Business advice & support


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Last updated: 10:30 on Friday 19 June 2020

Business advice and support for UK ELT providers

We are compiling the latest information, support and advice on commercial, financial and HR aspects of running a UK ELT centre to help members navigate the coronavirus (Covid-19) 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.

Accessing government financial support:

HMRC and tax guidance:
Other business advice:

corona support for business 960

UK Government business support measures

Business Rates Relief 

Last updated: 12:20 on Thursday 30 April 2020

Securing the inclusion of UK ELT centres in business rates relief (BRR) is our current lobbying priority and we invite members in England to contact their MPs and local councillors. read more +

A small but growing list of councils are offering the rates relief package to English UK members.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough)

Last updated: 10.30 on Thursday 19 June 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary measure open to all UK employers to support those whose operations have been severely affected by Covid-19. 

On Friday 29 May the Chancellor announced plans for phased increases in employer contributions to the scheme, the introduction of a part-time furlough option in July, and a 10 June cut-off date for new entrants to the scheme. 

When can enployees be furloughed?

  • The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current three week furlough period to be completed by 30 June
  • From 01 July, there can be no monthly overlaps in the employee's furlough period. If you bring an employee back from furlough in June or earlier and they are working for you after 10 June, they cannot be furloughed again until 1 July
  • Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June
  • From 1 July the number of employees included in a claim cannot exceed the highest number of employees included in a claim submitted under the current scheme prior to July.

Phased changes to employer contributions from August

  • Until the end of July, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything
  • In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed
  • In September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed
  • In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed
  • At the end of October, the scheme ends.

Part time or flexi-furlough option from 1 July

  • From 1 July, employers can bring employees back to work who have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retension Scheme (CJRS) grant
  • Employers will be able to claim the furlough grant for the proportion of the employees' normal hours they are not working. Employers must pay their employees for the hours they are working, subject to their employment contract, and will be required to report data on hours worked by an employee and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period under the scheme for furloughed employees
  • As a result, from 1 July, there will be no minimum furlough period; that is, no minimum amount of time that an employee can be on temporary leave. However, any furlough arrangement agreed between employer and employee and reported in a claim to HMRC must still cover a period of at least one week
  • Further details on flexi-furloughing, including how to make payment calculations, will be published on Friday 12 June. We recommend waiting until then before confirming staff work and furlough patterns from July.

Which employees can be furloughed?

  • You can only claim for furloughed employees that were employed on 19 March 2020 and who were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020
  • Furloughed employees can be on any type of contract, including full-time, part-time, agency contracts, and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
  • Employees on the payroll prior to Friday 28 February 2020 who have subsequently been made redundant can be rehired and then furloughed
  • Employees currently on sick-pay or self-isolating can be furloughed only after they return to work
  • See more details on which employees can be furloughed
  • Government guidance: step by step guide for employers

We understand the concern that many of our members will have about the ending of this scheme for our sector, as we will face a longer road to recovery than other areas of the economy. We will continue to lobby government on this point, with our partners in tourism.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme

Last updated: 12:20 on Thursday 30 April 2020

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (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.

New rules were announced for the CBILS, coming into place from Monday 6 April 2020. In these the scheme was significantly expanded and eligibility criteria have changed. It is now open to SMEs that would previously have met the requirements for a commercial loan - so you can access it even if you have sufficient security.

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. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free.

For those of you considering the applying for a Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan, both the scheme and possible alternatives were discussed in the emergency business response panel webinar (Wednesday 18 March) with tips on increasing your chances of obtaining and repaying the loan.

Bounce Back Loan scheme

Last updated: 16:00 on Wednesday 29 April 2020

On Monday 27 April 2020 Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new Bounce Back Loan scheme that will be made available to small and medium-sized businesses from 09:00 on Monday 4 May. Loans in this scheme will be 100% government-backed. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months. If you have already received a a loan of up to £50,000 under one of the Business Interruption Loan Schemes you can transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

Discretionary Grants Fund

Last updated: 16.30 on Tuesday 2 June 2020

In England, businesses can apply to their local authorities for the Discretionary Grants Fund, an additional fund of £617 million aimed primarily at those not able to access Business Rates Relief or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund. 

For most language centres still not in receipt of Business Rates Relief, we recommend that you continue to wait for further updates from English UK on the state of play, as we will continue to lobby for the inclusion of ELT centres in this scheme. However, if you do not pay business rates (e.g. if you rent a shared workspace) we recommend you apply to your Local Authority for a grant under the Discretionary Grants Fund. Some key points:

  • Grants are available to businesses with fixed property costs and employing less than 50 staff
  • Businesses can get more than one grant for more than one property
  • Local Authorities can at their discretion provide a grant of £25k, £10k or any value up to £10k. They have full discretion on who they will award the grant. BEIS has provided a set of FAQs giving indications on the types of business that government expects will be supported and those that won't. There is no guarantee that ELT centres will get the grant, but if you do not pay business rates you should definitely apply
  • Applications are generally open w/c 1st June for a week or longer – please check details with your local authority. Grant decisions will be generally be made on or before the end of June

Ban on commercial evictions and relief for empty properties 

The UK Government has confirmed that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of Covid-19 will be protected from eviction. 

