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Navigating the business of Corona virus - Issue #4

Good afternoon, My latest business column is in The Times today. It sums up the advice I have given
Navigating the business of Corona virus - Issue #4
By Jimmy McLoughlin • Issue #4 • View online
Good afternoon,
My latest business column is in The Times today. It sums up the advice I have given in this email for the last few days, you can access it here

Please forward this email to two businesses who you think might welcome the advice and signposts in this email to help them navigate the business landscape and gov.uk
This email is for UK entrepreneurs and Small Businesses trying to navigate support that the Government and other agencies are offering.
I used to advise the Prime Minister on business, so I know how hard it can be for Government to reach out and how tough business can find it to navigate the labyrinth that is gov.uk. I won’t have all the answers, but I hope I can point you in the right direction.

Top lines
The Government is coming under increased pressure to provide assurances for the self employed of which there are over 5 million in the UK (headline on R4 Today).
Banks are reported to be insisting on personal guarantees for loans for businesses.
Supermarkets are going on a hiring spree, potentially hiring up to 50,000 people over the next few weeks. The CEOs are meeting with Prime Minister this morning (BBC).
UberEats will be wavering delivery charges for 15,000 restaurants until at least March 31st.
Business Guidance
You will have seen the headlines. But these are the main updates from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, yesterday.
There is plenty of further guidance around some of what was previously announced, such as eligibility for statutory sick pay.
In addition, there is now further guidance about firms that do not pay a large amount business rates.
Sunak announced:
  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, this is the 80% covering of wages.
  • Deferment of VAT and Income Tax payments including time to pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
Everything that is below has been taken from this webpage on gov.uk
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
All UK businesses are eligible, you will need to desiginate employees as ‘furloughed’, HMRC will then cover 80% of their wages.
HMRC are having to design a new system for this, understandably it is complex, it may not be up and running for 'a few weeks’ at the earliest
I have received numerous questions overnight about whether this only covers employees who have been furloughed. At the moment, that does seem to be the case, because that is the quickest way for it to work operationally.
Furloughing is obviously a new term that we are going to have to be accustomed too, but as an employer you could furlough someone rather than making them unemployed and then the government will pay up to 80% of salary up to £2,500, one way to think of, it is almost like they’ll be on a paid sabbatical (without the ability to travel, obviously!).
Full Treasury advice is here.
Support for businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
VAT is suspended for three months, applying from 20th March to 30th June.
If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
There is no need to apply, refunds and reclaims will be paid as normal. This is effectively a a direct injection of over £30 billion into the economy, or 1.5% of GDP for the boffins amongst you
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.
Treasury advice is here.
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
The eligibility for statutory sick pay has been updated and includes the below [taken directly from gov.uk]
  • This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
  • The eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
Business Rates Guidance
Business rates holiday introduced from now until end of tax year in 2021
Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:
  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues.
  • for assembly and leisure.
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
How to access the scheme
There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.
You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.
Further guidance for local authorities is available in the expanded retail discount guidance.
Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.
For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.
Eligibility
You are eligible for the grant if:
  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
  • As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues.
  • For assembly and leisure.
  • As hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
How to access the scheme
You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will 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.
You are eligible if:
  • Your business is based in England.
  • You are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR.
  • You are a business that occupies property.
How to access the scheme
You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support primarily small and medium-sized 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 support loans of up to £5 million in value.
Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.
Eligibility
You are eligible for the scheme if:
  • Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year.
  • Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.
How to access the scheme
The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.
You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.
The scheme will be available from early next week commencing 23 March.
Everything that I have listed in the above section has been taken from this webpage on the gov.uk website.
Sunak quote at end of his speech
We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort - and stood together. It’s on all of us.’
I think its fair to say compared to the average UK citizen, I have watched more political speeches than most … Sunak’s one last night was one of ones I have been most moved by, five others that sprang to mind in my lifetime were:

  • Tony Blair in 2005 post the 7/7 attacks
  • David Cameron in 2007 in response to the calls for an early election
  • Barack Obama victory speech in 2008
  • David Cameron responding to Bloody Sunday enquiry in 2010
  • Theresa May’s speech on the steps of Downing Street in 2016
Other interesting bits
Last night, me and my old university friends shared a beer on an app called houseparty (disclaimer - you have to provide your own beer), it worked really well and you can have 8 people on the call at once (which is more than Zoom). So if you are missing having 8 friends or family members shouting over the top of one another, then you should really download it here.
Read this heartwarming story about a Nottingham gym which has donated hand sanitizer to the homeless (BBC)
In France, you now have to complete five pages of paperwork to go out (Twitter)
Oli Barrett has an inspiring call to arms around how this gives us a fantastic opportunity to improve children’s reading which centres around turning subtitles on for childrens programmes (Linkedin)
In non-corona related media, Matt Clifford who runs the fantastic accelerator and investor, entrepreneur first has done a fascinating podcast where he talks about investing in talent across the world, he has written about it on his Linkedin here.
Twitter accounts
See here for a Twitter list which includes the accounts that I’ve suggested in the email. It’s a simple way of keeping all the business accounts you need to follow in one place.
And of course, I am on @jimmym and @hudson_roe
Finally ...
Remarkably over 1,500 people are now reading these emails, and I guess if you have made it this far you think it is useful.
Please do forward it to two friends who may find it helpful.
Tomorrow I shall be taking a break and reflecting what is working best and how they could be more impactful. please do ping me on Twitter or hit reply to this email and tell me what is useful.
And if you really can’t manage a day without me (!) I will be on TalkRadio from around 11am and on am scheduled to be on FiveLive with Emma Barnett on Tuesday morning answering questions.

Did you enjoy this issue?
Jimmy McLoughlin

Navigating the coronavirus for business

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