Covid-19 Essential links to information and helplines for business
Essential links and information - updated as information is received
These links are updated frequently, so we recommend you visit this page on a regular basis.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to communicate frequently with all your staff, suppliers, customers and creditors. These are challenging times for every individual, family and business, and supporting each other will have a huge impact on minimising the negative effects of coronavirus and giving your suppliers and creditors assurance that your business can survive.
Central Government Support
Government central website for all links and information for businesses and individuals:
- Support finder tool to get you quickly to the support that is available for you here
- Summary pages here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
- Industry guides for safe re-opening workplaces safely here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 and checklist tool https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-reopening
Extended Job Retention and self-employed schemes - November 2020 to March 2021
The furlough scheme is extended til the spring of 2021, as is the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-extends-furlough-to-march-and-increases-self-employed-support
There are currently no employer contribution to wages for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions for hours not worked. In addition, unlike the scheme in the early days, businesses can place their workers on part time hours and claim furlough payments on the hours not worked, thereby still enabling your workforce to earn 80% of their usual pay, capped at £2500 per month.
The Job Retention Bonus will now NOT be paid in February, although it's likely something will be announced as we approach the end of Furlough.
Tax cuts and deferrals
The temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors will be extended to the end of March 2021. In addition, business who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
NHS Covid App
The NHS Covid-19 app launched on the 24th September to help control C19 transmission alongside national and local contact tracing. The Government is urging everyone to download the app. You can find all the relevant information here https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/what-the-app-does.html
Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans
Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.
The government is extending four temporary loan schemes to 30 November 2020 for new applications: As a result, more businesses will now be able to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.
Extension of insolvency measures
The Chancellor has also extended temporarily the protections put in place to safeguard businesses from insolvency during the pandemic. More information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-gives-businesses-much-needed-breathing-space-with-extension-of-insolvency-measures
The Mayor's London Business Hub
Here you will find a wealth of information for London businesses and can also arrange to speak to one of their advisers who can help you navigate what can sometimes seem like an endless flow of new information and also discuss your specific circumstances
The Mayor's Pay It Forward Crowdfunding Campaign - free for all SMEs to use to sell products and services in advance to help ease cashflow. Link here: payitforward.london.gov.uk/
Business Recovery Grant Scheme from October 2020 - currently closed due to volume but may open once again
Industry and sector specific advice from Government on social distancing measures in the workplace and while working can be found here.
Several useful webinars can be found here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy-18685150848
Coronavirus WhatsApp Information Service
To use this free service, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.
Havering Council - small business cash grant and other measures
Discretionary grant funding - scheme now closed. Other business support can be found here
Small Business Rate Relief Grants - scheme now closed
Business Rates - the rates relief holiday has ended and you are required to pay your rates and BID levy in full, including months where a payment holiday was approved.
If you are unable to pay business rates you MUST inform Havering Council.
The dedicated helpline - 0345 017 0743 - is available Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm You can also email their helpdesk at email@example.com or visit their business webpages https://www.havering.gov.uk/info/20191/coronavirus_covid_19/761/coronavirus_-_support_for_businesses
If you wish to report a business that you believe is not complying with COVID-19 restrictions, or you have any queries regarding the legislation, then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Companies House for information on tax returns, payments and support available https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-guidance-for-companies-house-customers-employees-and-suppliers
Wrongful trading legislation temporarily suspended - The UK Business Secretary has announced that the Government will implement certain changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructuring process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency.
The changes include temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability. You should consult your accountant or legal representatives for full details.
Other useful links and information
We also recommend Havering Council's partnership with Building Legacies to deliver a range of useful webinars featuring experts and Goverment representatives. Delegates will be able to ask questions https://buildinglegacies.co.uk/event/navigating-covid-19-procurement-and-government-contracts/
Working from home might reduce connectivity speeds. Ofcom has provided some tips and advice on staying connected https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/stay-connected
The Associations of British Insurers (ABI) has published valuable information on how you should communicate with your insurers and measures you should take to safeguard your business https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/#a
Acas has also published important information regarding relations with your workforce and action you can take to safeguard employment and rights https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
For those of you registered as self employed, or with contract workers who are self employed, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has a helpine and offers independent advice https://www.ipse.co.uk/coronavirus-hub.html
Revised guidance on moving goods through customs can be found here . And temporary changes to customs policy and authorisations to assist businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak are here. Your handler/freight forwarder should also have the most up to date information.
Various industry bodies have dedicated coronavirus information pages, where you can also sign up for regular updates. There are also industry specific guidelines from Government:
Construction: Build UK https://builduk.org/coronavirus/
Letter to the Construction industry from the Secretary of State https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-letter-to-the-construction-sector
CITB Covid-19 info pages https://www.citb.co.uk/urgent-messages/
Freight Transport: FTA https://fta.co.uk/coronavirus
CPC Driver training rules have been temporarily changed The Department for Transport has put in place temporary changes in professional driver qualification requirements, which means that drivers whose Driver CPC card expires in the period from 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 can continue driving https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-temporary-changes-to-driver-cpc-requirements
Freight, bus and road transport business and driver guidelines from Govt here