Please see below downloadable pdf files relating to COVID-19 and the events industry.
Useful Phone Numbers
The Government is operating a business helpline which is available to individual businesses on 0300 456 3565.
HMRC Business Support Helpline – 0800 024 1222
HMRC have opened a dedicated helpline for businesses and the self-employed to answer queries or concerns regarding tax payments and finding solutions including:
- agreeing an instalment arrangement
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately
The EIF website has a range of guidances covering employment from HR specialists Ellis Whittam which you might find helpful. These cover advice on redundancies to home working and include a sample risk assessment template. You will find these at https://www.eventsindustryforum.co.uk/index.php/the-events-industry-forum/10-coronavirus-advice
There are also a number of useful points for guidance available from Government and other bodies, including:
- Guidance on advice to provide to staff including: how to help prevent spread of COVID-19; what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting; advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas; and advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID19. This includes advice on what to do if someone visits your restaurant/shop, or if your delivery driver has had contact with someone who is infected.
- The Association of Chartered Accountants has issued some guidance on Employment law: What’s the priority for employers?
- Information on the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19
- 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
- The NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ also has useful guidance
- Grants: Any business receiving Small Business Relief will automatically get a £10,000 grant, irrespective of any other criteria. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will get all get a £25,000 grant. The size of the grants are not variable.
- A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme delivered by the https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.
- A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £14 billion from https://home.barclays/news/2020/03/supporting-our-customers-and-clients-impacted-by-coronavirus–co/, £2 billion from https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/Media/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/lloyds-banking-group/lloyds-banking-group-ready-to-support-uk-small-businesses-impacted-by-covid-19/and £5 billion from https://www.rbs.com/rbs/news/2020/03/natwest-pledges-p5bn-working-capital-support-for-smes-during-cor.html
- A full government refund on the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee for businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
- Temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount to 100% for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This means retail and hospitality businesses, including restaurants and takeaways, with a rateable value below £51,000 will pay no business rates in the next year. Further information and guidance
- Time to Pay – businesses can arrange to delay paying taxes by contacting HMRC – see https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc
- A dedicated HMRC helpline has also been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals with their tax affairs – 0800 0159 559
- The Association of British Insurers Coronavirus has a Q&A site about insurance cover at https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-qa/
- Insurance: The Treasury has agreed with insurers that any business with a policy that would have paid out if there had been a government mandated shutdown will be paid.
- UK Finance Guidance for SMEs – ‘Let’s Talk Business COVID-19’ – https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/policy-and-guidance/guidance/let%E2%80%99s-talk-business-covid-19
- The Welsh Government has also put £200 million aside to support small businesses in Wales – https://gov.wales/emergency-support-businesses-hit-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR1fHd9u8TA4FwGaDdIxNZIBbRKltEk1QBdRqi3m6l_WCO-IuN13Lh-nYPs
- Scottish Enterprise has launched a business helpline to provide businesses across Scotland with information and support on COVID-19. The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660 and will be open Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 5.30pm.
- The £80m grant fund is part of a £320m package of measures announced to help small businesses weather the coronavirus crisis.
- 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
- an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19 • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
- Fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000
- Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner has called on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease cash flow issues. You can find more information here.
Link to information launched 23rd March
Link to dedicated web site with support available for businesses
We have been receiving lots of enquiries about the Government support for paying wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). This provides support by refunding employers 80% of the cost of wages for employees who are “furloughed”. This unfamiliar word relates to being sent home without work and without pay whilst being retained as an employee. As this is a variation to the employment contract it requires agreement from the employees but as the alternative is redundancy that is unlikely to be a problem.
If furloughed, employees cannot work for you whilst at home, and probably not for anyone else either, as they are still under contract to you. If you are having to choose who to furlough you should use what would have been the redundancy selection criteria, and be careful not to discriminate against those with protected characteristics e.g. age, sex, religion, disability etc. You do not have to top-up the 80% pay. If you can afford to, and if for example, the furloughed employee is a valued employee, you are permitted to pay the 20% shortfall.
There is a cap of £2,500 per month per person but it is not clear yet is whether the limit is 80% of £2,500 or whether the 80% is capped at £2,500. Since you may be wanting to start putting people on furlough leave before the rules are entirely clear, I suggest erring on the side of caution and assuming the lower amount. It is also not clear whether the 80% reimbursement has to include Employers NI contributions. As far as we know so far there is nothing to stop business owners who are directors being furloughed, but this may be clarified. I also suspect there will be some sort of anti-abuse rules to prevent suddenly inflated salaries being paid.
We attach a template for an agreement with your employees, which makes provision for adjustments to be made to payments if errors are made before the rules are clarified. You will need to tailor this to suit your own circumstances.
We hope you find this summary helpful, and will update you as more information become available about how to claim the refund and what the likely timescale is.
Coronavirus WhatsApp Information Service
The Govt has started a Whatsapp information service get provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus out to as many people as possible. It will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting via a chatbot.
To use this free service, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.