The JET Event Blog

COVID-19 UK Government Initiatives


Wednesday, 25 March 2020


COVID-19 News
COVID-19 UK Government Initiatives

As the Coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) deepens, all business owners are urgently reviewing their business processes, communication with their customers, the wellbeing of their staff and of course their cashflows.

It is a difficult and worrying time for everyone, and our industry has been deeply affected by the virus, seeing most events over the spring season postponing, or even cancelling completely. Our team of account managers are working tirelessly to speak to all our customers to understand specific requirements and to schedule in new event dates into what is going to be a very busy Autumn / Winter season for the events industry.

We thought it may be a good idea to highlight the Government Initiatives that have been announced recently, that you may be able to take advantage of to help in these very difficult times. You may well have heard and researched many if not all of the below, however if we can help one business with one bit of information then we can hopefully make a difference. We are all in this together.

a) Job Retention Scheme

This is the latest effort from the UK Government to help businesses and avoid job cuts. The government (through HMRC) will cover up to 80% of wages (up to £2,500 per PAYE employee) for up to 3 months. The employee must not be working but be furloughed (i.e. the employee is not working, but remains subject to employment law) – some workers cannot be furloughed (please refer to the employment contract).

The scheme can be backdated to 1 March 2020 in order to cover workers who have already lost their jobs this month. While it is not specified if they will have to be re-engaged by their employers, salaries will be paid through employers and claimed back from HMRC. We believe it is likely employees will have to be re-engaged for this furlough period in order to be eligible – and it should be noted that this is likely to count towards continuous employment, so consider any thresholds that the employee may reach during the furlough period (for example for bonus eligibility or for employee protections).

The reimbursement request will be submitted through an HMRC online portal (yet to be created).

A more detailed summary is available here.

b) Business Interruption Loans

Loans of up to £5m are available from British Business Bank (guidance available here). Government will guarantee up to 80% of the loan and also cover the initial 12 months’ interest. To qualify a business must meet the following criteria:

1. They must be UK based;
2. Their turnover is maximum £45m per annum;
3. They are not otherwise eligible for a fully commercial loan;
4. They have not received de minimis state aid over €200,00 in this or the previous two financial years; and
5. They must be in an eligible industry (the list can be found here).

Again, the finer details are yet to be decided, but it is likely that any business must show a genuine positive business record (if not profitable) prior to the clear and significantly negative impact of COVID-19 upon it.

Larger businesses may be eligible for the government led Corporate Financing Facility. Details are yet to be confirmed but it will run through the Bank of England. Additional guidance is available here.

c) Business Rates

Businesses in England in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector are eligible for a holiday from Business Rates in 2020/21 tax year.

If eligible, this will automatically be carried out through your next council tax bill.

d) Grants

Business in England in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector may be eligible for a business grant of up to £25,000. This is dependent on your rateable value (£10,000 grant for businesses up to £15,000 rateable value, £25,000 grant for businesses with a rateable value of £15,001 - £51,000). If eligible, your local authority will be in touch.

Smaller businesses based in England that occupy property and already receive small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR), may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000. If eligible, your local authority will be in touch.

e) Statutory Sick Pay

SSP has been extended to include small and medium sized UK based businesses (fewer than 250 employees as at 28 February 2020). Businesses will be able to reclaim sick pay paid out to staff who are absent due to COVID-19 related illness.

This scheme is still being set-up.

f) Time to Pay and VAT

VAT is deferred from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 – however, businesses will be expected to pay any VAT liabilities that accrue in the deferral period by the end of the 2020/21 tax year.

HMRC is making available a special helpline for businesses who require extra time to pay any tax owed (the Time to Pay service). This is available to all UK tax-paying businesses with outstanding liabilities.

The number is 0800 015 9559.

These various schemes are still in development and new financing or business support initiatives are likely to emerge as the effects of COVID-19 continues to unfold.

We all recognise that this situation continues to evolve at pace, and JET is well positioned to continue to support our clients whilst prioritising the health and wellbeing of our employees.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you require any assistance or further information.

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