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Advice for businesses about coronavirus

As the situation with coronavirus is developing, we want to keep our local businesses up to date with current support for businesses.

 

General business support

We remain committed to supporting our local businesses to help minimise the impact of Covid-19 and will keep this page up to date.

Key up to date on the latest business support announcements from:

 

Welsh Government covid-19 grants for businesses registered to pay business rates in Swansea

The Welsh Government has introduced two grants to support businesses, these grants are available to businesses that are registered to pay rates on their premises on 20 March 2020. The aim for both grant schemes is to get financial support to eligible businesses and not-for-profit organisations as soon as possible to help them remain viable.

Grant 1:  A grant of £25,000 is being made available for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000.

This means businesses that occupy properties such as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, live music venues, hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

Grant 2: A £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for small business rates relief (SBRR) in Wales with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Please note: the multiple property restriction which applies to Small Business Rates Relief also applies to this grant. Therefore, the same ratepayer may only receive the £10,000 grant for a maximum of two properties in each local authority.

To check your premises rateable value please see the Valuation Office: www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-rates-find/search.

Apply for a Welsh Government business grant for support during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Swansea Council's Business Rates staff and other sections in the council are dealing with the payment of the Welsh Government £10,000 or £25,000 business support grants for Welsh Government and are extremely busy at the moment working to make those payments to eligible businesses. We very much appreciate the major challenges being faced by businesses, and staff will make every effort to get payments to you as soon as possible.

If a business has not fully completed the online form or is not currently liable for business rates, then further checks will need to be made before a payment can be made. Evidence may be requested in support of any application in those circumstances.

Please note: Welsh Government acknowledges that not all businesses whose trade has been affected by the pandemic will be eligible for these grants. Any business owners in such circumstances should look for support from the other measures announced by Welsh Government details of which can be found on their web pages businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice.

 

Business Rates Relief

The Welsh Government has announced a year-long business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales that have a rateable value of £500k or less. Swansea Council will be looking to automatically award the business rates holiday to all eligible parties as soon as possible.

Rates bills for the new financial year 2020/21 have already been issued without the relief being included. Any businesses who satisfy the criteria for the award of this new relief, will have a new rates bill issued as soon as possible showing the correct amount to be paid, or that nothing has to be paid where that is the case.

This will be automatically awarded so PLEASE DO NOT contact us by phone/email. As mentioned above, the business rates team is currently working on the payment of Welsh Government's business support grants so there will be a short delay in applying this relief. 

Guidance on eligibility for the relief

 

Economic Resilience Fund

The £500m fund will support firms of all sizes, including social enterprises, with a focus on those which have not already benefited from the coronavirus grants already announced by the Welsh Government.

The fund is made up of two main elements:

  • A new £100m Development Bank of Wales fund will be available for companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic and will provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates.
  • Businesses will also be able to benefit from a £400m emergency pot providing:
  1. Grants of £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people. This includes sole traders employing staff. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply by mid-April
  2. Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply from next week
  3. Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales. This element will be open to qualifying businesses within the next two weeks.

Details on the application process and criteria are being finalised by Welsh Government and will be published shortly.

 

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, covering a variety of different products such as loans, overdraft, invoice finance and asset finance, delivered by the British Business Bank, has launched on the 23 March 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. 

Further details can be found at: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis, all UK businesses are eligible.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. 

To access the scheme businesses 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, this portal is not yet in place and we will publish details as soon as they are available (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

For further details please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

Development Bank of Wales

The Welsh Government and the Development Bank of Wales have announced the £100m Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme to support businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. The scheme will be available from the Development Bank of Wales for a limited period. It is intended to provide support to businesses who are experiencing cashflow difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

The loan scheme will work alongside the UK wide Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, other Welsh Government and UK Government support offers, providing more vital options for Welsh businesses. Loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 are available to businesses who have been trading longer than 2 years and can demonstrate that they were able to service that level of debt before the outbreak.

