Coronavirus Business Support - Key Information and Links

Please find below a selection of useful links containing information and updates regarding the coronavirus situation. These will be updated as frequently as possible bringing you the latest information.

BUSINESS UPDATES

Clarification for re-opening on 12 April 2021

Payment Indoors: the Guidance for Restaurants, Pubs & Bars has been updated under section ‘2.3.2 with information on managing customer payment at the venue. This confirms that a customer may legally make a payment indoors rather than outdoors at the table should this not be possible e.g. wi-fi or technical issues or no cash. This requirement only applies to premises which are selling alcohol where table ordering, service is a requirement. If you need to take payment indoors, the customer should wear a face-covering unless exempt and measures should be in place to ensure only one customer is indoors at any time for the purpose of making payment. A tab system is recommended to ensure multiple indoor payments are not required
 
Face coverings: the guidance also clarifies that face coverings are only required in indoor settings – for both customers and staff in customer interacting roles. Customers will therefore need to wear a face-covering if passing through an indoor area to access the garden, to use the toilets or make a payment. Staff will need to be masked if interacting with customers indoors in public areas and other mask usage remains at the discretion of the employer. This is covered under 6.2 of the guidance for pubs and restaurants, and guidance has been provided to local authorities on this point.
 
Live music performances: we have also had confirmation that live music is allowed outdoors from 12 April. This must be incidental to customers visiting to eat or drink and cannot be a stand-alone event – such events may not resume until 17 May. This means that you cannot charge admission to listen to the music and it should be incidental to the meal/drink and not the main purpose of the gathering. Businesses should adhere to safer working guidelines for pubs hotels and restaurants, which includes the need to ensure noise is kept at a low volume and that customers should remain seated, ensuring social distancing is maintained.
 

Clarity for Accommodation and Step 2 of Reopening (Published 23 March)

Clarity for accommodation and step 2 of the reopening roadmap for businesses in England. The UK Government has published the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 in relation to the roadmap steps. Along with this DCMS has shared some clarity on guidance on the reopening of accommodation.
 
From Step 2, no earlier than 12 April, separate and self-contained accommodation will be open for leisure stays. This is defined as accommodation in which facilities (kitchens, sleeping areas, bathrooms and indoor communal areas such as: lifts, staircases, lounges, sitting areas and internal corridors for entry and exit) are restricted to exclusive use of a single household/support bubble. A reception area is not to be treated as a shared facility or indoor communal area if they are required in order to be open for check-in purposes.
 
What can open:
At Step 2, accommodation in which all facilities listed above are for the exclusive use of a single household/support bubble may open. This will mean that holiday parks, ‘standalone’ holiday lets such as houses and cottages, chalets, yurts, holiday boats, and motels which do not rely on sharing those facilities listed may open.
 
Campsites and caravan parks will be permitted from Step 2 provided that the only shared facilities used by guests at the campsite or caravan park are washing facilities, toilets, water points and waste disposal points. These facilities should be operated so as to ensure no household mixing takes place. This would involve either assigning shower facilities to one household group/support bubble, (i.e. making them private), or running a reservation and clean process (whereby one household can exclusively book the shared facilities for a fixed time, and the facilities are cleaned between reservations and kept well-ventilated).
 
All accommodation may continue to open for the current permitted reasons, such as to provide accommodation for those who are unable to return to their main residence; for the homeless; for those who need accommodation for work, education or training purposes; for those who need to attend medical appointments; or for those self-isolating as required by law including for the Managed Quarantine Service for high risk international arrivals.
 
What cannot open:
This phased approach to reopening means that the rest of the sector will follow at Step 3. Between now and Step 3 this means a continued closure of hotels, hostels, B&Bs, guest houses and any other accommodation that relies on sharing these facilities. This will also require the continued closure of any holiday lets or serviced accommodation within apartment buildings that share any of the facilities listed above.
 
From Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, all remaining accommodation will be permitted to reopen for leisure stays.
Step 2 - will also see the reopening of non-essential retail; personal care facilities and close contact services such as beauty salons, spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas); and indoor sports and leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools. Where these facilities are located within a hotel or other guest accommodation, they are permitted to reopen and can be accessed - if necessary - from inside the building i.e. without the requirement for direct street access, though businesses should continue to comply with COVID-secure guidance to mitigate transmission risk. Outdoor hospitality which is permitted to open at Step 2, located on a hotel premises or other guest accommodation, may also reopen, and customers will be permitted to use indoor toilets as required.
 
The guidance for Hotels & Other Guest Accommodation will be updated in advance of each step of the roadmap with further detail.
 

Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Venues in England

Please see this more detailed guidance regarding the steps to reopen certain businesses and venues in England.
 

