The support that has been made available to help businesses and charities survive the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. However, while we welcome its ambition the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce will continue to lobby the Government to fill the gaps in existing support on behalf of our members.
Our Mind The Gap report sets out the core areas requiring further attention to help #KeepBusinessMoving throughout this unprecedented period:
- Manage a smooth return to the workplace through clear, concise & honest communication with employers & additional support for SMEs facing significant costs becoming “COVID-19 Secure”
- Implement an ambitious programme to prevent lasting economic damage through transitional and long term measures as lockdown and key Coronavirus schemes end and the new economic reality becomes apparent
- Negotiate an EU-UK trade deal that delivers for businesses and keep an open mind to requesting an extension to the Brexit transition period if a deal cannot be delivered in the current timeframe
- Develop support for directors of limited companies payed through dividends
- Take steps to significantly increase the funding available through the “discretionary” grants scheme and give local areas control over devolved funding to support those businesses and charities still falling through the gaps in existing support mechanisms
- Help the hardest hit sectors & their employees by providing sector or needs tested business support programmes, reviewing Government policy on quarantining international arrivals and using the West Midlands as a test-bed for piloting fully unlocking the hospitality sector safely
- Ensure that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Bounce Back Loans are reaching the businesses that need them and learn lessons from the challenges encountered in their roll out
- Give charities delivering much-needed community services the support they need to continue their work in an incredibly challenging fundraising environment
- Assist landlords and tenants in dispute through further guidance and encouraging greater dialogue and communication
- Prevent significant redundancies by maintaining the highest level of awareness of the impact of changes to the furlough scheme over the coming months, pivoting where necessary to reflect the economic reality
DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE
Government Support For Businesses
The GBCC have been lobbying for additional support for businesses. To date, the following measures have been announced:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: to cover up to 80% (up to £2500 per month) of employees’ salaries who would otherwise be made redundant, backdated to 1st March 2020.
- Self-Employed Income Support Scheme: The Government will pay self-employed individuals a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over the last 2 years (up to £2500 a month) for those with a trading profit of up to £50,000, who make the majority of their income from self-employment and have submitted their 2019 tax return (or do so in the next 4 weeks)
- VAT Payment Deferral: next quarter’s VAT payment will be deferred with businesses given until the end of the financial year to repay.
- Support for the Self-Employed: self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021 and individuals will be able to access the equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay through Universal Credit
- Statutory Sick Pay Refunds: up to 14 days per employee affected in relation to COVID-19 for businesses with under 250 employees.
- Business Interruption Loan Scheme: offering British Business Bank-backed loans with Government guarantees of up to 80%, with no interest payments for 12 months (up to £5m for firms with a turnover of £45m or under). Contact your bank for more information.
- Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme: offering British Business Bank-backed loans with Government guarantees of up to 80% (up to £25m for firms with a turnover of £45m to £500m).
- Bounce Back Loans: 100% Government backed loans of between £2,000 and £50,000 for SMEs
- 100% Business Rates Relief: for 12 months for businesses in the retail, leisure & hospitality sectors. Businesses do not need to apply for this support, it should be implemented automatically by your local authority.
- Up to £25,000 grant: for businesses with a rateable value of under £51,000 in the retail, leisure & hospitality sectors.
- Up to £10,000 grant: for businesses already receiving Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief.
- Top-up grants: Of up to £25,000 for small businesses with fixed property costs
- A total of £730m in grants for charities: for small, midsized and large charities delivering essential community services.
- Extension of Time to Pay: HMRC to consider Time to Pay arrangements for businesses experiencing cash-flow issues arising from Coronavirus (COVID-19) via a dedicated HMRC COVID-19 helpline: 0800 0159 559.
- Protection from Eviction for Commercial Tenants: no business unable to pay their rent should be automatically evicted if they miss a payment up to the 30th June (but will continue to be liable for rent due)
- Temporary relaxation of wrongful trading rules: retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors.
- The Future Fund: A total of £800m government funding for R&D focused start-ups that have raised at least £250,000 in private investment in the last five years.
While the support has been announced, much has yet to be made available for businesses. We are currently campaigning for this support to reach businesses immediately.
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How is Coronavirus (COVID:19) Impacting Businesses?
The situation continues to be fast-paced and changeable. We are currently polling businesses weekly on their experience of COVID-19 as part of the British Chambers of Commerce COVID-19 Business Impacts Tracker.
Key findings from the 5th May – 7th May tranche included:
- 76% of respondents had furloughed at least 1% of staff, 36% had furloughed between 75% and 100% of their workforce. 13% had not yet received payment from HMRC for a claim submitted more than 6 working days ago.
- 18% of respondents are waiting to gain clarity on the length of lockdown before applying for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. 23% have concerns about being able to pay back a loan.
- 41% of respondents reported that it would take them less than one week to prepare their business for ending lockdown measures. 24% reported needing one to three weeks and 9% reported needing three to six weeks.
As a result, the GBCC are recommending that the Government takes a number of measures to support businesses in managing Coronavirus (COVID-19) related disruption
Download The Latest Summary Here