These daily updates from the BID Team focus on the key questions businesses are asking us, and provide updates on the issues affecting all businesses. We’ll continue to update our website with information that affects your business, and alert you to anything new through our social media platforms. If you haven’t already, please start following us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bognorregisBID/ Even though Clair and I are working from home, you can still contact us by email: email@example.com, by phone: 07917 692690 or through Zoom meeting software. The software is free to download and works across a wide range of platforms – phones, tablets, PC’s, Macs. If you’d like a virtual face to face, please invite: firstname.lastname@example.org Financial Support Questions How can I access the government grants? We’re expecting an official announcement from ADC later today, Wednesday 25th March 2020 – we’ll send an update via social media. It has been confirmed that ADC Business Rates will identify the businesses eligible for either the £10,000 or £25,000 grant, and that they will make direct contact with businesses. You will not have to complete any application – they will come to you. At the time of writing this update, I don’t have any information as to when the money will be made available to you. Hopefully the statement later today will give us more detail. Business Rates “holiday” for Leisure, Tourism and Retail Businesses If your business is eligible for the business rates “holiday”, it’s been confirmed that ADC Business Rates will identify eligible businesses and you will be re-billed, with a zero balance. You do not have to pay the bill issued a couple of weeks ago. If you usually pay by Direct Debit, you’re advised to cancel that instruction, just to be on the safe side. Just to be really clear, the business rates holiday is only for businesses in the Leisure, Tourism and Retail sector. How can I access the Government Loan? This is now available to businesses through their banks. You’ll find a full list of providers here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/accredited-lenders/ If you have carefully considered the implications, and want to apply for a loan, the recommendation is to contact your bank through their online services to see how they can help you. There is one really important thing to point out. On the British Bank's website, it says that "If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so." That suggests that the six months interest free government backed loan will not be the first option you are presented with by your lender. Please check all terms really, really carefully in light of your business’s circumstances. How can I access the wages support to cover 80% of my staff’s wages bill? There’s still no direction as to how to claim it, or when you will be able to access this funding. I’ve updated the BID’s website with the information about how you should manage staff contracts – you’ll need to follow this guidance to claim the money back later. Please remember that this is a totally new system that needs to be set up to enable every single business in the UK to access these particular funds. HMRC aren’t set up to pay businesses – it’s always been the other way around, so it’s going to take time. The government site says that HMRC “are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.” In the meantime, the site states: “If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.” See section on loans above. My interpretation of this is that the expectation is that businesses will continue to pay wages, and then claim back from HMRC once the system is set up. I’m going to send out a separate update today, as we’ve been receiving questions from non-essential businesses who offer an online ordering and contactless delivery service, asking whether they are allowed to stay open, as they have to get into their shop to pack orders. The next information will update on government advice to businesses, and remind essential businesses that are staying open about the social distancing actions they MUST take to protect their staff and customers.
Kindest regards, Heather
Heather Allen, BR BID Co-Ordinator