COVID-19: Business Support Measures FAQs

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In recent days the Chancellor has outlined a series of measures the government is taking to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic, further to what he outlined at the Budget on 11 March.

This briefing outlines how these measures can support the sport and recreation sector at this difficult time. The information below is our current understanding of the latest guidance available.

Please note: We will keep this document updated as further information is provided by the government.

What are the main support measures that have been announced?

The measures announced by the Chancellor include:

  • Providing £330bn worth of loans to businesses to support their cash flow;
  • £20bn of business rates support to those sectors most acutely affected during this period;
  • Direct support for business to retain staff during the crisis;
  • Extended support for self-employed through the welfare and tax system.

 What loans are available to businesses?

Larger businesses can access a new lending scheme through the Bank of England, which is backed by the government.

For small and medium size businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) announced at the Budget has been extended from maximum loans of £1.2m to up to £5m, with no interest due for six months.

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme will launch the week commencing 23 March and will be delivered through the British Business Bank. Further details can be found on the British Business Bank website here.

The Chancellor stated that an initial £330bn was available through these loan schemes. However, he added that if demand was higher than this he would add as much capacity as required.

What about business rates and grant support?

Please note that the following information refers to England only. Business rates are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and there may be different arrangements in each country.

In recognition of the likely impact of Covid-19, the Budget introduced temporary 100% business rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – including gyms and sports clubs – for 2020/21 for businesses with certain rateable values.

In addition, the Budget provided that organisations eligible for Small Business Rate Relief would receive a £3,000 grant.

The Chancellor’s speech on 17 March extended this temporary 100% business rates relief to all businesses in these sectors, regardless of their rateable value.

This means all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive 100% business rates relief for 2020/21.

The guidance issued to local authorities regarding how to apply this relief has been published by the government and can be accessed here. This guidance states that the following properties, among others, will be eligible for the relief:

  • Sports grounds and clubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Gyms

Given that there is now no limit on the rateable value of premises to be eligible, it is our understanding that large sports clubs and stadia will also benefit from 100% relief.

In addition to rates relief, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a grant of £25,000.

Small businesses eligible for Small Businesses Rates Relief or Rural Relief will now be provided with a grant of £10,000. This has been increased from the £3,000 grant announced at the Budget.

Are Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and charities eligible for this support?

Based on the published guidance above, it is our understanding that the additional rates relief is applied after any mandatory relief received, such as that applied to CASCs and charities. Therefore, these organisations should benefit from the full 100% relief.

However, please note that the guidance confirms that it is for local authorities to administer a local scheme and determine in each individual case when to grant relief.

As regards grant support, see below.

How do I claim for business rates relief and grant support?

To access rate relief, you do not need to do anything as it should be reflected in your bill. However, should you have any queries over eligibility for, or provision of, the relief you should contact the relevant local authority.

To access grants:

  • Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, and which are therefore eligible for the £25,000 grant, should direct any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants to the relevant local authority.
  • Businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief, and which are therefore eligible for the £10,000 grant, will be contacted by their local authority and do not need to apply.

Funding for grants is due to be provided to local authorities in early April and guidance is expected shortly.

We are still seeking some further clarity on the precise application of the grant funding arrangements and will provide an update when we can.

What if I am struggling with my tax liabilities?

This is clearly a challenging time for many sports clubs and other organisations within the sector. If you are experiencing problems with your tax liabilities, you may be eligible for support through HMRC’s Time to Pay Service.

You can call the dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559 for further advice.

What about support for businesses to retain staff?

In order to support business who may be struggling to afford to pay staff while businesses are closed, the government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The scheme is open to all businesses and means that the government will pay 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs up to £2,500 per month. In order to claim you will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

How can I support my employees to work remotely?

We recognise that social distancing has meant that many of you have been forced to ask your staff to work from home for the forseeable future.

The Alliance has created templates to help you with this transition and to provide a best practice support resource for your HR team.

Working from home - Guidance

Working from home - Risk Assessment

We also know that working remotely could have an adverse impact on mental health. The Alliance has a number of fantastic resources that can help in this area. 

We have tips for everyday living, information on workplace wellbeing and guidance on terminology.

Mental Health - Training and Resources

What about VAT?

To help businesses pay people and keep them in work, the Chancellor has announced government will defer the next quarter of VAT payments.

This means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June and will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

What if I’m self-employed?

On 26 March the Chancellor announced a new scheme to support self-employed workers who have been impacted by coronavirus. Those with average profits of £50,000 or less will be eligible for taxable grants worth 80% of their average profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month.

The scheme will be open to those who earn the majority of their income from self-employment. If they are able to, individuals will also be able to continue doing work whilst also claiming this grant.

To be eligible for support, self-employed people will need a completed tax-return for 2019 and the government have allowed an additional four weeks for this to be completed. You can find out how to file your tax return here.

It is expected that the new scheme will be available from the beginning of June with payments backdated to the beginning of March. HMRC are intending to use existing records to identify those who are eligible and contact them directly with details of how to apply.

In his announcement on 20 March the Chancellor announced that he was suspending the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus. This means the self-employed can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

In addition, support for rental costs may be available through Universal Credit. You can find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

The Chancellor also announced that the next self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021.

Where can I find further information?

The government’s dedicated advice and support to businesses in response to COVID-19 can be found here.

You can also call the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice, details of which can be found here.

Local authorities will be responsible for administering business rate relief and grant support schemes in their area. We would therefore suggest contacting your local authority for advice about eligibility for support.

Finally, please do not hesitate to contact the Policy Team here at the Alliance if you have any further questions in relation to COVID-19 or the government’s response: policy@sportandrecreation.org.uk

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