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Advice for businesses about coronavirus

As the situation with coronavirus is developing, we want to keep our local businesses up to date with current support for businesses.

Advice on testing for your employees: how the new NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme can help protect your staff and your business (for businesses in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot)

 

General business support

We remain committed to supporting our local businesses to help minimise the impact of Covid-19 and will keep this page up to date.

Key up to date on the latest business support announcements from:

 

Business Rates Relief

The Welsh Government has announced a year-long business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales that have a rateable value of £500k or less. Swansea Council will be looking to automatically award the business rates holiday to all eligible parties as soon as possible.

Rates bills for the new financial year 2020/21 have already been issued without the relief being included. Any businesses who satisfy the criteria for the award of this new relief, will have a new rates bill issued as soon as possible showing the correct amount to be paid, or that nothing has to be paid where that is the case.

This will be automatically awarded so PLEASE DO NOT contact us by phone/email. As mentioned above, the business rates team is currently working on the payment of Welsh Government's business support grants so there will be a short delay in applying this relief. 

Guidance on eligibility for the relief

 

Economic Resilience Fund

Support for Microbusinesses

A grant of up to £10,000 is available to assist microbusinesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This grant can only be claimed by businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • employing between 1 and 9 employees (in addition to the business owner)
  • operating address in Wales and have employees in Wales
  • VAT registered or sector/business exempt from VAT with a turnover greater than £85k, details of VAT exemption can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-exemption-and-partial-exemption
  • have experienced a drop in turnover greater than 40% as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak (since 1 March 2020)
  • supported businesses must aim to maintain employment for 12 months
  • only one application per businesses
  • businesses will need to provide:
    • details of reduction in turnover as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
    • evidence of business address by providing VAT registration

The grant is available to microbusinesses that are not eligible for the Business Rate Grant or the support for self-employed grant.

Support for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

A grant of between £25,000 and £100,000 is available to assist qualifying SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees)

The grant can only be claimed by businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • are VAT registered or sector/business exempt from VAT with a turnover greater than £85k, details of VAT exemption can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-exemption-and-partial-exemption
  • are headquartered in Wales or have an operating address in Wales that has full decision-making autonomy
  • have experienced a drop in turnover greater than 60% since 1 March 2020
  • are able to demonstrate the business / organisation will be sustainable for at least 12 months with a sustainable business plan to trade out of crisis
  • are viable entities able to confirm some access to funding to cover costs and can demonstrate attempts (successful or otherwise) to secure funding from wider sources (for example a bank, HMRC, Development Bank of Wales, UK Government loan facilities such as the Business Interruption Scheme or direct Bank of England support) before applying for this fund
  • are able to confirm that funding from any other Welsh Government non-repayable COVID-19 grant funding source is not being pursued
  • are able to demonstrate that without additional support the viability of the enterprise will be under threat including the number of jobs this support protects
  • undertake that for as long as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in place, they will not make any future compulsory redundancies

Update: The Economic Resilience Fund (Phase 2) was closed for new applications on 10 July, 5.00pm.

 

Start Up Grant

The Welsh Government has announced a 'Start Up Grant' to support new businesses in Wales in dealing with the severe impact of Coronavirus. 

To be eligible for the 'Start Up Grant' of £2,500 businesses must: 

  • Started trading between 1 April 2019 and 1 March 2020
  • Forecast annual turnover less than £50,000
  • Not in receipt of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Economic Resilience Fund or the Business Rate Grant
  • Businesses must be operating in Wales
  • Businesses must have one or more of the following:
    • HMRC Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) Number
    • VAT Registration Number or a VAT exemption certificate
    • Written correspondence confirming registration with HMRC
  • Have experienced a drop in turnover greater than 50% as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak between April and June 2020
  • Supported businesses must aim to maintain employment for 12 months
  • Only submit one application per businesses

Update: the Start Up Grant was closed for new applications on 6 August 2020.

 

Bounce Back Loan scheme

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won't be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government has worked with lenders to agree a low rate of interest of 2.5% for the remaining period of the loan.

