What help is available for small businesses during the coronavirus crisis?
by Les Roberts on April 1st 2020
The coronavirus crisis is affecting businesses of all sizes in all industries, right across the UK.
If you're an employer who is unsure whether you can keep your business running or an employee with no idea of how long you'll have a job left to go to, the government is putting a range of measures are in place to help bring a bit of certainty to what is a fast-changing situation that is still full of unknowns.
In this blog we’ll take a look at how your business could be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and we’ll update it as and when more information becomes available.
Coronavirus FAQ - How will coronavirus affect your business?
We are currently getting a high volume of calls from customers who have bought business insurance policies via Bionic (or Make It Cheaper, our old name) and have questions about Coronavirus.
Some businesses will still be able to function if offices close and staff work from home, but what about those that rely on staff being on-site or rely on customers coming through the door?
Will pubs and restaurants just have to put up with it? Are hairdressers just expected to take the hit? And will business insurance cover the cost of any closures?
Let’s take a look at some coronavirus FAQs and ways to help keep your business ticking over.
Business insurance FAQs - will business interruption insurance cover coronavirus COVID-19?
Health implications aside, business owners are understandably worried about the potential loss of income or profit they may face if their business is forced to close, or if the coronavirus pandemic means their flow of customers dries up.
Some business owners will also have concerns about stock arriving from suppliers, particularly those that may operate in other parts of the world, including Europe, which is now considered to be the ‘epicentre’ of the global coronavirus pandemic, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom, the head of the World Health Organization.
The government has said that if your business insurance includes both pandemics and government-ordered closure then should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on March 17 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.
It's important you check the terms and conditions of your cover though, as insurance policies differ significantly and standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and often exclude pandemics.
Some business insurance policies will protect against these scenarios, but others won’t - the Association of British Insurers recently published information that if cover does exist, it will typically not be a standard inclusion. So here’s how to determine if you have cover in place to protect against the risks the coronavirus outbreak poses to your business.
How to determine if your business insurance covers you for Coronavirus
Step 1 – Figure out if you bought Business Interruption Cover or not
Business insurance policies are broken into sections covering different types of events, which means you might have a section for damage to your property and another for injury to customers.
If you are covered at all, then the Business Interruption section of your policy will be the relevant one for coronavirus (note we are focusing on general cover for the business itself; some businesses will have other types of more specialist cover with its own sections and terms, such as Group Personal Accident or Health Insurance for your employees).
You can find this section by looking at your policy schedule to see if the Business Interruption section is included, then follow this into your policy wording to see what it covered and if there are any extensions applicable or restrictions to this cover.
Step 2 – Read the policy wording to see if you have cover against coronavirus COVID-19
Typically, business interruption cover can protect against virus outbreaks and diseases like coronavirus, but insurers tend to cover against known diseases rather than new viruses or diseases like COVID-19.
To find out if you’re covered, you need to:
- Look for a list of specific diseases that are covered. Generally the insurers list of covered diseases will include: Acute Encephalitis, Acute Poliomyelitis, Anthrax, Chickenpox, Cholera, Diphtheria, Dysentery, Legionellosis, Legionnaires Disease, Leprosy, Leptospirosis, Malaria, Measles, Meningococcal Infection, Mumps, Ophthalmia Neonatorum, Paratyphoid Fever, Bubonic Plague, Rabies, Rubella, Scarlet Fever, Smallpox, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Typhoid Fever, Viral Hepatitis, Whooping Cough or Yellow Fever.
- Look through this section for any applicable cover relating to ‘Notifiable Disease’ (without a specified list) or contagious and/or infectious disease. You may find this under the ‘Extensions’ section of your policy wording.
- Coronavirus COVID-19 has been labelled by the government as a ‘Notifiable Disease’, which means if your policy covers these diseases (without a specified list), you may have some cover in specific scenarios.
Step 3 – Read the wording to determine how broad your cover is and in what scenarios it applies
Even where coronavirus can be covered (as a Notifiable Disease, for example) your Business Interruption section won’t cover you simply because the virus exists, and certain events will need to happen before your insurance kicks in, such as:
- Your business being closed by the government or a local authority.
- The Notifiable Disease is present at your premises or within a specified distance of your premises (refer to your individual policy wording for the specifics to your policy).
Insurance policies, and particularly the Business Interruption section, will be in place to potentially provide cover for loss of income or profit (depending on your policy) should your business be closed.
If you’ve suffered a reduction in customers due to coronavirus or COVID-19, it’s unlikely there will be cover in place for this. Similarly, if there is a delay with suppliers or stock, it’s unlikely that cover will be in place to recover these costs or any money lost as a result of the delays or cancellations.
