Guidance and support for local businesses
The government has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by the coronavirus.
If your business is affected by the current pandemic, use the online tool on GOV.uk to find out what financial support is available for you.
In this section:
- Help for local businesses
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Business rates relief
- Business support grants
- Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
- Business cash flow issues
- Large business cash flow issues
- Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Assistance for the self-employed
- Pubs and restaurants
- Contracting your services to large or medium sized organisations outside of the public sector
- Business Insurance
- Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
- Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service
- Business Improvement Districts (BID) Ballots
- Support for arts, culture, creative industries
We are looking at doing everything we can to support all local businesses in Hillingdon.
We are aware all business owners need as much help as possible right now to support them through these unprecedented times. We have highlighted some key organisations that can help you with further advice and support below:
- Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce: A voluntary non-profit organisation that represents the interests of businesses within Hillingdon
Join our webinar on Friday 15 May where we will be looking at different strategies to pivot your marketing during the current pandemic
- West London Business: A new microsite and phone line dedicated to providing answers to west London businesses' coronavirus queries has been launched by West London Business, the non-profit business leadership forum for west London. The microsite includes a knowledge base that is updated daily, as well as access to events and answers to frequently asked questions. The helpline is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 020 8607 2500
- My Virtual Neighbourhood: This organisation was born of a desire to keep small businesses going throughout the coronavirus outbreak
- Pay it Forward: The Mayor of London has launched an initiative to help local businesses secure future customers and gather community support to help trade through the pandemic
- Brunel events: Brunel University is hosting several online workshops and sessions on supporting your business during the current pandemic. Find out more and register.
Local businesses are also reminded to test their water systems and ensure they are preventing Legionella bacteria before opening again. More information can be found in.
The government has also published guidance on keeping the workplace safe during the current pandemic.
If you are a small or medium sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to the coronavirus:
- This refund will cover up to 2 weeks' SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or have been told to self-isolate because of the coronavirus. This is in line with the recommended isolation period.
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of the coronavirus.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
- The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March 2020.
- The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.
WHO TO CONTACT: Central Government is currently developing a rebate scheme. This site will be updated once further details have been provided.
Some businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, including nurseries will be eligible for a Business Rates holiday for 1 year from 1 April 2020:
If your business occupies a property in the retail, leisure or hospitality sectors you will be eligible for the 100% discount on your business rates bill.
If you are a nursery, you will be entitled to the 100% relief for 2020/21. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21 from 1 April if:
- the property used is occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register, and
- is wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Further guidance is available on the government website.
More than £500,000 of Nursery Relief has been applied to nursery business rates accounts for 20/21.
If you qualify for any of the Expanded Retail Discount introduced by the government, this has been automatically be applied to your account for 2020/21. We have recently sent out revised bills with a zero balance for 20/21 to those businesses qualifying for this relief.
In total, more than £73 million of Retail Discount has been applied to accounts and the Direct Debits usually collected in May have not been collected for those who qualify for this relief.
If your business is eligible for small business rate relief, you are entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000.
If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector in England and you have a rateable value of less than £51,000, you may also be entitled to a cash grant in addition to the retail discount.
If you have a property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less then you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000.
If your premises rateable value is between £15,001 and £50,999 then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £25,000.
WHO TO CONTACT: We have been contacting local businesses eligible for the grant award by email or letter. If you have not heard from us please request details from firstname.lastname@example.org We will respond immediately advising you what to do and directing you to an online form to complete the details of your business to enable us to award the grant. If your business is eligible, we will seek to make payment as soon as possible.
Once you have completed and submitted the form we receive it automatically. Please ensure you provide all the details required on the form including your business rates reference. Please also upload all the details required as if you do not it will lead to a delay in making your payment.
We are committed to processing payments as quickly as possible. We are making payments daily and allocating all the available resource to ensure we make them quickly as we realise how important they are to businesses.
Please do not send chasing emails, as this diverts resources and will reduce the number of daily payments.
If we have a query regarding your form, which is delaying payment, we will email you for information.
Please be aware that some companies are offering services to assist in applying for the grant for a fee: this is a scam. The online form is to confirm your company details to enable the payment and if you are eligible, you will receive the grant without payment of any fee.
This fund is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund.
