Advice and support for businesses
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
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.
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:
- A collection page has been published for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, it brings together the main links to point businesses to what they need to do to make a claim.
- The Migration Advisory Committee has launched a six-week call for evidence on skills shortages. Closing 24 June.
- Guidance outlining how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic, where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance, is available.
- Guidance for the owners and operators of urban centres and green spaces has been published to help social distancing.
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.
Today the Government has published its roadmap: Our 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)-
- protecting the NHS
- a falling death rate
- R less than one
- testing and PPE in place
- 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."
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.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: A step-by-step guide for employers has been published.
The Government has published a FAQ on what you can and can't do during coronavirus.
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.
Revaluation of business rates has been postponed to 2021 to help reduced uncertainty for firms affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Check whether you are entitled to the grant, using the GOV UK checker tool.
- Reach out to your council if you think you’re eligible, using the GOV UK find your council tool.
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 costs, from 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.
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.