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COVID19 advice for business FAQs

We've put together some answers to frequently asked questions on best practice.

What steps do I need to take in order to make my business Covid-secure?

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

On the 11th May, the Government issued guidance for businesses outlining steps that need to be taken, including running risk assessments, in order to ensure that workplaces are Covid-secure.

The guidance, Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), is broken down into 8 different business type.

How can employers keep staff safe and well?

​The Government has issued guidance on working safely during coronavirus to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance covers a range of different types of work and further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen. By following this guidance to protect the safety of their workers, as well as other people who may be affected by their business, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Testing and Tracing

If a member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19 – whether they at work or working from home – they and their household must self-isolate immediately and get tested for coronavirus. Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.

The test only checks if someone has coronavirus at that point and involves taking a swab of the throat and nose. Anyone of any age with symptoms can access a test. More information about the NHS Test and Trace service can be found on the GOV.UK website and a test can be booked on the NHS website.

The symptoms are:

• a new, continuous cough and/ or

• a high temperature and/ or

• a loss of change in normal sense of smell or taste

The test needs to be taken within the first 5 days of having symptoms, but it’s best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.

For help booking a test, call the Coronavirus Testing Call Centre on 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm. The service can be accessed by people with hearing or speech difficulties by calling 18001 119 (in England and Wales). To receive the test results you will need a phone number and – if you are booking the test online – an email address. If you do not have either of these, you can nominate someone to receive the results on your behalf. Their telephone number and/ or email address will need to be provided when you book the test.

Essential workers, or those living with essential workers, are prioritised for testing.

Guidance on why and how employers can support staff who may need to self-isolate can be found in the “Supporting workers who need to self-isolate” section of the Government guidance on NHS Test and Trace. This also includes information about Statutory Sick Pay for employees who are self-isolating and not able to work from home, as well as guidance for workers.

Wellbeing

Business Healthy, a City of London led initiative, has pulled together lots of quality-assured resources and key Public Health for employers to help them to support the health and wellbeing of their workers through these difficult times. This is being updated regularly.
To support employers, City of London Corporation Skills Team have created a list of free resources that may help you and your staff during COVID-19. The list focuses on digital skills, how to best work from home and mental health resources.

What support is available for small businesses?

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was launched on 23 March. The scheme supports SMEs with a turnover of up to £45million with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to six years. The government will pay to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will not face any upfront costs and will benefit from lower initial repayments. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website

Bounce Back Loans

The Government have now introduced Bounce Back Loans where businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and have a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website

Tax Deferment

To further support cashflow for businesses through the tax system, VAT payments will be deferred for three months until the end of June. 

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

Business rates relief and grants for small businesses.

The government has announced retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will not need to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. We will be applying this automatically to businesses in the City of London, you do not need to apply. 

A grant scheme has also been announced by central government to assist Small Businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000. The two schemes are detailed below:
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for Small business rate relief (SBBR) to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Eligible businesses have been sent a short form which they should return to the Business Rates team. Further information is available on our Business Rates page.

Job Retention Scheme

Any employer, large or small, is eligible to apply. The Government, via HMRC will cover 80% of employees’ salaries up to a total of £2,500/month. For further information and to apply for support, visit the online portal

Innovation Fund

The Government has announced a £1.25 billion government support package for UK businesses driving innovation and development. The package of support includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies and £750m of grants and loans for SME’s focussed on research and development who are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

More information :
Billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus
Updates: Tech Industry resources​ and how to help

Statutory Sick Pay

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. 

What support is available for mid-tier businesses & corporates?

Coronavirus Corporate Funding Facility (CCFF)

The Bank of England has released fuller details of the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility to support larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

On the 2nd April a scheme was announced covering businesses with a turnover of between £45 and £500 million. This scheme provides government backed loans with an 80% guarantee , however there is no interest free period. This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

Tax Deferment

To further support cashflow for businesses through the tax system, VAT payments will be deferred for three months until the end of June.  This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. 

Job Retention Scheme

Any employer, large or small, is eligible to apply. The Government, via HMRC will cover 80% of employees’ salaries up to a total of £2,500/month. For further information and to apply for support, visit the online portal

Has regulation been relaxed in order to support businesses?

Governance & Reporting Guidance 

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have announced a series of actions to ease the governance and reporting burden on firms, including guidance for companies

Companies House has encouraged firms to file necessary documents with them online, and advised firms to apply for more time. Businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension to avoid penalties.

The Intellectual Property Office has said it will support rights applicants and their attorneys affected by coronavirus where possible. 

The Cabinet has announced relaxed procurement regulations.

The Competition and Markets Authority are relaxing regulations to allow retailers to work together more closely. 

Advice on financial requirements and auditing during coronavirus is available from the Financial Reporting Council.

The Chartered Governance Institute has published a new guidance note on AGMs and the impact of Covid-19.

What can businesses do to help?

If you feel that you can help the Government in dealing with the spread of this virus, there are a number of contacts we’re able to share with you. 

If you want to support relief efforts around COVID-19, we’ve pulled together some ways that you or your business can help.

What guidance is available where employees are unable to work from home?

Everyone should be following the advice on social distancing measures wherever possible. Workplaces need to avoid crowding and minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) between individuals wherever possible. This advice applies both to inside the workplace, and to where staff may need to interact with customers

Staff should be reminded to wash their hands regularly using soap and water for 20 seconds, and particularly after blowing their nose, sneezing, or coughing. If there are no washing facilities, hand sanitiser should be used

You can visit the government's website to see their tailored advice for how different workplaces can implement social distancing to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus, while still continuing to trade.

If an employee tests positive for the virus, should anything specific be used for cleaning purposes?

All surfaces and objects suffering potential contamination in high-contact areas should be cleaned. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas​ and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles. The virus is easily broken down with proper application of standard cleaning products: disposable cloths and household detergents should be used to clean these areas, and disposed of in doubled-up plastic bags under the guidance of the PHE Health Protection Team

If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus, consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron.

Current PHE guidance is that public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal

If possible, quarantine the area that may be contaminated for 72 hours before cleaning as the amount of virus living on surfaces will have reduced significantly after this.

For more information, see the Government's advice​ for cleaning in non-healthcare settings.


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