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Practical advice during COVID-19

A practical list of what you can do.

 

Please note, this information is accurate as of 23 March 10 AM GMT. We will continue to update this list as relevant information is released

 

  1. Stay informed because things are changing FAST! Whether that’s listening or watching the news or simply staying engaged in a WhatsApp group of your mates, things are changing very quickly every day. From advice regarding your health to practical information about jobs and the economy, now is the time to keep engaged
  2. The government has now officially instructed restaurants, bars & pubs to close, as well as cinemas and gyms. Providing take out services (The government has completely relaxed planning regulations to allow food businesses to offer takeaways) is still encouraged
  3. The government urges companies to stand by their employees - the chancellor has announced the plan to support workers:
    • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
      1. Information for those with contracts in place
        • This scheme will provide a grant that will cover up to 80% of workers salary, to a maximum of £2,500 per month per worker (that is equal to a £30,000 p/a salary). This hopes to keep workers in their jobs
        • Information has not yet been released clarifying if you must be fully ‘furloughed’ ie. employees cannot be working at the business during the period their salary is subsidised by the government
        • This means your employer will be able to claim for 80% of your salary. This means you might be taking a 20% pay cut, if your employer is unable to gather the remaining money to make up your full salary
        • These payments can be backdated to 1 March this scheme will be in place for minimum 3 months
        • These grants cover all sectors, including hospitality
        • The first grants will be paid ‘within weeks’
      2. Information for those with insecure contracts/part-time work
        • Rishi Sunak said the scheme will cover “everybody who is on the PAYE system through a company”
        • So, this scheme will cover any employee who is on pay roll
        • If you are unsure, please contact your employer for clarification. Even if you don’t have a contract, if you have been on the official pay roll then this scheme should still cover you
        • Those working on zero-hour contracts should be open to this scheme but it’s unclear how the wage will be calculated. Whilst we are still waiting for firm instructions, its likely this will be calculated based on the hours worked in February


Please note, more information about this is coming out all the time and at this point, this scheme looks as though it will only cover pre-existing pay-roll contracts so if you aren’t already on PAYE then it is unclear if you will be compensated.

 

Please note: Whilst this is a hefty package from the Government, it is still up to your employer to keep your contract in place: Businesses are having to make really difficult decisions right now in the face of an uncertain future so it’s best that you contact them directly to find out what the next steps are

 

 

  • VAT Payments
    1. A VAT holiday will be in place until the end of June, meaning restaurants will be able to free-up funds to put back into their business
    2. The collection of VAT from the next three months will be delayed and will not be collected until the end of the next financial year (April 2021)
  1. Information for Freelancers/Self Employed
    • The minimum allowance required to apply for Universal Credit has been removed making it accessible for the self-employed
      1. This will effectively allow freelancers to claim Statutory Sick Pay
      2. For the next 12 months, the yearly Universal Credit Allowance will be increased by £1,000
    • Tax Self Assessment
      1. The government will not require anyone self-employed to complete Tax self assessment until January 2021

We know that the current Government subsidy for freelancers is lacklustre in comparison to the package for payroll workers: Whilst more information is likely to be released this week, here are some resources and support groups:

 

  1. For the renters, the government has announced emergency legislation to suspend evictions from social or private rented accommodation. They have guaranteed that no renter will be forced out of their home and ask that landlords show leniency and understanding during this difficult time. Here’s the full press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters

 

  1. PLEASE NOTE that the government should be announcing information about personal financial relief (including bills etc.) soon. But in the meantime, if you are not sure what lies ahead financially, here are a few ways you can cut down your expenses as we go into this uncertain time:

    • Check if you are subscribed to any websites/services that you don’t *NEED* right now – maybe it’s time for us all to share Netflix passwords
    • If you’re looking for things to do during this down time, organise a book swap with friends instead of buying something new. We’re all in the same position so it’s worth leaning on each other
    • Triple check your thermostat – make sure you are using a timed thermostat if you can to reduce those energy bills as much as possible whilst you’re feeling lean
    • Take this opportunity to create a personal finance budget. Breakdown all your costs – if you are confident about where your money is going, you will feel less stressed about spending it when you need to
    • Consider applying for support from the Tip Jar Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund which is being run in collaboration with Hospitality Action - https://www.wearetipjar.com/emergency-fund/
    • For more information regarding universal credit, visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

