Date: 20th March 2020
In light of the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19), Digital Enterprise will continue to support businesses at this difficult time.
Digital Enterprise is committed to helping businesses to invest in digital technology and whilst current circumstances may mean that business priorities are changing, we are here to help you should you require our support.
Our team are currently working remotely from home and as a consequence we are having to adapt to how we work with businesses and how we progress their interest in receiving our support. For instance, for the time being it may take a little longer than usual to respond to queries or confirm decisions regarding funding and we would ask you to please bear with us during this time.
Any businesses that have any questions specifically regarding the Digital Enterprise business support programme should email enquires.DE@leeds.gov.uk
For wider support, businesses in Leeds City Region concerned or affected by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) can contact the LEP Growth Service helpline on 0113 348 1818 or email businessgrowth@the-LEP.com for information and support. Further information can also be found on the LEP website at
You can also contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for advice by calling 0300 456 3565.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
You will need to:
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- SSP is now available to eligible individuals that are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are self-isolating in line with the latest Government advice.
- SSP is provided to eligible individuals from day 1 instead of day 4.
- Eligible small and medium sized businesses will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 for up to two weeks per individual. Employers should maintain records of staff absences to reclaim. Employees do not need to provide a GP fit note.
- Those not eligible for SSP (self-employed or below the Lower Earning Limit) can claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Business rates retail, leisure and hospitality discount
- The Business Rates retail discount will be increased to 100% for one year and will include all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
- Grants worth up to £25,000 will be available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000. Local authorities will write to a business if it is eligible for this grant.
Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR)
- A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for SBBR or Rural Rate Relief. You will not need to apply. Local authorities will pay this directly to businesses from early April.
Support for larger businesses
A new lending facility from the Bank of England has been launched to help support liquidity among larger firms under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility. The Bank of England will buy short term debt to help larger firms with a credit rating of A-3 / P-3 / F-3 / R3 (from at least one of Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch and DBRS Morningstar as at 1 March 2020).
This will help businesses to bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans and will be available from week commencing 23 March. Find out more here.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will support primarily small and medium sized businesses with a turnover under £45 million to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first six months of interest payments.
Find out information about the commercial lenders here.
Deferral of VAT and Income Tax payments
The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
HMRC’s Time To Pay Service
Any business or self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible for support with tax. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated Coronavirus helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here.
Supply chain support
The University of Huddersfield has a team of supply chain experts who can help businesses to get more out of their supplier arrangements and enhance their positions within existing supply chains. This can include a deep dive analysis of current supply chains and supplier capacity, the introduction of new supply chain models to reduce risk and enhance quality, and the sourcing of more local suppliers. Contact businessgrowth@the-LEP.com for more information.
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Advice from your own local authority
Business information and advice from your own local authority can be found by clicking on one of the following links:
Current voucher recipients: how we can help
If an investment in digital technology is now more crucial than ever for your business, or you wish to change the nature of the project, then please let us know so that we can consider its prioritisation. We are particularly keen to prioritise projects which allow/improve how employees can work from home (remote working).
Cash flow implications may mean that you wish to cancel a project – if so, please let us know. If however you still want to go ahead but expect some delay, we can support you by extending the timeframe for claiming your voucher to six months, instead of the present three months.
Simply contact your allocated Digital Growth Advisor or email us at enquiries.DE@leeds.gov.uk to let us know your situation and we will be happy to discuss options.