As the coronavirus outbreak is unfolding, the UK Government's approach, advice and support is changing rapidly. The Chancellor has announced a series of measures to support small and medium sized businesses. This page will be regularly updated to provide up to date information and advice.
The CLA has produced a series of member-only briefings to provide further assistance to members in key areas including government business support, residential landlords and tenants and how key workers can be deployed. Login is required to access them.
Essential workers travel form
A template is available that people can use for their workers to show that they are travelling for essential work. Download the document here.
Covid 19 and access
Defra and Welsh Government suggested signage in relation to public rights of way is available for CLA members to download and print. Members will find an option for directing the public to an alternative route and options for circumstances where this is not possible or desirable. There is also dedicated member-only guidance on Covid 19 and access.
When available, the Self-employed Income Support Scheme will be accessible only through GOV.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.
- Environment Agency update on payment of fees
- Farm Safety
- Government updates guidance for seasonal workers on-farm
- Keep up to date and communicate
- Licensing of cattle movements in England
- Veterinary Medicines Directorate Export Certificates being issued electronically
Digital connectivity and skills
- BT Skills for Tomorrow support for society
- Free BT Webinars on digital skills
- Guidance from telecom infrastructure providers on access to land
- New Digital Skills mentoring scheme launched
- New Digital Skills platform launched
- CLA sets out advice for businesses needing a QR code
- Cleaning in a non-healthcare environment
- Government advice for food businesses
- Government clarifies rules on test and trace for events
- Government Covid-19 roadmap remains on track (roadmap)
- Government Covid-19 roadmap: What does it actually mean?
- Government clarifies what can open when
- Government guidance on test and trace information updated
- Government publishes new Covid-19 events guidance
- Government WhatsApp service
- Government updates events Covid-19 guidance for local authorities
- Local authority powers to enforce Covid-19 regulations updated
- PPE use and disposal
- Social distancing
Mental and physical wellbeing
- Anxiety and wellbeing
- Government launches plan to tackle loneliness
- Mental health and wellbeing
- Keep up to date and communicate
- Permitted development rights - additional temporary uses of land - extension for 2021
- Permitted development rights - temporary use of certain buildings for takeaway food - time limit extension to 2022
- Planning appeals - changes to procedures for handling appeals (England only)
Rural business measures
- 2021 Budget sets out extensions for Covid-19 support packages
- Additional Restrictions Grants - scope widened
- Businesses can now get Bounce Back loan top ups
- Business finance
- Business insurance
- Financial Conduct Authority sets out temporary financial relief for consumers affected by Covid-19
- Financial Conduct Authority issues guidance for business interruption insurance claims
- Fraud and cybercrime
- Government announces new VAT deferral scheme
- Government announces new Most Favoured Nation status tariff rates
- Government consolidates Covid-19 guidance for the rural tourism and hospitality sectors
- Government updates eligibility rules for furloughed staff
- High Court rules in Covid-19 insurance case
- Guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnership formations
- New business support “finder” launched
- New Coronavirus Community Support Fund open for applications
- VAT Deferral Scheme
- Government figures show impact of Covid-19 on tourism
- Government issues guidance on data collection for tourism and hospitality businesses
- Government updates planning guidance for campsites, caravan and holiday parks
- Visit Britain's “Good To Go” Industry Standard
- HM Revenue & Customs Time To Pay
- HMRC Helpline for Time to Pay
- Wales begins to reopen
- Welsh Government provides more detail on reopening
- Welsh Resilience Fund
Environment Agency update on payment of fees
Those applying to the Environment Agency for new permits or licences will need to pay the fee at the time of application. As most annual charges are invoiced in April, the Environment Agency has introduced new processes for those who may have difficulties in paying the invoice on time because of Covid-19. If members are in this position, they need to contact the Environment Agency’s agents, Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) who will discuss how future payments can be made. Contact details for SSCL will be on the invoice. More information can be found here.
Members are reminded of the need to consider their own safety, in addition to the safety of their family and staff at this busy time. With the increase of temporary workers likely to arrive on farms shortly in preparation for various types of harvest or for covering ill or self-isolating regular staff, the yellow wellies farm safety campaign has produced a guide. Please use the link to access it in addition to the guide for parents and young farmers. Further details can be found: www.yellowwellies.org.
Government updates guidance for seasonal workers on-farm
The Government has issued revised guidance for farm businesses that employ seasonal workers. This stresses the importance of working practices complying with Covid-19 guidelines in order to restrict the potential of outbreaks of the virus.
For more information go to: www.gov.uk/guidance/coming-to-the-uk-for-seasonal-agricultural-work-on-english-farms.
The AHDB has also published a best practice guide for farm businesses and seasonal workers in the horticulture sector. More information can be found here: ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing-farm-businesses.
Keep up to date and communicate
It is important for all businesses to keep up to date with the latest information from the government, including public health authorities: The government will update its advice on Coronavirus daily and businesses need to be aware that they may need to change how the business operates. Government advice can be found here:www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
The CLA continues to provide the latest information related to Covid-19.
How the businesses communicate with their employees, customers and suppliers will be very important. Employees will need to know where the business stands, what could happen in the future and how they are protected.
Along with employees, business customers and suppliers will need to be kept regularly informed as to what is happening. Opening a two-way conversation with customers and suppliers can give that element of reassurance they need.
One of the best ways of doing this is through this website as this will be the place many people will go first of all.
Licensing of cattle movements in England only
The TB Hub has issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the licensing of cattle movements. These include questions on: sending cattle for slaughter, calf movements, buying in bulls, cows and heifers, selling cattle not ready for slaughter and selling stores to a licensed finishing unit.
For the full list of FAQs go to: https://tbhub.co.uk/licensing-of-cattle-movements-in-england-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/.
Digital connectivity and skills
BT Skills for Tomorrow support for society
BT has issued guidance on its Skills for Tomorrow programme . It is vital that people with low or no digital skills can keep in touch with family and friends and access health services. Covid-19 presents significant challenges to small businesses. In addition, families with children at home from school will need to get the best out of technology to help their children to learn and play. Finally, many people need support as they work from home for the first time.
Working in partnership with leading digital skills organisations, the BT Skills for Tomorrow programme has free resources and information to help people with each of these challenges, For more information got to: www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow.
Free BT Webinars on digital skills
BT has included a number of webinars to help support small businesses improve their digital skills. The webinars are to help small business owners and their employees on a wide range of topics including digital marketing, using collaboration tools and how to get a business online.
For more details go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/bt-skills-for-tomorrow-26823592931.
Guidance from telecom infrastructure providers on access to land
Openreach, the largest telecoms infrastructure provider in the UK, has released guidance for its staff and contractors when working with customers. This is important for landowners as Openreach will require access to land when deploying the fibre network. Full details can be found here:https://www.openreach.com/covid-19-coronavirus.
New Digital Skills mentoring scheme launched
The government is supporting a new digital skills scheme called “Digital Boost” which aims to provide support for small businesses.
The Covid-19 outbreak has seen a greater reliance on online platforms for businesses in trading with consumers. However, many rural businesses do not have an online presence and are unable to trade. According to the organisation, Small Business, some 67% of small businesses do not have a digital offering. The Digital Boost platform is designed to give businesses the skills to understand digital technology and use the opportunities it affords.