We are aware that some members have been granted three months' relief for empty properties by their local councils while their centres remain closed.

Welsh Government Economic Resilience Fund

On Monday 30 March 2020 the Welsh Government announced a new £500 million fund to provide extra support to the Welsh economy, businesses and charities experiencing a sharp drop in trading as a result of the pandemic.


Deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments

Last updated: 16:05 on Friday 27 March 2020

If you are a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between Monday 20 March 2020 and Tuesday 30 June 2020, you have the option to defer the payment until a later date or pay the VAT due as normal.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred as a result of the Chancellor's announcement.

Deferring Self-Assessment Income Tax payments

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments ordinarily due to HMRC on the 31 July 2020 may be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

This is an automatic offer with no application required but the deferment is optional. If you are still able to pay your second payment on account on Friday 31 July 2020, you should do so.

HMRC Time to Pay

Last updated: 15:30 on Tuesday 31 March 2020

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC's dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice on 0800 024 1222.

The English UK Finance Panel have reported that several member centres have been successful in receiving immediate deferrals on PAYE/NI with no questions asked and no interest being applied. The advice is that you need to be prepared to spend up to 60 minutes on the phone in order to get through.

HMRC guidance on taxable expenses if your employee works from home

Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

Other resources


NHS Test and Trace service

Last updated: 14:00 on Friday 5 June 2020

The UK Government launched the NHS Test and Trace service at the end of May. The new guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19 must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. Further advice on testing and tracing can be found on the NHS webiste. Beststart HR have also created a useful NHS Test and Trace step-by-step guide for buinesses.


Copyright Licensing Agency and help for licensed schools

Last reviewed: 13:10 on Thursday 7 May 2020
In order to make it easier for educators (including English UK member centres) and students to access remote learning resources the Copyright Licesing Agency (CLA) have annouced they are temporarily increasing copying limits from 5% to 30% due to Covid-19. The increase will apply until Friday 31 July 2020 or when institutions re-open, whichever is the sooner.
The changes to the license terms mean that teachers can:
  • copy up to 30% of a print book, including scanned book content held on the school or college VLE
  • use books owned personally by teachers in addition to school-owned books up to the 30% limit.

Accreditation UK inspections and pre-inspection briefings

Last updated: 17:00 on Wednesday 18 March 2020

To reduce additional pressure and non-essential travel, Accreditation UK have confirmed that they are postponing the planned inspection schedule and the pre-inspection briefings until further notice.

The Unit is completely aware of what is going on and are very flexible and want to support the industry in whatever way that they can. The unit will continue to monitor the situation closely with the aim to expedite inspections in order to avoid a huge backlog once the sector and the country is back up and running again.

Their statement said: "Once the peak disruption is passed and the sector starts to recover we will phase in the inspections again. Each accreditation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, doing what we can to help you return to normal as soon as conditions allow, including initially doing partial, remote or virtual inspections before restarting site visits."


Cancellations and postponements

Last updated: 10:30 on Friday 19 June 2020

We have sought advice from a travel lawyer and share below their briefing for English UK members. This covers refunds, cancellations, extended stays, suppliers and more.


Commercial and travel insurance

Last updated: 14:10 on Wednesday 3 June 2020

Our corporate member and insurance experts, Endsleigh, have provided FAQs on commercial and travel insurance to answer the critical questions facing English UK member centres.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) letter to Insurers

One of ongoing issues for many businesses is the response that they are getting from their insurers when trying to claim costs related to business interruption.

It's a problematic issue because, as a general principle, the Government doesn't see that it's place to become involved in disputes between businesses over the terms of contracts. However, the Financial Conduct Authority has issued guidance to insurers as to how they expect them to behave when considering claims from businesses. 

To emphasise their expectations of insurers, the FCA has written to them setting out how they are expected to behave with regard to SMEs and pointing out that companies with a turnover of less than £6.5m and employing less than 50 people can see redress through the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Business Interruption Insurance Update

On Monday 1 June The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) provided an update on its pending court action or test case on business interruption (BI) insurance. Here are the key points:
  • The aim of the test case is 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 test case is due to be heard in the second half of July and will last up to 10 days
  • In the interim, the FCA have provided draft guidance  on how insurers and insurance brokers should handle claims and complaints for BI policies. Firms should identify the potential implications of the test case, keep policyholders informed on what these are and treat them fairly once the test case is resolved
  • In its press release on 15th May 2020 the FCA reiterated its view that as most SME insurance policies are focused on property damage, they do not expect the majority of them to pay out in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. They are focusing their test case on those policies where there is an argument that cover could be included
  • Some organisations pursuing individual complaints or class actions against their insurers (e.g. the Hiscox Action Group) are continuing their action despite the FCA test case as they do not wish to delay proceedings while waiting for this to be heard