Coronavirus: information for businesses

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Cambridge City Council has posted a website update outlining the support available to businesses during  at this time.  Below are highlights most relevant to CAN members.  For further information please visit:

The first port of call for businesses for advice and support is GOV.UK. However, you can also speak directly to an advisor on the Government's Business Support Helpline. The number to call is: 0300 456 3565.

See also the government’s coronavirus business support website, which helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

This information on this page was updated on 27 March and we are currently waiting for further information from the Government on processing some of this support. As soon as we have more information we will share this as quickly as possible.

Enforcement of business closures

The government has announced that certain businesses and premises must now close until further notice, as their operation may involve prolonged close social contact, increasing the chances of coronavirus spreading.

These closures are now enforceable by law due to the threat to public health. Any business operating in contravention of the new regulations will be committing an offence.

Our Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will be monitoring compliance with these regulations, with police support if appropriate. Appropriate enforcement action will be taken if businesses do not adhere to the regulations.

We understand that these are very difficult times for everyone, and businesses will be deeply concerned, but we ask that all businesses and premises listed please abide by the legislation and remain closed until these restrictions can be lifted.

If you have any questions regarding business closures, or want to report a business that is still operating, email us at [email protected].

Business rates
We know that in light of the Chancellor’s announcement earlier this week, businesses have questions about what it means for them.

Business rates bills that were printed before the most recent government announcements have already been delivered to businesses.

Businesses that qualify for the new expanded retail rate relief can ignore their bills.

We are taking action so that we will not collect direct debits on 1 April, and qualifying ratepayers who pay by other methods are asked not to make payments.

Businesses do not need to contact us to claim the relief – we will proactively identify them and resend updated bills.

Support available for businesses
The Government has announced a series of financial measures to support businesses through the economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus (COVID 19).

This currently includes:

A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where businesses may be able to claim a grant of up to 80% of furloughed employees' wages.

Deferring VAT for three months, from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Deferring Income Tax payments for the self-employed, due on 31 July 2020, until 31 January 2021.

A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs. Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank. The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may also want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

A new Covid Corporate Financing Facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. More information should be available from the Government this week.

The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme supporting businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities which will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to Coronavirus. The number to ring is 0800 0159 559.

Information for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses
In addition to the above, the Government has announced specific measures for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses:

  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses: 
    • businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
    • businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

We are currently working to identify businesses that may fall into this category, and will take action to ensure that the Business Rates Direct Debit will not be collected for this group on 1 April. Once this is done, we will look to re-issue bills confirming the relief as soon as possible.

We are also waiting for further information in relation to the grants scheme announced, and will provide further information once this is known. You do not need to do anything. We will write to you if you are eligible. 

You may also wish to sign up to receive your bills electronically by signing up to e-billing through our Open Portal.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will also provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

We are waiting for further information in relation to the grants scheme announced, and will provide further information once this is known. You do not need to do anything. We will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Self Employed, contractors, freelancers or ‘gig economy’ workers

If you are self-employed and your income has significantly reduced or ceased, you may be eligible for a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme announced by government on the 26 March:

Alternatively, you may wish to consider making an application for Universal Credit. This is a payment to help with living costs, it is paid monthly and is calculated based on your household and income circumstances. Universal Credit can also help you with your housing costs.

For more information or to make an application please:

Visit: GOV.UK - Universal Credit
Phone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

You can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau if you need help with the online process.

You could also consider other options to manage your finances, for example, applying for Council Tax Support or arranging a mortgage holiday with your bank. Shelter have published some useful housing advice for people who rent or own their homes.

Filing your accounts
Companies House has produced guidance if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts.

The Charity Commission has also provided guidance including a number to ring where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, for charities with an imminent filing date.

Online resources for employees, employers and businesses
For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employees, employers and businesses. This includes guidance on advice to provide to staff and support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts.

The Government has also issued guidance on the cleaning of environments in the workplace and other non-healthcare settings.

Employees can find advice from Government on staying at home, working from home and sick pay and ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

If you would like to understand which are the sectors whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and are therefore prioritised as 'key workers' for schooling, the Government has published guidance.

There is also new and updated COVID-19 industry guidance for:

  • educational settings such as schools or universities
  • prisons, immigration centres and other places of detention
  • shipping and sea ports
  • transport hubs including airports and train stations
  • hostels and day centres (rough sleepers)

Useful links