BBLS is available through a range of British Business Bank accredited lenders and partners, listed on the British Business Bank website.

Eligibility: Your business must be able to self declare to the lender that it:

  • has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • was not a business in difficulty at 31 December 2019 (if it was, you must confirm your business complies with additional state aid restrictions under de minimis state aid rules)
  • is engaged in trading or commercial activity in the UK and was established by 1 March 2020
  • is not in bankruptcy or liquidation or undergoing debt restructuring at the time it submits its application for finance
  • derives more than 50% of its income from its trading activity (this requirement does not apply to charities or further-education colleges)

Further details of eligibility can be found here

How to apply: The Bounce Back Loan scheme was launched on 4 May 2020, you will need to apply directly from your bank - please visit the British Business Bank website for a full list of banks taking part.

Find out more: The following links provide further information on the BBLS:

 

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, covering a variety of different products such as loans, overdraft, invoice finance and asset finance, delivered by the British Business Bank, has launched on the 23 March to support primarily small and medium sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. 

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. 

Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. 

Further details can be found at: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis, all UK businesses are eligible.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. 

To access the scheme businesses will need to:

  • designate affected employees as 'furloughed workers', and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal, this portal is not yet in place and we will publish details as soon as they are available (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

The online portal to make claims for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open, for further detail about the scheme and how to make a claim visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Update: On 12 May the UK Government have extended the scheme to the end of October 2020, and in its present form ('mark I' scheme) to the end of July 2020. 

Key dates for changes are outlined below:

  • 10 June 2020 - This will be the LAST DAY on which an employee can be furloughed for the first time in order that they can complete the minimum three week period before the scheme closes to new entrants.
  • 30 June 2020 - The original 'mark I' scheme will close to new entrants.
  • 1 July 2020 - The 'mark II' version of the scheme takes effect. From this date, the scheme will only be available to cover the wages of employees who were furloughed at some point under the 'mark I' scheme. At the same time, employers will be able to bring back furloughed employees on a part time basis, with the furlough scheme contributing to 80% of their salary (subject to the relevant cap) for their normal hours not worked.
  • 31 July 2020 - Employers claiming under the 'mark I' scheme must have completed and submitted all claims for the period to 30 June 2020.
  • 1 August 2020 - From this date the scheme will no longer cover the costs of employers NIC and pension contributions on furloughed wages and employers must cover this cost.
  • 1 September 2020 - The Government contribution will be reduced to 70% of wages, up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month for the hours the employee does not work. Employers must make up the difference of 10% to bring furlough payments to 80% of wages (up to a cap of £2,500) for unworked hours, while continuing to meet NIC and pension contributions on furloughed wages.
  • 1 October 2020 - The Government contribution will be reduced to 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875 per month for the hours the employee does not work. Employers must make up the difference of 20% to bring furlough payments to 80% of wages (up to a cap of £2,500) for unworked hours, while continuing to meet NIC and pension contributions for furloughed wages.

 

 

Development Bank of Wales

*Important update* Due to the unprecedented volumes of applications the Development Bank of Wales are now fully subscribed for the Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme.

Businesses seeking a loan should consider the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme available for SMEs through over 40 accredited UK lenders.

 

 

Support for the self-employed (SEISS)

Self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.

People will be able to make their claim on a specified date between 13 to18 May 2020, based on their Unique Tax Reference number. 

IMPORTANT: To check if you're eligible to receive a government grant worth up to £7,500 please use the HMRC's online checker tool: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020, intend to continue trading, and they:

  • earn at least half of their income through self-employment
  • have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year
  • traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted their Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year

For further information on the SEISS grant please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/applications-for-self-employment-income-support-scheme-open-early

 

Enterprise Relief Fund for Young Entrepreneurs

The Prince's Trust and NatWest have announced the launch of a £5million fund to help young entrepreneurs across the UK to keep their businesses afloat during the coronavirus crisis.  The fund is available to entrepreneurs aged 18-30, who can apply for grants and tailored support. Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. In conjunction with these grants, the initiative will also offer one-to-one support and guidance to applicants who need it.