The new scheme, which is a free online platform, provides three different levels of support and advice:
- “Boost Calls” – one to one mentoring with digital experts;
- “Boost Workshops” – interactive sessions on a range of digital issues; and,
- “Boost Skills” – providing information on a range of digital applications.
The CLA sees the digital skills agenda as one of the most important issues for the post Covid-19 period by allowing businesses to trade more effectively. We are calling for a national digital skills audit by government and a rolling programme of effective communication to ensure that businesses are aware of the digital skills programmes that are available.
For more information on Digital Boost, click here.
New Digital Skills platform launched
The government has announced that a free digital skills platform is now available which gives people access to online courses including digital skills and numeracy. The aim is to improve the basic digital skills of users.
Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths to tools for using email and social media more effectively at work.
To access the new digital skills toolkit, go to: https://theskillstoolkit.campaign.gov.uk/.
CLA sets out advice for businesses needing a QR code
The CLA has produced a briefing that sets out the conditions of the QR code system as part of the NHS Test and Trace as well as details on how to register. Once registered, applicable businesses need to promote this and ensure that visitors and guests comply with the new regulations.
The CLA briefing note can be found here.
Cleaning in a non-healthcare environment
Public Health England has set out some practical guidance for how to clean in a non-healthcare setting. It covers areas such as:
- the importance of hygiene;
- the most effective use of disinfectants;
- how to clean an area which may have come into contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms; and,
- What needs to be done with laundry and waste
For more information, click here.
Government advice for food businesses
The Government has now issued further guidance for food businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes guidance on food hygiene, the application of social distancing and managing employee sickness. Full details can be found:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19.
Government clarifies rules on test and trace for events
Much needed and long overdue guidance has now been issued by government for the reopening of outdoor events and whether test and trace needs to be used.
The new guidance states that:
“Many outdoor events are not currently included in the scope of the Collection of Contact Details Regulations (Test & Trace), unless taking place at a venue specifically listed in the Regulations, and as such are not required to display an official NHS QR code or ask customers and visitors for their contact details. These include, for example, agricultural shows, funfairs, fetes, flower shows, literary fairs, festivals and car boot sales (these are exempt). "
Event organisers may still wish to support test and trace by asking visitors for their contact details and displaying an official NHS QR code, but they are not required to do so.
Any eat-in hospitality venues within these events (even if outdoors) are in scope of the regulations and are required to request that all customers and visitors either scan the official NHS QR code or provide contact details, and must refuse entry to anyone that chooses not to do so. This applies to the area of the hospitality venue only – it does not change the requirements for the wider event premises.
The full list of venues that must display the official NHS QR code and implement test and trade are set out below.
Activity: Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs cafes, including workplace canteens bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs, public houses.
Leisure and tourism
Activity: Amusement arcades, betting shops and bingo halls, casinos, cinema, clubs providing team sporting activities, concert venues, facilities for use by elite and professional sportspeople (including sports stadia), heritage locations and attractions open to the public (including castles, stately homes and other historic houses), hotels and other guest accommodation provided on a commercial basis, including in bed and breakfast accommodation, boats, campsites, caravans, chalets, guest houses, holiday parks, hostels, motels, pubs, sleeper trains and yurts, indoor sport and leisure centres, including gyms, outdoor swimming pools and lidos, museums and galleries, music recording studios open for public hire or other public use, public libraries, theatres.
Close contact services
Activity: Barbers, beauticians (including those providing cosmetic, aesthetic and wellness treatments), dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers, hairdressers, nail bars and salons, skin and body piercing services, sports and massage therapists, tattooists
Council run services
Activity: Community centres, youth and community centres, village halls
Government Covid-19 roadmap remains on track
The UK Government is preparing for England to enter phase 3 of the Covid-19 roadmap on 17 May. The removal of a number of restrictions will allow certain businesses to reopen and events to take place.
For rural tourism operators, the primary guidance for visitor economy businesses has been updated to incorporate more details on the requirements associated with phase 3 of the roadmap.
Visitor attractions and recreational venues can open both indoor and outdoor areas. This includes:
- Games and recreation facilities, such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks) and trampolining centres;
- Water parks and theme parks;
- Animal attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife centres;
- Attractions such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks.
Most indoor and outdoor entertainment venues will be able to open to the public, including theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, arcades and bingo halls.
Although indoor and outdoor events can take place, businesses will still need to follow Covid-19 secure and social distancing guidance. This includes businesses conducting risk assessments as well as ensuring that a test and trace system is put in place.
Events permitted from Step 3 (which include business events such as conferences and exhibitions, live performances, and sport events) must follow all Covid-19 secure guidance, adhere to all legal requirements, and take all reasonable action to mitigate risk to public health. Events will not be permitted if organisers cannot guarantee social distancing between groups of attendees or if other Covid-19 secure requirements cannot be met. This could apply to events such as music festivals and carnivals.
Capacity restrictions apply to both indoor events (1,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower) and outdoor events (4,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower).
Indoor and outdoor guided tours are permitted but must operate within the legal gathering limits and follow COVID-secure guidance. Tours can be provided for a single permitted group of visitors (up to 30 people outdoors; up to 6 people or 2 households/bubbles indoors), or multiple permitted groups (of up to 30 people outdoors; groups of up to 6 people or 2 households/bubbles indoors) that are kept separate throughout the activity.
For full details on the updated guidance go to: The visitor economy - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Government Covid-19 roadmap: What does it actually mean?
The prime minister has now set out the details of the roadmap with the aim of taking England out of the third Covid-19 lockdown. The details of the roadmap can be found here. The most obvious question surrounding the dates and the four phases is the potential impact the roadmap could have on a number of sectors, those that have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and those where Covid-19 has had a lighter touch.
The four phases
Phase 1: from 8 March
- All schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in a public space - such as a park - will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.
- From 29 March outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis, basketball courts, or outdoor swimming pools will reopen and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also be permitted.
Phase 2: Earliest 12 April
- Non-essential retail units can reopen. Holiday lets will also be allowed to reopen for individuals or members of the same household. Zoos and theme parks will be permitted to reopen. We are seeking clarification regarding campsites.
Phase 3: Earliest 17 May
- Other tourism businesses will be permitted to reopen, including hotels and B&Bs, subject to meeting Covid-19 secure guidelines. Hospitality businesses, including public houses and restaurants, will be able to reopen indoors without curfew or the need for a substantial meal. Groups will be able to meet up to a limit of 30 outdoors.
Phase 4: Earliest 21 June
- All social contact restrictions will be removed. Weddings of more than 30 will be permitted.
Tourism and hospitality
There is no dispute that the tourism and hospitality sectors have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. The last year, 2020, saw the rural tourism sector lose over £50bn in consumer spend as a result of the series of lockdowns that have taken place. The present year, 2021, sees an opportunity for tourism businesses to try and regain the losses incurred whilst ensuring sufficient cash flow during the closed season.
The roadmap states that:
- From 12 April at the earliest, certain tourism and hospitality businesses will be able to reopen in certain settings.
