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Covid 19 Support Measures

On Tuesday evening the Government updated its package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Included in this package is business rates relief for the 2020/21 tax year, statutory sick pay relief for SMEs and a business interruption loan scheme. The Government also provided clarification on insurance.

Business Rates Relief

The measures announced were:

• A small business grant of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. This will be applicable to all businesses with property with a rateable value below £15,000 not currently paying business rates.
• A grant of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
• A business rates holiday (no business rates payable) for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England.

Those businesses eligible for the small business grant of £10,000 will be contacted by their local authority and need not apply for the grant. Guidance for local authorities on this scheme will be provided shortly and funding of this grant will be provided to local authorities in early April.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that currently receive the retail discount will be rebilled by their local authority for 2020/21 as soon as possible. The Government advises that any enquiries on eligibility for the business rates holiday or £25,000 grant available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses should be directed to their local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday is due to be published on 20 March.

Statutory Sick Pay Relief

The legislation to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19 has been brought forward. The eligibility criteria for the scheme is as follows:

• The refund will cover up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Covid-19.
• All employers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 will be eligible for the scheme.
• Expenditure can be reclaimed for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19.
• Employees will not need to provide a GP fit note but employers should maintain records of all staff absences and payments of SSP.
• The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to hose staying at home come into force.
• The Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment method to employers as soon as possible.

Business Interruption Loan

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will launch next week to support 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) 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 provide up to £5 million in funds. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free as the Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

We advise you contact your bank for further details.

Insurance

The Government has advised that businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered as the Government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc… is sufficient to make a claim. We encourage you to check your insurance policy as terms and conditions differ significantly.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Like you we are doing our best to deal with the situation and we must all pull together during the next few weeks.

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