It goes without saying that the leisure, visitor & family attraction industry that we work with everyday is facing the biggest challenges of our lifetime (we hope) due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak; which is being called the worst public health crisis in modern history.
At MAMA, it has been quite frankly, S**T, to see our colleagues, clients and the industry at large virtually grind to a halt in a matter of days.
However, we are all aware that this is for the greater good; and the safety of the ones we love and all vulnerable people in our communities. We all have to play our part and if that means closing our doors; that is what we must do.
There has been unrivaled levels of selflessness in the community which has been humbling to see; and the government has made unprecedented support packages available to ours and other industries hit the hardest.
This information is correct at the time of writing. For live information, please visit gov.uk or contact your local councils. We are going to try to keep this page updated as more information is available, but here is what we know so far:
The health of our teams is of utmost priority. Whilst many of your staff members will now be either furloughed or working from home; we may still have employees with symptoms that simply cannot work.
For any businesses with less than 250 employees, it will be possible to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.
Previously, SSP would kick in after 4 days of sickness in a row (including non-working days) and is paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks.
Emergency legislation has been put in place that means employees are able to get SSP from the first day they’re self-isolating and cannot work. This began on 13 March.
For more information about SSP and HR related legislative updates, we strongly suggest speaking to your HR team or consultants.
Business Rates Relief
Most of the leisure, family and visitor attractions industry will usually consider business rates to be a considerable cost of operation for their business.
The government has implemented a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.
You will be eligible if:
- Your business is based in England, AND
- Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those that are wholly or mainly being used:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,
- for assembly and leisure; or
- as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
There is no action for you to access this business rates support. Local authorities will apply this to your business rates bill.
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
You will be eligible if:
- Your business is based in England
- Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
- Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- for assembly and leisure
- as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
Much like the business rates relief, there is no action to take. Your local authority will be in touch with you if you are eligible.
Bare in mind the authorities will be incredibly busy in this period.
Business Interruption Loan
Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
This scheme will help businesses affected by coronavirus to access bank lending and overdrafts if they need to. For loans up to £5 million, the Government is providing a guarantee of 80% for each loan. This will give lenders the confidence to continue to provide finance to businesses. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee.
Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
Talk to your bank or finance provider as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the scheme has launched this week (23 March).
You will be eligible if:
- Your business is UK-based, with turnover of no more that £45 million per annum, AND
- Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.
Time To Pay Service
Is your business in financial distress? You may be able to take advantage of HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
All businesses 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.
If you’ve missed, or are worried about missing, your next tax payment due to coronavirus, please contact HMRC.
This is available now.
Job Retention Scheme
In a period of vast economic uncertainty; many employers are facing incredibly difficult decisions regarding their workforce while there are enforced closures and a lack of work.
As business owners; we care about our teams and letting them go in the current situation is not taken lightly. This scheme allows companies to support their employees through this unprecedented and hopefully retain a workforce ready to bounce back when we’re out the other side.
HM Government Business Support describe this scheme:
Under the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.
How do you access it?
- 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.
- Once the new online portal is live, submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
Is it available now?
HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. It is expected that the first grants are to be paid within weeks, and HMRC are aiming to get it done before the end of April.
If cashflow is an issue right now: consider the above Business Interruption Loan