The roadmap makes clear only self-catering accommodation will be permitted for either individuals or for members within the same household. Any self-catering business looking to reopen to take advantage will need to comply with the Covid-19 secure guidelines in terms of ensuring that the accommodation meets Covid-19 rules and that the potential for an increase in the rate of infection is reduced.
But one issue that was not apparent when businesses were able to reopen in July 2020 was that of testing of staff and guests. Although it was the case that staff should be required to ensure that they did not work if they believed they has Covid-19 symptoms, and if they did, to get tested as soon as possible, there was no requirement to introduce an ongoing testing regime. Businesses will need to look at this again in order to reassure both themselves as well as potential guests. Now businesses with any number of employees can register for and receive free lateral flow tests (with results after 30 mins) from the government. This will be free and available until the end of June but businesses need to register before the end of March. For more details go to: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests
The government is also exploring the idea of home testing – details will be put on the Covid-19 hub when they are available.
When it comes to another form of rural tourism, camping, the roadmap states that such venues could be permitted to reopen as long as the units “do not require shared use of bathing, entry/exit, catering or sleeping facilities - can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household.” This would seem to preclude the majority of camping and glamping sites but not caravanning.
When we look at the roadmap and hospitality, such as restaurants and pubs, the roadmap states that: “Hospitality venues for outdoor service, without any curfew or the requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal, customers must order, eat and drink while seated are permitted to reopen.”
What is important to recognise here is that hospitality venues are only permitted to reopen after 12 April at the earliest if service is outdoors. The rule of six will apply and it will be table service only. This will put additional constraints on the business.
Points to consider
- When tourism and hospitality venues are able to reopen, there are likely to remain in place capacity restrictions. These will only be removed after the government has reviewed the progress of the virus;
- Businesses will still need to adhere to the Government’s Covid-19 secure guidelines. These are likely to be very similar to those that were introduced after the first lockdown in May and June 2020;
- The safety of staff and visitors will remain paramount. This will mean that consideration should be given to how both staff and members will be tested after businesses are able to reopen.
Weddings and events
Along with many other forms of tourism, the events sector and in particular weddings, has been severely affected by the pandemic. The weddings sector generated around £14.7bn for the UK economy in 2019 with over 250,000 weddings taking place. For 2020, it is estimated that the sector will lose at least £7bn.
For a wedding to be economically viable, it needs at least 50 guests to attend. However, the 50 minimum limit can only take place from 21 June at the earliest. From 12 April, 15 guests will be permitted to attend and from 17 May this will increase to 30. But this is still well under the economically viable minimum.
The agrifood sector has been one of those that has been lightly affected by Covid-19. At the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, agricultural workers were deemed as key workers which remains the case today. The main problems to emerge have been over breaks in the supply chain, supplies to the food service sector and the reduction in the number of migrant workers able to work on-farm during 2020.
Indeed, it has been the scarcity of labour supply that has raised significant problems for those in particular sectors. The main reason for the reduced labour supply was the imposition on restrictions imposed by EU Member States on travelling to the UK as a result of Covid-19. For 2021 however, it is unlikely that those restrictions will still be in place.
Reduced labour supply will be the result of the more restrictive immigration policy introduced by the UK government. The CLA estimated last year that at least 75,000 migrant workers were needed. Domestic supply, for a variety of reasons, is very unlikely to plug the gap. Although the extended Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme has increased the number of allocated visas from 10,000 in 2020 to 30,000 for this year, that still means a substantial shortfall.
The closing down of restaurants, cafes and the education system meant that the food service sector felt the brunt of the Covid-19 impact. This had a number of effects. Firstly, it directly affected those suppliers to the food service sector who had to very rapidly shift production and delivery patterns. Secondly, it illustrated the fragility of supply chains that were simply unable to cope with overnight change. When these two factors came together, it was inevitable that the sector would require substantial change in the future.
Rebalancing and underpinning the food service sector will take time. As economic activity begins to increase following the end of lockdown for particular types of businesses, such as non-essential retail (eg. cafes and restaurants) from 12 April and 17 May in addition to the ability of these businesses to trade indoors, the food service sector will begin to stabilise although it has to be noted that this will be from a very low base. This is likely to mean that the period of stabilisation could take longer to return to pre-Covid levels.
The Covid-19 pandemic will have affected different sectors in different ways. This will also affect the way sectors will begin to recover from Covid-19.
Looking firstly at the tourism and hospitality sectors, there are a number of indicators and policy interventions that suggest that both will rebound strongly although at different speeds.
Rural tourism is positioned to benefit from an upsurge in activity during 2021. It is very likely that there will be significant pent up demand for staycations in the UK which could also benefit from ongoing travel restrictions for inbound tourists. In addition, the government’s decision to continue with VAT at 5% for a further 6 months and then to an interim rate of 12.5% up to the end of March 2022 will further improve many businesses cashflow position.
We see an upward trend for at least the next 5 years and we anticipate that rural tourism businesses are likely to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2022.
The rural hospitality sector has been hit harder than the tourism sector. This means that it will take longer for the sector to recover although we do anticipate an immediate positive impact following the end of lockdown for at least 4 months.
Whereas we anticipate rural tourism businesses to be back at pre-Covid levels by the end of 2022, we believe that for those in the rural hospitality sector, the return to pre-Covid levels to take longer and estimate the period July to December 2023.
Turning to the weddings and events sector, as with tourism and hospitality we expect a rebound effect for both weddings and events. However, although the rebound period could be quite significant for weddings, the events sector may continue to struggle. We anticipate that the events sector will not be able to get back to pre-Covid levels until December 2022 at the earliest with it being very possible that this is extended well into 2023.
For weddings however, the bounce back impact is likely to be significant and last to the end of 2021. We also see continued growth into 2022 for two main reasons: the nature of the wedding itself and the public’s perceptions; and the logistics involved in planning and holding weddings. Although the sector is likely to return quickly, it could be affected by the sheer volume of postponements from 2020 and early 2021. We believe that the sector will not be able to get back to the pre-Covid level of bookings until late 2022. Between June 2021 and September 2022, it is very possible that the sector will be playing catch-up to return to pre-Covid booking levels. By the latter half of 2022, it is likely that a greater degree of certainty will return.
Government clarifies what can open when
The government has issued further guidance on which businesses will be able to reopen at each stage of the roadmap.
Phase 1: 29 March 2021
Outdoor sports facilities will include:
- swimming pools
- sports courts (such as tennis and basketball courts)
- golf courses, including mini golf
- water sports venues
- climbing walls
- driving and shooting ranges
- riding arenas at riding centres
- archery venues
The public can use these venues in a group of six people, or with members of up to two households.
Phase 2: 12 April 2021
Non-essential retail shops including:
- retail travel agents
- betting shops (subject to additional COVID-Secure measures, such as limiting the use of gaming machines).
Indoor sports and leisure facilities including:
- gyms and leisure centres
- sports courts
- swimming pools
- dance studios and fitness centres
- driving and shooting ranges
- riding arenas
- archery venues
- climbing wall centres
- Self-contained holiday accommodation in which all facilities (including for sleeping, catering, bathing, and indoor lobbies and corridors for entry and exit) are restricted to exclusive use of an individual, single household/support bubble.
- Outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in member’s clubs) can reopen, including for takeaway alcohol. These venues may allow customers to use toilets located inside. At any premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated (Table service only).
