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Coronavirus, COVID 19: Guidance for Businesses

Published on Friday, 29 May 2020

Official guidance relating to the measures the UK Government have put in place for businesses can be found on the GOV.UK webpages.

You can now sign up to email alerts from the government on their response to COVID-19: subscribe here.

The Government have additional information on their Business Support website, which will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Latest support includes:

  •  a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  •  deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  •  a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  •  a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  •  a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  •  small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  •  grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  •  the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £200 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • Small business 'bounce back' loans of between £2,000 and £50,0000
  •  a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  •  the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  •  Grants of up to £50,000 for technology and research-focused businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as supporting people at home 
  •  Arts Council England - Grants of up to £2,500 for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers and up to £35,000 for organisations in the cultural sector
  • £1.25 billion support package for businesses driving innovation and development through the coronavirus outbreak, including a £500m investment fund for high growth firms impacted by the coronavirus and £750m of grants and loans for R&D focused SMEs
  • Temporary new measures to safeguard the UK high street against debt recovery actions, banning the use of statutory demands (made between 1 March and 30 June 2020) and winding up petitions presented from Monday 27 April, through to 30 June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus.

Guidance for Employers - Operating Safely

'COVID 19 Secure' guidelines have been released by the Government to support employers to help get businesses back up and running and operating safely.

Guidance for Employers, Employees and Self-employed - Working Safely

The Government, in consultation with the industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Growth Hub 

If you believe your Business will be affected by the current outbreak of COVID-19 (whether it's a supply chain issue, problems exporting goods or staffing concerns) please get in touch with the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Growth Hub by emailing support@gbslepgrowthhub.co.uk or call  0800 032 3488. Their business resilience Account Managers will discuss with you how their services may be able to help your business throughout this period.

Business Rates

We are aware that the Government has announced a new discretionary fund to support small businesses. Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here

Following the recent Government announcements, Expanded Retail Relief will give eligible businesses 100% relief from their business rates in 2020/21, more details on this scheme can be found here. We have identified those businesses eligible for this discount and have now sent out revised business rates bills.

The government also announced that many childcare providers would pay no business rates in 2020/21. Again we have identified the nurseries eligible for the additional support and have sent out revised bills to them too. We are currently working through the Government guidance covering the cash grants for small businesses, retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a view to getting the support paid to eligible businesses as soon as possible.

We have been contacting businesses directly to discuss payment of these grants. You can read more information on the eligibility criteria for the cash grant here, if after reading this you think you may be eligible, please complete our online form.

Due to the exceptional high volumes of grants being processed we aim to respond and process the majority of form submissions within approximately 10 working days. It is anticipated that if we are provided with all required information it will be sooner than this, however complex cases may take longer. All payments will be by BACS and letters will be sent once the payment has been made

Please bear with us and only make further contact if you have not heard from us within 14 working days from your submission. If you do need to contact us please email businessgrants@solihull.gov.uk

If you require any additional help or support or have any questions around discounts then our Business Rates Team will be able to help – their number is 0121 704 8175 or email businessrates@solihull.gov.uk or see the Business Rates web pages.

Protecting businesses and consumers

The current COVID-19 situation has affected our daily lives in many different ways. Our regulatory services teams are working hard to protect businesses and consumers in the current environment.

Businesses are urged to remain vigilant and aware of recent COVID-19 scams to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis. Visit the Action Fraud or National Trading Standards websites for information about scams and advice on how to protect your business including Business Against Scams - a free online tool developed by National Trading Standards to protect businesses. Current social distancing rules mean we spend most of our time at home, except for when we exercise or shop for essential items. These changes in our daily habits can leave us open to scammers, either when we are away from the home and out shopping, at our front door or online.  

There is an increased risk of fraud that someone may impersonate the Council either to commit fraud against your business or to gain information allowing them to submit an application for a business grant. There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Check the email address of the sender. Don’t click on or download anything you don’t trust - for example, if you get an email from a company with a strange email address

  • Emails sent from the Council will come from their gov.uk email address

  • Should you have reservations regarding the email you’ve been sent you can access the online application form for business grants via the portal on the Councils website.

  • Look out for slight derivations or small changes from the official email, for example a hyphen or an additional letter in the address. Quite often scam emails will have spelling or grammatical errors

  • If they are still in doubt, call the contact centre to check that the employee is valid 0121 704 8000

  • The council will never ask for personal details.

Business Crime Prevention

Coronavirus has seen many businesses close, leaving buildings empty.

West Midlands Police are mainintaining a visible presence across our communities. However, they need your help to ensure that your buildings are as secure as they can be. Click here for some useful advice for you to consider to protect your premises during this time.

Planning Guidance

As part of the recent announcements from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) the government will be introducing a time limited development right through secondary legislation to allow the temporary change of use from a pub (A4 – drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food takeaway for a period of 12 months to allow for local deliveries as part of the Coronavirus effort.  Businesses are asked to notify the local authority if they plan to do this planningenforcement@solihull.gov.uk

Also, steps are being taken to relax planning controls over food deliveries -including the time and number of lorry deliveries to retailers and distributors of food and other ‘essential’ deliveries during the Coronavirus period. For advice for business considering food deliveries, please click here. For Government guidance for food businesses, please click here.

Further information can be found at the MHCLG website

Transport for West Midlands – Travel Choices Team

With recent guidance being issued the Travel Choices Team are aware that many businesses are looking into agile working / home working options. They have put together some useful  information and have made available a free downloadable resource to help. Please follow the link to register for the information and resource on their website. For advice on Smarter Working please contact sustainabletravelteam@solihull.gov.uk

Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Over the coming weeks the GBCC will be ramping up efforts to support our members and keep business moving through adopting a digital and flexible approach to activity.

GBCC Support: click here for the latest information on the support available from the GBCC

Advice & Guidance: click here to visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) hub offering information, advice and guidance from the GBCC and our members

The Latest News: register here for our ChamberLink Daily newsletter to receive the latest information and guidance direct to your inbox every weekday

If you are a member, you are asked to contact your relationship manager if you are experiencing issues.  Latest updates are issued through the Chamberlink Daily bulletin and @grbhamchambers social media account as well as a dedicated page on their website.

Federation of Small Businesses

For small businesses and the self employed, the Federation of Small Businesses have information and guidance on their web pages.

Specific Areas of Support

For start up and early trading business advice and support please contact our Enterprise for Success advisors.

For social enterprises and entrepreneurs there is a Social Enterprise Helpline, ran by iSE.

For Tourism businesses, there is a dedicated page on the West Midlands Growth Company website.

For information regarding Solihull Town Centre updates please visit Solihull BID webpages.

To speak to a member of the Business Investment team, please call 0121 704 6151/0121 704 6167 or 0121 704 6920 or email business@solihull.gov.uk.

More coronavirus advice and information can found on Solihull Council's website.

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