It’s also worth considering that the ‘normal’ risks involved in running a business, such as accidents, and thefts, could also increase as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, particularly if your business is operating with fewer staff, or if police forces are stretched and crime rates increase.
Proper hand hygiene is the best way to cut the risk of infection, so always wash your hands using hot water and liquid soap for 20 seconds or a 60% alcohol hand sanitiser.
It’s worth making sure your business insurance is up to date and covers you against these ‘everyday’ risks.
Will our business insurance refund extra statutory sick pay due to an employee because of a suspected coronavirus infection?
Businesses with fewer than 250 employees whose staff take time off due to coronavirus will be able to claim back the cost of providing statutory sick pay from the government.
If you have taken out extra insurance to cover sick pay for employees, this should cover you for any staff who have taken time off sick or self-isolated due to coronavirus.
Whether or not you’re covered will all depend upon the terms of your insurance, and if you’ve not taken out extra cover for sick pay, it’s unlikely this will be included as part of your policy.
If you’re unsure, check the wording on your policy documents or speak to your insurer or broker. Bionic insurance customers can call us on 0800 158 5263.
What evidence will we need to make a business interruption insurance claim?
When making a claim for business interruption, you usually need to provide evidence of the problem that has caused your business to close and an estimated loss of earnings, including any documents to prove your earnings.
If a business is forced to close due to an employee testing positive for COVID -19, we anticipate insurers will also request medical documentation so make sure you hold on to any of these.
What if you’re not covered by your current business insurance policy?
Some customers are asking if they can switch to an insurer who does cover coronavirus or COVID-19, but it’s not entirely clear whether this would actually be worthwhile. Even if the policy wording covers coronavirus, you may still be unable to claim if you buy it now, since the virus is already present and is no longer an ‘unforeseeable event’, for which insurance is designed.
We’re already seeing travel insurers pull back cover for coronavirus COVID-19, and we have had one business insurer contact us to say they are removing coronavirus COVID-19 cover for all new policies.
And we’ve also noticed that some insurers are covering businesses under their business interruption extension if there is an outbreak within 25-mile radius of their premises which then causes a loss to their earnings.
We are working closely with all our insurers to provide the most up to date responses to your queries.
Or if you’re still unsure whether or not you’re covered, get in touch with your insurance company or broker to discuss your options. Bionic insurance customers can call us on 0800 158 5263.
What government help is available and how can you access it?
As part of its budget announcement, the government announced a number of welcome measures to help small businesses cope with coronavirus, including support for those that need to pay statutory sick pay and changes to the benefits system to help employees on zero-hour contracts.
To find out more detailed information on government-backed loans and funding, check out our blog on the financial support available for businesses affected by coronavirus.
But, in short, the government has announced the following measures to help small businesses:
Government measures to help businesses throguh the coronavirus crisis Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England £10,000 grants for all businesses that are eligble for small business rate relief or rural rate relief £25,000 grants for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure that have a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 Loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme A new lending facility from the Bank of England to support cash flows for larger businesses Help with tax through the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme VAT deferrals. No business will pay VAT from now until end of June. Suspended for the next quarter. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - Grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies Self-Employed Income Support Scheme - Grants covering up to 80% of a self-employed person's average income over the last three years (including freelancers and sole traders) Changes to insolvency laws and the ‘wrongful trading’ rules Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) - Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies.
Following on from the £330 billion of support announced in the budget to help businesses and individuals, the government has announced £330 billion worth of guaranteed loans, which means businesses can access funds on ‘favourable terms’.
For SMEs, this means an extension of the Business Interruption Loan facility to allow businesses to borrow up to £5 million with no interest payments due for the first 12 months. This is an increase on the £1.2 million figure announced in the budget, and the scheme will be up and running by the start of next week.
Plans have also been announced to support businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail industries that might be suffering from cash flow problems.
The business rates holiday will be extended to all businesses in these sectors, regardless of size and turnover, which means they’ll pay no rates for 12 months.
All businesses will be eligible for a cash grant of £10,000, and those with a rateable value less than £51,000 will have access to a cash grant of up to £25,000.
Businesses that pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rate Relief may be able to claim a one-off grant to help meet their business costs through this crisis.
If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.
To find out if you’re eligible for a grant, you an find your local authority at the GOV.UK website.
An employment support package is to be thrashed out with trade unions and business groups.
It's still unclear how and when business owners can apply for these loans or grants, but we’ll bring you more information as we get it.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme means that the government will encourage finance providers to continue lending to small businesses throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The funds are accessible via loans and other types of financial support though nearly 40 business lenders. Find out more about which lenders are part of the scheme along with the type of support each can offer by visiting the British Business Bank website.