- adventure parks and activities
- animal attractions (such as at zoos, safari parks and aquariums)
- drive in events, such as for cinemas, theatres, and other performances.
- film studios
- funfairs and fairgrounds
- model villages
- museums and galleries
- skating rinks
- theme parks
- trampolining parks
- water and aqua parks
Gift Shops at Attractions
- Permitted businesses operating in otherwise closed attractions (such as a gift shop or a takeaway kiosk at a museum) may only open where they are a self-contained unit and can be accessed directly from the street.
- Outdoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions:
- that they comply with Covid-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment
- that they ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children).
This could enable spectators at a grassroots sports match or a village fete, provided people do not mix beyond groups of 6 people or two households.
Phase 3: 17 May 2021
- Indoor areas of hospitality venues will reopen. As outdoors, table service will only be available. Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.
- Remaining holiday accommodation can reopen including hotels, B&Bs, campsites, glamping sites and hostels
Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions
- Businesses that can reopen including:
- Cinemas/theatres/concert halls
- museums and galleries
- adventure playgrounds and activities
- amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
- bingo halls/casinos
- bowling alleys/skating rinks
- games, recreation and entertainment venues such as escape rooms and laser quest
- play areas (including soft play centres and inflatable parks)
- trampolining parks/water and aqua parks
- indoor visitor areas at outdoor attractions that opened on 12th April 2021
- Events with a capacity of up to 30 will be permitted.
- Remaining outdoor entertainment events, such as cinemas, theatres, and other performance events will also be permitted.
Phase 4: 21 June 2021
- Remaining businesses to open including
- nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
- lifting the restrictions on large events
- Unrestricted Wedding events can now take place.
Please note: at the time of writing the dates set out above are in accordance with the Government’s published roadmap and are the earliest at which activities can recommence and businesses allowed to reopen.
Government guidance on test and trace information updated
The information to collect section of the Test and Trace guidance has been updated to clarify the information that businesses need to collect and how to do this.
Businesses will need to collect the following information:
- the name of the customer or visitor;
- date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time;
- a contact phone number for each customer or visitor. If a phone number is not available, you should ask for their email address instead, or if neither are available, then postal address;
- the name of the assigned staff member, if a customer or visitor will interact with only one member of staff (for example, a hairdresser). This should be recorded alongside the name of the customer or visitor.
This can be collected via:
- a booking system
- a QR code
- a paper system
Businesses also need to note:
- Venues must not make the specific use of the NHS QR code (on a smart phone) a precondition of entry (as the individual has the right to choose to provide their contact details if they prefer);
- Hospitality venues must refuse entry to any customer or visitor who decides not to provide either their contact details or scan the official NHS QR code;
- Businesses need to be satisfied that those checking in using the official NHS QR code have actually done so. This can be done, for example, by a member of staff asking the individual if they have scanned the code or ask to view the person’s screen to show the venue check-in screen if there is still reason to believe they have not done so;
- Businesses cannot use this data for any other purposes other than for NHS Test and Trace, unless it is already being collected for another business purpose.
For more information on the test and trace guidance, go to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace#information-to-collect
Government publishes new Covid-19 events guidance
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has issued new guidance for Step 2 (starting 12 April) and Step 3 (no earlier than 17 May).
Events can take place if all three of the following conditions are met:
- The event takes place outdoors;
- Attendees are expected to arrive and leave the event in a staggered manner throughout the day. This would need to be managed by the event organiser;
- It does not involve attendees converging on and congregating in a site for a specific performance or activity, such as a theatre or music performance, or the event is a drive-in performance or show.
Examples of events that fit these criteria include:
- Agricultural/flower/garden shows;
- steam rallies;
- car boot sales;
- community fairs/village fetes;
- animal and pet shows;
- funfairs and fairgrounds;
- food and drink festivals;
- drive-in cinemas and drive-in live performance events
An event can take place where:
- People are likely to congregate in one area for the duration of the event;
- People are likely to enter or leave the venue in large numbers at a similar time.
Events that these criteria relate to include:
- business events such as conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, charity auctions, and private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality;
- live performances;
- air shows;
- historical /battle re-enactments;
- live animal performances such as falconry displays at events;
- non-elite and professional sporting events.
However, the capacity at all events that take place under step 3 rules will be restricted as follows:
- 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, at indoor events;
- 4,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, at outdoor events.
Capacity restrictions must be met at any point throughout the event. This means that a theatre can admit over 1,000 people in a single day, but no more than 1,000 people at one time. If an indoor event runs over the course of multiple days, no more than 1,000 people should be admitted at any one time over that period. If a single venue hosts multiple different events at one time, and the attendees of each event are separated for the duration of the event (for example, a cinema with multiple screens, or an exhibition centre hosting multiple business events), the 50% capacity cap will apply to each individual event, rather than the venue.
The capacity limits refer only to customers. This means that staff, workers, volunteers, speakers, exhibitors are covered by the work exemption and are not included the capacity limit.
DCMS has also produced guidance for local authorities to use when assessing whether to give permission for events to take place. This guidance is likely to become increasingly important for businesses and need to be understood when entering discussions with Local Authorities on how their event should take place. The CLA’s revised guidance for tourism businesses is available on the CLA Covid-19 hub.
For details of the DCMS guidance and the guidelines for Local Authorities click here.
Government WhatsApp service
The Government has started a Whatsapp information service providing 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. Full details can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-coronavirus-information-service-on-whatsapp.
Government updates events Covid-19 guidance for local authorities
The government has set out updated guidance for outdoor events that can take place from the beginning of step 2 of the roadmap (from 12 April). This explains what local authorities will require to ensure that businesses are able to comply with the Covid-19 secure guidelines.
This is important for those businesses considering holding outdoor events, such as car boot sales, as the guidance contains information and the process through which these events can take place safely.
The updated guidance can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Organised events guidance for local authorities - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
PPE use and disposal
The government has published new guidance for employers and employees on safety in the workplace and guidance regarding the use of face coverings. This includes:
- throw away any used PPE (gloves and face masks) in residual ‘black bag’ waste at home or whilst at work, or a litter bin if outside;
- do not put used PPE (gloves and face masks) in a recycling bin. These cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities;
- do not purchase medical-grade masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments;
- people are encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that you already own. Further guidance can be found here
- Cloth face coverings should be washed in line with manufacturer’s instructions. Properly dispose home-made face coverings in black bag waste or equivalent;
- Anyone self-isolating at home with confirmed or suspected COVID 19 should continue to place all personal waste materials, including any PPE worn at home, in the black bags. It should be double-bagged, making sure the bags are securely tied, then stored for 72 hours before placing it out for collection.
Social distancing - new UK Government measures to enforce social distancing
The government has updated guidance on how best for businesses to undertake social distancing in order to protest workers and customers during the outbreak.
The new guidance covers the following sectors:
- Farming: visiting farms for animal health and welfare
- Manufacturing and processing businesses
- Transport businesses
- Logistics businesses
- Waste management businesses
Full details of the revised guidance can be found here.
Mental health and wellbeing
Anxiety and wellbeing
Running a farming business can be demanding at the best of times. Additional health and financial worries caused by Covid-19 could make it an even more stressful time, and it's important not to suffer in silence.