To be eligible, businesses must have started up in the last four years and be run by someone aged 18 to 30. Young people who are in the process of starting a business and don't have any other source of income during the crisis are also eligible to apply for a grant. To apply for funding and support from The Prince's Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund, visit the Prince's Trust website.

 

Protection for business who miss rent payments

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the UK government has announced. These measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. 

Please visit the UK Government website for further information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments

 

HMRC support on VAT and PAYE

Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19) 
All VAT payments are deferred for three months, from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer for all UK businesses, with no applications required. Any VAT not paid back during the deferral period will be due at the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Find out more about Deferral of VAT.
For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due on 31 July 2020 under the Income Tax Self-Assessment system will be deferred to 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC Debt Repayment Plan for your Outstanding Taxes
A Time to Pay Arrangement with HMRC is a debt repayment plan for your outstanding taxes. Companies that have defaulted on their payments to settle their Corporation Tax, VAT and/or PAYE can ask HMRC for extra time to pay.  They will usually agree that you can pay it back over 6-12 months.
Time to Pay Arrangements are made directly with HMRC. Take a look at their Business Payment Support Service to make sure you're choosing the right path. They have set up a helpline at 0800 0159 559. 

HMRC helplines
HMRC have also set up a help line specifically for the self employed and businesses who will be struggling due to COVID19, including giving advice on tax and benefits you can claim for. The helpline can be reached on 0300 456 3565.
If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC's helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.

     

    Business Wales webinars

    Business Wales have launched a series of FREE webinars adapted on how business can react to the changing times due to Covid-19 Coronavirus, these include:

    • Importance of diversification in troubled times and how to diversify quickly
    • Recovery and growth, planning post coronavirus trading
    • Accessing business finance

    To book yourself onto a webinar please visit Business Wales Event Finder.

    Superfast Business Wales have a range of FREE webinars to help businesses affected by COVID-19. They include any number of 20-minute practical taster sessions and a range of more in-depth courses.

    These will help you put digital at the heart of your business to make sure your customers find you in this increasingly competitive online space.  Whether the business is looking to move online and create a new 'business as usual' or maintain their brand presence locally for when things get back to normal, we have courses that suit all business needs and abilities.  For a further details about these webinars visit Superfast Business Wales events.

     

    Are you a local business offering home deliveries, collections or takeaways?

    We've brought together a list of local businesses supplying food and other essential items via delivery or collection during the coronavirus pandemic: Deliveries and takeaways - suppliers of food and essential items in Swansea

    If you are a local business offering delivery or collection of food and other essential items to residents of Swansea let us know so we can add you to the list: Submit information on what food/essentials you can supply

     

    Guidance for drivers from Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

    With an increase in deliveries as more people order items online the HSE is making sure that the driver's welfare is being looked after.

    Drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. Those who already provide reasonable access to toilets and handwashing facilities should continue to do so. Preventing access is against the law. 

    There has also been a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers' hours rules for drivers involved in the delivery of:

    • food
    • non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning)
    • over the counter pharmaceuticals

    Drivers should not be expected to drive while they are tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, other road users, and anyone involved in loading and unloading vehicles.

    You can find more detailed information at:

     

    Sunday trading

    Swansea Council is relaxing Sunday trading laws to help give key workers and vulnerable people more time to get essential goods.

    Under existing laws, shops above a certain size are restricted to six hours trading time on Sundays.

    The council's Trading Standards has written to a large number of stores in the city to confirm it would not be enforcing current trading laws during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

    It means shops affected by the restrictions can choose how long they open from Sunday (5 April).

     

    Helpline for the Social Business Sector in Wales

    The Wales Co-operative Centre has launched a Covid-19 Helpline for the social business sector in Wales.

    Social Business Wales and its team of expert advisors are on hand to provide help with enquiries about cash flow, HR, digital platforms, marketing and communications and a range of other areas that might need re-thinking in light of the coronavirus.

    They can provide advice via telephone or through video conferencing, you can contact them by telephone on 0300 111 5050 or email sbwenquiries@wales.coop if you need support.

