This page will be updated with information, guidance and advice from the Government, NHS and other relevant authorities regarding the steps individuals, groups and businesses can take to prevent the spread of disease or if they suspect they may be infected.
COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways and is caused by a virus called coronavirus. It is now clear that this will be one of the greatest challenges of our generation, and something that will only be overcome through community perseverance – with every individual taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread and protect our most vulnerable.
All Government guidance and support on COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Frequently Asked Questions about what you can and cannot do under current guidelines can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
If you have specific queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com and I will endeavour to answer them as quickly as possible.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19
As we have seen, every member of society must play their part in order to overcome COVID-19, and I am grateful that the British public have overwhelmingly done so. This has meant making significant changes to our daily lives, some of which will remain in place indefinitely.
The Government has now introduced a three tiered system to localised anti-Coronavirus measures - both Fylde Borough Council and Preston City Council areas have been classified as a 'very high' alert level, the highest of the three tiers.
Guidelines for areas categorised as having a 'high COVID alert level' - including Fylde Borough and Preston City Council areas
Meeting family and friends
You must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble. This includes private homes and indoors in hospitality venues, such as pubs. You must also not meet with people outside of your household or support bubble in a private garden or in most outdoor public venues.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.
Informal childcare can also be provided via childcare bubbles. Find out more about childcare bubbles in the ‘Childcare’ section.
You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in groups of 6 or less in certain outdoor public spaces, such as:
- parks, beaches, countryside, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
- outdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds
When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6. In England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age.
Meeting in larger groups is against the law. The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
When meeting friends and family you should also:
- follow social distancing rules when you meet up
- limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
Exceptions where people from different households can gather in groups larger than 6 people
- in a legally permitted support bubble
- in a legally permitted childcare bubble (see section on childcare for more details)
- for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
- for registered childcare, education or training
- to allow contact between birth parents and children in care
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
- for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
- for birth partners
- to see someone who is dying
- to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
- to facilitate a house move
- for a wedding or equivalent ceremony where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings)
- for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people; wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings)
- for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
- for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport and licensed outdoor physical activity
- for indoor organised sport for disabled people, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s
- support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
- protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-secure guidance
Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.
Visiting other venues, including shops, restaurants, pubs and places of worship
In very high alert level areas, as a baseline, pubs and bars will be closed unless they are serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal.
Additional restrictions may apply depending on discussions between central and local government. Find out what additional measures apply in your area. Retail and places of worship will remain open, but subject to the further restrictions on social contact that apply for this level.
Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors or in most public outdoor venues with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with). This includes in:
- pubs and restaurants, where they are permitted to open
- leisure and entertainment venues
- places of worship
At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.
Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are clinically vulnerable you:
- can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
- can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- pregnant women
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. At each local COVID alert level, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow.
Business and venues
All businesses and venues should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Some businesses in your areas may be closed. Find out what additional measures apply in your area.
Restrictions on businesses and venues in very high alert level areas include:
- certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am
- businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
- hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time
- pubs and bars must close; they can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant - which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal; they may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
- businesses must ensure that they operate in a COVID-secure manner, including restrictions on table service and group bookings
- certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace
- the wearing of face coverings for customers and staff in certain indoor settings
- businesses must ensure that if their workers are required to self-isolate, they do not work outside their designated place of self-isolation
- businesses and venues must ensure people do not meet in their premises with people from outside of their household or support bubble
- businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure
This is the baseline in very high alert level areas. In addition, the government will seek to agree additional measures in consultation with local authorities in order to reduce the spread of the virus. These could include the following options:
- restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (takeaway and delivery permitted)
- closing indoor and outdoor entertainment and tourist attractions and venues
- closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
- closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth clubs and childcare activity and support groups)
- closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
- closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences
Going to work
To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.
Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is COVID secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible.
For more information, follow the guidance on how to return to work safely.
People living inside and outside of the very high alert level area can continue to travel in and out of the areas for work.
There is no limit to the group size when you are meeting or gathering for work purposes, but workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-secure guidelines.
Going to school, college and university
The government has prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools have prepared. This is applicable in all the local COVID alert levels.
Universities have welcomed students back and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.
You can move home and travel to go to university but there are some stricter rules in place for very high alert level areas:
- you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time – subject to limited exemptions set out in law
- students living at their university term-time address in a very high alert level area should follow the same guidance on meeting other people and travel as others in that area
- commuter students (those who live at a family home which may not be in the same area as their university and who travel to/from university each day) should be able to continue to travel to and from their university as required, this being for education purposes
If you commute into very high alert level area to go to university you must not:
- meet people you do not live with in their home inside one of the affected areas, unless they’re in your household, childcare or support bubble
- host people you do not live with in your home, if they live in one of the affected areas, unless they’re in your household, childcare or support bubble
- meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of one of the affected areas, unless they’re in your household or childcare or support bubble
If you move out of, or currently live outside of, an affected area you should not:
- host people you do not live with in your home or student halls if they live in a high or very high alert level area (unless they’re in your household, support bubble or childcare bubble)
There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.
The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:
- registered childcare providers, including nannies
- people in your support bubble
- people in your childcare bubble
A childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This must always be between the same 2 households.
Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so.
The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. Decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare settings are taken separately on a case-by-case basis in the light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of COVID-19.
Visiting relatives in care homes
You should not visit a care home except in exceptional circumstances, for example to visit an individual who is at the end of their life. See the guidance on visiting relatives in care homes.
You may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, or to access education, within a very high alert level area, but you should and aim to reduce the number of journeys you make. If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
In addition, we are advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area. This is part of wider measures to help manage the risk of transmission. You can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, to access youth services or because of caring responsibilities.
You may also do so where necessary as part of a longer journey – such as when a journey between lower risk areas passes through a very high alert level area, or when going to an airport, port or international rail terminal to travel abroad.
Remember, you must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
If you are travelling, you must only do so with members of your household or support bubble, and should follow the safer travel guidance.
If you are a resident in a very high alert level area, we ask you to avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, except if you need to for work, education or caring responsibilities. This means we are asking you not to leave the very high alert level area to stay in a second home, if you own one. You must not stay with anyone you do not live with elsewhere in the UK or visit their home.
The Government is asking everyone who lives elsewhere to avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area where possible, except for those who need to for work, education or caring responsibilities. You must not stay with anyone you do not live with from a very high alert level area or visit their home.
If you are resident in a very high alert level area, you may travel to hotels and other guest accommodation within that area but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.
When considering travelling internationally, you should look at the rules in place at your destination, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and the current travel corridor list.
Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals
You can attend places of worship for a service if you’re in a very high alert level area. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.
Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are restricted to 15 people. Receptions must not take place in a very high alert level area.
Funerals must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit-down meal to ensure people can keep their distance from each other.
Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
People living outside of a very high alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or garden and are asked not to stay overnight.
Sport and physical activity
Gyms in Lancashire remain open, subject to appropriate safety measures, although
You can take part in organised outdoor sport and physical activity, including exercise classes, in any number, provided this follows the relevant guidance (for team sports, or for other outdoor licensed physical activity and exercise classes).
Organised sport, exercise classes and other activity groups are only permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). Where it is likely that households (or support bubbles) will mix, these activities must not go ahead. Social interaction before and after any sport or exercise should be limited to people from the same household or support bubble.
There are exceptions for disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place in any number.
You should follow the guidance on:
- the return of recreational team sport
- the return of outdoor sport and recreation in England
- providers of grassroots sports and gym/leisure facilities
You can still move home if you’re in a very high alert level area.
Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.
Further to the general advice published above and on the Gov.uk website, the Government has issues separate guidance for those in more specific circumstances.
Protecting our most vulnerable (shielding)
Those who are extremely clinically vulnerable were advised to take extra precautions during the peak of the pandemic - this was called 'shielding'.
The Government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding, taking into account the changes in prevalence of COVID-19, and the
Full guidance for those deemed clinically vulnerable can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
If you have any further concerns, or you have not received a letter but feel you should be on the list, please visit the NHS shielded patients list page here: https://digital.nhs.uk/coronavirus/shielded-patient-list
Guidance and advice for those who may have been exposed
Due to the ever-changing nature of the situation, and wealth of contradictory advice being shared on all platforms, I urge the public to follow NHS medical advice and Government issued social guidance to tackle COVID-19.
The latest medical advice, as well as the NHS 111 service, can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
The Government's stay-at-home advice for those who suspect they are infected with COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
Returning to work safely
The recent rise in cases has seen Government advice updated, which explains that workers should work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.
If you cannot work from home, and your workplace is permitted to open, you should travel to work. Permitted industries include food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories - although not all industries and sectors have reopened. Workers should avoid using public transport wherever possible.
Workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” social distancing guidelines. These will ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.
It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people should self-isolate, as should those in their households.
Full sector-specific guidance on the social distancing obligations which must be observed in the workplace can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
If you have concerns that your employer may not be adhering to social distancing protocol, you should report it via the Health and Safety Executive here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm
Recognising the significant challenges posed by these times, the Chancellor has outlined the latest of a long line of financial support measures, supporting jobs and businesses.
Financial and employment support
Winter Economy Plan
On 24th September, the Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan - a package of measures designed to support businesses and employees through the winter months.
These measures include:
Support for businesses to bring people back to work and save jobs with a new Job Support Scheme and an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
Help for the hospitality and tourism sectors through a continuation of the reduction in VAT
Support for over 1 million businesses to relieve pressure on their finances and cashflow through an extension to the application period for four government-backed loans schemes, and changes to the terms of repayment for Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS)
New payment schemes to ease the burden of paying deferred VAT and Self-Assessment tax liabilities.
The introduction of the Job Support Scheme from 1 November 2020 will protect jobs over the coming winter months. The Scheme will allow employees to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours, and for every hour not worked the employer and the government will each pay one third of an employee’s usual pay up to a cap.
Localised support for businesses (and their employees) closed under Tier Three measures
Job Support Scheme Extension:
I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that the Job Support Scheme will be expanded to provide further support to individuals and businesses effected by localised restrictions. This expanded provision will be open to businesses whose premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK. Guidelines are due to be published which will set out more details, including how normal pay will be calculated. Employees will receive two-thirds of their wages for time not worked, and that the grant per eligible employee available from the UK Government is two-thirds of their normal pay up to a limit of £2100 per month. The payment will be a grant to an employer calculated using the number of eligible employees who have been instructed to and cease work at the employer’s relevant premises. My colleagues at the Treasury have estimated that around half of potential claims under the expansion are likely not to incur employer NICs or auto-enrolment pension contributions and thereby face no employer contribution. These new elements of the JSS will be initially available to employers for six months from 1 November 2020, and will be reviewed in January.
Local Restrictions Support Grant:
In addition, the Government has unveiled Local Restrictions Support Grant to support businesses required to close. Applications have not yet opened, but will have to be made via the Local Authority where the business is located.
Under Tier Three restrictions the following venues have been required to shut by law:
- Pubs, bars and nightclubs
- Adult gaming centres
- Bingo halls
- Bookmakers and betting shops
- Children's soft play centres
- Car boot sales
Full details of the qualifying criteria, grant calculation and application details can be found on the respective Local Authority's website.
Information and support for individuals
It is understandable that people are concerned about the financial impact this situation may have. It is the Government’s belief that nobody should be financially worse off as a result of following advice to ensure the collective health of our community. As such, the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions have announced a package of measures to support people across the country at this time.
These measures include a £500 million Hardship Fund for individuals who require financial support, to be offered by local authorities through local Council Tax Support schemes and Mortgage Repayment Holidays for those affected by COVID-19, including for landlords who's tenants are unable to pay rent.
Ministers have also taken steps to ensure those who need financial support are able to access it, these measures are outlined below.
For those already claiming support
- If you are unable to attend an assessment your benefits will continue to be paid whilst the appointment is rearranged.
- People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note.
- Claimants who notify the Department for Work and Pension that they are staying at home or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 will not be sanctioned and conditionality requirements will be reviewed to ensure they are reasonable (claimants must ensure they notify the DWP in good time to ensure these steps can be taken).
- Claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.
For people who need to make a new claim for financial support
It is to be expected that the many people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.
It has been announced that:
- Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.
- The 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one.
Guidance and support for employees
In order to back businesses and employees in staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government have announced a range of support measures, as well as changing the application process for existing benefits.
- People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness – The Government will ensure this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
- Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.
- If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughed workers)
The Government has launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as a way to support businesses in retaining employees through this difficult time. Meaning that people remain secure in their employment and businesses are able to quickly return to operations following this period of lockdown.
The scheme will mean that, if you are unable to undertake your usual duties at work, your employer can declare you as a furloughed worker and the Government will cover 80% of your monthly salary, up to £2,500, at no cost to the employer. During this period, you will not able to undertake work for the business. There is no obligation from the employer to top this up, although they can do so if they wish.
The cut off date for this scheme was initially set at 28th of February - this is to prevent fraud through businesses hiring associates to claim the furloughed pay from Government. I am glad that following a review of the delivery system, and to ensure the scheme is as wide reaching as possible, the Government has extended the eligibility date to 19 March 2020, provided that your employment was confirmed with HMRC via an RTI submission.
The Chancellor has now announced that the CJRS will continue until October 2020 with adjusted conditions from July 2020, including greater flexibility for part time workers.
Job Support Scheme
On the 24th September the Chancellor announced the Winter Economic Package - a series of measures designed to support businesses and employees through the winter months.
As part of this, he announced the Job Support Scheme, which will support viable UK employers who face lower demand due to COVID-19, and to keep their employees attached to the workforce. As part of this;
- Employees will need to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours.
- For every hour not worked the employer and the government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay, and the government contribution will be capped at £697.92 per month.
- Employees using the scheme will receive at least 77% of their pay, where the government contribution has not been capped.
In addition, the Government extended some of the support measures already in place - such as the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and Business Loan Schemes. These updates have been added to the appropriate sections.
Advice for those who left employment since February 28th.
I am pleased to see that, following feedback from the public, the Chancellor has confirmed that those who have left jobs since February 28th, whether that be due to redundancy or otherwise, can be furloughed. However, this must be claimed through the business you were employed by on the 28th February, meaning you may have to speak with your old employer to request that you be re-added to the payroll. That business will be under no obligation to re-add you to their payroll, however I am asking that employers do the right thing to assist the Government in supporting those in need.
Full information on financial support available for individuals can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees
Support for Self-Employed
The Chancellor has now announced a package of measures to support those who are self employed - many of whom will not be able to continue operating during this period.
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
This Scheme has now been extended to support those people who are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. It will be worth 20% of average monthly profits and will capped at £1,875 in total. more info can be found here.
For full information on the scheme, including eligibility criteria and how to claim, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Information and support for Businesses
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government have had to instruct some businesses to close their doors for a short time. This excludes essential businesses and key workers.
If you are unsure as to whether your business should cease operations, please read the full guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance
Sector-specific guidance for businesses continuing to operate (or classed as key industries) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance
Financial Support for Business
The Chancellor has announced a range of measures to support businesses and the self-employed through this period.
Information on the support available for businesses and the self employed can be found here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
On the 24th September, the government announced an extension to four temporary loan schemes, which have helped over a million businesses to date. This means that that the CBILS, CBBL, CLBILS and the Future Fund, to 30 November 2020 for new applications. full details of these schemes are below.
These measure include:
- For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full.
- The Government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
- A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable all businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. After feedback from businesses, the Chancellor has worked with banks to make this more easily accessible and banned personal guarantees for loans under £25,000. The Government has now announced it intends to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans.
- Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans have been announced by the Government in response to the difficulties some small businesses have face in accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of up to £50,000, with the Government guaranteeing 100% of the loan and no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. The Government has now addedd a Pay as you Grow option for these loans – meaning all businesses that borrowed under the BBLS will have the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years.
- Launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - giving UK employers support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This will now continue until October 2020 with increased flexibility for part-time workers from July.
