Home COVID19: Business Information and Advice

COVID19: Business Information and Advice

In this section, local businesses and self employed individuals can access all the latest information on financial assistance, support programmes as well as practical advice and guidance.

Practical Assistance

In Northern Ireland the Public Health Agency (PHA) take the lead and co-ordinate all advice and information. Their website can be accessed via the link below and should contain the most up to date local information and guidance: www.publichealth.hscni.net/

Similar information is also available from NI Direct www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19

Government and the NI Executive have announced restrictions on the public and businesses to combat the spread of Covid 19.

Frequently Asked Questions

What businesses can continue to operate?

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed new powers to combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). The regulations came into effect at 11.00pm on Saturday 28 March and provide clarity on what retail services and other venues may remain open in Northern Ireland, and which should close immediately.

The regulations are designed to manage premises where the public gathered and therefore to reduce the spread of Covid-19 between people.

More information: www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-northern-ireland-regulations-2020

Further information on businesses reopening can be found at: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/node/23688

A number of amendments have been made to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 and changes will continue to be made as the Northern Ireland Executive permit certain premises to re-open.

Relevant authorities, including PSNI and more recently district councils have been designated by the Department of Health to enforce the requirements to restrict or close premises during the emergency period.

Any queries about the closure or restrictions in premises should be directed to our Environmental Health Department by email or telephone 0300 0300 900.

How can my company manage the risk of Covid-19?
Companies who are still working must operate in compliance with Government and PHA guidelines.

Government, in consultation with industry, has published safety guidance for workplaces giving practical advice and steps to be considered during the Covid-19 crisis. It includes advice on public health guidelines, safer work practices and mental health and wellbeing.

More information here: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/node/23544

Key guidance provided to businesses include:

  • Encourage employees to work at home, wherever possible;
  • Have systems in place to ensure that if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home;
  • Employees should be reminded to wash their hands regularly throughout the day for at least 20 seconds on each occasion, and to sneeze into tissues and dispose of the tissues promptly – Catch it, Bin it, Kill it. (suitable washing facilities with soap and warm water or hand sanitisers must be provided);
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.

In their risk assessment, companies should also take account of the general advice regarding distancing and ensure that it is observed between employees both at their workstations and in other areas of their

Advice can be found at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidelines-and-social-distancing

Where this cannot be achieved within the normal working environment, additional means of protection should be considered.

For example:

  • Reduce number of workers on site at any one time;
  • Relocating workers to other tasks;
  • Redesigning processes to allow social distancing in place;
  • Put in place temporary barriers between staff;
  • Utilise technology such as teleconferencing instead of face to face meetings;
  • Adjust workflow or production line speeds.

Public Health guidance on the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) relates to health care settings. In all other settings individuals are asked to observe social distancing measures and practise good hand hygiene behaviours.

Do I need to revise my company’s Risk Assessment to take account of Covid-19 risks?
Employers should continue to ensure that an appropriate assessment of the risk from Covid-19 in their workplace is carried out and appropriate measures put in place in line with current Public Health Agency guidelines.

A template risk assessment for Covid–19 is available from the following link: www.hseni.gov.uk/news/example-risk-assessment-covid-19-workplaces

These measures should be communicated to all relevant employees and others at the place of work. Control measures will depend on the level of risk and type of workplace and should not reduce the level of protection afforded by existing measures (for example keeping fire doors open to reduce the risk from contaminated door handles creates increased risk. Appropriate regular cleaning and advice on hand hygiene is appropriate).

Where there is a requirement to carry out work at other locations outside of the employer’s workplace, employees should comply with site rules and take into account the wider PHA advice regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances. Consideration should also be given to any other persons who may be affected by their work.

Critically, employers should take into account the most up to date official advice and guidance from the Public Health Agency on how to mitigate the health risk to employees and others at the place of work. Employers are advised to keep up to date on Covid-19 by referring to the Public Health Agency website www.publichealth.hscni.net/

Useful links for businesses on Covid-19:

Where can I obtain more specific advice relating to health and safety issues that have been made more difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions?
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) have produced answers to Frequently Asked Questions by businesses in the following link: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-frequently-asked-health-and-safety-questions

So far they have answered queries relating to:

  • First Aid: Advice for people holding first aid at work certificates due to expire
  • Training Certificates due to expire.
  • Training in relation to the redeployment of staff and temporary cover
  • Statutory Inspections (Lifting Equipment, Pressure Systems etc.)
  • Safety Critical Functions
  • Time requirements of reporting on injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences
  • Increased risk associated with the operation of Wet Cooling Plant and Coronavirus outbreak
  • Driver Welfare
  • Gas Safe Engineers

As we welcome the announcement on the re-opening of all non-essential goods retailers on Friday 12 June 2020 this information pack has been prepared to support and advise small retailers.  Information includes FAQ’s, a checklist and other signposting information that you may find useful.

