-by-step guidance and a calculator to help you work out your claim.
  • The online system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within six working days of making an application. To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April. Please keep a note or printout of your claim reference number as you will not receive a confirmation SMS or email.
  • HMRC are also holding webinars providing an overview of the scheme to help employers and employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Further updates to the CJRS eligibility guidance include moving the eligibility date from 28 February to 19 March; how to report fraud or abuse of the scheme; clarifying how holiday pay should be treated and clarifications on agency workers, fixed-term contracts and on claims for employees made redundant. 

Recovery planning

Today the Chancellor spoke about planning for recovery, and the need to encourage businesses and jobs of the future, to drive growth. Two initiatives to support this have been launched: 

  • A £500 million Future Fund for high growth companies, helping them to access the financial support they need. The Future Fund will provide UK-based early stage companies with convertible loans between £125k and £5 million. This fund is subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.
  • Innovate UK, £750 million of funding for innovative firms across the UK.

The new initiatives are part of a £1.25 billion government support package announced on Friday to help UK businesses driving innovation and development through the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In addition, councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

17 April:

Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been expanded to cover all viable firms. 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. The scheme, which will launch on Monday 20 April, will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.  

Government is also clarifying the position for firms owned by private equity, which will be able to access the guaranteed loan schemes.This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended and open for claims from 20 April

The Government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of June to reflect continuing social distancing measures. The online claim service for the scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can register here  
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims. You can find more information on the scheme and eligibility to claim

Other Government updates

16 April:

Dominic Raab, Sir Patrick Vallance, and Chris Whitty led today’s press conference, the key area of focus was the continuation of the lockdown measure for three weeks.

  • Raab chaired COBRA earlier today to consider the SAGE advice. While the measures put in place are playing a role in slowing down the rate of infection, there is still concern that the virus will continue to spread in some settings. The infection rate is still now down as much as necessary.
  • Any changes to our social distance measures now would present a risk of a second peak, undoing progress to date. Risking public health and the economy.
  • Based on this advice the Government will be extending the lockdown by at least three weeks.

Before adjusting any measures the Government must be satisfied of these things;

  1. The NHS’ ability to cope. Sufficient critical care and treatment must be available.
  2. Sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates.
  3. Reliable data to show that the rate of infection is decreasing.
  4. PPE and testing capacity is in hand.
  5. Confident that any adjustments will not result in a second peak.
  • When the Government is confident on these points, decisions will be taken based on the science on what economic activity can be resumed.
  • It may include strengthening some areas whilst relaxing others, all decisions will be based on evidence.
  • Raab acknowledged that people were keen for dates and plans, but said it was too soon to judge the evidence. The Government is looking to learn lessons from other countries as they change their advice, however decisions will be based on what is best for Britain.

15 April: 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) guidance updates

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme guidance has been updated to provide clarifications on some of the areas that were unclear, including:

  • Detail of the treatment of losses, averaging and multiple trades
  • Clarifications on the calculation of self-employed profits and what is meant by total income
  • Confirmation that individuals are able to continue working, including taking on an employment role
  • Confirmation that owner-managers of Ltd companies can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for their salary
  • Confirmation that individuals can access Universal Credit and the SEISS
  • Clarification on overlaps between the SEISS and CJRS (e.g. you can claim the SEISS and continue working).

 Further information can be found on how to claim a grant here and how HRMC works out total income and trading profits for SEISS scheme here

Furlough eligibility cut-off date extended to 19 March 

The eligibility cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) has been extended from 28 February to 19 March. Employers are now able to claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. The scheme is due to be fully operational next week. 

Under the scheme, employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. 

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme. This applies to employees that were made redundant or stopped working for you after 28 February, even if you do not re-employ them until after 19 March. 

Read more about the eligibility extension and how to claim support through the scheme here

Further guidance for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors can be found on gov.uk.

8 April: New and updated guidance:

  • Additional guidance on social distancing in the workplace for businesses in England has been made available. The guidance is to help businesses and their staff to be able to stay open safely during COVID-19. Sector-specific guidance is available for shops running a pick-up or delivery service, retail, outdoor businesses, transport businesses as well as many more. For advice for business in other nations of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
  • Updated guidance on the COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has been made available. This scheme allows small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees. HMRC has published new online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep.

New content hub pages on GOV.UK:

Announcements:

3 April - The Chancellor has today announced the following:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, rather than just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 
  • The Government has also announced it will be stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and will be making changes to speed up approvals.
  • The Government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest fees. 
  • A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. 

Other Government updates include:

Cash support for food redistribution during the coronavirus outbreak to prevent food waste.

Update on deferring VAT payments because of coronavirus, clarifying that import VAT payments are not included.