If you think a loan could be the right solution to help keep your business ticking over throughout the crisis, you need to be aware that the market for business finance is moving fast - some lenders are asking for security, while others are pulling out of the small business market completely.
But if you can find the right type of loan and provider for your needs, now could be a good time to sort your financing options. Talk to Bionic’s business finance team Think Business Loans on 0203 880 9880 to find out how to apply.
"New businesses may not have had chance to build reserves. We all recognise you don’t start a business without reserves but it doesn’t always happen."
Help with tax and VAT
If your business is having trouble paying any tax it owes because of coronavirus, call HMRC's new dedicated COVID-19 helpline on 0800 0159 559 to talk about Time to Pay support.
If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
The government has also announced a VAT deferral scheme, which means no business will pay VAT between March 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Suspended for the next quarter.
Business rates holiday
The government has introduces a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
If your business paid discounted rates in the 2019 to 2020 tax year, you will be rebilled by your local authority as soon as possible.
Reclaiming sick pay
There will be new legislation to allow small businesses to reclaim two weeks’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to cover the costs of any absences due to COVID-19.
This refund is based on business size and will only be available to any businesses that employed fewer than 250 people on February 28, 2020.
Make sure you keep a record of staff absences due to coronavirus COVID-19, remembering that your employees don’t need to provide you with a note from their GP.
It's currently unclear how these refunds will be issued, but the government has said: "the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible".
Help with salaries
The government has announced that it will pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month, just above the median income.
Known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers who can't cover staff wages due to COVID-19 may be able to access support to continue paying part wages for staff.
There's still little detail available on how to access the scheme, but if you plan on applying you'll need classify your staff as furloughed workers, which you'll be able to do once the online application form is up and running
Being a furloughed worker means employees are kept on the payroll, rather than being laid off, and they must not do any work for you during this time - this is really important as it will allow you to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
You can make up the shortfall beween this payment and your employees' salaries, but you don't have to.
If you're the director of a business and you pay yourself a salary through PAYE, you'll also be able to claim this benefit, so long as you classify yourelf as a furloughed worker and don't do any work while claiming this benefit.
If any employees have essentially taken a pay cut through being furloughed should check if they're eligible for support through Universal Credit and housing allowance.
Will I need to provide sick pay if employees self-isolate?
Yes, employers will have to provide sick pay to employees who self-isolate, and the workplace's usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus.
Employees should let employers know as soon as possible if they're not able to go to work, but no longer have to provide a sick note if they're off work due to coronavirus. Instead, the government and NHS say staff will be able to use the 111 call service to get a notification that can be used as evidence of being unfit to work.
The government has also changed the rules on statutory sick pay, meaning it is now payable from day one of self-isolation instead of day four. But this change is a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it’s no longer required.
There’s more information on the GOV.UK website.
Help with cash flow and insolvency
Changes to insolvency laws mean that businesses will have more leeway to continue trading even though cash flow is limited and the business is technically in financial difficulty.
The ‘wrongful trading’ rules mean it’s a criminal offence for a company director to keep trading if they know their business won’t be able to repay debts.
This means that borrowing additional funds offered by the government would have placed a director at risk of personal liability, even borrowing via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which has been brought in to help keep businesses running through the crisis.
But emergency amendments to UK bankruptcy rules mean this will no longer apply, and will work in tandem with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to help make sure financially stable companies don’t go under.
What help is available for sole traders and the self-employed affected by coronavirus?
The government has announced that it will be launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to pay self-employed business owners, including freelancers and sole traders, who don’t qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which pays up to 80% of employees’ wages.
The scheme will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average income over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, for at least three months.
The scheme will be open to business owners with an income of £50,000 or less, who make most of their income from self-employment, and will be based upon your previous three years’ tax returns to confirm income. If you only have one years’ worth of tax returns, this will be used to work out your income.
It was initially thought that business owners who pay themselves via dividends would be eligible to apply, it seems this is no longer the case, as dividends aren't regarded as income.
Speaking on BBC 5Live, Caroline Johnson, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, said: "Dividends aren't income, they're a return on an investment. That's why they're not included as income. You pay yourself through PAYE as an employee of the company, and the only reason to pay yourself income as a dividend would be to reduce the tax liability you had on the money that your business had earned. But it isn't income and it isn't taxed as income."
Another issue with the scheme is that you won't be eligible if you started your business after April 5, 2019, as you won't have yet filed a tax return for HMRC to base your payments on. The advice seems to be look into Universal Credit and housing allowance as soon as possible.
