Business advice and support

 woman in lesson classroom students

Last updated: 15:00 on Friday 15 May 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:

UK Government business support measures

Last updated: 14:30 on Tuesday 7 April 2020

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 +

We are working with members and stakeholders to better understand the situation in the devolved nations. It is our understanding that the above applies to centres in England and Wales, and we will issue further advice for those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) extended to October

Last updated: 09:00 on Wednesday 13 May 2020

The Chancellor announced on Tuesday 12 May that the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October. The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July with greater flexibility introduced in August.

From the start of August furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers paying a percentage of their salaries. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the Government is currently making, ensuring staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

More specific details around implementation will be made available by the end of May.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary measure open to all UK employers from Sunday 1 March 2020 to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Covid-19.  Employers can use this scheme anytime while it running. 

Key points about the scheme:

  • Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including charities
  • Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees' (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month
  • Employers can claim National Insurance contributions and auto-enrolment pension contributions (they can not claim bonuses, commissions or fees)
  • Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on Friday 28 February 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 (*see note below re employees on zero-hour contracts and the accrual of holiday whilst on furlough)
  • Employment contracts may need to be renegotiated; relevant equality and discrimination laws apply
  • Employers can claim for staff with variable wages by using the higher of the monthly wage for the same month last year (e.g. March 2019) or the average monthly wage in the previous tax year
  • National minimum wage: furloughed employees are paid 80% of their usual wage, this may take them below the national minimum wage threshold
  • Employees on the payroll prior to Friday 28 February 2020 who have subsequently been made redundant can be rehired and then furloughed
  • Employers can claim furlough pay once every three weeks, as far back as Sunday 1 March 2020
  • Furloughed employees cannot do work for their employer that is paid or which otherwise benefits their employer financially, but can undertake training or voluntary work
  • Employees on maternity leave can agree to return to work early and then be furloughed
  • Employees currently on sick-pay or self-isolating can be furloughed only after they return to work.

Zero hour contracts and accrual of holiday

Last updated: 12:20 on Thursday 30 April 2020

On Wednesday Thursday 23 April, Anita Wynne, a HR expert from Beststart HR with experience supporting ELT centres, gave an overview of the scheme and answered members questions.

On the subject of employees on zero hours contracts and the accrual of holiday, Anita Wynne confirmed employees on these contracts do not accrue holiday pay during furlough. This is because legislation relating to the accrual of holiday for zero hours or variable hours contracts states that holiday for these contracts is accrued based on the hours worked. It is therefore reasonable to assume that employees on zero hour contracts that were not contracted to work specific hours during furlough, as the pandemic prevented them from doing so, have not worked and hence they will not accrue holiday.

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.

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


Copyright Licensing Agency and help for licensed schools

Last updated: 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: 17:00 on Friday 20 March 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: 16:00 on Wednesday 29 April 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 now 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.