Two charitable bodies are here to help:
- The Farm Community Network (helpline: tel 03000 111999: https://fcn.org.uk/)
- RABI (helpline: tel 0808 2819490: https://rabi.org.uk/)
Government launches plan to tackle loneliness
The government has announced a new plan to tackle the problem of loneliness during the Covid-19 lockdown. As part of a new £750m package to support charities, the £5m #Let’sTalkLoneliness public campaign has been rolled out to get people talking openly about loneliness.
More information can be found here.
Mental health and wellbeing
The government has set out guidance to help protect the mental health of business owners and employees. Suggestions to help people to cope include:
- Consider how to connect with other
- Help and support others
- Talk about your worries
- Look after your physical wellbeing and look after your sleep
- Manage your media and information intake and get the facts to stay up to date
- Think about your new daily routine
- Try to keep your mind active
Full details of the guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing.
Keep up to date and communicate
It is important for all businesses to keep up to date with the latest information from the government, including public health authorities: The government will update its advice on Coronavirus daily and businesses need to be aware that they may need to change how the business operates. Government advice can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response.
During this period of the outbreak how the business communicates with its employees, customers and suppliers will be very important. Employees will need to know where the business stands, what could happen in the future and how they are protected.
Along with employees, business customers and suppliers will need to be kept regularly informed as to what is happening. Opening a two-way conversation with customers and suppliers can give that element of reassurance they need.
One of the best ways of doing this is through your website as this will be the place many people will go first of all.
Permitted development rights - additional temporary uses of land - extension for 2021
In June 2020, the government published the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England)(Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 no. 632). The regulations introduced a number of changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) (GPDO) including the introduction of Class BA which provided a time limited extension to temporary uses of land for 2020.
The government has provided for a further, time limited, extension of these rights for 2021. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI2020/1243) amends the time limit for Class BA with effect from 1 January 2021.
A summary of the regulations, which includes a number of exclusions, can be found in CLA guidance note GN19-20.
Permitted development rights - temporary use of certain buildings for takeaway food - time limited extension to 2022
In March 2020, following the closure of pubs, cafes and restaurants as a result of coronavirus, the government announced that they would permit these establishments temporarily, to provide takeaway food.
The regulations to allow this temporary change of use to take effect was published as The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020 (SI 2020 No.330) and introduced Class DA which came into force for a time limited period - 24 March 2020 to 23 March 2021.
With effect from 6 April 2021, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI2020/1243) amend the end date for Class DA from 23 March 2021 to 23 March 2022.
Further information can be found in CLA guidance note GN20-20.
Planning appeals - changes to procedures for handling appeals (England only)
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has updated its planning appeals guidance, for England, to include measures in the Business and Planning Act 2020 that the allow the body to take a mix-and-match approach to the procedures for handling appeals.
Formerly, PINS had decided at the beginning of the appeal whether it would take the form of written representations, a hearing or a planning inquiry.
The Busines and Planning Act 2020 contains a series of measures designed to support the economy during the CV19 pandemic. The Act allows planning appeals to consist of a hybrid of these three routes. The PINS’ lasted procedural guide for planning appeals in England now reflects this change.
The guidance now provides that if PINS decides initially “that an appeal should be dealt with thorough a hearing or an inquiry the appointed Inspector may subsequently also consider, based on submitted evidence and relevant issues, whether a combined procedure might be appropriate”. The document suggests for example that “a hearing could have written representations element to deal with a certain issue and an inquiry could have a hearing and/or written representations elements, if those approaches are considered more appropriate to deal with certain issues”.
The guidance states that how “the combined procedure should operate at the discretion of the inspector on a case-by-case basis”. If the ‘combined procedure’ is appropriate, the parties may be invited to comment, which for inquiries will be prior to or during the case management conference call, before a decision on any ‘combined procedure’ is finalised.
The guidance has also been updated to include the introduction for appeals to allow for amendments to construction hours and to enable certain planning permissions and listed building consents in England which have lapsed or are about to lapse during 2020 to be extended. These measures were also contained in the Business and Planning Act. The appeals procedures for these were set out earlier this year.
Rural business measures
2021 Budget sets out extensions for Covid-19 support packages
In the 2021 budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, made a number of changes to the current Covid-19 support packages. The details below cover:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS);
- Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS);
- Reduced VAT on tourism accommodation and attractions;
- Grants support;
- Business rates relief;
- Recovery loans scheme;
- Super-deduction scheme;
- New funds
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) extended to 30 September.
For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, the employer can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC has been made between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. A business does not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim for periods from starting on or after 1 May 2021.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The SEISS scheme is being extended until 30 September 2021.
The online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021 and will be followed by a fifth and final grant which will cover the June to September. The fourth SEISS grant will be worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. The grant will cover the period February to April, and can be claimed from late April. Self-employed individuals must have filed a 2019-20 Self Assessment tax return to be eligible for the fourth grant.
A fourth and final SEISS grant covering June to September will be available. The value of the grant will be determined by a turnover test. People whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will continue to receive the full grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850. The final grant can be claimed from late July.
There are changes to the time and circumstances when a 100% tax charge may arise in relation to Self-Employment Income Support Scheme payments. This enables HMRC to recover grants where an individual was entitled to the grant at the time of claim but subsequently ceases to be entitled to all or part of the grant. It also extends the Treasury’s regulation making powers in relation to charges if a person is not entitled to a coronavirus support payment, to bring the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme within scope of the legislation.
For further details go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/updates-to-tax-charges-when-a-person-is-no-longer-eligible-to-self-employment-income-support-scheme-payments/updates-to-tax-charges-when-a-person-is-no-longer-eligible-to-self-employment-income-support-scheme-payments
Reduced VAT Rate extension
The guidance on the reduced VAT Rate extension has been revised following today’s budget announcement. It is essentially the same as previously, except for the introduction of the 12.5% rate from 1 October 2021 to 31st March 2022.
The guidance on attractions that are eligible for the reduced VAT rate extension have been revised. Those eligible to apply the reduced rate include:
- Amusement parks;
- Similar cultural events and facilities.
Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reduced-rate-for-hospitality-holiday-accommodation-and-attractions
The government is to provide ‘Restart Grants’ in England of up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses. The government is also providing all local authorities in England with an additional £425 million of discretionary business grant funding, on top of the £1.6 billion already allocated.
Further details will be circulated when they are available although it is thought that the grants will be allocated by Local Authorities, based on the rateable value of the business.
Business rates relief
Eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England will receive 100% business rates relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.
A new Recovery Loans Scheme
The Recovery Loan Scheme will launch on 6 April 2021, following the closure of the current Covid-19 debt schemes – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) – on 31 March 2021. The Recovery Loan Scheme is scheduled to run until 31 December 2021, but this is subject to review.
The new scheme aims to help businesses affected by Covid-19 and can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including managing cashflow, investment and growth. It is designed to appeal to businesses that can afford to take out additional debt finance for these purposes.
- Up to £10m facility per business: The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £10m per business. Minimum facility sizes vary, starting at £1,000 for asset and invoice finance, and £25,001 for term loans and overdrafts.
- Turnover limit: There will be no turnover restriction for businesses accessing the scheme.
