The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the property industry is evolving at breakneck speed. Our experienced team provide the latest insight and expertise to help you stay ahead of the game.
We, as all of our Clients and key stakeholders are, adjusting the way we work in accordance with Government guidance, to ensure that we continue to effectively and deliver a first-rate service to all during the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic.
We have already seen many excellent examples of property businesses acting to support their customers and communities through these unprecedented times. Please do let us know of any concerns that your business has, or actions it is taking, in respect of Covid-19.
SUPPORT TO CLIENTS
In a rapidly evolving political and policy environment, we are continuing to work with our Clients to understand their issues and concerns and to do what we can to support them. Please do let us know if there are issues relating to Covid-19 or otherwise that we should be addressing, or we can support you. All staff are contactable either by email or by phone or contact us.
SUPPORT FOR OUR TENANTS
A package of support for business has been announced by the Chancellor. For all the latest Government information, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website, or access the latest BEIS newsletter for business here.
Extra advice can be found on the government's dedicated Business Support website and a helpline 0300 456 3565, the government’s summary page on financial support for businesses, and UK Finance has a dedicated coronavirus webhub here. There is a quick guide to what support you might be able to access here.
Please check retailers’ social media channels and websites for news on individual store closures or opening times. The situation is evolving quickly so please be aware that published opening hours may vary among retailers and change at short notice.
We are working hard to ensure that we can continue to provide a level of service to support retailers who are continuing to trade and serving their communities at this time.
We would like to thank our retailers who are all working extremely hard in very challenging and unprecedented circumstances to ensure visitors are able to access goods and services. We would appreciate your support in respecting Government’s advice to adhere to social distancing.
THE GOVERNMENT'S RECOVERY STRATEGY
The Government has published a Recovery Strategy, setting out the approach to a phased recovery and the roadmap to lifting restrictions step by step. A guide to 'Staying alert and safe' has also been published, explains the measures that will help you to stay safe as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus.
VAT AND TAX
For all businesses, Q1 VAT payments have been deferred with immediate effect there will be no payments between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until April 2021 to pay this back, easing cash flow immediately. Self-assessment payments are also deferred until January 2021. All businesses that have outstanding tax liabilities as a result of cashflow issues can request extra help through HMRC’s Time to Pay system.
For retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, the Business Rates retail discount in England has been raised to 100% for the 12 months of 2020-21, and properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000 will also be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 distributed by local authorities (see ‘Government loans and grants’).
GOVERNMENT LOANS AND GRANTS
The Bank of England has a new scheme to buy short-term debt from large businesses with an investment grade credit rating experiencing severe short-term disruption to cashflows – the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Companies that need £5m or more will be able to contact their existing bank to request more details. The scheme is open now and information can be found here. From the week of 23 March, small firms (up to £45m in turnover) are able to apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) a funding facility of up to £5m with no interest payable for the first 12 months. CBILS offers firms funding for up to 6 years through an overdraft, a term loan, invoice finance or asset finance.
From 20 April larger businesses with a turnover of more than £45m are able to apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) providing a funding facility of up to £50m depending on turnover. Full details of both schemes are available from the British Business Bank here.
From early April, all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates relief and Rural Rates Relief will also be eligible to receive a £10,000 cash grant. Eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value of less than £51,000, will be eligible for cash grants through the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme of up to £25,000 per property. These will be distributed through Local Authorities who will get in touch in early April. See full details of the grants here.
All businesses are eligible to receive grants from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover up to 80% of the salaries of workers (up to £2,500 per month) that a business has to furlough as a result of coronavirus.
The scheme is live from 20 April and currently covers 4 months from 1 March 2020. The government has published guidance on the scheme and a step by step guide on how to apply. Small businesses will also be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to coronavirus, for up to two weeks of an employee’s salary. The rebate mechanism for this is being developed at present, and more information on eligibility can be found here.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working closely with the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) and the HSE website has the latest guidance and information for employers and employees. You can get the latest news and updates from HSE by subscribing to their e-Bulletins here.
PHE has also developed guidance specifically for employers and businesses regarding coronavirus.