Corona Virus Shutdown
Shutdown situation -What are my options?
Help During the Corona Virus Shutdown Government Latest
Click on the image for a direct link to the UK Government for the latest guidance on Corona virus and what you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe. Please bookmark this link and visit regularly for the latest updates.
Below you will find some useful information and links which we will try to update on a regular basis
Download your Guide to Coronavirus in URDU
کورونا وائرس (Covid19)سے متعلق رہنمائ
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Corona Virus Shutdown How will I manage?
Sanato Tijarat guide
These are challenging times with a lot of uncertainty and unknowns as to the duration of the situation. Sanato Tijarat UK will try to address some of the key points and provide you links to further guidance.
Albeit the reality that there are likely to be challenges ahead, an ever-growing abundance of resources and information is being made available by both the Government, financial and other organisations to help you during this period.
If you think that you may be getting into personal or business financial difficulty, The key message from us to you, is to not panic and remain calm, you are not alone in this unprecedented period. We can assure you that almost all lenders and financial institutions understand the severity of the current situation, and are very sympathetic and open, to assisting their customers (provided you have maintained your affairs to date). The important thing is not to ignore any issues and contact the organisations concerned at your earliest opportunity without fear, You will be pleasantly surprised by their response.
We have prepared some of the most common questions relevant to the current situation taken from various authoritative sources. Just click on the question or + sign to its right to see more detailed information.
The UK National Sanato Tijarat team is here to serve you, and will aim to provide regular updated information and links to relevant guidance and resources. Please remember you may contact a member of our team or your local Sanato Tijarat secretary at any time (details for the National team listed below). All our members are seasoned professionals with a diverse range of experience in many sectors. We also have access to a wide array of knowledgeable and trusted members in almost every industry or trade you can think of. We would be more than happy to to connect you with with these individuals, for further detailed specialist assistance should it be required.
NATIONAL SANATO TIJARAT TEAM UK
PERSONAL - I am worried about my household finances
Paying your mortgage
The government has announced that all mortgage providers will give a three month mortgage holiday for anyone struggling with payments following the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, the majority of banks said they would offer a payment holiday on mortgages and loans. If you are concerned, talk to your bank or provider as soon as possible.
For those renting, the government has brought forward emergency legislation to protect them from eviction if they can’t keep up with payments.
If you are worried about rent, make sure you talk to your landlord and see what they can do to help you get through the coming months.
Interest rates cut
Earlier this month, the Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% to help reduce the financial impact of Coronavirus for both borrowers and businesses. On 19 March, these were cut further, from 0.25% to 0.1% as an emergency measure. Interest rates are now at their lowest level in history.
The rates cut will help anyone who is on a variable rate mortgage or looking to move to a new deal, but if you’re a saver you will get less return on your cash savings. And with stock markets around the world crashing, it’s likely that more of us will opt to keep our savings in cash.
If you do have money in investments, experts say not to panic if the value of your savings drop. Remember, investing is for the long-term and the stock market will pick up again.
Credit cards and loans and Increased credit limits
Other support measures include temporary credit limit increases and payment holidays on credit cards and loans by some banks. (28/3/2020: most organisations are openly offering 3 month payment holidays without affecting your credit rating)
If you are worried about keeping up with any kind of payment, call your bank as soon as possible. The banks have different measures in place and will assess each situation to see what is available.
Support for Asylum Seekers
Screening interviews being cancelled.
The Home Office have cancelled some screening interviews and are working on a new system for asylum claims to be registered without the need to physically attend the Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon.
Reporting conditions temporarily suspended
The Home Office have updated the information on the government website to confirm that they have temporarily suspended reporting requirements. The Home Office are sending individuals an SMS to confirm this. Further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/immigration-reporting-centres
Asylum interviews – All interviews now paused
The Home Office have paused substantive asylum interviews and are currently exploring alternative ways to conduct these going forward (possibly by increasing the use of video link).
Asylum Support – All evictions and terminations of support paused for 3 months
On 27th March 2020, the Home Office Minister Chris Philp sent a Letter to the British Red Cross announcing that for the next three months people will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation. This applies to both people whose asylum cases are refused and those who are granted status.
In addition to the letter, the Red Cross also received clarification that financial support will also continue. In the letter, the Minister sets out that this will reviewed towards the end of June.
Asylum Support Appeals – Appellants can “call-in” to appeal hearings rather than attend in person
Asylum support appeal hearings at the Asylum Support Tribunal (AST) are continuing but appellants can now request to ‘call-in’ to the hearing, instead of travelling to the hearing building in London.
