I’m not a business, how is the Government supporting me?

The Business Support measures outlined on these pages are designed to protect people’s jobs – but there are other measures in place to support people’s financial security. More information about the Government’s response is available here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. If you are looking for health information and advice, go to the NHS’s coronavirus pages.

The Government has announced something but not yet issued the detail – or it is not available immediately – where is it?

The Government is working to get you the detail you need to see as fast as possible. This includes urgent, intensive discussions with banks, trade unions and business groups, and work to design systems, to ensure all the measures we announce are deployed quickly, are effective and reach the right people.

The package of Government support for businesses during coronavirus is unprecedented – for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, for example, we’re having to build our systems from scratch. HMRC are working night and day to get the scheme up and running and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.

This website will be updated as more information becomes available.

I run a business, how can I help right now?

Protect your staff: On Friday 20 March the Chancellor outlined how the Government is doing its best to stand behind you – and asked you to do your best to stand behind your workers. We know the last thing many of you want is to lose your valued staff. Please look at the schemes and advice available to you and consider how you can use them to support your employees in the difficult weeks ahead. This is an essential part of protecting people and protecting the UK economy – and it’s on all of us.

Spread the word: You can help the Government share this information to other businesses by using this toolkit.

Offering more support: A number of businesses are also not only getting involved in local community efforts, but flooding offers of more support into Government departments. We are working closely with many businesses across the country already. If you want to get involved, we will update this answer shortly with more details on the best way to get in touch.

Ventilators: In the meantime, if you can support the supply of ventilators, please register your details.

Why are the Government taking steps like closing pubs that are damaging to businesses like me?

The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. It calls for decisive action, at home and abroad, of the kind not normally seen in peacetime. This is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the pandemic and mitigate its impact. The overriding objective is to save lives, protect the vulnerable and support the NHS so it can help those who need it the most. Guided by the best scientific advice, with our clear action plan and through looking out for each other, we will rise to this challenge together.

There is more information on closures here: Coronavirus Financial Support Schemes

How is the Governmenyt going to ensure that firms use money to pay furloughed workers wages?

Government will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of the scheme with scope to claw back fraudulent or erroneous claims.

Can workers claim redundancy pay whilst on the Job Retention Scheme?

No. This scheme ensures that workers will continue to be employed and paid a proportion of their wages and therefore not entitled to redundancy pay.

I employ people on zero hours contracts / gig economy workers. Can they access support?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with coronavirus or those who are unable to work because they are staying at home in line with Government advice. Individuals are encouraged to use NHS 111 online to get a fit note after 7 days instead of going to the GP, where employers request evidence.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be eligible for people unable to work because they are directly affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or staying at home according to Government advice from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth.

The Government has introduced a rebate scheme reimbursing SMEs (<250 employees) for up to two weeks per employee of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to coronavirus. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of Statutory Sick Pay.

If an employee is not sick but their employer tells them not to come to work, they should get their usual pay. For example, if someone has returned from China or another affected area and their employer asks them not to come in.

What if my business does not have insurance cover for a pandemic?

Businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their broker or insurer to understand what they are covered for. However, we recognise that many businesses, particularly SMEs, don’t have insurance cover for a pandemic and so we have made cash grants available to help businesses bridge through this period.

Do these schemes comply with EU state aid rules?

The Government will notify the Commission accordingly in line with State Aid procedures.

What if I am self-employed?

The Government is deferring income tax self assessment payments from July to January 2021 which will help the self-employed.

The Budget announced a temporary relaxation of the earnings rules (know as the Minimum Income Floor) for self-employed claimants who are sick or self-isolating according to Government guidance. This has already come into effect. On 20 February the Government extended this to all self employed claimants not just those directly impacted by the virus, ensuring those affected by the economic impact of the outbreak are supported.

If you are self-employed and you have coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance. If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day one of sickness, rather than day eight, if you have coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate.

The self-employed may also benefit from:

  • Mortgage support: following discussions with industry, for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer mortgage holidays of 3 months.
  • Loans forbearance: forbearance from lenders, where individuals are having difficulty paying back personal loans or credit.

What further measures has the Government put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus?

While the public have responded to our call to isolate or socially distance themselves, we now need to do more in order to save more lives, protect the vulnerable and to protect the NHS. We must now go even further and put in place further measures across the UK to reduce the spread of the virus.

This means that the Government has instructed all entertainment and hospitality premises, including pubs, bars and restaurants, across the country will close.

Which businesses are closed?

The Government is rolling out these measures to the following businesses and venues across the UK:

  • Food and drink venues for consumption on-site such as restaurants and cafes
  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls and bingo halls.
  • Museums and galleries
  • Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours
  • Casinos and betting jobs
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities including gyms.

These businesses are closed as they involve social contact which increases the chances of infection spreading.

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers.

How long will closures last?

The Government asked the businesses outlined above to close from Friday 20 March. These measures will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

My staff aren’t able to work from home due to the nature of our work, what can I do to help them?

If people are able to work from home and it is practical, then they should do so. All public sector, frontline or other staff need to follow the public health guidance. That means that if they have symptoms, they too should stay at home for 7 days, or 14 days if a member of the household has symptoms.

In a lockdown, how do I keep my company staffed?

GOV.UK provides advice on business continuity management. The link below provides details on developing your own plan. It includes a Business Continuity Management toolkit to help you identify all the issues you need to consider and how to make your own arrangements to manage business interruption.

Who are classed as key workers?

Schools have closed but schools, and all childcare providers, are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus response (“key workers”) and cannot be safely cared for at home.

The Government has issued guidance for those workers considered to be vital in areas across the UK whose children will be offered priority to continue to attend school. The list covers:

  • Health and social care;
  • Education and childcare;
  • Key public services;
  • Local and national government;
  • Food and other necessary goods;
  • Public safety and national security;
  • Transport;
  • Utilities;
  • Communication and financial services.

If employees’ work is critical to the coronavirus response or they work in one of the critical sectors listed, then their children will be prioritised for education provision. If workers think they fall within the critical categories above, they should confirm with you as their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

Further information about the roles identified as key to delivering the coronavirus response can be found on GOV.UK.

What should an employer do if they think their workers are critical but not on the list?

Employers should carefully consider the guidance. It sets out the key workers who will not be able to work from home. Employers should help their staff find alternative arrangements to support them working from home. They can contact the Government department responsible for their sector if they have any questions.

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If you would like to talk to us about how we can help please call or email and we will advise or setup an appointment to discuss your requirements further.

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