East Devon Coronavirus Business update, 27.3.20

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Coronavirus business masthead

Councillor Kevin Blakey, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for economy, outlines the important steps being taken to help with the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak:

The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting all aspects of our economy.  The Government has announced a package of measures to support business and employers through this most difficult of periods. We have now received guidance on the deployment of grants to support small businesses and retail, leisure and hospitality businesses.  These are key sectors of our local economy and my top priority is to ensure that these funds flow to eligible businesses as quickly as possible. 

We will shortly be writing out to all qualifying businesses to provide details of how these funds can be accessed through a secure online claim system.  This will be live from midday on Monday (30th March).

As well as writing to each business we will also be circulating this weekly business newsletter, which will be shared widely including through business representative groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses and local Chambers of Commerce.  Anything you can do to help raise awareness of these updates through your networks would be greatly appreciated.  Our website eastdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19 is being regularly updated and I would urge you to use this as your first point of reference.

Coronavirus business update

Help for the self-employed

Government has announced a new self-employed income support scheme. Self-employed people who have been adversely affected will be able to access taxable grants of 80% of average annual profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month. It will be open for a period of at least 3 months, backdated to 1 March 2020. The scheme is targeted to those who have a trading profit of up to £50,000 per year and that make the majority of their income from self-employment. It is for people who are already self-employed and who have a tax return for 2018/19. If anyone missed filing their tax return at the end of January 2020, they will have until 23 April to submit a tax return.

The scheme will be administered by HMRC and it is expected that businesses will be able to receive the grant in early June. HMRC will contact you directly.

Self-employed people can also access business interruption loans and universal credit.

Income tax deferral

If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to 31 January 2021.

HMRC Covid-19 helpline

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs 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. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline for advice and support, on 0800 0159 559.

Government guidance

The Government has issued COVID-19 guidance for all. There are daily updates available on the official Government website: gov.uk/coronavirus

Information about all the support for businesses, employers and employees is available on the GOV.UK website: gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Businesses can find out how to access these areas of support, who is eligible, when schemes open and how to apply: businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support

You can contact the Government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice on 0300 456 3565, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

Financial support for small businesses, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in East Devon

Following the Budget on 11 March and the Chancellor's statement on 17 March, two grant funding schemes are now being administered by local authorities. These are to support businesses in receipt of small business/rural rate relief as well as those in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.

You can read the Government guidance for local authorities administering these grants.

The Small Business Grants Fund and the Extended Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, announced by the Government last week as part of a £330 billion package of support, offers a one-off grant to a number of businesses:

  • Any business currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief may be eligible for a £10,000 cash grant.
  • Any retail, hospitality or leisure business in receipt of Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grant per property based on eligibility criteria below: 
    • Any retail, hospitality or leisure business with a rateable value of £15,000 or below may be eligible for a £10,000 cash grant.
    • Any retail, hospitality or leisure business with a rateable value above £15,000 and below £51,000 may be eligible for a £25,000 cash grant.
  • The list of eligible businesses has been extended by Government to include Ofsted’s Early Years registered nurseries, estate agents, betting shops and others. View the extended list.

East Devon District Council is writing to all businesses eligible to receive grants so they can urgently access financial help as soon as possible.

Beware of Coronavirus scams

Please be vigilant and aware of possible scams. We will not ask for your bank account details over the phone.

Businesses currently operating

For up to date information on which businesses must remain closed and those which can stay open, please see our website.

Devon County Council launches new community fund

Devon County Council has launched the COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund to provide flexible resources to organisations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

Grants are available for applications of UNDER £500 for community-led schemes, for small things that can safely address Coronavirus issues, including:

  • Safe deliveries of essential goods and services to those who are vulnerable, such as foods and medicines.
  • Support for accessing online information and services
  • Virtual support groups to help people to stay connected and informed and to maintain and support mental health and wellbeing
  • Transport related initiatives that support safe community responses to the outbreak.  

Applications are accepted from constituted and not-for-private-profit Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector groups and organisations, Town and Parish Councils, charities or businesses, or a combination of such groups working together.

For more information, email COVID19FUND@devon.gov.uk and mark your email SUPPORT in the subject line. The application form can be accessed online.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub

The Heart of the South West Growth Hub provides information to help businesses in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay during the COVID-19 crisis: heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/covid-19-guidance-for-business

The Heart of the South West LEP's Digital Skills Partnership is supporting communities by pulling together information on digital tools and freely available digital training to support the use of those tools. Sign up to their newsletter for updates.

Launch of TechForce19: tech challenge

Designed to offer digital support during COVID-19 outbreak, the NHS is calling on all innovators - startups, tech companies, charities – who can support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for funding of up to £25,000 for a test phase, followed by potential deployment. Applications will close on 31 March.

Read more

Pay it Forward

Small businesses who may be worried about the future due to COVID-19, can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign offering customers the option to book meals, a room for the night or a ticket to an event for example, now, based on a promise to deliver in the future. Crowdfunder will cover all platform and transaction fees.

Funders: If you can adjust or add a fund, or pledge your support to Businesses within your area or that fit your criteria, please email am@crowdfunder.co.uk.

If you know of a business who may be able to benefit from this initiative please direct them to crowdfunder.co.uk/pay-it-forward