To qualify for this fund, your business must be classed as a small or micro-business that:
- has been trading for at least 12 months on 11th March 2020;
- has fewer than 50 employees,
- has relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs with a de minimis set at £400 per month
- must be able to demonstrate that you have had a drop in income of over 50% income due to coronavirus restriction measures
Further help for small businesses
- Small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to-access loans from 4 May 2020
- Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the cash arriving within days
- Loans will be 100% government backed for lenders, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form
Thousands of small firms and sole traders - including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists - will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak.
From 4 May 2020, small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only 7 questions.
The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. Any business that has already taken out a coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this generous new scheme.
The Bounce Back Loan scheme is the latest step in a package of world-leading support measures launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak - with £7.5 billion already awarded in business grants, 4 million jobs supported through the job retention scheme and generous tax deferrals supporting hundreds of thousands of firms. To read further information about the Bounce Back Loan and apply, please visit the Bounce Back application page.
If your small or medium sized business (Small or Medium sized Enterprise - SME) in England is facing cash flow issues as a result of the coronavirus, please read the following information:
- A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, is available to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
- The government will provide lenders with a partial guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
- The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. The first 12 months of these loans will be interest-free, as the government will cover these payments.
- Businesses will be able to get finance under the scheme from many providers, including the main high street banks.
- Businesses will remain responsible for repaying any facility they take out.
WHO TO CONTACT: For further information, please visit the British Business Bank website
If you are a large business facing cash flow issues as a result of the coronavirus, you may want to read the following information:
- Companies commonly sell short term debt ('commercial paper') to the market. This is a quick and cost effective way to raise working capital.
- The new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from companies.
- This will support companies which are fundamentally strong but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
WHO TO CONTACT: Further details can be found in the exchange of letters between the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor, using the government website.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salaries for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
Eligibility: All UK businesses are eligible and must be processed by businesses, not individuals.
Employers will be required to:
- designate affected employees as 'furloughed workers,' and notify 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 the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal
- HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC have set up a system for reimbursement and welcome applications.
- If the business needs short-term cash flow support, it may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.
If you are self-employed or own a business and you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax bills because of the coronavirus, you may be eligible for support through Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) Time to Pay service:
- These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
WHO TO CONTACT: If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice: 0800 0159 559. For more information, please check the HMRC site.
Additionally the government has announced that self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus are now able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.
If you own a pub that serves food or a restaurant in England, you will be able to operate a hot food takeaway to serve people staying at home, without going through the usual planning process:
- The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will shortly legislate to bring forward a temporary (12 months) Permitted Development Right to allow for change of use from A3 (Restaurant) and A4 (Pub) to A5 (Hot Food Takeaway).
- The intention is that once the legislation has come into force a pub or restaurant will be able to notify their local authority that they are now operating as a takeaway without any prior approval.
- More information on reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19 is available on the Food Standards Agency website.
WHO TO CONTACT: Please email Planning@hillingdon.gov.uk to enquire about a change of use for your business.
The government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) - that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium sized organisations outside the public sector - will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020, until 6 April 2021.
WHO TO CONTACT: Business and individuals do not need to take any action.
If the only barrier to your business making an insurance claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government advising people to stay away from businesses, rather than ordering businesses to shut down, was enough to make a claim on business interruption insurance, then:
- The government's medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure to make a claim - provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. Businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers if in doubt.
- However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government's full package of support, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and business rates holiday.
WHO TO CONTACT: Please liaise with your insurance provider.
Central Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
- For VAT, the deferral will apply until 30 June 2020.
All UK businesses are eligible.
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
- For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of the coronavirus and have outstanding tax liabilities.
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.
There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.
You are eligible for the scheme if:
- your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
- your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria
The scheme is now open for applications. All major banks are offering this scheme.
To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.
The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.
If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.
Under the new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.
This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England's website are eligible.
The scheme is now available for applications. More information is available from the Bank of England website.
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC's Time To Pay service.
These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
You are eligible if your business:
- pays tax to the UK government
- has outstanding tax liabilities
How to access the scheme: If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to the coronavirus, please call HMRC's dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
The government has also indicated that the Coronavirus Bill also includes new measures to COVID-19: Local Government Funding Issues Update 24 March
This is to ensure that Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are equipped to continue their role in managing the impact of the crisis on local economies and helping town centres and high streets recover. To ensure that no area loses its BID at this critical time, government emergency legislation will allow a delay to ballots between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021.
If you are an arts organisation, business or individual working in the cultural sector, creative industries or night-time economy in London, please visit the Mayor of London's Culture at Risk website to register your details for support, guidance and resources.
For official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. Simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word 'hi' in a WhatsApp message to get started.