Update to the guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), outlining information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post-payment checks and the eligibility of charities.

The 2020 National Living Wage came into effect on Wednesday 1 April.

The Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance has been updated to confirm that the government’s assessment that the expanded retail discount is not a state aid, and that local authorities should therefore award relief to all eligible properties. 

Further to this, the Local Government Association and the Tourism Alliance have identified some tourism businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the business rates relief guidance, but it is felt that they fall into the intended category. Councils are being asked to give consideration to the premises listed below for inclusion in their local schemes:

  • Amusement arcades
  • Vehicle rental sites
  • Conference and exhibition venues
  • Travel and tour operators
  • Tourism Information Centres
  • Tourism Boards/Destination Management Organisations
  • Coach operators
  • English language schools
  • Travel/hospitality industry charities (offices)
  • Marinas/boat hire/passenger boat facilities

BEIS is encouraging businesses across England to contact their local Growth Hub, they can provide a free to use, impartial and local single point of contact to all businesses so that they can access the right advice and support. The hubs can advise businesses on local and national business support including schemes in place to help businesses through the current COVID-19 situation.

2 April - Update to the guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), outlining information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post-payment checks, and the eligibility of charities.

The Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance has been updated to confirm that the government’s assessment that the expanded retail discount is not a state aid, and that local authorities should therefore award relief to all eligible properties.

1 April - The 2020 National Living Wage comes into effect today (Wednesday 1 April), a 6.2% increase on the previous rate

Following the Government’s announcement that from grants and business rates packages from today we wanted to share the guidance published today for businesses on the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund:

Key information includes:

Details on how grants will be provided:

  • Central Government will provide funding to local authorities that are responsible for business rate billing. Those local authorities will contact eligible businesses to arrange payment of the grants. The business ratepayer will be contacted and receive the funds if they are eligible.

Details on how much funding will be provided to businesses:

  • Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
  • Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.

Also covered is eligibility of businesses for both funds, exclusions to the funds, information around fraud and rating list changes. The full guidance is available for download from GOV.UK.

30 March - Over the weekend Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave the Government's daily briefing including an update on the business support schemes:

On the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Sharma confirmed that 40 accredited lenders are processing thousands of applications.

Guidance has also been given to English councils on the grants to the smallest business (inc retail and hospitality). The first part of the funding arrived with councils on Friday 27 March, and should be with businesses as soon as possible.

Other updates included:

Updated information on the closing certain businesses and venues page around compliance. The new Regulations extending the restrictions are now enforceable by law due to the threat to public health.

The Cabinet Office has produced COVID-19 FAQs detailing what you can and can’t do, which businesses may wish to share with their employees.

Letter from Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing to caravan and park owners, asking them to remain open for key workers and vulnerable groups

25 March - The Home Office has published new guidance on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office is providing visa extensions for those affected by coronavirus. Nobody will be penalised for circumstances outside of their control. The Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open. Customers are asked to check gov.uk first as that is the central source of information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact the helpline at: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

23 March - The PM's speech includes further "stay at home" measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19, including closing playgrounds, outdoor gyms and "non-essential" shops, as well as gatherings of more than two people including weddings and christenings (funerals are exempt). Police have been given powers to enforce social distancing through fines and dispersal. 

The Government has announced two new pieces of guidance. The first, Guidance: Further businesses and premises to close and second, Social Distancing/Vulnerable people

The Foreign Secretary has advised all British travellers to return to the UK.

22 March - The Government has announced the launch of the business support measures outlined last week. As part of this, they have also launched a dedicated business website that collates information on the support available for businesses.

The Government has also produced guidance for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Transport Secretary has confirmed that they are offering the opportunity for train operators to transition into ‘Emergency Measures Agreements’ for a period of six months (this can be extended), which will suspend normal financial mechanisms of franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the Government. These measures will ensure services operate for key workers, and minimise disruption to the rail sector in the long term.

17 March - the UK Government announced a £330 billion financial rescue package to support and protect businesses affected by COVID-19, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Full details can be found on GOV.UK. Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses

Watch the Commons speech

Read Rt Hon Rishi Sunak's speech

In addition, information on the Coronavirus Bill (which will be pushed through the house this week) was published. This guidance outlines the powers the government will receive.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice takes effect immediately.

16 March - The UK public was asked to stop 'unnecessary travel and non-essential contact' for around 12 weeks

11 March - In the 2020 budget, the UK Government announced support for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

4 March - The UK Government announced that statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating.

The Government is asking for businesses to offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes: 

  • Medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser

  • Hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • Social care or childcare 

Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.

Check the latest travel health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website.

Message of reassurance and welcome to Chinese travel operators in China you can repurpose