Retailers Information Pack

If your business needs additional information or advice, please get in touch with us by emailing

Council Support

The council has prepared a checklist to assist Hair and Beauty businesses to reopen safely from Monday 6 July.



For specific advice on reopening, contact Council’s Environmental Health team at

For general advice, email

Government support

For UK Government information and advice on keeping workers and customers safe while delivering close contact services during COVID-19, click here.

Industry Support

For links to industry support and information during COVID-19, see Council’s Hair and Beauty Checklists above.

What is a pavement café licence?

A pavement café licence authorises a person who operates a business supplying food or drink (in or from premises) to temporarily place furniture on a public area, for use by customers. This includes cafés, restaurants, pubs, retail outlets providing refreshments, takeaways and supermarkets with a deli counter.  A pavement café licence will currently only be granted in the Borough where consumption of alcohol is ancillary to the meal and not form the main part of the service.

What is the process for pavement café licence applications?

The Environmental Health Department issues licences for pavement cafés in the Borough. We have introduced a temporary process for licence applications to help businesses during COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Business operators must ensure they are familiar with government legislation and coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance. They must adhere to all requirements relevant to their workplace including carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment and apply ‘social distancing’ measures and mitigations.


What is the pavement café licence fee?

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Council has waived application fees for temporary pavement café licences.  This will apply during the period of COVID-19 pandemic recovery until 31 December 2021.

How do I make an application for a pavement café?

Before submitting an application, please contact Council to check if your proposal will meet all the criteria.  Please email or telephone the Environmental Health Department on 0300 0300 900.

Download Pavement Cafe Licensing Guidance for Applicants (during COVID-19 pandemic recovery)

The Guidance Document for Applicants (during COVID-19 pandemic recovery) offers advice on what Council are required to consider appropriate for a pavement café licence including:

  • pedestrian and vehicular access
  • size and layout
  • likely disturbance to other businesses or residents
  • furniture design
  • safety issues

A licence application form is contained in the Guidance or to request an application form and guidance information, you can contact us by email: . We can also send you the application form and guidance by post.


What documents are required to support my licence application?

Site location map
Proposed cafe plan
Details of the proposed furniture
Public liability insurance
Liquor Licence (premises licensed under The Licensing (NI) Order 1996)
Management Control Plan (where appropriate)

What is the Public Notice?

The Guidance for Applicants contains a draft public notice. The notice must be affixed on the premises, so the public can see it for 28 days. Interested parties can make representations to Council about your licence application.

Council will publish licence applications on our web site until the end of the period allowed for representations.

What other organisations are consulted?

Council recommends that applicants discuss their proposals with adjacent property occupiers to inform them of the pavement café application.

When assessing your application Council will also consult:

  • DfI Roads
  • Police Service for Northern Ireland where the premises are licensed to sell alcohol
  • other council departments, organisations or individuals as appropriate


What are the timescales in the process?

The Council aims to provide you with a determination within 5 weeks from the date of receipt of a completed application.  Council will consult with DfI Roads and, in most cases, the Police Service of Northern Ireland when considering pavement café licensing applications. Council must also give other interested parties an opportunity to express their views before a final decision.

When a licence is granted Council will issue formal confirmation and a temporary pavement café licence will be granted until 31 December 2021.  The licence will have standard conditions and additional specific conditions may be added.

Council Support

Hospitality Businesses can reopen from Friday 3 July.

For specific advice on reopening, including pavement licencing, contact the council’s Environmental Health team at

For general advice, email

Government support

For Government information and advice on keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services click here.

Industry Support

For up to date industry support and information on the current COVID-19 situation click here.

Coronavirus is a major global issue affecting the Tourism and Hospitality sectors on a international scale as well as on a local level. Find further support and advice available to these sectors here.

