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Southwark Council COVID-19 update for Southwark businesses and employers, 25 March 2020

We have received updates from Southwark Council regarding financial support for businesses affected by the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

Please share with other businesses and organisations based in Southwark which could be interested.

Message from Southwark Council

Dear colleague

Over the past few days, the council has received some more guidance from government on the roll-out of a range of measures designed to support businesses affected by the impact of COVID-19.

Cash grants for businesses will be awarded over the coming weeks and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open for applications.

Further information on these schemes is included below, along with updates on other support measures and guidance for businesses.

Please help by sharing this message across your local business networks.

We will continue to provide updates by email and we will keep our business support web page regularly updated. 

We know this is a very difficult time for the Southwark business community. If you have questions or concerns, please do contact us at southwarkbusinessdesk@southwark.gov.uk 

Business grants

Business grants are now available for small businesses covered by the two schemes recently announced by the Chancellor.  

The small business grant provides any business that is receiving small business rate relief with a cash grant of £10,000. 

The retail, hospitality and leisure grant provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000 per property and businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000 per property.

We are already making grants to eligible small businesses where we have the business’s bank account details. Payments should arrive in accounts from this Friday 27th March. 

If you believe you are eligible for a grant, please provide your business bank account details securely by entering them here  . We will then undertake any necessary checks before we begin payments.

Qualifying businesses will receive payment directly by bank transfer.

Business rates

We understand that many businesses will be experiencing financial hardship during these unprecedented times.  Whilst instalments would be due in April and May please be assured that if you are unable to pay we will not be undertaking any recovery or enforcement activity for unpaid rates at this time.  We will keep this under review and encourage businesses to contact us at an appropriate time to revise payment term

Government Job Retention Scheme

The government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on Friday 20 March, which will provide support to all UK employers to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of the wages of all workers affected, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Payments will be backdated to 1 March and will be made available for at least three months. HMRC is working to set up a system for reimbursement. 

To access the scheme you will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  • Submit information to HMRC about furloughed employees and their earnings through a new online portal which is being set up.

The council will provide further updates on the process for accessing the scheme as soon as these are released.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now open for applications. The scheme supports a wide range of business finance products and can provide smaller businesses with loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first 12 months. The scheme provides the lender with a government backed guarantee of 80% of the loan and there is no fee for businesses accessing the scheme.

Businesses can access the scheme through participating lenders.  You can find out more information about the scheme, eligibility criteria and how to apply on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme website.

Guidance for those who are self-employed

We are continuing to seek clarity from the government on support available to those who are self-employed.

We are currently aware of the following measures:

·         Income tax deferral to January 2021 – this will happen automatically and no application is required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

·         HMRC Time to Pay scheme – support is available to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. To access this support, please call HMRC’s helpline: 0800 0159 559.

You can claim Universal Credit if you are self-employed, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. From 6 April, the government will relax the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the job centre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.  You can find more information in the government’s guidance on self-employment and Universal Credit

We are aware that support organisations are advising anyone who thinks they may need to apply for Universal Credit to do so as early as possible and we would echo this advice.

Free advertising in Southwark News

To support local businesses, Southwark News is offering free digital advertising during the outbreak. You can find out more on theSouthwark News website and get in contact at ads@southwarknews.co.uk

Social distancing measures and closure of businesses

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March, guidance has been issued detailing all businesses that are to close. In addition, all employees are now expected to work from home, unless they are essential workers.

Essential businesses that are permitted to remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two metres between customers and shop assistants
  • Only allow people to enter the shop in small groups to ensure that spaces are not crowded
  • Apply queue control outside the premises

We will continue to provide updates on all topics related to COVID-19 and its impact on businesses and employers, as new information becomes available.

Yours sincerely

Southwark Business Desk

southwarkbusinessdesk@southwark.gov.uk   

Posted in Business News, Coronavirus-Covid-19Tagged ,
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