Fund details:

  • £100m fund
  • loans between £5,000 to £250,000, maximum loan levels apply
  • 12 month capital and interest repayment holiday
  • no arrangement or monitoring fees
  • 2% interest fixed for 6 years (includes the 12 month holiday)

Details of the fund, eligibility and application process can be found on the Development Bank of Wales's website: https://developmentbank.wales/

 

Support for the self-employed

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, means those eligible will receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

Individuals will apply directly to HMRC for the taxable grant, using a simple online form, with the cash being paid directly into people's bank account.

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment. To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

The income support scheme, which is being designed by HMRC from scratch, will cover the three months to May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.

Before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans where they have a business bank account.

Further information on the Self Employment Support Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

 

Protection for business who miss rent payments

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the UK government has announced. These measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. 

Please visit the UK Government website for further information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments

 

HMRC support on VAT and PAYE

Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19) 
All VAT payments are deferred for three months, from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer for all UK businesses, with no applications required. Any VAT not paid back during the deferral period will be due at the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Find out more about Deferral of VAT.
For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due on 31 July 2020 under the Income Tax Self-Assessment system will be deferred to 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC Debt Repayment Plan for your Outstanding Taxes
A Time to Pay Arrangement with HMRC is a debt repayment plan for your outstanding taxes. Companies that have defaulted on their payments to settle their Corporation Tax, VAT and/or PAYE can ask HMRC for extra time to pay.  They will usually agree that you can pay it back over 6-12 months.
Time to Pay Arrangements are made directly with HMRC. Take a look at their Business Payment Support Service to make sure you're choosing the right path. They have set up a helpline at 0800 0159 559. 

HMRC helplines
HMRC have also set up a help line specifically for the self employed and businesses who will be struggling due to COVID19, including giving advice on tax and benefits you can claim for. The helpline can be reached on 0300 456 3565.
If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC's helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.

     

    Business Wales webinars

    Business Wales have launched a series of FREE webinars adapted on how business can react to the changing times due to Covid-19 Coronavirus, these include:

    • Importance of diversification in troubled times and how to diversify quickly
    • Recovery and growth, planning post coronavirus trading
    • Accessing business finance

    To book yourself onto a webinar please visit Business Wales Event Finder.

    Also Superfast Business Wales have a number of FREE webinars on how you can use online technology to save time and money, reach more customers, simplify work processes and grow revenue. List of the Superfast Business Wales courses.

     

    Are you a local business offering home deliveries, collections or takeaways?

    We've brought together a list of local businesses supplying food and other essential items via delivery or collection during the coronavirus pandemic: Deliveries and takeaways - suppliers of food and essential items in Swansea

    If you are a local business offering delivery or collection of food and other essential items to residents of Swansea let us know so we can add you to the list: Submit information on what food/essentials you can supply

     

    Guidance for drivers from Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

    With an increase in deliveries as more people order items online the HSE is making sure that the driver's welfare is being looked after.

    Drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. Those who already provide reasonable access to toilets and handwashing facilities should continue to do so. Preventing access is against the law. 

    There has also been a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers' hours rules for drivers involved in the delivery of:

    • food
    • non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning)
    • over the counter pharmaceuticals

    Drivers should not be expected to drive while they are tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, other road users, and anyone involved in loading and unloading vehicles.

    You can find more detailed information at:

     

    Sunday trading

    Swansea Council is relaxing Sunday trading laws to help give key workers and vulnerable people more time to get essential goods.

    Under existing laws, shops above a certain size are restricted to six hours trading time on Sundays.

    The council's Trading Standards has written to a large number of stores in the city to confirm it would not be enforcing current trading laws during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

    It means shops affected by the restrictions can choose how long they open from Sunday (5 April).

     

    Helpline for the Social Business Sector in Wales

    The Wales Co-operative Centre has launched a Covid-19 Helpline for the social business sector in Wales.

    Social Business Wales and its team of expert advisors are on hand to provide help with enquiries about cash flow, HR, digital platforms, marketing and communications and a range of other areas that might need re-thinking in light of the coronavirus.

    They can provide advice via telephone or through video conferencing, you can contact them by telephone on 0300 111 5050 or email sbwenquiries@wales.coop if you need support.

    For further information please visit the Social Business Wales website.

    Welsh Government business grants

    Apply for a Welsh Government business grant for support during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

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