Social economy businesses are encouraged to establish what levels of support are available from the following organisations:

  • National Lottery Community Fund
  • Department for Communities’ Covid-19 Community Support Fund
  • Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Coronavirus Community Fund
  • NET Fund
  • Halifax Foundation Northern Ireland Coronavirus response

More information:

The Government has published a code of practice to help commercial landlords and tenants map out plans for economic recovery during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The code of practice is voluntary in nature and applies to landlords and tenants in commercial property in any sector across the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Rent payments and concessions
The code of practice encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full if they are in a position to do so and advises that others should pay what they can, whilst acknowledging that landlords should provide support to businesses if they too are able to do so.

The code of practice represents best practice within the sector for responding to Covid-19 and is endorsed by a number of leading representative bodies and organisations.

All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible.

During the Coronavirus outbreak there are changes to the way you move goods through customs.

Support for businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance. Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to businesses, particularly in the non-service sector such as manufacturing and construction.

To avoid the risk of credit insurance being withdrawn or premium hikes, the government will temporary guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance.

This will support supply chains and help businesses to trade with confidence as they can trust that they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.

More information: www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-support-businesses-through-trade-credit-insurance-guarantee

Financial Support

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, has launched a new fund to help cutting-edge companies of all sizes recover and grow in the aftermath of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 Sustainable Innovation Fund will target those innovative companies needing to keep their great ideas alive during the current pandemic, in turn contributing to revolutions across whole sectors and transforming the way people live, work and travel.

The £191 million fund will also support new green innovations, unleashing the sustainable industries of the future along the way, and helping the UK meet its ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. As part of this initiative, two funding competitions are currently open.

More information: here

Department of Economy has announced £2.5 million in support for 13 projects as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

SBRI enables the public sector to tap into new ideas and technologies through funding competitions to business, resulting in new opportunities for companies who can provide solutions to the tough challenges faced by the public sector.

The budget allocation for the Fund in 2020/21 is £2.5 million which will allow two new SBRI projects to start phase one. This is in addition to continuing support for 11 existing projects.

More information: here

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in collaboration with Innovate UK, has launched Phase 1 of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF).

The fund will support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future, and to cut their bills and emissions through increased energy efficiency.

Up to £30 million Phase 1 funding for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available in the form of a grant scheme for:

  • deployment of mature energy efficiency technologies that improve industrial process energy efficiency and reduce energy demand.
  • feasibility and engineering studies for projects deploying mature energy efficiency technologies or deep decarbonisation technologies

The IETF Phase 1 competition will open on 20 July 2020 until 28 October 2020, subject to change.

  • More information: here

Support includes increased advice and support, longer-term skills, capacity building initiatives and a £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund. Funding from £3,000 to £50,000 is available. The Fund is intended to safeguard heritage sites and organisations in which the Heritage Lottery has previously invested.

The Government has outlined further details regarding the changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will close on 31 October 2020 with the following changes due in advance over the coming months:

Final date to place employees on furlough
Claims from July 2020 will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June.

Part-time furlough
From 1 July 2020, businesses using the furlough scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back to work part-time. If they choose to bring back staff part-time, the employer will be responsible for paying this proportion of their wages.

Gradual increase in employer contribution
From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the Job Retention Scheme will be slowly tapered and businesses will be asked to contribute a share. Furloughed staff will continue to receive 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

    • June and July: The government continues to pay 80% of salaries, plus National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
    • August: The government payments will be the same as before, but employers must cover NICs and pension contributions.
    • September: The government will pay 70% of wages, up to a cap of £2,187. Employers will have to pay NICs and pension contributions, and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total.
    • October: The government will pay 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will then need to pay NICs and pension contributions, and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.
  • The scheme will close on 31 October 2020.
  • More information: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-claim-wages-under-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

The Government has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended. Applications for a second payment will open in August 2020 and will give eligible self-employed workers a final grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for June, July and August.

Applying for the first SEISS grant

Individuals can continue to apply for the first SEISS grant until 13 July 2020. Under the first grant, eligible individuals can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. Those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

Applying for the second SEISS grant

Applications for the second grant will open in August 2020. Individuals will be able to claim a second taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced a £360,000 emergency support package for Northern Ireland’s aquaculture sector. Support will be in the form of a grant payment covering the three-month period from 1 March 2020 to 31 May 2020 and will be based on income lost from sales. Average monthly sales over the past three years will be used as a baseline for each business.

The assistance will be for three months with a maximum amount of total funding per ‘undertaking’ capped at around £104,000.  It will be delivered via monthly payments varying with vessel size as below.

