COVID-19: Guidance for businesses

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To support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, the Government has released a number of support packages. As with the nature of the situation, information is rapidly changing. To ensure you stay up-to-date, keep checking this page and our social media channels for all latest announcements.

(This page was last updated 3 March 2021).

1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

UPDATE – The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 2021, with details being released soon.

When the scheme closes, you must decide whether to:

This scheme is live and you can claim here.

To access the scheme you must:

      • 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 an online portal

2. Statutory Sick Pay

For those now self-isolating or caring for someone self-isolating, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can now be claimed as a result of COVID-19. SSP will be available from day 1, rather than day 4.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either have coronavirus or cannot work because they are self-isolating at home.

Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. This applies to all businesses with 250 or fewer employees and covers all types of employment contracts including:

      • full-time employees
      • part-time employees
      • employees on agency contracts
      • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The rebate scheme is now live. Claim here.

3. Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

There will be a 100% business rates holiday for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for the first 3 months up to the end of June. For the remaining 9 months, business rates will be discounted by 2/3, up to the value of £2m for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open. 

4. Cash grants

As of April 2021, new Restart Grants will be introduced to support businesses in their reopening.

Non-essential retail hospitality & leisure
Non-essential retail businesses will receive grants of up to £6000 per premises. Hospitality & leisure businesses (including personal care and gyms) who will be opening later and are more impacted, will receive grants of up to £18,000.

Arts, Culture & Sport support
£700 million of support will be given to Arts, Culture and Sporting institutions. There will be a new approach to apprenticeships in the creative industries as well as an extension of the £500 million Film & TV production restart scheme.

5. Recovery Loan Scheme

A new Recovery Loan Scheme will be introduced as the previous loan schemes come to an end. Businesses of any size can apply for loans from £25k up to £10m through to the end of this year. The Government will provide a guarantee to lenders of 80%. 

6. VAT reduced for Hospitality & Tourism

The 5% reduced rate of VAT for Hospitality and Tourism businesses has been extended for 6 months to 30th September. As of 1st October 2021, VAT will rise to an interim rate of 12.5% for 6 months, before returning to 20% in April 2022. The VAT reduction will only apply to food and non-alcoholic beverages.

7. Corporation Tax
Corporation tax will rise in April 2023 but will only apply to the more profitable businesses, meaning 70% of businesses will be unaffected. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, will be maintained at the current rate of 19% through the creation of a new Small Profits Rate. A taper will also be introduced over £50,000, so only businesses with profits of £250,000 or greater will be taxed at the full 25% rate.

8. Duties
The planned increases in duties for spirits, wine, cider and beer are to be cancelled, meaning all alcohol duties will be frozen for 2021/22. The increase in fuel duty is also cancelled.

9. Help to Grow Schemes
Two new schemes have been announced to support UK SMEs. Both schemes will commence in Autumn and businesses can sign up here: gov.uk/help-to-grow

  • Help to Grow Management will help SMEs get access to world class management training through business schools across the UK offering new Executive Development Programmes. The Government will be contributing 90% of cost.
  • Help to Grow Digital will help businesses to develop their online presence and enhance their digital skills by giving free expert training, as well as a 50% discount on new productivity and enhancing software.

10. Additional Support Information

Additional information and updates can be found on the following websites:

Birmingham City Council

Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

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