- Wide range of products: Businesses will be able to choose from a variety of products: term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance facilities.
- Term length: Term loans and asset finance facilities are available for up to six years, with overdrafts and invoice finance available for up to three years.
- Interest and fees to be paid by the business from the outset: Businesses will be required to meet the costs of interest payments and any fees associated with the facility.
- Access to multiple schemes: Businesses who have taken out a CBILS, CLBILS or BBLS facility will be able to access the new scheme, although the maximum they are allowed to borrow will depend on their lender’s assessment and scheme requirements.
- Credit checks for all applicants: Lenders will be required to undertake credit and fraud checks for all applicants. When making their assessment, lenders may overlook concerns over short-to-medium term performance owing to the pandemic. The checks and approach may vary between lenders.
Further information on the Recovery Loan Scheme will be made available here: Recovery Loan Scheme - British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)
From 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets will be able to claim:
- a 130% super-deduction capital allowance on qualifying plant and machinery investments;
- a 50% first-year allowance for qualifying special rate assets.
The super-deduction will allow companies to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest, ensuring the UK capital allowances regime is amongst the world’s most competitive.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/super-deduction
New funds launched
The government has launched three new investment programmes to support communities right across the country. All share common challenges and opportunities, which the UK government is determined to address in collaboration with local partners.
The UK Community Renewal Fund
To help the UK prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces EU funding programmes, the government is providing £220m in the 2021-22 years through the UK Community Renewal Fund in order to pilot programmes and new approaches ahead of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The prospectus for this funding has been published and will prioritise projects that target investment at communities in need in 100 priority places based on an index of economic resilience.
The Levelling Up Fund
The Government has published the prospectus for the £4.8 billion levelling up fund to support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets and the priority areas for its use.
More detail can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/levelling-up-fund-prospectus
The Community Ownership Fund
There is to be a Community Ownership Fund which will enable community groups to bid for up to £250,000 matched-funding to help them buy or take over local community assets at risk of being lost, to run as community-owned businesses.
For further details, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-ownership-fund/community-ownership-fund.
Additional Restrictions Grants - scope widened
The UK Government has published additional guidance to Local Authorities in England on the Additional Restrictions Grants, which provide direct business grants and wider business support. A further £425m was made available to local authorities as part of the 2021 Budget. It will be allocated on a per-business calculation, and will only be allocated to local authorities to meet all necessary conditions and prove by 30 June 2021 that they have spent or made a validated attempt to spend 100% of their first two Additional Restrictions Grant allocations combined.
What CLA members need to know:
- It is up to local authorities to choose how they will distribute the funding. Businesses which have not received any grant funding so far will have to apply for support.
- The guidance encourages local authorities to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by Covid restrictions, but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme. “This may include, but is not limited to, group travel and tour operators, other tourism businesses (including B&Bs and event industry suppliers), wholesalers, English language schools, breweries, freelance and mobile businesses (including caterers, events, hair, beauty and wedding related businesses), wraparound care providers, and other businesses that may have not received other grant funding. This list is not directive nor exhaustive, and Local Authorities should continue to issue grants at their discretion, based on local economic needs”.
- There is no starting date from which businesses must have been trading in order to qualify for grant funding.
- The guidance further states that: “In taking decisions on the appropriate level of grant, Local Authorities may want to take into account businesses outside of the business rates system, businesses that have not received any other grant support, the level of fixed costs of the business, the number of employees the business has, whether it is unable to trade online and the consequent scale of coronavirus losses.”
- Businesses that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made, are not eligible for funding under this scheme. Additional Restrictions Grant funding should not be used as a wage support mechanism, for capital projects that do not provide direct business support.
- As part of their application process for the scheme, all businesses will be required to self-certify that they meet all eligibility criteria.
- The Additional Restrictions Grant is taxable. It will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business. Payments made to businesses before 5 April 2021 will fall into the 2020/21 tax year. Payments after 6 April 2021 will fall into the 2021/22 tax year. Unincorporated businesses will be taxed when they receive the grant income.
- Limits in the amount of grant any single business can receive will apply, though these have been revised at the end of the EU Exit transition period. Application rejected before Thursday 4 March 2021 on the grounds that the applicant had reached previous scheme limits will not be revisited. However, Local Authorities may accept applications submitted from 4 March 2021 from eligible applicants that are now within scheme limits as a result of the increased subsidy allowances. Businesses that have already received grant payments that equal the maximum permitted levels of subsidy will not be eligible to receive funding.
- Grant payments will be subject to a series of fraud prevention and detection measures.
Businesses can now get Bounce Back loan top ups
Following the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme and relax some of the conditions relating to the Covid-19 loan schemes, as from today, participating lenders in the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) are able to offer smaller businesses across the UK a ‘top-up’ to their existing Bounce Back Loan if they originally borrowed less than the maximum amount available to them.
The top-up will be available from several large lenders from today, with other lenders expected to make the top-up available in the next few days.
The top-ups are only available from a borrower’s existing Bounce Back scheme lender. In addition, a borrower can apply for a top-up that is for the lesser of £50k or 25% of the annual turnover the borrower certified in their original successful BBLS application form, minus the value of their original loan.
How the top up works
Under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme top-up, if a borrower had certified an annual turnover of £100,000 in their original application and taken a Bounce Back Loan of £20,000 (20% of that certified annual turnover), they can ask to borrow an additional £5,000 (5% of that certified annual turnover), taking their Bounce Back Loan to the maximum 25% of their originally certified annual turnover.
Varying turnover amounts certified in original loan applications and relative size of original loans means the size of the top-up facility available to applicants will vary.
There are a number of key features to the new top up:
- One top-up per borrower from their existing lender;
- The minimum top up amount is £1,000;
- The capital repayment holiday runs for 12 months from the initial drawdown date on the original Bounce Back Loan. This means that if the initial drawdown date of the original Bounce Back Loan was on 1 June 2020, and the drawdown date of the top-up was on 1 November 2020, the capital repayment holiday period will run to 31 May 2021.
Applying for the top up
Those wishing to apply for the top up should contact their lender which will then give the applicant a short form application form. Borrowers must complete this application form to be eligible for a top-up.
The top-up application form will require borrowers to indicate the amount of the top-up requested and re-provide certain declarations set out in the original Bounce Back Loan application form.
For more details, click here.
Small Business Grants Fund
Guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) has now been published. The changes outline information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post payment checks, and the eligibility of charities.
Further information can be found here.
Following the Chancellor's Budget £330bn was made available to provide government backed and guaranteed loan facility. This was due to be made available from Monday 23 March for any business that needs finance to pay rents, salaries and suppliers.
The maximum amount of lending to each business under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced at the Budget was increased from £1.2m to £5m. Government has said that finance will be offered on attractive terms. This includes an interest-free period for the first 6 months.
If your business is having to close, or there is a possibility that it may need to close as a result of Covid-19, there are a number of things you need to consider:
Check the wording of the insurance policy to see if you have business interruption cover. Business interruption insurance covers the income that is lost as a result of the outbreak.
Check that this covers notifiable diseases with your insurer. The UK Government has declared Covid-19 a notifiable disease;
If your insurance does not cover notifiable disease, it may be possible for this to be added. However, the insurer has a right to refuse and it is very possible you will need to pay an additional premium.
