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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 22 April 2020

It would be ‘wrong’ for SMEs and entrepreneurs to ease COVID-19 lockdown ‘too soon’ – Dominic Raab
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said any easing up of lockdown and risking a second coronavirus spike would be ‘wrong’ for SMEs and entrepreneurs at today’s Downing Street press conference.

Mr Raab was questioned about whether government would be releasing details about any changes to the lockdown measures or easing of restrictions on 7 May, when the current measures are due to be reviewed.

Referring to the UK’s small business community, he said: “Small businesses are the heart and soul of this country and we will do everything we can to help them, but it would be wrong to ease up too early and risk a second spike.

“That would lead to a second lockdown which would be wrong for SMEs and entrepreneurs.”

He added: “The challenge that we’ve got is that as the transmission rate comes down we need to get more data as to precisely where it is in order to inform the measures we can actively consider.

“So I think the responsible thing is to have that evidence before we start touting around ideas at the risk of us not being able to deliver them or taking them and risking a second spike.

“Whilst I know people will be wanting us to give them more information and the minute we can responsibly do so based on evidence we will, at the moment I think the vast majority of people recognise that we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball because we’re coming through the peak but we aren’t there yet.”

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: March deadline today
More than 285,000 businesses have already applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since it went live on Monday.

HMRC is advising all businesses that today (Wednesday 22 April) is the latest they can apply to be sure payment comes through before the end of the month.

It is reminding all businesses that in order to make a claim, they will need to:

  • have a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply here, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now here, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’.

There is step by step guidance on how to make a claim – click here to view. In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention online calculator tool (available here) has been updated this afternoon, so that it covers more employment circumstances including working out what businesses who can claim for most employees who are paid variable amounts each pay period, as well as those who are paid fixed amounts.

HMRC are also advising businesses to ensure they retain all records and calculations for your claims, in case we need to contact you about them. Provided your claim is made in accordance with HMRC’s published guidance, you can expect to receive the funds six working days after your application.

As part of the government’s commitment to provide support to businesses and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC have been offering live webinars on the Job Retention Scheme. Places are extremely limited so please save your place now. Click here to choose a date and time.

If you’ve missed any of HMRC’s other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can now view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel, available here.

Additional new guidance

DASA (Defence And Security Accelerator)
The Defence and Security Accelerator is part of the Ministry of Defence. We provide funding to help innovators develop solutions to Defence and Security problems. At present, we have a £1m fund to support innovation related to COVID19 and have accelerated our review processes to turn proposals around rapidly. If you have a potential innovation, you can submit an outline and request a discussion with your regional Innovation Partner through our website – click here.

DASA has a wide rage of competitions and offers of funding open to businesses including COVID-19 – click here to find out more.

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This scheme helps large businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access loans of up to £25 million. The scheme is now open for applications, click here to find out more.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments
Click here
 for advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
Updated guidance on what childcare services early years settings, childminders and local authorities need to provide during the coronavirus outbreak is available here. This guidance is for providers registered with Ofsted and childminders registered with childminder agencies for children of all ages.

Business support packages: latest updates

The Coronavirus Business Support Hub is now available at gov.uk/business-support.

The government has also launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp which is now updated with business support advice. Text ‘hi’ to 07860064422 via Whatsapp and there are business support measures highlighted under option 5 with the relevant links to gov.uk pages.

Funding and support

  • Financial support for businesses – click here
  • Claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – click here
  • Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – click here
  • Defer your VAT payments – click here
  • Prevent your business from being evicted – click here

Support for the retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery sectors

  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 – click here
  • 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England – click here

Self-employed people and sole traders

  • Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme – click here
  • Self-employment and Universal Credit – click here
  • If you cannot pay your tax bill on time – click here
  • Carry out work in people’s homes safely (tradespeople) – click here
  • Drivers’ hours rules relaxations – click here
  • Negotiate a mortgage payment holiday – click here

Your responsibilities as an employer

  • What you need to do and how to keep your employees safe – click here
  • Claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – click here
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide – click here
  • Claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – click here
  • Find out what to do if your employee needs time off to look after dependants – click here
  • Which expenses are taxable if your employees work from home – click here
  • Apprenticeships: how they can continue – click here
  • Guidance for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors of people affected by coronavirus – click here

Managing your business during coronavirus

  • Cleaning your workplace safely – click here
  • Handwashing advice posters – click here
  • Rules that have been relaxed to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic – click here
  • Construction sites and safe working – click here
  • Farmers, landowners and rural businesses – click here
  • Food businesses – click here
  • Freight transport businesses – click here
  • Medical and healthcare industry – click here
  • Shipping and sea ports businesses – click here
  • Supported accommodation, residential care and home care – click here
  • Transport businesses – click here

Business closures

  • Businesses that must close – click here
  • If you’re staying open for business: safe working guidance – click here
  • Closing holiday accommodation to temporary residents – click here

Coronavirus Business Support Blog
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. Click here to view.

Can your business offer Coronavirus support?

Can your business offer further support?
The UK Government is looking for businesses who can offer support in multiple areas and has set up an online tool where businesses can register. To offer support click here.