Last updated: 19 March 2021
Covid-19 | Business advice and support for UK ELT providers
We have compiled the latest guidance, information and advice on commercial, financial and HR aspects of running a UK ELT centre to help members navigate the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
English UK member centres also have access the free English UK business support helpline: an independent helpline offering expert advice on HR, health and safety, payroll, tax and more.
Government support measures and guidance:
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
Other advice and support:
Government business support measures
The Government's business support website collates information on the package of financial support available for UK businesses and employees. This includes how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply. Some aspects of business support are devolved:
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New lockdown grants
In early January, following the start of the national lockdown, the Chancellor announced a new £4.6 billion lockdown grants scheme for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England. The main features of the scheme are:
- one-off top-up grants of between £4,000 and £9,000 for eligible businesses, per property according to their rateable value
- additional funding for devolved administrations to spend on their own schemes
- an additional fund of £594 million that local authorities can use to support businesses not eligible for the other grants
- these grants are in addition to those already in operation.
Devolved administrations will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements:
- the Scottish Government will receive £375 million
- the Welsh Government will receive £227 million
- the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £127 million.
Securing the inclusion of UK ELT centres in business rates relief (BRR) reamining one of our lobbying priorities and we continue to press the government to amend their advice to local authorities on the properties that are eligible for relief.
Some local authorities are now offering the rates relief package to English UK members.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme)
The Chancellor confrimed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended until 30 September 2021 in the 2021 Budget announced on 3 March 2021.
- The CJRS has been extended until 30 September 2021 and the level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June 2021
- From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of their furloughed employees' wages
- To be eligible for the grant employers must continue to pay their furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough
- Employers can continue to choose to top up their employees' wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense
- For details of the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month see Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from July 2021.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
What's new?:The application deadline for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been extended to 31 March 2021.
Businesses can move to interest-only payments or suspend payments if they are "in real trouble" for up to six months. A new successor loan scheme will be launched in the new year.
The CBILS is delivered by the British Business Bank. The scheme aims to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
It is open to SMEs with or without sufficient security for a commercial loan. For loans above £250,000 lenders can ask you for a personal guarantee but the recovery amount is capped at 20% and the guarantee cannot be a Principal Private Residence (PPR). No personal guarantees of any kind are required for loans of less than £250,000. If you require a loan of £50,000 or less it is recommended you apply for a coronavirus bounce back loan instead. CBILS loans of less than £50,000 can also be converted to a bounce back loan by your lender.
The UK 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 not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
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Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
What's new?: The application deadline for the coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) has been extended to 31 March 2021.
The BBLS is available to small and medium-sized businesses. Loans in this scheme are 100% government-backed. Businesses can to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. The length of the loan is six years, but you can repay early without paying a fee. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. If you have already received a loan of up to £50,000 under one of the other business interruption loan schemes you can transfer it into the BBLS.
Additional Restrictions Grant - ARG (England only)
The government released details for local authorities on the £1.1 billion discretionary fund for businesses that have not been mandated to close but will face additional restrictions as a result of the November 2020 lockdown in England. In the Budget 2021 the Chancellor announced an additional £425 million for further iterations of the ARG beyond March 2021. We recommend members look out for new funding streams on their local authority's website.
The Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston has tweeted his previous statement in parliament that businesses excluded from other grants, including English language schools, should apply for an ARG and receive careful consideration from local authority.
We recommend members contact their local authorities to find out about the application process for the grant. If you can locate details of the cabinet member of finance, we suggest you write to them, copying in your ward councillor(s) so that the finance team can be held to account. Failing that, write to your ward councillor directly and ask them to share the most relevant contact with you. You can find details of your ward councillor at WriteToThem.
Ban on commercial evictions and relief for empty properties
The ban on commercial evictions has been extended to 30 June 2021 and the bailiff enforced eviction ban has been extended to 31 May 2021. The extenstion is intended to helpsupport businesses during the re-opening phase.
In addition, the government is also launching a call for evidence on commercial rents to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords. The call for evidence will set out potential steps that government could take after 30 June 2021, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by Covid-19.
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HMRC Time to Pay Arrangements
You might be able to set up a Time to Pay Arrangement with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you are unable to pay your taxes in full. A Time to Pay Arrangement lets you spread the cost of your tax bill by paying what you owe in instalments.
HMRC Payment Support Service
Telephone: 0300 200 3835 (Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00)
HMRC guidance on taxable expenses if your employee/s works from home
Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
Lateral flow tests for employees
Businesses can register to order free lateral flow tests for employees. Businesses of all sizes, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can register to order free lateral flow tests for their employees. The lateral flow tests will remain free until the end of June and registration closes on 31 March. More information on rapid workplace testing is available on an online portal for businesses as well as information to plan and deliver a testing programme.
NHS test and trace service
The NHS Test and Trace app is available to download in England and Wales and is the fastest way to see if you're at risk from coronavirus. The app has a number of tools including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in.
VAT implications of delivering lessons online
If you are teaching a live lesson it is considered an educational experience and no VAT is charged back in the UK. If you are teaching your students using pre-recorded lessons or a lessons that is in some way automated with no or minimal live human intervention then it is classed as a digital service, in which case VAT may be charged.
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Cancellations and postponements
We have sought advice from a travel lawyer and share below their briefing for members. The briefing covers refunds, cancellations, extended stays, suppliers and more.
Commercial and travel insurance
Business Interruption Insurance
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ran a test case on business interruption (BI) insurance. The aim of the test case was to use a representative sample of policies and wordings in order to provide guidance for the wider insurance industry on settling its disputes with BI policy holders. The FCA have reviewed 500 BI policies from 40 insurers and selected 17 policy wordings that capture the key issues in dispute.
The High Court provided its judgment on this case on Tuesday 15 September, finding in favour of the majority of the arguments advanced for policyholders. The judgement should remove many of the roadblocks to a successful claim to those with 'disease clause' cover.
Policyholders can expect to hear from their insurers on the implications for their claims within the next seven days. Note that the defendant insurers may wish to appeal the judgment - the FCA will provide updates on this in due course.
Letters for suppliers