Friday am Coronavirus update

Further guidance that has been issued by the Government regarding business support, and following discussions with the Council’s Business Rates Manager.

Statutory Sick Pay:

  • The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers (employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February) to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP
  • The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Business rates ‘holiday’ for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

  • The government are providing for a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
  • You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:
  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
  • How to access the scheme – There is no action for you.  The council are identifying all who are eligible and the relief will be applied to your next council tax bill in April 2020.  If you are eligible you will receive notification from the Council of receiving the relief in early April.

£10,000 grants for all small businesses:

  • The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
  • If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will receive a letter from Blackburn with Darwen Council, at your business address, not your correspondence address, hopefully towards the end of next week, confirming you are eligible and giving you details as to how to apply for the grant online.
  • You can help speed this process up by finding your last business rates bill as it will contain all the information you need to apply.

£25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with an RV of £15,000 to £51,000

  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • This will also be administered by the Council’s business rates team, who are in the process of identifying eligible properties inline with Government criteria.  As soon as this process has been done, eligible properties will be contacted by letter at your business address, not your correspondence address and given details of how to apply online.
  • Again you can help speed this process up by finding your last business rates bill as it will contain all the information you need to apply (or pass this information onto whoever deals with and processes your rates payments.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week commencing 23 March to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims). The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
  • Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
  • You are eligible for the scheme if:
  • Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum.
  • Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.
  • How to access the scheme – The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.
  • It is recommended you should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

Some points to note:

  • The rates relief for retail leisure and hospitality businesses applies to all retail, leisure and hospitality business addresses regardless of how many business properties you have and is for any rateable value.
  • The Council don’t know at this stage whether the grants will be per business or per property.
  • The key date for eligibility to be determined for the reliefs and grants will be what you are operating as on 11 March 2020.
  • The Council’s Business Rates team are working hard to put all the necessary processes in place to set up and administer the grants and reliefs as soon as possible and as soon as they can get information to you they will.
  • If you have any difficulties with receiving mail at your business address, please do not worry, the information about how to apply will be online and I will be circulating it to BID members to assist.

Keep checking back for more information.

If there is anything we can be doing to help you, please get in touch –

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