Government Assistance

We are discussing options to support businesses during this period and during recovery and will keep members updated.

Coronavirus support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. You can use this business support finder to see what support is available for your business.

You can find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply, here.

Westminster Council are currently 75% through processing business grants and have now delivered £58.9m to more than 3,500 businesses. They are aiming to have completed all remaining grant payments by 24 April. They are working hard to ensure that payments reach qualifying businesses as soon as possible. Under no circumstances is there a need for a business to make a payment to a third party to obtain the grant. If your business is eligible, there is no need to contact Westminster, they will seek to make payment as soon as possible.

Loans and grants

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45m, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years.

The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank. 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 also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payment and any lender-levied fees, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Find out more

100% government backed loan scheme for small business

The new Bounce Back Loans scheme announced by the Chancellor on 27 April, will allow businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and from 4 May businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.

The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. Loans should reach businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May. Firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders. The government will work with lenders to ensure loans delivered through this scheme are advanced as quickly as possible and agree a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you may receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Find out more

Small Business Grant Funding

The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Find out more

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.

Find out more

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms. The scheme will be funded by central bank reserves – in line with other Bank of England market operations. It will operate for at least 12 months, and for as long as steps are needed to relieve cash flow pressures on firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy.

Find out more

Business Support Helpline

You can call the Business Support Helpline (England) on 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

Support for business

Business Rates

Due to the lack of support for businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000 in the Budget and with many high street businesses facing severe cash-flow problems, on 16 March 2020 the Marble Arch London joined major national trade bodies and campaigners to call for the Budget’s business rate holiday for small high street businesses to be extended immediately to the other 70% of high street companies, regardless of size.

The Chancellor announced additional support on 17 March 2020 for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors during the outbreak in response to the main concerns expressed to the Government by national industry bodies, the Retailer Rates Action Group, Marble Arch London, and our fellow BIDs. If your business occupies a property in the hospitality or retail sector, you will be eligible for a 100% discount on your business rates bill for 1 year. There is no need to contact Westminster council as they will be amending your account and will issue a communication confirming the position in due course. Find out more.

Following our lobbying, business rates relief was extended to the following sectors on 25 March 2020: employment agencies, estate agents, casinos, clubs, wellness centres and spas. For more information on Business Rates relief, please read Business Rates – Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance

VAT Deferral and Time to Pay

The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible. 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.

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

If you are self-employed you are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

You are eligible if your business:

  • Pays tax to the UK government;
  • Has outstanding tax liabilities.

HMRC have set up a COVID-19 helpline. Advisers can talk to you about problems paying your taxes due to COVID-19 via webchat or phone.

Commercial Tenants

The UK Government announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis will be protected from eviction for at least three months. Read the announcement here.

You might find this factsheet from London Growth Hub on how to negotiate a rent holiday helpful.

Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and furlough

The Chancellor announced a further raft of Support for Businesses on 20 March 2020, including assistance for a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The government is to pay 80% of wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month.

It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to businesses that have already had to lay off workers due to the virus, as long they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence. New guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme states that the government will cover employer National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed workers, on top of 80% of salary.

The furlough portal opened on 20 April, you can now claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

Find out more

Helping employers support employees

Accounting and Corporate Governance

On 28 March 2020, Business Secretary Alok Sharma outlined a series of temporary relaxation of regulations to ease further the pressure on businesses. This gives companies a three month extension for filing of annual accounts, improve the insolvency system to help keep companies trading, and temporarily suspends certain personal obligations on company directors to remove threats regarding insolvency.

The Charity and Voluntary Sector

Mayor contributes £1m to new emergency support fund

The Mayor of London has contributed £1 million to create a new emergency fund for community and voluntary sector organisations affected by the impact of the virus. The Mayor joined City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, and London Funders, a network of investors of London’s civil society, to launch the new fund – with an initial £1 million provided by City Hall and £1 million from City Bridge Trust.

The Community Contribution Fund – COVID-19 grant scheme

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, The City of Westminster Charitable Trust has launched a new COVID-19 grant scheme as part of the Community Contribution, which was created to give Westminster residents in the top Council tax bands the opportunity to give more to their local community, on a voluntary basis.

The COVID-19 fund will help frontline voluntary and community organisations that are providing vital services to support the most vulnerable in Westminster. Grants of up to £15,000 are available for projects that:

  • Provide extra support to help rough sleepers off the street or to keep them protected during the outbreak
  • Provide youth support
  • Offer support to people who are suffering from social isolation or loneliness.

All organisations must operate in Westminster and the following organisations can apply: voluntary and community organisations, registered charities, constituted groups or clubs, not-for-profit or community interest companies, social enterprises and schools.

Applications for the COVID-19 grant scheme can be made here.

Help for the Self Employed

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Find out more

Regional and Westminster Information

To support businesses in London, the London Growth Hub has brought together essential resources to help businesses manage and mitigate its exposure to the impact of coronavirus. Find out more here.

You can also read Westminster Council’s business help pages here.

Exit Strategy

On 29 March 2020, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer said the Government was confident that it would be on top of the outbreak within 12 weeks but the lockdown will be reviewed in a couple of weeks to assess the impact. However, even if there has been a positive impact on flattening the peak, it will take at least six months to decide whether things can start to return to normal. This return to normality will be a gradual, staged process.

Marble Arch London BID will work with our members to prepare an area-wide recovery plan.