Government Roadmap 

In his statement to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government roadmap that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England. The roadmap is in four steps. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
 
This assessment will be based on four tests:
1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
4. Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
 
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
 

Key Dates for the Visitor Economy:

12th April 2021
Non-essential retail
Indoor leisure facilities including gyms not including saunas and steam rooms (step 3)
Hospitality venues who can provide outdoor service whilst seated
Outdoor attractions/zoos
Self contained accommodation with members of the same household (no shared facilities)
Wedding/life events receptions up to 15 attendees (in premises permitted to open)
 
17th May 2021
Indoor hospitality providing food or drink whilst seated
Outdoor entertainment: theatres, cinemas
Indoor entertainment such as museums
Remaining accommodation providers such as hotels & B&Bs
Larger events
Weddings/life events up to 30
 
21st June 2021
Capacity restrictions lifted
Opening of remainder of closed settings including nightclubs/some large events
Removal of restrictions on life events such as weddings
 
 
 
 

FINANCE

Restart Grants - Information from Somerset West & Taunton

You may be aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a Restart Grant scheme in his Budget statement.
These grants will be payable to non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses, within the business rates system, to help them get through to June 21.  The Government has published a guide to the Restart scheme , Annex C of which provides details of the types of businesses that are eligible for this scheme. 
We expect to receive funding from the Government during the week commencing 5 April. In the meantime we are currently preparing pre-payment bank and company checks (required by Government) as well as designing a short confirmatory email process which we aim to send to businesses that have previously received a grant from us,  that may be eligible to receive a Restart Grant, around 9 April.
 
We anticipate being able to start to make Restart Grant payments around 16 April. Payment will be made to the person / business named on the Council’s business rates system for the premises concerned at 1 April 2021.
For businesses within the rating system that meet the criteria within the guide,  that have NOT received a business support grant from the Council since November 2020, it will be necessary to firstly complete a Register of Interest form via our website. This step is not required for businesses that have received a business support grant  from the Council since November 2020.
 

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) - Information from Somerset West & Taunton

Businesses which are not eligible for a ‘Restart Grant’ may still be eligible for support under the Additional Restrictions Grant. However in April 2021 the policy will be reassessed to align with the easing of restrictions which are expected over April and May 2021. We expect the new scheme policy to be in place by mid-April, at which time we will publicise the scheme. If you have previously completed a Register of Interest form and received a payment from us under the ARG there is no need to reapply we will be in contact if your business is eligible under the new policy.
 
For businesses that have not received support from the Council since November 2020 it will be necessary to firstly complete a Register of Interest form via our website.
 

Help to Grow: Management

Take your business to the next level with the government’s new Help to Grow programme. The programme will help small and medium sized businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits.
 
What is it?
- From June, small businesses will be able to access a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK. The programme will combine a practical curriculum, with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network.
- Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will support small business leaders to develop their strategic skills with key modules covering financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential.
- 30,000 places will be available over 3 years. The programme is 90% subsidised by government – participants will be charged £750.
 
Who is it for?
- UK businesses from any sector that have been operating for more than 1 year, with between 5 to 249 employees are eligible.
- The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business e.g. Chief Executive, Finance Director etc.
- Charities are not eligible.
 
 

BUDGET UPDATE 03 March 2021

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined his tax and spend policies in the Budget. Below is a summary of the budget for the tourism and hospitality industry. You can read the what you need to know page summary here or view the budget document here.
 
Highlights include:
 
- VAT reduction for the UK’s tourism and hospitality sector - The temporary reduced rate of 5% VAT for hospitality businesses has been extended until the end of September. From October to 31 March 2022 the rate will revert to an ‘interim’ level of 12.5%. There is no change to the scope of the VAT reduction.
 
It is also worth noting that small businesses that are on the flat Rate VAT Scheme will have their VAT rate changed for the 1 Oct 2021 – 31 March 2022 period.
 
- Business rates reliefs – There will be a three-month 100% business rates holiday until 30 June 2021. For the remaining three quarters there will be a two-thirds relief (66%) BUT the value of the relief on these nine months (1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022) will be capped at £2 million. Any business that has a rates bill over £4m will therefore be subject to a cap on their relief.
 
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) extension - The CJRS will be extended across the UK for five months until 30 September 2021. This will be full furlough until the end of June. In July business will have to contribute 10% of the wage cost, rising to 20% in August and September. There will be no employer contributions beyond National Insurance contributions (NICs) and pensions required in April, May and June. From July, the government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost of unworked hours of 10% in July, 20% in August and 20% in September, as the economy reopens.
 
- New apprentice incentive doubled - Employers in England who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive £3,000 per new hire, compared with £1,500 per new apprentice hire (or £2,000 for those aged 24 and under) under the previous scheme. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for all new 16-18 year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, where that applies.
 
- Traineeships - In addition, the Government committed to a tripling of traineeships as part of a wider commitment to vocational education. Employers in England who provide trainees with work experience will continue to be funded at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
 
- UK Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) fourth and fifth grants confirmed - SEISS fourth grant – the fourth SEISS grant will be worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. The grant will cover the period February to April, and can be claimed from late April. Self-employed individuals must have filed a 2019- 20 Self Assessment tax return to be eligible for the fourth grant.
 