The Deputy Tribunal Judge has informed the Asylum Support Appeals Project that all appellants and reps who have oral hearings w/c 23rd March should have been emailed to let them know about the option of calling-in to the appeal. If you are supporting someone with an appeal at the asylum support tribunal this week , please let them know that they can request to dial-in to the hearing.
No hearings will take place w/c 30th March but they will start again w/c 7th April.
The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) have produced a detailed Factsheet on Covid-19 and asylum support, which is available here
Welfare benefits - Temporary changes to DWP policies
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also been making temporary changes to their policies regarding access to welfare benefits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be listing those in this section here. Further information can be found on the government website ‘Coronavirus and claiming benefits’.
- As of Tuesday 24 March, access to jobcentres is limited, with members of the public not admitted into jobcentres unless they are directed to do so with a booked appointment. Only the most vulnerable claimants who cannot access DWP services by other channels will be able to attend, with the public urged to use online services. People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible. Further details can be found on the government website here.
- Advances for all new UC claimants in need are now available online/via phone, with no requirement to attend the jobcentre.
- As of Tuesday 24 March, benefit reviews and reassessments, including face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits, are suspended for three months. Details can be found on the government website here.
- From 6 April, the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element will be increased by £20 per week for one year.
- The Local Housing Allowance rates for private renters claiming the Universal Credit housing element or Housing Benefit will be increased to the 30th percentile of market rents.
- The Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed claimants affected by the economic impact of Covid-19 has been relaxed.
- National Insurance Number interviews are not currently taking place for 3 months effective from the 17th of March. The DWP have confirmed that individuals do not need a National Insurance number to apply for benefits or a job. Individuals can start work without a National Insurance Number as long as they have the right to work in the UK and employers have information to allow them to do this.
WORKING -I am/was employed under PAYE - What are my rights
Employees you can claim for
Clicking on any of the text will take you directly to the government link
Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:
- full-time employees
- part-time employees
- employees on agency contracts
- employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.
To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.
This scheme is only for employees on agency contracts who are not working.
If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme and you will have to continue paying the employee through your payroll and pay their salary subject to the terms of the employment contract you agreed.
Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.
To be eligible for the subsidy employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication.
Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.
Universal Credit and the Self-Employed
On 20 March 2020 the Chancellor announced the suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed and that the standard allowance was to rise over the next 12 months by £1,000. This means that self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
You can find out more about Universal Credit and apply on line at – https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Guidance for Self-Employed - What Government help is available?
Chancellor announces additional measures to help businesses and the self-employed impacted by COVID-19
The Chancellor announced a major package of support for the self-employed:
- HMG will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years up to £2500 per month
- This will be available for three months. Will be extended if necessary
- People can claim these grants and continue to do business
- Covers self-employed same as those furloughed
To ensure the funds reaches the people most in need:
- Open to anyone of trading profits of up to £50,000
- Available to people who i) make the majority of their income being self-employed, ii) Have a self-employed tax return for 2019
How to access
- HMRC will contact you directly and you’ll have to fill out a form
- HMRC will pay the grant directly to bank accounts.
- Aim is to pay at the beginning of June (3 months backdated). Hoping to be quicker than that but recognition HMRC are now having to design two new systems
- Anyone who missed the Jan filing deadline has an extra 4 weeks from today to submit their tax return
Further Details can be found at – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals
Guidance for employers - Employees must work from home
Current government advice is that the risk to the public in the UK is high. Employees must work from home wherever possible.
On 20 March 2020, the government ordered the closure of cafes, pubs and restaurants by that evening, except for take-away food. It further ordered that nightclubs, cinema, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should close “as soon as they reasonably can”. A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence. On 23 March 2020, the government announced that all “non-essential” shops and community spaces are to be closed with immediate effect for at least 3 weeks and until further advised and the Regulations will be extended to apply to those businesses too. A full list of the non-essential businesses which are to close are available here
Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery services continue to run as normal.
Which businesses are classed as "non-essential" and required to close?
On 23 March the Government implemented measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All non-essential premises should now be closed. Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal. The Government as asking for these businesses to remian closed for a minimum of three weeks from 23 March 2020 when the restrictions will be reviewed.
The following businesses must remain closed:
- Restaurants – food delivery and takeaway can remain operational
- Cafes and canteens – food delivery and takeaway can remain operational as can cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, schools, prison and military canteens and services providing food or drink to the homeless. Workplace canteens can remain open if there is no alternative option – read more about this on the gov.uk website
- Public Houses, bars and nightclubs – this includes premises located within hotels or members clubs
- Hair, beauty and nail salons – this includes piercing and tattoo parlours, barbers, massage parlours and spas
- All retail stores – Exceptions to this are supermarkets and other food shops, medical services, pharmacies (both dispensing and non dispensing) petrol stations, bicycle shops, hardware and equipment hire stores, launderettes and dry cleaners, car garages and repair shops, car rental services, car parks Post Offices, vets and pet shops, corner shops, off-licences, and newsagents, banks, building scoeities and credit unions.