It's also possible that you won't qualify if your income is a mixture of part-time income and self employment, and you'll not be eligible if anyone in your household earns more than £50,000. If, on the other hand, everyone in your household earns £49,000, you will all get full support.
If your application is successful, another issue is that the money won’t be available until the start of June. Again, the advice seems to be apply for Universal Credit and housing allowance as soon as possible.
The welfare system has been adjusted so that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit in full. For instance, a self-employed person with a non-working partner and two children, living in the social rented sector, can receive welfare support of around £1,800 per month.
Anyone in this position is being urged to apply for any relevant benefits as soon as possible, including Universal Credit and any associated houseing benefits, and look into business interruption loans or other financing options, including payment breaks and mortgage holidays.
If you have a new continuous cough or high temperature, you should stay at home for 7 days and check NHS 111 online for advice.
There's still no concrete measures to help you if you're on a zero hours contract or one of the the millions of ‘gig economy’ workers across the UK. Currently, the only assistance available is through a £500m boost to the benefits system, including a temporary halt to the minimum floor in universal credit and quicker payments for employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants.
If you're in this position, you should look into what benefits are available and apply for them as soon as possible.
We’ll keep the blog updated with more information as soon as it becomes available.
What help is available for large businesses?
The government's Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies, to help support them with cash flow and short term funding.
The scheme will be available for financially strong companies affected by the coronavirus crisis, and will run for at least 12 months.
Useful links for government-backed finance and grants
- Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/cash-grant-for-retail-hospitality-and-leisure/
- Small Business Grant Funding - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/small-business-grant-funding/
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme/
- Time to Pay from HMRC - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/time-to-pay/
- Income Tax Deferral for the Self-Employed - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/income-tax-deferral-for-the-self-employed/
- VAT deferral - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/vat-deferral/
- Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/business-rates-holiday-for-retail-hospitality-and-leisure/
- Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay-rebate/
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/
- Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/covid-19-corporate-financing-facility/
Ideas to help keep your business running during the coronavirus crisis
If you run a salon, shop or any business that requires feet through the door and staff on hand, it can be difficult to know what to do for the best - the government is telling people to avoid people, pubs and the office, but can you afford to shut up shop?
The situation is ever-changing and we’ll update this blog as soon as things change, but as things stand any crowded venues and close contact with other people is to be avoided where possible, as should non-essential travel.
There’s no evidence to suggest that wearing facemasks help outside of the hospital environment, but if you’re working closely with other people - in a salon, for instance - it might be worth considering.
If you are keeping your business running, make sure you follow the NHS advice outlined here, and make sure you and your staff are up to date with all of the following:
- Everyone's emergency contact details.
- The latest NHS advice on prevention.
- The official government guidelines.
- Who needs to self-isolate and why.
- Your pay and absence policies.
How to help employess work from home
If you have to close your office or have employees self-isolating, it’s important to make sure staff can work from home as effectively as they can from the office.
This means kitting them out with all the hardware and software they need to do their job, such as a laptop with video conferencing capabilities, along with reliable business broadband and a secure VPN connection.
Bionic can can help you and your workforce stay connected wherever they are and whatever the circumstances, with the following useful packages. For more information, give our business connecticity team a call on 0800 840 9056.
What If I can’t open my workplace?
If you can’t open for business because of the coronavirus crisis, you need to let your clients, staff and insurance company know as soon as possible. If you own your business premises, get in touch with your mortgage provider and let them know the situation, or get in touch with your landlord if you’re renting.
When contacting employees, reassure them that you’ll stay in contact to let them know what’s happening, when they should come back to work, and what the situation is regarding pay.
Employees will be entitled to statutory sick pay from you if:
- You are not paying them while they are laid off.
- They have been continuously employed for one month.
- They are available for work.
- They have not refused any reasonable alternative work, including work not specified in their employment contract.
Employees are entitled to £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they’re too ill to work, and this is paid by you, as their employer, for up to 28 weeks. If employees are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), they can claim SSP (provided they are eligible), but new legislation means small business owners can reclaim two weeks’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to cover the costs of any absences due to COVID-19.
"Financial backing would be the only way to survive and the knock on effect of forced closure of suppliers would continue far after the crisis."
If you do have to self-isolate but can’t carry out the day job without the salon or workshop being open, it could be worth using a little of that spare time to sort a new business energy contract - simply switch business energy with Bionic to cut your business energy bills by around £725 a year*.
But what exactly is coronavirus and what are the symptoms should we be looking out for? More importantly, what does each of us have to do to help stop it from spreading?
What is coronavirus and how can we help stop it from spreading?
Without going too far into the science of it all, coronavirus is a group of viruses that cause illnesses of varying degrees.