- SEISS fifth grant – there will be a fifth and final SEISS grant covering May to September. The value of the grant will be determined by a turnover test. People whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will continue to receive the full grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850. The final grant can be claimed from late July.
 
While we are on SEISS, the government has announced changes to the time and circumstances when a 100% tax charge may arise in relation to Self-Employment Income Support Scheme payments. It enables HMRC to recover grants where an individual was entitled to the grant at the time of claim but subsequently ceases to be entitled to all or part of the grant. It also extends the Treasury’s regulation making powers in relation to charges if a person is not entitled to a coronavirus support payment, to bring the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme within scope of the legislation.
 
- Restart Grants - Restart grants were announced to support the high street and other areas. For hospitality businesses these are worth £18,000 for properties with a rateable value (RV) of £51,000 or over; £12,000 for those between £15,000 RV and £51,000 RV; and £8,000 for those with an RV of £15,000 or less. State aid rules are still to be clarified.
 
The government is also providing all local authorities in England with an additional £425 million of discretionary business grant funding, on top of the £1.6 billion already allocated.
 
- New Recovery Loan Scheme for UK businesses - From 6 April 2021 a new Recovery Loan Scheme has been announced to enable businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10 million per business once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close. Launching on 6 April and open until 31 December, subject to review, the Government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made public in due course. Term loans and overdrafts will be available between £25,001 and £10 million per business. Invoice finance and asset finance will be available between £1,000 and £10 million per business. Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years. Find out more, including eligibility criteria.
 
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme - Small and medium-sized employers across the UK will continue to be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible SSP costs per employee. This scheme is a temporary COVID-19 measure intended to support employers while levels of sickness absence are high.
 
- VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme - Any business that took advantage of the original VAT deferral on VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020 can now opt to use the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme to pay that deferred VAT in up to eleven equal payments from March 2021, rather than one larger payment due by 31 March 2021, as originally announced.
 
- Super-Deduction Guidance - The super-deduction will allow companies to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest, ensuring the UK capital allowances regime is amongst the world’s most competitive. From 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets will be able to claim:
o a 130% super-deduction capital allowance on qualifying plant and machinery investments
o a 50% first-year allowance for qualifying special rate assets
 

Pay As You Grow

New Pay As You Grow facility will enable more flexible repayments on Bounce Back Loans for UK smaller businesses. The British Business Bank, the UK’s economic development bank, has announced further details of Pay As You Grow, which helps UK smaller businesses that have taken out a Covid-19 emergency Bounce Back Loan to manage their cashflow and have a better chance of getting back to growth. Read More.

FCA Business Interruption Policy Checker and FAQ

Following the Supreme Court test case on a range of business Interruption insurance policies, the FCA has produced a Policy Checker which takes businesses through a process whereby they can check to see whether their insurance policy covers business interruption losses due to coronavirus. It should be noted that each claim will still need to be individually considered to determine whether the policy provides cover for the effects of coronavirus. Policyholders will need to check:
 
- the extent of their cover including how long it covers them for (length of their indemnity period)
- what losses are included - such as loss of profit, fixed costs or increased costs of working
 
Additionally, the FCA had also developed a FAQs which gives business further information on:
 
- How to make a claim
- The disease clauses in policies
- What to do if they have already made a claim or complaint
- What they can claim for.
 

CBIL Repayment Extensions

Chancellor announced last September that he was going to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years.
 
Reports have been received that lenders are refusing to extend the repayment period for some businesses’ CBIL loans. DCMS are keen to know whether this is an isolated problem or something that is occurring across the industry. Consequently, if you are experiencing problems extending their CBIL loan please could you let TSE know. 
 

Support Finder Tool

The Government has launched a support finder tool which can be useful for businesses directing employees to individual support which may be available from government on paying rent, mortgage, financial support, self-isolating, mental health and wellbeing or more general concerns about Covid.
 
 

The Tourism Sector from January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period will end on 31 December 2020. For businesses and organisations in the tourism sector, general guidance on the actions needed by December 31 can be found here. For more guidance tailored to your organisation, use the Transition self-checker.
 

Temporary reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions

5% Reduced Rate: In response to the economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC has announced a reduction in the rate of VAT to 5%, affecting hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions. The reduced rate covers the period from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021.
 
Read more: 

Revenue and Customs Brief 10 (2020): temporary reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions

VAT: reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions

VAT on admission charges to attractions

VAT Deferrals

HMRC has produced new guidance in relation to the Chancellors announcement that businesses that deferred VAT payments from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will not now have to pay the full amount by the end of March 2021. Under the arrangements announced, businesses will have the option to make smaller interest-free payments up to the end of March 2022. To take advantage of this, businesses will have to opt-in to the new arrangements. Read More.