 

  1. For businesses or anyone registered as self-employed, there is a government helpline if you’d like to speak to someone to get more information about your tax status. More information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

 

  1. The government has announced a series of grants to help businesses recover. Here’s the rundown of the grants announced so far, who can get them and anything specific for hospitality:

 

SMALL BUSINESSES

  • Who qualifies?
    If you are a small business and pay little or no business rates (aka your rateable value is less than £15,000 – search your property here https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates)
  • What sectors does this cover?
    This grant is for any small business. It is not specific to hospitality
  • How much is it worth?
    You will be eligible a cash grant up to £10,000. This was recently increased from £3,000 so the numbers are changing all the time as the situation develops
  • How do I apply?
    You don’t ‘apply’ for this – your local authority will contact you if you are eligible and inform you about the scheme so keep checking your mailbox
  • When are the funds available?
    Not yet confirmed, but likely April
  • So what should I do?

Stay informed, contact your Local Authority for updates on the timeframe of the scheme roll out, but unfortunately this is likely a waiting game

 

SMALL & MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES

  • Who qualifies?
    If you are a small to medium size business and your rateable value is between £15,000 - £51,000 (Search your property here https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates)
  • What sectors does this cover?
    This grant has been announced to specifically cover retail, hospitality & leisure
  • How much is it worth?
    You will be eligible for a cash grant up to £25,000
  • How do I apply?
    You don’t ‘apply’ for this – your local authority will contact you if you are eligible and inform you about the scheme so keep checking your post box
  • When are the funds available?
    Not yet confirmed, but likely April
  • So what should I do?
    Stay informed, contact your Local Authority for updates on the timeframe of the scheme roll out, but unfortunately this is likely a waiting game


Whilst the government has committed a £330 billion package, they have also announced that they are looking into lifting the cap for financial support for struggling industries. Whilst this may relate more to airlines, it may mean more help for hospitality is on its way

  1. The tech world is also stepping into help: Facebook has pledged $100 million to support small businesses. Here’s what you need to know
    • Who qualifies?
      TBC – exact details haven’t been released
    • What sectors?

We’re still waiting for more information but this is likely to be a general grant that can be applied across all sectors

  • How much is it worth?
    Facebook has not disclosed the individual values of grants but it is worth noting that some grants will be awarded in the form of ad credits
  • How do I apply?
    Sign up for information on the Facebook grants hub here https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants
  • When are the funds available?
    This information has not yet been released
  1. RSVP have made it super easy to sell vouchers and have a very easy to use guide available here: https://insider.rsvp-popup.com/news/2020/vouchers-rsvp
  2. Look to the future: Business rates for small businesses are already being scrapped (so, if your rateable value is less than £15,000, say bye!) and the government has announced an 100% business rate holiday for EVERYONE for 12 months. So don’t forget to add that into financial statements!
  3. Any businesses with insurance policies that cover pandemics can rest easy knowing the government has confirmed that their guidelines WILL be sufficient to make a claim

 

  1. If you own your own home, you will be able to claim a three-month break from your mortgage. Details of HOW this will come into effect are still unfolding
  2. The information regarding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) compensation is evolving all the time but here’s the latest info to know:
    • Who qualifies for compensation?
      Businesses with less than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020
    • How much will it be?

The government will refund 2 weeks of SSP per staff member (£188.50)

  • What records do I need?

Businesses will need to keep track of staff absences etc but the employees do not have to provide a GP note

  • When will the refund be available?
    A firm date has not been announced but likely will happen in the next few months
  1. Isolate, but not completely. Yeah, you have to stay indoors. But stay in touch with your friends, yeah? Here’s a few ways you can hang out with your friends whilst keeping in with the health guidelines

 

  1. We know that we’re all in a precarious financial position right now, but if you can flex – then flex! If you are able to, purchase gift vouchers/merchandise from local independent shops & businesses. Or, donate some cash to one of the many GoFundMe fundraisers. A (non complete) list is below: