Business advice & support

English UK Covid business support

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 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:

HMRC guidance:

Other advice and support:

Government business support measures

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Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme helps employers create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Applications for the scheme closed at midday on 17 December 2021. You can find Kickstart Scheme guidance for employers here.
Employers who applied for a Kickstart Scheme grant before midday on 17 December 2021 must, if their application is successful:
  • sign and return the grant agreement by 23:59 on 7 January 2022
  • submit or send your vacancies to DWP by 23:59 on 31 January 2022
  • start the young person in the job on or before 31 March 2022
Employers or Kickstart gateways who applied for more jobs to be added to their grant agreement before midday on 17 December 2021, must, if their application is successful:
  • sign and return the grant agreement by 23:59 on 7 January 2022
  • submit or send your vacancies to DWP by 23:59 on 31 January 2022
  • start the young person in the job on or before 31 March 2022
See the guidance on the Kickstart Scheme closure
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Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme supports access to finance for UK businesses as they grow and recover from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Scheme is currently open to businesses of any size to support them to access loans and other kinds of finance so they can recover after the pandemic and transition period.
Up to £10 million is available per business. The actual amount offered and the terms are at the discretion of participating lenders. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender. As the borrower, you are always 100% liable for the debt. The loans are available through a network of accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank's website.

Changes from 1 January 2022

At Autumn Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Recovery Loan Scheme would be extended until 30 June 2022. From 1 January 2022, the following changes will come into force:

  • The scheme will only be open to small and medium sized enterprises
  • The maximum amount of finance available will be £2 million per business
  • The guarantee coverage that the government will provide to lenders will be reduced to 70%
  • These changes will apply to all offers made from 1 January 2022.
How to apply/ find a lender
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Business rates relief 

Securing the inclusion of UK ELT centres in business rates relief continues to be one of our lobbying priorities. 

Some local authorities are offering the rates relief package to English UK member centres, see the guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governmentlocal: Business rates expanded retail discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response.

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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 30 September 2021. You can check a previous claim to the scheme on GOV.UK.

Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund - CARF (England only)

The CARF provides local authorities in England with £1.5 billion of relief for those businesses ineligible for existing rates relief support. Applications are likely to open by the end of January 2022.

Note: members who have already received rates relief under the Expanded Retail Discount for 2021/ 2022, will not be eligible for CARF.

We recommend members write to their ward councillor(s), MP(s) and local press to build your case for access to CARF funding.

See templates below to save you time:

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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.

January 2022 ARG update:

An £102 million additional ARG funding has now been released to councils in England for 2022 and must be dispersed by 31 March 2022. Councils are specifically encouraged to provide funding for English language schools as well as other businesses that have not received other kinds of grant funding.

We recommend all members in England look into applying for the ARG in January-February 2022. The money will be paid to eligible businesses only as direct grants for this tranche so members need to apply individually. Businesses can receive more than one grant, so do apply even if you have previously received ARG funding.

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Ban on commercial evictions and relief for empty properties 

The existing measures that are in place to protect commercial tenants from eviction have been extended to 25 March 2022. Businesses that have had to remain closed during the pandemic and are unable to pay rent on their commercial property will continue to be protected from eviction. 

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Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The government has reintroduced the SME Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate scheme from 14 January 2022 for small and medium-sized businesses only (i.e. those with less than 250 employees).

SMEs can recover up to two weeks of SSP (£192.70 in total) for any employee off work due to Covid-19 or self-isolating due to Covid-19. To qualify, the employee must have been self-isolating on or after 21 December 2021, including any self-isolation period that began before that date. The scheme ends on 24 March 2022 and all claims need to be made by then.

HMRC Time to Pay Arrangements

You might be able to set up a Time to Pay Arrangement with 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 Coronavirus (Covid-19) helpline for businesses and self-employed
Telephone: 0800 024 1222 (Monday to Friday: 08:00 to 16:00)

HMRC Payment support service
Telephone: 0300 200 3835 (Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00)

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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 Covid-19.

Other related resources:

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Lateral flow tests for employees

You can no longer order free rapid lateral flow tests for your employees. Instead you can buy your own tests and set up your own workplace testing, or pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for you. If you cannot provide testing, you can ask your employees to get a rapid lateral flow test at home.

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. 

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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.

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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