Covid-19 newsletter: information and support for businesses and the self-employed

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Covid-19 newsletter: Businesses and the self-employed 

Walthom Forest
business newsletter

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

self employed

Yesterday, the government announced a package of support for the self-employed. Initial details of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme can be found here and we are expecting more detail in the coming days. 

About the scheme 

  • Those eligible will have access to grant based on 80% of average historic annual profits, up to £2,500 per month. 
  • The operating profit will be calculated from tax returns submitted since 2016/17. 
  • The grant will be classified as taxable income. 
  • The scheme will run for three months, is not expected to be operational until June and can be back dated until March. 
  • You may continue to trade and benefit from the grant. 

Who is eligible?

  • The scheme is available to those who are self-employed, or a member of a partnership, who have trading in the 2019/20 tax year and have lost income due to coronavirus. 
  • Only those with an operating profit of up to £50,000 and where self-employment makes up more than half of their income are eligible. 
  • You do not have to have submitted a tax return for each of the three tax years since 2016/17, but you must have submitted a tax return for the tax year 2018/19. 
  • If you are a new business started in the current tax year (and therefore have not submitted a return for the 2018/19 tax year, you are not eligible for the scheme. 
  • If you have not yet submitted a return for the tax year 2018/19, you have until 23 April to do so. 

An FAQ has been published that may answer some of the questions you have about the scheme. 

HMRC is setting up the systems to administer the scheme and will contact those who are eligible for the grant. 

While the scheme is being established, government advice to those in financial hardship is to apply for Universal CreditYour business may also be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. 

Company directors are not eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. If you are a director of your own company and are paid through PAYE, you may be able to access support using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

Click here

Updates on new rate reliefs and government grants

Business Rates budget proposals street scene

Over previous weeks, the government announced that certain businesses would be exempt from business rates in 2020/21 and would be eligible for a government grant (subject to state aid regulations).  

The businesses being supported include: 

  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be exempt from business rates. 
  • Businesses with premises eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, to receive grants of up to £10,000 regardless of sector. 
  • Businesses with premises with a rateable value between £15,000 - £51,000 and in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectorsto receive grants of £25,000. 

Reliefs update – Businesses who qualify for these reliefs have started to receive updated bills confirming exemption from rates. If you believe you are due this exemption but have not received a revised bill by 3 April 2020, please visit our website and complete the application form. 

Grants update – Government guidance on the process for identifying eligible businesses has been shared with the council in the last few days. Eligible businesses will receive a letter from the council shortly. We are working as quickly as possible to make these grants available and you do not need to contact the council to access the grants. 

Eligibility update – The eligibility exclusion from the new rate relief on estate agents, letting agents and bingo halls has been lifted and these businesses will shortly receive revised bills confirming exemption from rates for 2020/21. 

Please find further information on our website

As part of our ongoing offer of guidance and support to local businesses, we have created a portal where you can lodge specific enquiries. 

Fill out the form 

More updates

New guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employers to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) wage costs, up to £2,500.  

HMRC have published the latest guidance for the scheme, including: 

  • Who can claim 
  • Employees you can claim for 
  • How to work out what you can claim 
  • What you’ll need to make a claim 

HMRC expects to launch the claims platform by the end of April. 

Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts 

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. More here. 

Social distancing

social distancing

If you are a business that remains open, there are important steps you can take to reduce risk of infection.

  • Enable customers and staff to remain 2m apart while in the premises, including while queueing to pay.
  • Use your discretion as to how many people you can allow inside at the same time in order to achieve this.
  • Ask customers to queue outside of the shop if it is safe to do so, requesting that customers queuing also remain 2m apart.
  • Consider if it is possible to serve some or all customers by taking orders at the door.
  • Put up signs reminding customers to remain 2m away from others at all times.

To reduce opportunities for the virus to be transmitted between customers and staff.

  • Use card payments instead of cash where possible, preferably contactless, and clean card payment device pin pads after use.
  • Allow customers to pre-order over the phone or online/email to collect (and pre-pay if possible) to limit contact and avoid customers being in the premises longer than necessary.
  • Where possible keep windows or doors open for ventilation.
  • If possible, encourage customers to pack items into bags themselves

Note: there is no evidence to suggest that wearing masks or gloves outside of a healthcare setting is effective against the spread of Covid-19 and in some cases may hinder other, more effective personal hygiene measures.

More information can be found here

Further advice and support


The Council’s website provides a guide to what’s available based on your circumstances and further information on the full range of government business advice, including its COVID-19 response, can be found here. 

Support for businesses from Outside of Government can be found here. 

The London Growth Hubhas produced fact sheets and a business checklist, that businesses may also find useful, and is providing the opportunity to talk one-to-one with a business adviser. 

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We will continue to update you as new information is available. We know that this is a fast-moving situation, but we are confident staff will continue to provide support and guidance to local businesses in Waltham Forest.

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