- The Coronavirus Future Fund will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Government has launched the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) to provide much needed support for our smallest and hardest-hit businesses and will be delivered through local authorities. The SBGF will deliver cash grants of up to £10,000 to our smallest businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief. The RHLGF will provide a £25,000 grant to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Businesses that are eligible should have been contacted by their local council, however I am aware that there are a number of reasons why this may not have happened and I am pleased that, following feedback from business, the Government have recognised this and issued renewed guidance to councils regarding payments to businesses in shared premises or who do not pay business rates. If you believe your business is eligible and have not yet applied or were rejected before this new guidance was issued, please contact the responsible local authority; for the vast majority businesses in Fylde this will be Fylde Borough Council, who can be contacted here: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/. Full information on the SBGF and RHLGF can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses
- 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. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For Time to Pay support if you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. More information on HMRC support for those affected by COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19
- VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’ – The government will give businesses which deferred VAT due in March to June 2020 the option to spread their payments over the financial year 2021-2022. Over half a million businesses deferred VAT payments, a cash injection of £30 billion into the UK economy when it needed it most. Rather than paying in full at the end of March 2021, businesses will be able to choose to make 11 equal instalments over 2021-22. All businesses which took advantage of the VAT deferral can use the New Payment Scheme. Businesses will need to opt in, but all are eligible. HMRC will put in place an opt-in process in early 2021.
- Enhanced Time to Pay for Self-Assessment taxpayers – The government will give the self-employed and other taxpayers more time to pay taxes due in January 2021, building on the Self-Assessment deferral provided in July 2020. Taxpayers with up to £30,000 of Self-Assessment liabilities due will be able to use HMRC’s self-service Time to Pay facility to secure a plan to pay over an additional 12 months. This means that Self-Assessment liabilities due in July 2020 will not need to be paid in full until January 2022. Any Self-Assessment taxpayer not able to pay their tax bill on time, including those who cannot use the online service, can continue to use HMRC’s Time to Pay Self-Assessment helpline to agree a payment plan.
In addition to the measures announced by the Government, the decisions taken by the Bank of England on 11 March 2020 mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses. Details of these measures can be found here: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2020/march/boe-measures-to-respond-to-the-economic-shock-from-covid-19
To find the support available to your business, use the Government's Coronavirus Support Finder tool here: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
Full guidance for employees, employers and businesses, including employee rights and the correct steps to take to prevent the spread of disease, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Specific guidance has also been published for businesses who trade internationally. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses-trading-internationally
Businesses can get advice from the government’s Business Support Helpline by contacting them using the below details;
More information on the advisory services available to businesses can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline
Foreign Office Guidance
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.
This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice.
Travel to many countries is subject to a fourteen day quarantine period upon return to the UK. Full advice on this, and a list of exempt 'travel corridors', can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk
Developments in the coronavirus pandemic remain uncertain around the world. No travel is risk-free. If you are planning travel abroad in the weeks and months ahead, even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, follow FCDO advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Local Support Services
Local authorities will be key in the fight against COVID-19 and supporting our most vulnerable through this period. Councils will also be responsible for delivering some of the support already announced by the Government.
For information on the services offered by Lancashire County Council, including delivery of social care, education, care homes and public transport, please visit: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/your-health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/
For information on the services and support offered by Fylde Borough Council, including deferral of council tax and localised business support, please visit: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/
Specific business support from Fylde Borough Council can be found here: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
Fylde Borough Council will also be coordinating a Community Hub. This will support the isolated and lonely residents of the Borough who do not have friends, family or neighbours to assist during the period of isolation required as a result of the Coronavirus. For more info on the help offered by FBC, or to get involved and help in the fight against COVID-19, please visit: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/communitysupport/.
For those who fall under the jurisdiction of Preston City Council, please find their guidance and advice here: https://www.preston.gov.uk/article/2275/Coronavirus-COVID-19-
The Government’s overall action plan to tackle COVID-19 Coronavirus can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
Information on the Bill being put forward by Government to support these measure can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do
As we face this crisis, I know many will hold concern for relatives in care or suffering with dementia - those of you with these concerns may wish to view the Alzheimer's Society COVID-19 information page here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19
For those with pets or animals to care for, and who may be concerned about exercising or entertaining their pets whilst in self isolation, detailed guidance has been issued by the RSPCA. This can be found here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/coronavirus
Many people may have had to cancel travel arrangements or postpone events as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with many now left at a financial loss or having to claim through insurance companies. Which? consumer guide have created a dedicated Coronavirus consumer rights hub with tips and advice covering a wide range of issues, this can be found here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/coronavirus/