Many CLA members will be worried about whether their insurance will protect them from some of the financial effects of Covid-19. As well as consulting their policy documents, we encourage members to visit the Q&A page from the Association of British Insurer
Financial Conduct Authority sets out temporary financial relief for consumers affected by Covid-19
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a package of temporary measures to help consumers affected by the coronavirus outbreak. They are intended to help people with some of the most commonly used consumer credit products.
The measures include firms being expected to:
- offer a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards for up to three months, for consumers negatively impacted by coronavirus
- allow customers who are negatively impacted by coronavirus and who already have an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, up to £500 charged at zero interest for three months
- make sure that all overdraft customers are no worse off on price when compared to the prices they were charged before the recent overdraft pricing changes came into force
- ensure consumers using any of these temporary payment freeze measures will not have their credit file affected
The changes take force today and the full range of measures will apply by Tuesday 14 April 2020. This is to allow firms time to ensure they have the appropriate level of resources available to handle customer requests. All firms will be ready to receive customer requests by 14 April, although some firms including the major banks and building societies, will be adopting the changes today.
Financial Conduct Authority issues guidance for business interruption insurance claims
Following the judgment from the Supreme Court on business interruption claims, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now issued a Policy Checker which takes businesses through a process where they can check to see whether their insurance policy covers business interruption losses due to Covid-19.
Policyholders will need to check:
- the extent of their cover, including how long it covers them for (length of their indemnity period); and,
- what losses are included, for example, loss of profit, fixed costs or increased costs of working.
However, each claim will still need to be individually considered to determine whether the policy provides cover for the effects of coronavirus.
More information can be found here.
In addition, the FCA have developed a FAQs note which gives business further information on:
- How to make a claim;
- The disease clauses in policies;
- What to do if they have already made a claim or complaint; and,
- What they can claim for.
Details of the FAQ note can be found here.
Fraud and cybercrime
The Home Office has issued guidance on how businesses can protect themselves from fraud and cyber crime. The increased use of the internet has meant that more people are vulnerable to the potential of being targeted by criminals. The advice covers how to protect yourself and the business; and where to get help.
Further details can be found here.
Government announces new VAT deferral scheme
The government has introduced a new VAT deferral scheme for those businesses that deferred VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020. Where payments still have to be made, businesses can decide to join the new online VAT deferral payment scheme which will open between 23 February and 21 June 2021.
The new scheme will allow businesses to:
- pay deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free; and,
- choose the number of instalments, from 2 to 11
To be able to use the online service, businesses must:
- join the scheme directly rather than through an agent;
- still have deferred VAT to pay;
- be up to date with VAT returns;
- join by 21 June 2021;
- pay the first instalment upon joining;
- pay instalments by Direct Debit .
For more details, go to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19.
Government announces new Most Favoured Nation status tariff rates
The Government has announced the UK’s new Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff regime, called the UK Global Tariff. This replaced the EU’s Common External Tariff on 1 January 2021 .
The aim of the new tariff schedule is to make it easier and simpler to use for traders compared to the EU’s Common External Tariff with tariff rates in sterling, rather than Euros.
The new schedule streamlines 6,000 tariff lines and will remove unnecessary tariff variations, rounding tariffs down to standardised percentages, and removing tariffs below 2%, known as “nuisance tariffs”.
The new Global Tariff also removes the EU’s ‘Meursing table’ which calculates tariff variations and eliminates tariffs on a wide range of products. However, tariffs on a number of products are being maintained, including those in the agriculture, automotive and fishing sectors.
Government consolidates Covid-19 guidance for the rural tourism and hospitality sectors
The Government has now consolidated all the relevant advice and policy that supports owners and operators of rural and coastal areas in the tourism and hospitality sectors. This one document will help businesses, councils and Destination Management Organisations operating in these areas.
It covers issues such as, car parks, public facilities, overcrowding and dealing with antisocial behaviour as well as providing links to a range of external organisations that have produced guidance related to public safety in these areas.
For details on the consolidated guidance, click here.
Government updates eligibility rules for furloughed staff
The government has updated eligibility rules for furloughing of staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The new guidance clarifies situations where employers:
- Made employees redundant or they stopped working on or after 28 February
- Made employees redundant or they stopped working on or after 19 March 2020
- Employ someone on a fixed term contract.
For further details, click here.
Guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnership formations
The UK Government has published guidance on holding weddings and civil partnership ceremonies in England safely under the current restrictions and those announced for Step 2 (not before 12 April) and Step 3 (not before 17 May).
A number of aspects of the guidance still need to be clarified - including when show rounds may be held again. This hub will be updated as soon as clarifications are received.
High Court rules in Covid-19 insurance case
The High Court has now ruled in the case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on insurance claims relating to business losses incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its judgment, the High Court found in favour of the FCA in the majority of cases. The FCA had asked the court to clarify the law relating to insurance claims which had been rejected by insurers.
Many rural businesses have been adversely affected by Covid-19 and have claimed under their business interruption insurance policy. Although most policies are focused on property damage and only have basic cover for business interruption as a consequence of property damage, some policies also cover for business interruption from other causes, such as infectious or notifiable diseases. In some cases, insurers have accepted liability under these policies, but in a number of others, insurers have disputed liability while policyholders considered that it existed, leading to widespread concern about the lack of clarity and certainty.
Although the judgment is complex, running to over 150 pages, it says that most, but not all, of the disease clauses in the sample of cases brought by the FCA provide cover. It also says that certain denial of access clauses provide cover, but this depends on the detailed wording of the clause and how the business was affected by the Government response to the pandemic, including for example whether the business was subject to a mandatory closure order and whether the business was ordered to close completely.
Importantly, the test case has also clarified that the Covid-19 pandemic and the government and public response were a single cause of the covered loss, which is a key requirement for claims to be paid even if the policy provides cover.
The insurance companies are now deciding whether to appeal the judgment. In the interim, members who believe they may be affected by the judgment should contact their respective insurance companies to see if they would have been covered.
New business support “finder” launched
The Government has launched a new web-based tool to help businesses find the right available support during the Covid-19 outbreak. Through a step-by-step process, businesses are able to find whether they are eligible for the Government’s support measures and how to apply.
To see how the tool works, go to their site.
New Coronavirus Community Support Fund open for applications
The Government’s Coronavirus Support Fund will be open for applications on 22 May. The fund is administered by the National Lottery and will make available a total of £200m.
The money is aiming to:
- increase community support to vulnerable people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak through civil society organisations;
- reduce the temporary closure of charities and social enterprises to ensure they have the financial resources to operate, and reduce the burden on public services.
Full details can be found at: www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk.
VAT deferral Scheme now open
The new VAT deferral scheme is now operational. This allows a business to:
- pay deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free;
- choose the number of instalments, from 2 to 11 (depending on when the business joins).
Full details on how to join the scheme can be found here.
CLA's rural tourism guidance updated
The CLA’s guidance to rural tourism guidance for members has been updated, following the reopening of self catering accommodation and camping sites in England. As part of phase 2 of the Government roadmap out of lockdown, a number of changes have been made to Covid-19 guidance and the secure guidelines for businesses.