This latest coronavirus is called SARS-CoV-2 and it causes the disease known as COVID-19, the effects of which can range from a common cold to pneumonia, respiratory problems and even death.
But don’t confuse it with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which spread globally during an outbreak that lasted between 2002 and 2004, infecting more than 8,000 and killing at least 774.
Although in the same family of viruses, SARS is a completely separate viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19
The symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.
- A new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly.
What if I have COVID-19?
Don’t panic, showing symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have the virus, but if you do have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay at home for seven days.
If you live with other people, the advice is to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
It’s recommended that people work from home where possible and avoid any crowded venues, non-essential travel and close contact with other people wherever possible, particularly if you fall into any of the more vulnerable groups, which includes the elderly, anyone with underlying health conditions and pregnant women.
If you feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms don’t get better after seven days you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
"From a business development perspective, businesses should always apply the ‘what if?’ question and have contingency planning in place."
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, as you could pass the disease on to other, more vulnerable people. And only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
And the government is also advising against non-essential travel and contact, which includes staying away from pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres.
How is coronavirus spread?
Like the common cold, coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infection is usually caused by close contact with a person who has the disease. This can be through coughs, sneezes or hand contact, or even by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands - coronaviruses can live on surfaces for days at a time.
How to stop the spread of coronavirus
The most effective way to stop the spread of the virus is to simply keep on top of your everyday hygiene, and Public Health England is advising everyone to do the following:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Proper hand hygiene is the best way to cut the risk of infection, so always wash your hands - using hot water and liquid soap for 20 seconds or a 60% alcohol hand sanitiser - in the following circumstances:
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Before leaving home/arriving back home
- On arrival at school/workplace
- After travelling on public transport
- After using the toilet
- After breaks and sporting activities
- Before food preparation
- Before eating any food, including snacks
- Before leaving school/workplace
- And avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
How to wash your hands
This handy infographic from Public Health England shows how to best wash your hands to help stop the spread of germs and viruses.
If you want to find out more on the reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, specifically in your local area, check out these live trackers from Public Health England:
To find out more about coronavirus COVID-19, including what to do if you think you might be infected, go to GOV.UK
If you need to speak to a member of the Bionic team about your insurance, give us a call on freephone 0800 158 5263.
What are small business owners saying about the threat of coronavirus?
We asked some Bionic businesses how they thought the coronavirus threat might affect them, and how they’re preparing for whatever comes next. Here’s what we found.
Are small business owners ready for the coronavirus crisis? 97% are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on their business Almost a half (47%) expect their businesses to be impacted More than a quarter (27%) of businesses report they will be temporarily paralysed More than a third (37%) of businesses plan to work remotely
Financial backing is needed
"Financial backing would be the only way to survive and the knock on effect of forced closure of suppliers would continue far after the crisis. I believe our business would survive, but will require cash subsidising from ourselves.
“As a new business, we are fortunate enough to not have to rely on the income, however, two weeks could be devastating for those more established companies who provide a similar service, or have employees, for instance. We are really lucky at the minute that we don't have employees relying on us for their income.
“A forced closure would cause lots of problems for businesses. We are in a very fortunate situation, but in the future I will seriously think about contingency plans for situations like this.” says Mark Hepworth, owner of Flat Cap Coffee, a new business that was started over a year ago.
Businesses who've not built up reserves could be in trouble
“From a business development perspective, businesses should always apply the ‘what if?’ question and have contingency planning in place. Small businesses as well as larger businesses.
"My primary concern, therefore, would be new businesses which may not have had chance to build reserves. We all recognise that you don’t start a business with out reserves but it doesn’t always happen" says Tina Heathcote, of Buxton Town Team, a support network for local small businesses.
Sick pay could be a problem
“Retail is still recovering from Brexit and Government handouts will be far too late judging from their track record so far. We’d have to rely on our online business.
“Most reasonable employers 'make up basic' pay when employees are off sick. SSP helps but businesses will not be able to afford to do anything if no revenue is brought into the business even if it is over just a few weeks. Retail is still recovering from Brexit, they are unlikely to have any reserves.” says Martin Coles-Evans, owner of Hargreaves of Buxton, a 154-year-old business high street business with an online retail arm.
Remember, 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. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
For more information, go to GOV.UK
Small business coronavirus planning checklist
If you are keeping your business running, make sure you follow the NHS advice outlined here, and use the checklist below as a guide of things you need to keep on top of:
Checklist for small business owners Make sure staff emergency contact details are up to date ✔ Follow the NHS advice on prevention ✔ Keep up to date with official government guidelines ✔ Understand who needs to self-isolate ✔ Be clear about your pay and absence policies ✔
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