COVID-19’s Impact on Small Businesses
It would not be disingenuous to say that times are tough for small businesses in the UK right now. The COVID-19 outbreak has reached a global pandemic level and this is causing some significant problems for business owners. Staff are having to self-isolate, some may be taken ill, and consumers are being forced to change their consumption habits altogether.
Businesses in the hospitality, travel, leisure, and events industries are perhaps being hit the hardest since their customer base are being advised to avoid public spaces and thus avoid these business locations in order to mitigate the chance of catching or spreading the Coronavirus.
To help small businesses the best we can, CheaperGroup has prepared this post with some advice for our customers.
Responsibilities as an Employer
COVID-19 could cause significant risk to the health of your employees and others who may enter your workplace. As such, as a business owner, you are expected to conduct an appropriate risk assessment for the Coronavirus impact on your business. You should identify key areas where you can mitigate the spread of the virus at your business site and between your employees.
Things that you can do to mitigate the risk of your employees contracting the Coronavirus:
- Provide hygienic advice information and encourage good practice
- Provide hand sanitizer – here are some tips for making your own!
- Clean commonly touched surfaces frequently (such as POS tills and door handles)
- Request frequent health updates from all of your employees
- Ensure that employees can work from home if possible
- Avoid in-person staff meetings
More tips can be found here.
As an employer, you are also legally required to begin paying sick pay to infected employees from the first day of them leaving work (only if they are officially diagnosed and are experiencing the symptoms). But do not worry, the UK government will help to subsidise this. Statutory sick pay will also be paid to employees who have been told to self-isolate even if they do not have the symptoms and are not diagnosed. More information on this is available here.
Minimising Risk to Customers
If your customers need to physically enter or make contact with your business location to use your services or purchase your products, then you will need to mitigate the risk of them contracting the virus from your business.
If you’re already taking the steps to protect your employees, then you are already doing a lot to protect your customers. Good hygiene and access to hygienical products go a long way. But there are some additional steps you should take to minimise the risk to your customers:
- You should make your hygienical products available to your customers
- You should have posters requesting that your customers wash their hands and sneeze into their elbows
- You should consider making your services remote (if possible)
- You should consider offering delivery for your products (if possible)
Government Support for Small Businesses
Here is the current package for small businesses dealing with the Coronavirus:
- A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs – up to 2 weeks repayable pay
- A Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs
- Small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
- The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
More information can be found here.
The government has also announced that they will support SMEs through discounting business rates – even by up to 100%.
The government announced in the Budget on 29 October 2018 that it would provide a Business Rates Retail Discount, to apply in the years 2019/20 and 2020/21. In response to the coronavirus, in the Budget on 11 March the government announced that it would increase the discount to 100% and extend it to include the leisure and hospitality sectors.
This relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on the relief. More information about business rates and the coronavirus can be found here.
On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Scheme). Under the 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. The Scheme is intended to have wide application and will cover anybody paid via PAYE. In short, HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed employees’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. More information can be found here.
In response to COVID-19, the Chancellor announced that a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ (CBILS) will temporarily replace the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), becoming available over the coming weeks.
This is quite an attractive loan for small businesses in this time since the loan is specifically designed to assists SMEs who are suffering due to the market effects of the Coronavirus. More information on this loan can be found here and here.
The NHS is urging that you should not take anti-inflammatory pain killers such as Ibuprofen since these have been shown to worsen the symptoms of the virus. You should advise your employees and make this known to them.
The government is also urging those who can work from home to do so. You should assess which of your employees can work from home adequately and give them the support and resources needed to do so. For instance, you may need to provide them with a working laptop.
The government has also announced that they will allow certain businesses to change their licences to help boost their chances of getting through this period. Pubs, for example, are now allowed to use a takeaway license since this is less tax intensive.
There are also now grants and other packages available for small businesses which you should take advantage of:
- 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
More information can be found here.
How CheaperGroup can help
CheaperGroup wants small businesses to easily navigate their way through this pandemic. As such we have a fantastic business financing offer for you through our partnership with 365 Business Finance.
365 Business Finance provides funding from £5,000 to £200,000 to small and medium-sized businesses. Repayments are made as a small percentage of card sales, offering flexibility without putting a strain on the cash flow of your business. There is more information about the fantastic benefits of this loan on our CheaperPay website.
To get your cheap consumable products such as hand sanitizer and other hygienical products for your business, then head over to our CheaperConsumables website today!