Government figures show impact of Covid-19 on tourism
Government Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures which shows how the UK economy is performing, highlight that the tourism sector is still being severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
When compared to February 2020 (pre-Covid), several key sectors have bourn the brunt of the crisis:
Sector Reduction in GDP (Feb ’20 to Feb ’21) (%)
Air transport -91.6
Travel agencies and tour operators -87.0
Creative, arts and entertainment -59.1
Food and beverage -51.3
Cultural activities -48.0
UK average -7.8
Government issues guidance on data collection for tourism and hospitality businesses
The government has now published guidance for tourism and hospitality businesses on the collection of data as part of the NHS Test and Trace system.
The requirement to collect this data applies to:
- hospitality, including pubs, bars and restaurants (it does not apply to businesses operating a takeaway/delivery only basis)
- tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
- close contact services, including hairdressers, and others as defined here
- facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres
- places of worship, including use for events and other community activities
This guidance applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. It does not apply where services are taken off-site immediately, for example, a food or drink outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are dining in. It does not apply to drop-off deliveries made by suppliers.
The following data needs to be collected:
- The names of staff who work at the premises
- A contact phone number for each member of staff
- The dates and times that staff are at work
Customers and visitors
- The name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group
- A contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people
- Date of visit and arrival and, where possible, departure time.
If a customer interacts with only one member of staff, the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer If you have a large booking, for example, at a restaurant, you only need to collect the name and contact phone number of the lead member of the party. This data needs to be kept for 21 days.
For further information, click here.
Government updates planning guidance for campsites, caravan and holiday parks
The government has updated planning guidance for campsites, caravans and holiday parks regarding extending the season.
In a written Ministerial Statement, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, announced that planning conditions will be temporarily relaxed, from 14 July 2020 to 31 December 2022, to allow campsites, caravan and holiday parks to extend the open season. This applies to England only.
The statement stresses that Local Planning Authorities should not look to taking enforcement action that would restrict campsites, caravan and holiday parks from extending the open season. It is also stated that where a planning application is required to vary relevant planning conditions, for example, where they may be a risk of flooding, the Local Planning Authority should prioritise the application and make an early decision to provide certainty to the business. In making a decision, Authorities have been asked to take into account the economic importance extending the season could have on camping, caravan and holiday park businesses.
For more information, click here.
Visit Britain launches “Good To Go” Industry Standard
Visit Britain has launched the industry standard, “Good To Go”. To access the online portal, click here.
It is free for businesses to join.
Businesses will be assessed according to their respective national guidance. This includes social distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place. In England, businesses align with the UK Government’s official guidance for the sector.
Businesses that sign up to the standard will be notified of any changes to the official guidance. In addition, a call-handling service provides support. Assessors of the scheme will also carry out random spot-checks to ensure compliance.
The scheme has been developed in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales to ensure a standard-led approach across the UK with input from more than 40 industry bodies including the CLA. The CLA’s Covid-19 guidance for rural tourism operators can be found here.
The self-assessment includes specific guidelines for sectors including accommodation, visitor attractions, restaurants and pubs, business conference and events venues and tour and coach operators with signposting to further industry and trade association guidance as required.
Alongside the industry-standard VisitEngland is also launching a public information campaign to support tourism in England as businesses start to re-open, reassuring visitors as restrictions are lifted by checking about what it is safe to do and when and signposting to information about destinations and available services before travelling. More details can be found at: www.visitengland.com/covid-19-travel-advice.
HM Revenue & Customs Time To Pay
If your business suffers from financial difficulties with outstanding tax liabilities, you may be eligible to receive support through HMRC's Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. HMRC are operating a new dedicated Covid-19 helpline for advice and support, so if you are concerned about being able to pay any tax due to Covid-19, then call HMRC's dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc
HMRC Helpline for time to pay
HMRC has updated details for businesses and the self-employed people who are in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, who may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s “Time To Pay” service.
In order to be eligible, the business must be paying tax to the UK government and have outstanding tax liabilities.
HMRC advisers are available to talk to businesses through webchat in the following areas:
- Self Assessment
- Employers’ PAYE
- Corporation Tax
If a business needs to phone HMRC they should use the helpline number, 0800 024 1222. The helpline is open Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm.
Wales begins to reopen
The Wales First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has confirmed that outdoor hospitality, including cafes, pubs and restaurants, will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April. This means:
- Outdoor swimming pools and outdoor visitor attractions, including funfairs, amusement parks and theme parks can reopen;
- Organised outdoor activities for adults for up to 30 people can again take place;
- Weddings receptions for up to 30 people can take place outdoors at regulated premises.
Changes are also being planned for reopening from 3 May. This will mean that:
- Gyms, fitness facilities, leisure centres and swimming pools can reopen;
- Extended households will be possible, allowing two households to come together to form an exclusive bubble who can meet and have contact indoors;
- Children’s indoor activities can recommence;
- Organised indoor activities for adults can recommence for up to 15 people, including group exercise classes;
- Community Centres can reopen.
Importantly, the Welsh government is also preparing to move to alert level 2 on Monday 17 May subject to the public health conditions closer to the time. Alert level 2 includes the following changes:
- Indoor hospitality can reopen;
- Remainder of holiday accommodation can open (e.g. campsites with shared facilities) to members of single households or extended households;
- Entertainment venues can open, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor play centres and areas, casinos, and amusement arcades;
- Indoor visitor attractions can open, including museums, galleries, educational and heritage attractions, and heritage sites such as stately homes;
- The rule of four applies for gatherings in regulated premises, such as a café (up to 4 people from 4 households) or a single household if more than 4 people;
- The rule of six continues outdoors. Meeting indoors in private homes will still be limited to the extended household only (exclusive bubble);
- The limits on organised activities increases to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors;
- Wedding receptions can take place indoors in regulated premises for up to 30 people.
For more details click here.
Welsh Government provides more detail on reopening
The Welsh Government has now provided more clarity as to which businesses can open and when post lockdown.
From 12 April:
- The full return of children to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 learners will return to further education and training centres, and university campus’ will be able to open for blended face-to-face/online learning for all students;
- All remaining shops can reopen, completing the phased reopening of non-essential retail;
- All remaining close contact services can open, including mobile services;
- Travel restrictions on traveling into and out of Wales will be lifted. However, restrictions on travel to countries outside the Common Travel Area without a reasonable excuse, remain in place. The Common Travel Area means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland;
- Viewings at wedding venues can resume by appointment;
- Outdoor canvassing for elections can begin.
From 26 April:
- Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, would be allowed to reopen;
- Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants. Indoor hospitality will remain restricted.
From 3 May:
- Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place;
- Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will also be limited to 30 people.
Welsh Resilience Fund
The Welsh Assembly has created a Resilience fund aimed at helping those businesses that are not eligible for the Business Rate Grant or for support under the self-employed grant.
The Fund is made up of:
- £100m COVID-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme administered by Development Bank of Wales (which is already fully subscribed)
- £100m fund to support microbusinesses
- £300m fund to support SMEs and large businesses
The £100m Fund for microbusinesses, which will provide £10,000 per business, is open to applications from 17 April 2020. This will help businesses that are not eligible to the Grant Fund, but these businesses have to be VAT registered to apply.
More information can be found here.