Welcome to a special edition of our South and Vale Business Support newsletter!

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are committed to supporting all local businesses. We are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to understand the UK Government’s support available and when it will be available. Below is a summary of the latest information.
The Budget announced a £12 billion plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses, whose finances are affected by COVID-19. This includes a £5 billion COVID-19 response fund to ensure the NHS and other public services receive the funding they need to respond to the outbreak as the situation develops, and recover and return to normal afterwards.

For individuals it includes extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for those advised to self-isolate, and those caring for others who self-isolate, and support through the welfare system for those who cannot claim SSP, as well as a hardship fund.

The Government will support businesses that experience increased costs or disruptions to their cashflow. This includes expanded Business Rates reliefs, a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support up to a further £1 billion lending to SMEs, a £2.2 billion grant scheme for small businesses, and a dedicated helpline for those who need a deferral period on their tax liabilities.
The Local Economies Contingency Team is working at speed to operationalise the announcement in the budget that the government would provide £3,000 cash support to all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief in recognition of pressures they will face as a result of Covid-19.

What is HMG announcing?
  • Providing £3,000 cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) (c.725k businesses) and Rural Rates Relief (c.3k).

  • £2.2bn of funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief.

Why are they doing this?

The Government recognises that many small businesses pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), but still face cost pressures at this time. To support those businesses, the government will provide £2.2bn of funding for Local Authorities in England.

Who will benefit?

  • This funding will only benefit those with a premises. It excludes small businesses and the self-employed who do not occupy property (e.g. cleaners, handymen, freelancers).

  • For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent. Most properties that are eligible for SBRR will have a lower rateable value, and so this will represent an even greater proportion of their annual rent.
By how much?

This will provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Business Rates Relief

Building on previous commitments and in an exceptional response to the coronavirus, the Government is increasing the retail discount on business rates to 100% and expanding so it includes retail, hospitality and leisure properties, such as museums, theatres, gyms and hotels (for businesses with a rateable value under £51k).

This exceptional step will save businesses a further £1 billion. Local Authorities will be fully compensated for these Business Rates measures.

British Business Bank (BBB) guarantees for Business

To help give lenders greater confidence to continue providing SMEs with finance throughout this period of uncertainty, the Government is launching a new, temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme initially worth up to £1bn through the British Business Bank. The new scheme will launch in a matter of weeks. The BBB will publish the list of lenders that provide Coronavirus Interruption Business Loan Scheme loans.

SME Statutory Sick Pay Compensation

The Government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay.

Through the emergency legislation, employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak.
Time to Pay (HMRC)

HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. The Tax helpline number is 0800 0159 559.

HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.
The Government's Business Support Helpline is available for businesses in England, of all sizes, who wish to speak directly to an advisor about the impact of Coronavirus. The number to call is 0300 456 3565.
Government is also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity, developing an understanding on the potential impacts to their supply chains, customers or other factors critical to their operations.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, which we are monitoring carefully. The situation is kept under constant review and any change in guidance will be based on scientific evidence. The Government's approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England.

Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.

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