    For further information please visit the Social Business Wales website.

     

    Voluntary Services Emergency Fund

    A new grant scheme to enable voluntary organisations providing vital support during the Coronavirus crisis to continue and expand their work.

    The voluntary sector across Wales is playing a pivotal role in supporting those in need across Welsh communities. In this time of national emergency, funding needs to reach those working directly with communities quickly, to meet a huge increase in need. The purpose of this fund is to enable those providing vital support to groups such as: people in isolation, the elderly, carers, people struggling to access food etc so that they can be supported during this time.

    WCVA are administering the grants scheme in a fast and robust way to enable the sector to continue and expand their work, especially with volunteers, in supporting people in Welsh communities most at need during this time.

    Grants will support not for profit organisations working at a community scale, up to a national level in Wales, and can be between £10,000 - £100,000.

    For full information and to apply, visit the WCVA website.

     

    Culture, creative and sports sector funding

    Welsh Government has launched the following funding schemes for the culture, creative and sports sectors:

    • Culture Resilience Fund - help for museums, libraries, archives and professionals affected by coronavirus
    • Arts Resilience Fund - £7m Arts Resilience Fund is available to help artists and culture organisations affected by the coronavirus
    • Creative Wales Emergency Relief Funds:
      • Grassroots Music Relief Fund (GMRF) 
      • Development Funding for TV industry
      • Emergency Digital Development Funding
    • Sport Wales
      • Sport Emergency Relief Fund
      • Sport Resilience Fund

    More information on funds relating to the culture, creative and sports sectors: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/culture-sector

     

    New support for Welsh dairy farmers

    Welsh Government have announced funding for Welsh dairy farmers hardest hit by the recent exceptional market conditions as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The dairy sector has felt the immediate impact of the global pandemic with the closure of the food service and hospitality sectors.

    To support the sector during these challenging times, Welsh Government has confirmed eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income in April and subsequently May will be entitled to up to £10,000, to cover 70% of their lost income. This will help ensure they can continue to operate without impacting animal welfare and the environment.

    Further details on the scheme will be announced on Business Wales shortly.

     

    Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

    A new online service 'The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme' will launch on 26 May 2020 for small and medium sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to current or former employees.

    Employers can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:

    • 13 March 2020 - if employees had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
    • 16 April 2020 - if employees was shielding because of coronavirus

    The weekly rate was £94.25 before 6 April 2020 and is now £95.85. If you're an employer who pays more than the weekly rate of SSP you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.

    For further information please visit the GOV.UK website.

     

    Customs Declarations - Grant Scheme

    By July 2021 all companies importing or exporting goods from the UK will have to complete customs declarations. This will be a significant challenge for many businesses and the government has three grant schemes to help businesses prepare.

    • Recruitment grant - A £3,000 grant for recruiting new employees who will manage the customs declaration process. A further £12,000 may also be available to cover the salary costs for each new or redeployed employee.
    • Training grant - A grant of up to £1,500 per employee towards the cost of external customs declaration training courses. It will also cover the cost of internal training, up to a limit of £250 for per employee.
    • IT improvements - The grant covers 100% of the costs relating to your IT expenditure to improve the efficiency of making customs declarations.

    Who can apply

    To be eligible your business must meet one of the descriptions below

    • complete or intend to complete customs declarations on behalf of your clients
    • be an importer or exporter and complete or intend to complete declarations internally for your own goods
    • be an organisation which recruits, trains and places apprentices in businesses to undertake customs declarations.

    In addition, your businesses must:

    • have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before the submission of your application and when the grant is paid
    • not have previously failed to meet its tax obligations

    How to apply

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is administering the grants for HMRC. Apply online through PwC - https://www.customsintermediarygrant.co.uk/

    Reopening guidance for hospitality businesses

    Our licensing teams have been out and about advising businesses on how to ensure they are doing the right thing and operating correctly to help keep their staff, customers and Swansea safe. This guidance will help pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, bowling alleys and bingo halls in Wales who are reopening indoors.

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