Chelmsford City Council

Essex moved to Tier 2 restrictions on Saturday 17 October. You can find out what this means and get other useful information on our coronavirus updates page.

 

Coronavirus help and guidance for businesses and employers

Find financial support

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge to businesses around the globe.

The UK government have planned extensively over the years for an event like this. The UK is therefore well prepared to respond in a way that offers substantial protection. 

If your business has been (or is likely to be) affected, we urge you to seek advice. The government has supplied a series of resources to: 

  • inform employers on the latest developments 
  • give advice on protecting you and your employees

The government has also launched a business support finder tool. You just complete a short survey, and you will then be signposted to loans, grants and other schemes you could be eligible for.

For more wide-ranging advice regarding your finances, you may find this Money Navigator Tool produced by the Money Advice Service helpful.

Businesses can use marquees to allow up to six people from different households to meet outside, to help them follow Tier 2 restrictions.

You can read our guidance about using marquees outside.

On 22 October, the Chancellor announced further financial support for businesses impacted by the imposition of Tier 2 restrictions. It will be the responsibility of local authorities to distribute this funding. 

However, we will not be in a position to provide any further details until we receive detailed guidance from the government. This will include information on their definition of ‘hospitality, accommodation and leisure’ businesses, how much money is available; and any government priorities or restrictions.

We will update this page as soon as we have any further information

We can issue two dispensations to park within Chelmsford, to any food delivery services. 

The dispensations will not be vehicle specific, so you don't need to provide any vehicle registrations. The permits will be valid three months and we will then review them after this period.

To apply for a permit, you will need to tell us:

  • your business name and address
  • a description of the business
  • a contact telephone number, name and an email address

You need to then email your request to parking@chelmsford.gov.uk 

We will email dispensations to the company for you to print off and place on/in the vehicle.

The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus.

Whilst grants and business rate relief will be administered by us, there is a range of other support provided by the Government.


Self Employed Support

The government has announced that it is further extending the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The scheme is for those who are self-employed, currently eligible for SEISS, actively continuing to trade, but are facing reduced demand due to coronavirus.

The extension will provide two grants and will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April. The government may adjust the second grant to respond to changing circumstances.


Job Support Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes on 31 October 2020. It will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme, which opens on 1 November 2020 and will run for six months.

The Job Support Scheme will see the government contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer hours than normal due to decreased demand. Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work, at least 33% of their normal hours. For the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.


15% VAT rate cut for tourism and hospitality

The government is extending temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors until the end of March 2021. 

In addition, business who deferred their VAT bills will be given the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.


Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

Small and medium sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee and apply to employers with fewer than 250 employees.

You can find out further information on how to make a claim for SSP.


Coronavirus loan schemes

The government has extended applications for the Coronavirus loan schemes including: 

These will now run until 30 November 2020.

CBILS lenders will also have the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years. 

You can read further information about the loan that is most relevant to your business.


Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

You can find more information from the Bank of England.

 

Time to Pay Service

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.

The government has announced that self-assessment taxpayers can benefit from an additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the Time to Pay self-service facility. This means if you have deferred payments from July 2020, or payments due in January 2021, you will now not need to pay until January 2022.

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

You can visit the government website for the latest guidance businesses. Employers and businesses owners should check back regularly for updates.

Latest business update

On 22 September, the government announced further measures to address the rising cases of coronavirus in England.

10pm curfew

Certain businesses must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This covers:

  • businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants)
  • social clubs, casinos and bingo halls
  • bowling alleys, funfairs and other indoor leisure centres or facilities

This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.

 

Face coverings

Staff and customers in retail and indoor hospitality must wear masks (except when seated at a table to eat or drink). 

Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings. 

Guidance stating that face covering and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law.

 

Other changes

In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table. Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site.

Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details.

Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID secure and will face fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.

People have been asked to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go to their place of work.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30). Up to 30 people may continue to attend funerals.

Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. 

The planned reopening of conferences, exhibitions and events on 1 October has been suspended.

The government’s expectation is the measures described above will need to remain in place until March.


Relaxed rules to support businesses

The government has temporarily relaxed rules and regulation to help businesses handle any disruption they are experiencing due to coronavirus.


Working safely

The government has produced a range of guidance to help employers get their businesses back up and running and their workplaces operating safely. 

You can view the guidance documents, based on workplace setting.

You must assess the risk of coronavirus on your employees, contractors and visitors. You can find more information about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak on the HSE website.

 

NHS Test and Trace

Venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry, close contact services and local authority facilities must:

  • ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors (up to six people) to provide their name and contact details
  • keep a record of all staff working on their premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details
  • keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested
  • display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details
  • adhere to General Data Protection Regulations

You can view a full list of organisations that Test and Trace applies to. If you do not comply with any of these requirements, you will face a fixed penalty fine.

You can find further guidance on Test and Trace.   

Business Support Helpline

You can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice. 

You can call them on 0300 456 3565. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. 


Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea)

Colbea provide business advice, training and counselling to new and existing businesses. 

As part of their business offer, a business advisor can now conduct a virtual tour of your premises. They can help you think of ways to maximise your business, whilst keeping your customers and employees safe. 

To book a slot, you can visit colbea.co.uk/business-advice-chelmsford or call 01206 489351.

 

BEST Growth Hub

The BEST Growth Hub offer a completely free and impartial service. Their business navigators are available for free discussions via phone or email. 

They will answer your questions and concerns, as well as point you in the right direction for external or government advice


Essex Chambers of Commerce

The Essex Chamber of Commerce offers a wide range of support to local businesses. It’s webpages provide businesses with the latest information and guidance available in relation to coronavirus.

 

The Federation of Small Businesses

The FSB provides advice and guidance to small businesses on reducing the risks from coronavirus.


Back to Business Essex

Back to Business Essex provides SMEs with up to 12 hours of fully funded advice and guidance on key areas of focus for business owners including:

  • finance and risk
  • customers and marketing
  • supply chains
  • workplace operations
  • people


Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University offers a number of business support services. They are also offering organisations impacted by Covid-19 access to Innovation Vouchers and Internships.

If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you need help with your rent, we want to provide you with some information to help you at this difficult and uncertain time.

You can view our Coronavirus guidance for Council Tax and benefits. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced extra help for some businesses in his Budget and there have been a number of updates since then.

As we have already printed and posted the business rate bills for 2020/21, it is too late to alter them to reflect the changes. We will be sending new bills out as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we are suspending direct debit so that we don't take payments from businesses that benefit from the changes the government has announced.

As the government is announcing frequent changes, we may have missed out some newly-eligible businesses. We will refund any direct debits we have taken incorrectly.

You can find a list if eligible business types below.


Leisure, hospitality and retail businesses

The Chancellor said that no business in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector will pay rates this year regardless of their rateable value. 

Retail properties are already defined in our discretionary rate relief policy, but 'leisure and hospitality' is a new category. 

This has now been defined as properties used for the provision of sport and leisure facilities, assembly of visiting members of the public and, the provision of living accommodation as a business. This includes:

  • sports grounds and clubs
  • museums and art galleries
  • nightclubs
  • sport and leisure facilities
  • stately homes and historic houses
  • theatres
  • tourist attractions
  • gyms
  • public halls
  • clubhouse, clubs and institutions
  • hotels, guest and boarding houses
  • holiday homes
  • caravan parks and sites
  • employment agencies
  • estate agents and letting agents
  • betting shops
  • wellness centres, spas and massage parlours
  • casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls

Properties must be occupied and not empty. Properties which are temporarily closed due to government advice on coronavirus will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this help.

The government has applied to the EU to advise that they intend to offer this help. In many cases, the assistance is large enough to count as 'State Aid'. We are preparing to award the help to large businesses, but will have to wait until the government gives the go-ahead. 

You can read the  full guidance regarding the business rates holiday


Private nurseries

Private nurseries which are occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and which are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage will pay no business rates in 2020/21. 

You do not need to do anything. We will send you a new bill to confirm as soon as possible. 

Change your business model

We understand that food businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

If there are any significant changes to your business, you should contact us and tell us about the changes.

This includes services like click and collect, delivery and significant changes in how you prepare your food. For example, cooking, chilling and selling the product.

By telling us about any changes to your business, it means we can support you to operate your business in a safe way.

If your business is now looking to provide takeaway deliveries, you must be registered as a food business with us.


Useful links

You can visit the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for advice about how to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery. 

If you are considering reopening your business, you can view a check list on the FSA website for guidance on how to reopen your business safely. You should use the checklist to ensure that your kitchen is clean and ready, and your food is safe.

You can read coronavirus guidance for businesses on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) website.

The government has also issued some guidance to employees and businesses on coronavirus. You can view this on the GOV.UK website.

If you are reopening your business during coronavirus, you must ensure that hot and cold-water systems are managed properly to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

If your business has been closed since March due to coronavirus, you must ensure you are aware of the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.  

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by inhaling small droplets of water in the air that contain the Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria is naturally present in water systems and the closure of buildings and warm weather can result in an increase in the bacteria, especially if the water systems are not maintained.

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to coronavirus symptoms. You can find out what the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

If you are worried you have not maintained the water systems in your business, you will need to follow the guidance on the HSE website.

If you need any further help or advice about health and safety for your business, you can contact our Business Compliance Team.

Before you re-open your business, you must ensure that you have carried out a risk assessment. Your risk assessment must cover all the possible hazards associated with coronavirus.

You can find more information on risk assessments on the HSE website.

You must read the relevant guidance about working safely during coronavirus, on the GOV.UK website. More guidance will be added as businesses are allowed to re-open.

You should also read the Legionella guidance on the CIEH website. This is because if the water system in a building has not been in use for some time, when you re-open the building, the water system needs to be brought back in to use safely.

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Last updated: 23 October 2020

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