- Outdoor and indoor markets – unless they offer groceries or food
- Hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites as well as Boarding Houses and Caravan parks/sites for commercial use. There are exceptions for those who live in these establishments as interim or permanent residences, these can be seen in full at the gov.uk website
- Community centres, youth centers and similar – these may remain open for hosting essential services such as food banks or homeless services
- Places of Worship – these can remain open for funerals (with appropriate social distancing) and solitary prayer
- Cinemas, theatres and concert halls (there are some exceptions to this on the gov.uk website)
- Museums and galleries
- Auction Houses
- Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops
- Skating rinks, fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres (Leisure centres may stay open for blood donation sessions)
- Funfairs, arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar businesses
- Enclosed spaces in parks such as sports courts, pitches, outdoor gyms or similar
What about takeaways?
The guidance from the Government is that takeaways should remain open and operational where possible
This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services (including delivery drivers). Businesses are encouraged to take orders online or by telephone, and businesses should not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on. Ordering in advance is strongly encouraged to avoid waiting in, as per Public Health England guidelines.
People must not consume food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafés or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food and those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit.
Paying Tax - You may be eligible for support through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Time to Pay service.
HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.
Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For more information, please check the HMRC site here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19.
Payment of VAT has been deferred
VAT has been deferred for the next quarter (these payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year)
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.
If you are a small or medium-sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19
This information is taken from the publication “How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19” click here to read the full document
UK based Small-and medium-sized businesses (who employ less than 250 people as of 28 February 2020) are able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
- Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
- The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible
This scheme is being currently being devloped and we will update once the details have been confirmed.
The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) -£10,000
Additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief has been made available. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have now released their guidance for local councils which sets out in full which businesses are eligible and the funding breakdown, you can read this in full at the gov.uk website.
Eligible businesses are those based in England already receiving SBBR and/or RRR occupying property.
You do not need to do anything to claim this grant, your local authority will contact you if you are eligible for this grant. Any queries should be addressed to your local authority. If you ar eunsure who your local authority is, you can find out via the Governments Find your local council tool.
What about directors?
If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.
You can find more details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the gov.uk website
How can I keep my business premises is secure while it is closed?
The Metropolitan Police have issues guidance to businesses to help protect them from crime and anti-social behaviour at the current time. You can read the full guidance here.
If your premises is closed, the following actions are recommended:
- Test your alarm, ensure it is monitored and fully operational
- Identify any vulnerable areas. Rectify these. Ensure security gates, bollards and fire exit doors have been secured prior to closure of the premises.
- Ensure service doors are closed and locked when not in use.
- Make sure you have list of key holders who can be contacted in times of emergency.
- Ensure your contact details for staff are up to date.
- Consider moving high value items into secured stockrooms and out of view.
- Ensure keys to the premises or other venues are not left inside and are instead with dedicated key holders.
- Consider timer switches or ensure sufficient lighting is left on at the premises/surrounding area.
- Ensure there are no combustible materials left in the proximity of the building such as packaging – consider the risk of arson.
- Review your CCTV to confirm it is operational, provides good quality images and is positioned to cover as much of the stores public and private areas. You may wish to consider a mobile phone app that allows connectivity and a vocal capacity to engage with any intruder.
- Ensure that no cash is retained on the premises overnight (leave a note on the door) stating that no cash or valuables are kept overnight) or store then in a security accredited safe bolted to the floor.
If you want to brush up on your business securtiy basics, our blog from FSB Insurance Services, Practical advice to improve the security of your business premises is a great place to start as well as their Practical Advice to Protect Unoccupied Property
Is there protection from eviction for commercial tenants?
We hope that landlords will take a generous approach to their small business tenants, many of whom have already seen trading and footfall dip. This is particularly important in areas of high rent, such as high streets or urban centres (including London). FSB is talking to major landlords to ask them to commit to rent breaks and discounts.
The Treasury have announced that they have introduced emergency legislation through the Covid Bill in Parliament to ban evictions for commercial tenants for at least three months. All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be eligible and this will extend a previously-announced measure in the Covid-19 emergency legislation to ban evictions for social and private renters for three months. We are awaiting further information regarding the administration of this scheme.