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Support & Guidance for Businesses during COVID-19

If you are preparing for your business to open over the coming weeks or are currently open, the government has released the guidance below in relation to managing the risk of COVID-19.
There is also a compliance poster that must be displayed in your venue.

Bounce Back Loans
The Government have announced a new scheme for those in need of smaller loans. Businesses can apply for the new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.  The loans will be available from 9am on Monday 4th May and the Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

How to make a claim:

Last week, government announced further updates to its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; that the furlough scheme would be extended to the end of June.

Many businesses have furloughed staff, and the portal is now open for these businesses to be able to make a claim for the grant.

You can now claim online for a grant for 80% of your furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Staff must have been on the company’s payroll as of 19th March 2020 and would have been at risk of redundancy if not furloughed; they must consent to furlough; and the period of furlough must be for a minimum of 3-weeks (presently, to 30th June 2020).

Apply by 22 April to receive money before the end of the month.

Full information was issued yesterday by HMRC which can be read here.


It’s good practice for employers to:

  • Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace.
  • Ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance.
  • Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.
  • Make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action.
  • Make sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and encourage everyone to do so regularly
    provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them.

What do Businesses need to know?

  • Businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible.
  • If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home.
  • Employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
    frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.
  • Employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others.
  • Those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
    employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients.
  • Employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible.

For further guidance on any of the above, please visit COVID-19: Guidance for Employers & Businesses


The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a 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
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

For further guidance on any of the above please visit COVID-19: Support for Businesses

The Government have set up a helpline for businesses who may have any questions:

Business Support Helpline (England)
Telephone: 0300 456 3565
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

The Business Support Helpline for England is also on:

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce has put together a package of support for local businesses, including a business helpline and online business clinics. Black Country Chamber of Commerce – Business Support Package


Sandwell Business Support Grants

West Bromwich Town BID is in daily contact with Sandwell Council, other BIDs and Governing Bodies to ensure that we provide the information and support your business needs on a regular basis. We have already been speaking with many of our Levy Payers via WhatsApp, Email and social media channels for news of upcoming information and support.

In response to Covid-19, the Government has announced grant schemes to support small businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors which are currently liable for Business Rates.

There are two schemes:
Scheme 1: Small Business Rate Support Grant
Eligible businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief, with a rateable value of £15,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant.

Scheme 2: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants
Eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure industry will receive:
A £10,000 grant where the business has a rateable value of £15,000 or less, who are not eligible for Small Business Rate Relief; or
A £25,000 grant where the business has a rateable value between £15,001 and £50,999.

Only one grant can be awarded per property and to qualify you must be the ratepayer and must have been occupying the premises on 11 March 2020.

What do SMBC need from you:
You will need to provide further information, to do this please go online at:
https://my.sandwell.gov.uk/service/Business_Rate_Support_Grant
and complete the form making sure you answer all the questions so that SMBC can determine if you are eligible. If you are eligible, the grant will be paid into your bank account via BACS.

  • If you have a Mysandwell account the link should take you straight to the form.
  • If you don’t, you will have to set up a Mysandwell account (Name, email address & password)….. then you will get an email asking you to confirm your registration of the set-up of the mysandwell account (It’s clicking on a link in the email)….. Once you have done that you will be taken to the grant application form.
  • Sounds complex but the process to set up a new mysandwell account takes under 5 mins

Please be advised that you will require your Business Rates account number (8 digits beginning with a ‘5’), 0on the application form.
We appreciate that these are difficult times and SMBC will deal with all applications as quickly as possible.

We are expecting a high number of requests, so we would ask for your patience. If SMBC need any further information they will contact you directly.

Exclusions:
Please note that certain exclusions apply:

  • The grant cannot be paid if the property is occupied for personal use e.g. private stables and loose boxes, moorings, or used as a car park and parking spaces.
  • The grant cannot be paid if the business was in liquidation or insolvent on 11 March 2020.
  • The grant cannot be paid if the property has a rateable value of £51,000 or over.
  • Any changes to the rateable value of the property after 11th March 2020, including changes backdated to this date will be ignored for the purposes of eligibility.
  • Only one grant may be awarded per business property

For further information, please see the links below:

http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200308/business_rates/4463/the_budget_-_march_202
Support for Businesses during COVID-19
Expanded Retail Discount Guidance

For Businesses over £51,000 rateable value operating in Retail, Leisure or Hospitality, Sandwell MBC will automatically apply the Expanded Retail Discount Relief (Business Rates Relief) for 12 months from 1st April 2020.

Sandwell Council have also launched a website dedicated to Coronavirus and has some useful information that may answer any questions you may have Sandwell MBC – Coronavirus

 

 

 

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