Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to businesses, from the Leader of Shropshire Council
This letter is the first of what will likely be many communications in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Shropshire. It is important to begin by stating our support for you and your business. We will do whatever we can to help you through what is undeniably a difficult time, particularly coming so soon after the floods that had such a large impact on many businesses across our county.
As you know we’re in the ‘delay’ phase of the COVID-19 action plan – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
As you may be aware, Shropshire has now seen several confirmed cases of COVID 19. It is likely that we will get more cases, but we want to reassure you that Shropshire Council is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Shropshire are protected.
As a council we have specialists trained to deal with issues like the coronavirus, and plans are in place that have been built on years of knowledge and experience. That said, it goes without saying that this situation is unprecedented: but please know our teams mobilised many weeks ago, as the threat emerged, to ensure we respond to the Government’s requests, alongside our local needs.
Government support for businesses to help minimise the impact of the coronavirus.
In the Budget (11 March 2020) the Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised. These were expanded on by the Chancellor on Tuesday 17 March when further announcements were made.
A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as the Government will cover the first six months of interest payments.
For businesses with fewer than 250 staff, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to the coronavirus, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
There will be a £10,000 cash grant to our smallest businesses, delivered by councils. Small businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be contacted by their local council – they do not need to apply. The funding will be provided to councils in early April 2020.
Finally, the Government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020/21 tax year.
A £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to Shropshire Council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidance for councils on the business rates holiday will be published in due course.
We will be sharing further information with you as it becomes available, but we ask that you familiarise yourself with existing resources as these will often be the source of updates. The Government provides current coronavirus updates for businesses around information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses. You can find this here:
It is unquestionably a challenging time for everyone in the country, so we simply urge you to follow the guidance given and remain current, as the instruction is changing frequently to manage the situation.
Please do follow the updated public health guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughl, and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Do keep looking at the current NHS advice here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Please also follow the updated travel guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.
We have also added links on our own website to helpful sites and more will be added as they become available, you can find the main page here which has a link to the business section:
We wish you well in the coming weeks and months. Our teams are equipped to work from anywhere and we are prepared to support residents and businesses to the best of our abilities throughout this crisis for the county.
Councillor Peter Nutting
Leader of Shropshire Council