Coronavirus: Support for business - FAQs

UPDATED 15 APRIL 16:03

Q: As a tenant in a Council property, will I be eligible for any rent holiday or discount?

A. Given the national and international scale of the problem and the amount of council tenants across the city, we are awaiting further government advice on assistance available and will update as that advice becomes available.

Q: Am I eligible for any grant funding support through the Council? If so, how do I access the funding?

A: If you are currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief, you will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet your ongoing business costs. If you are operating in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, you will be eligible for a one-off grant of either £10,000 (if your rateable value is below £15,000) or £25,000  (if your rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000).  Eligible businesses will need to provide us with further information via an online form to receive a grant. We will be in touch with businesses who have received a grant, though it is likely that payments will be in your account first. Payments typically take five to ten working days, so please check your business bank account.

Q: How do I find out if I am eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief?

A: This is detailed on your 2020 Business Rates Bill

If you need further assistance please contact the Business Rates team at business.rates@newcastle.gov.uk 

Q: My business is not eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief, and I am not in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector. What support is available to me?

[Examples include: businesses in receipt of charitiable business rate reduction; those whose business rates are wrapped up into a single rental charge payable to their landlord; those who work from home or from virtual/co-working spaces.]

A: We are awaiting further guidance from Government around what support is available for businesses in your circumstances.

Q: Do I still need to pay my business rates?

A: Yes, the council relies on income from business ratepayers to be able to provide vital services to the residents of the city.  However, businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive a payment holiday in the 2020 to 2021 tax year except for the following:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers), othershort-term loan providers)
  • Medical services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies), medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors), professional)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors), post)
  •  Post office sorting offices, casinos and gambling clubs, and properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public.

Q: I run a pub/restaurant and want to operate as a takeaway. What do I need to do?

A: The government will introduce a time limited permitted development right  to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months only.

Businesses will be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends. The contact details here Billy Browell, billy.browell@newcastle.gov.uk; 0191 211 5635.

Q: Is there any other help available to support my business?

A: Information regarding the ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan’ and other forms of support can be found on the official Government website https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Make sure you have contacted your bank, as they may be able to provide support, such as extending overdrafts or deferring interest payments.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Q: Can I get a loan to help with my cash flow issues?

A: You should contact your bank at the earliest opportunity find out what support you can access.

Government has also put in place the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). This scheme supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities and can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.

The CBILS website is the best source of up to date information https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Q: Can I get help with the costs of paying my staff Sick Pay?

A: For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the Government will be arranging to refund up to 2 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Arrangements for payment of this refund will be established soon.

Q: Will my business be covered for disruption resulting from COVID-19?

A:  Business owners should look at the terms of their business insurance to understand if they are covered for communicable diseases or outbreaks.

Travel insurance should provide cover so long as individuals and businesses follow the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.

Risk assessment templates and guidance are available via the Health and Safety Executive.

Q: I am self-employed and self-isolating – can I get any help?

A: If you are self-employed you can apply for the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme. The scheme offers individuals a grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to £2,500 per month for 3 months (with possible extension). Further information; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

lf employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information.

If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

(source:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19)

ifIf you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 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. For more information on how to claim, please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance.

Q: How do I know if I’m still able to send my child to school?

A: After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon (20th March), they will remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require. Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Further information, and a full list of key workers can be found here

Q: How do I access the Job Retention Scheme?

A: 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 the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

A helpful explanation of the scheme can be found here https://www.businessleader.co.uk/what-is-furlough-leave-and-what-do-businesses-need-to-know/81513/

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

HMRC helpline number 0800 015 9559

Q: Where can I access this information online?

A: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Q: How can I keep my property secure while it’s closed?

A: This is a difficult time for everyone and we would like to offer some crime prevention advice in making your premises as safe and secure as possible during these unprecedented times.

Alarms/CCTV

  • Confirm that your intruder alarm is in working order and if you have a Level One monitored alarm please make sure that your Alarm Receiving Company has up to date contact details for key holders.
  • Ensure that your CCTV cameras are working correctly and positioned so they are covering entrance/exits to and from your business.  Expert advice on equipment, procedures, including Data Protection can be found at www.nactso.co.uk together with approved companies.
  • Ensure your security measures are overtly promoted via signage such as “CCTV in Operation” or “24 Hour Surveillance”.

External Lighting

  • Ensure external lighting is in working order and replace any bulbs that are not working.
  • A good lighting scheme should provide uniformed lighting levels and should ideally work on a dusk to dawn circuit.
  • External illumination when a building is unoccupied is recommended for entrance gates, main entrance and doors.     

High Value Items

  • Remove valuable items from view and store securely.
  • Remove cash stored on the premises and leave empty cash drawers open.
  • Consider window coverings that limit visibility to the inside of the business.
  • Consider if you want to indicate that the business is closed.  If you do you can consider a “no cash kept on the premises” sign.

Landscaping and Natural Surveillance

  • Where possible keep trees and bushes pruned so they do not provide areas of concealment.
  • Remove anything from around the building that could be used to gain entry and ensure bids are stored securely to prevent them being used as a climbing aid.
  • If there are domestic properties near to your business or essential businesses that are staying open ask them to be aware of any suspicious activity and call the police either via 101 or if they think a crime is taking place to dial 999.

Further advice around crime prevention can be found at the following websites, or you can email us at crime.prevention@northumbria.pnn.police.uk for any further advice.

 

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