Covid-19 Industry Updates

The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on everyone in our industry. While the pandemic is ongoing, the BBSA will update this webpage with guidance from our partners and reliable third-party sources so everyone in the industry has all of the information they need in one place. This government hub helps businesses find the support which is most relevant to them and how to apply.

Updated: August 27, 2020

Business Support

  • Business rates relief

A business rates holiday has been introduced to ease the pressure on employers. If your business is classified as being in the retail sector from a rates point of view, this holiday will be arranged by your local authority.

These links contain further information on how the relief on offer differs in England, ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland. You can check the rates for your business and see whether you are eligible here.

  • Grant funding

A one-off grant up £10,000 is available for small businesses with small business rate relief or rural rate relief. There is also grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property which has a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000, in England.

Please refer to the links contained in the ‘Business rates relief’ section for more information on how this differs in Scotland and Wales. There is a different scheme in Northern Ireland, the details of which can be seen here.

In England, businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under can receive a grant of £10,000.

For more information please visit your local authority website.

  • VAT deferral

The VAT payment deferral period ended on June 30, 2020. This means you’ll need to:

  • Set-up cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment
  • Submit VAT returns as normal, and on time
  • Pay the VAT in full on payments due after June 30

Any VAT payments deferred between March 20 and June 30 will need to be paid in full by March 31, 2021.

  • 'Bounce back' loan scheme

Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for a loan of up to £50,000 from the government.

You can apply if your business is based in the UK, has been impacted negatively by coronavirus and has not been an 'undertaking in difficulty' since December 31, 2019.

The loans are 100% guaranteed by the government and there are no fees or interest for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to six years and no repayments will be due in the first 12 months.

Read more here.

  • Business interruption loan scheme

Loans of up to £5 million for small and medium enterprises are available to UK businesses which have an annual turnover of less than £45 million. The scheme is open via major banks now. The BBSA's partner Citation has more information on this scheme here.

Self-employed

Taxable grants worth up to 80% of profits, capped at £2,500 for three months are available. It is open to those who receive more than half of their income from self-employment.

More information on eligibility is here

Employment Support

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The furlough scheme is available to all employers and will run until October with employees receiving 80% of their salary until the end of August, 70% until the end of September and 60% until the end of October. Employers can top this up to 100% if they wish.

They will also be able to claim the employer's National Insurance contributions and the mandatory 3% employer pension contributions on that wage. To claim, employers must send information to HMRC about employees that have been furloughed, and their earnings, through a portal which you can access here

The 80% of wages is capped at £2,500 per employee per month and can include anyone laid off after February 28, 2020.  Full-time and part-time employees qualify, as well as those on zero-hour and agency contracts.

Companies will need to designate employees as furloughed and notify them of that in writing. Members of the BBSA are able to request a copy of a draft furlough letter produced by the association's lawyers, Chadwick Lawrence, by emailing info@bbsa.org.uk.

You can see the latest information on the scheme from Chadwick Lawrence here.

Annual leave can be taken while furloughed without bringing the furlough period to an end. Employers can claim the usual 80% of wages on days of annual leave, but they must top up the employee's pay to 100% in line with the Working Time Regulations. More information is available here.

  • SSP payments

Emergency legislation introduced on March 13, 2020 states anyone who is self-isolating to avoid spreading coronavirus and cannot work as a result, must be paid statutory sick pay (SSP). This will apply for a period of eight months.

Further legislation means SSP will need to be paid from the first day of sickness absence. If homeworking during self-isolation, full pay will need to be maintained. 

Two weeks of SSP per sick employee will be able to be recovered by businesses which have fewer than 250 employees (as of February 28).

Industry specific guidance

  • Deposits

The BBSA has received some guidance from Trading Standards regarding customer deposits in the current situation. This advice is only available to members and is available from eshots which have been previously sent out or by emailing info@bbsa.org.uk.

Please be aware that this is not assured advice so it is not legally binding. The guidance is based on existing legislation and is in a question and answer format.

  • Lead times assured advice

The BBSA has received assured advice from Trading Standards regarding the impact of COVID-19 on lead times.

Again, this advice is only available to members and is available from eshots which have been previously sent out or by emailing info@bbsa.org.uk.

Remember, even though the situation is changing all the time, try to keep your customers informed as best you can.

Guidance on construction and manufacturing

  • In England both construction and manufacturing can take place, but social distancing and hygiene routines must be in place.
  • In Scotland construction sites moved to phase three of the reopening process from Monday, June 22. This means steady state operation can take place but only where physical distancing can take place - read more here. Manufacturers could reopen from Monday, June 29 but only if following physical distancing and strict hygiene measures are in place.
  • In Wales there does not appear to be specific advice relating to construction sites however 97% of Build UK contractor members say their sites in England and Wales were open as of June 10. Read more here. There does not appear to be any specific advice on Welsh manufacturers however they are not listed as having to close. Social distancing guidelines should be followed where operations are continuing.
  • In Northern Ireland manufacturing and construction can continue but this guidance on workplace safety guidelines and social distancing which was updated on June 10 should be followed.

Guidance on retail

  • In England, all non-essential retail shops could open from June 15 with appropriate social distancing measures in place. Homeware stores were not listed as having to close at any point.
  • In Scotland, all retail shops could reopen in Scotland from Monday, July 13. Read more here. Homeware stores were listed as being able to open in Scotland from May 29.
  • In Wales, non-essential retail shops could open from Monday, June 22. This Welsh government document contains guidance on staying safe while working in retail.
  • In Northern Ireland, all non-essential retail shops were able to open from June 12.

Guidance on tradespeople

  • In England, tradespeople can enter homes - the UK government issued a 28-page document titled ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes’ on May 11 and updated it on August 12.
  • In Scotland, according to trustedtrader.scot - which is supported by The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland - domestic work and home improvements carried out by tradespeople is included in the construction sector. Therefore, domestic work and home improvements can also take place as part of the move to phase three. Read more here.
  • In Wales, the guidance from the government is that tradespeople can continue to work. It states: ‘…both the tradesperson and household members should be well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. Please see the self-isolation guidance for more information. Like other businesses, tradespeople must take all reasonable measures to ensure that 2 metre distancing is maintained at all times when working in other people’s households.’ Read more here
  • In Northern Ireland, tradespeople can continue to work in homes, but social distancing and hygiene guidelines must be followed. Read more here.

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