The following conditions apply:

  • The vessel must be a fishing vessel registered in Northern Ireland
  • The vessel must normally be active during the period March to May
  • The vessel must have had fish landings of at least £10,000 in 2019
  • Vessels of overall length 28m and over are not eligible
  • The vessels must be available to fish if there is a market for their product (i.e. this is not a “tie-up” scheme)

DAERA will inform vessel owners in due course about how to apply for the scheme and provide further details including appeals.  It is anticipated that the first payments would be made early in May 2020.

This scheme will provide loans up to £5 million, guaranteed by Government, for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. Businesses can access the first 12 months of finance interest-free and fee-free, as the government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied charges.

This scheme will provide loans up to £25 million, guaranteed by Government, to firms with an annual turnover of more than £45 million. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million will be able to apply for loans up to £200 million (which has been extended from £50 million). Businesses can access the first 12 months of finance interest-free and fee-free, as the Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied charges.

The Scheme will assist small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Government will guarantee 100% of loans with no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to six years with no repayments due during the first 12 months. Government to work with lenders to agree a low interest rate for the remaining period of the loan. Scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Banks, insurers and reinsurers (not insurance brokers), public sector bodies, state-funded primary and secondary schools are not eligible to apply.


You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • Is based in the UK
  • Has been negatively affected by COVID-19
  • Was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

If you are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) you cannot apply. If you have already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS you may wish to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.  This can be arranged with your lender until 4 November 2020.

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank, the £500 million scheme will provide loans to high-growth UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. Loans may be an option for businesses that rely on equity investment but are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The scheme is initially open for applications until the end of September 2020

Measures to ensure Government departments continue to pay suppliers impacted by Covid-19 have been extended to October 2020. Relief measures for suppliers who provide goods and services, and construction contractors, for which demand has reduced or been paused temporarily due to Covid-19 will continue to be provided during recovery.

More information: www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/pgn-02-20-recovery-and-transition-covid-19

£750 million of targeted support will be made available through Innovate UK’s grant and loan scheme. Up to £200 million of grant and loan payments will be accelerated for 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An additional £550 million will be made available to increase support for existing customers. £175,000 will be offered to approximately 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding.

Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis.

Innovate UK’s loan programme for SMEs involved in late-stage innovation projects.

As part of their coronavirus response package, Innovate UK is offering up to £210 million in loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they have an Innovate UK award. Loans are for organisations that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds resulting directly from the Covid-19 pandemic. This innovation continuity loan may be suitable if you need funding of between £250,000 and £1,600,000.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest have launched a £5 million grant fund for young entrepreneurs whose businesses have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The Enterprise Relief Fund aims to help 18-30 year olds keep their businesses afloat during the Covid-19 crisis. In conjunction with grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance.


Open to all UK businesses, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies in order to help finance short term liabilities. The facility will purchase commercial paper (which is an unsecured, short-term debt instrument issued by a company) of up to one-year maturity. The minimum size of an individual security that the fund will purchase from an individual participant is £1 million, with financing terms comparable to those prevailing in markets before Covid-19. To access the scheme you will need to contact your bank.  Not all banks issue commercial paper so if this applies to your bank, UK Finance will provide a list of banks that are able to assist.

More information: www.bankofengland.co.uk or www.ukfinance.org.uk/covid-19-corporate-financing-facilities

Employment and Skills

For up-to-date support on a wide range of employment and skills issues including redundancy, restructures and change please go to: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/employment-and-skills

With the unprecedented economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, we understand many local businesses will have to make some very difficult decisions as they try to move forward. This may include unavoidable redundancies over the coming period. A strong economy relies on a skilled, flexible, healthy and motivated workforce and we are committed to providing both employers and the local workforce with the necessary support and guidance to create a strong and resilient borough.

Redundancy fact sheets

Relief and Rebate Schemes

All NI businesses (with the exception of public sector and utilities) will have their rates waived until 31 July 2020. No rates will be charged for April, May, June or July 2020, reducing the 2020-21 annual rate bill by just over 33%. This amount does not need to be paid back. The 2020-21 rates bills will be issued in July 2020.

In addition, the sectors hardest hit by Coronavirus pandemic will pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31 March 2021.  Those sectors include;

  • Hospitality, tourism and leisure
  • Retail (excluding supermarkets and off licenses)
  • Childcare

Ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between July 2020 and March 2021. Monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be automatically updated to collect payments between July 2020 and March 2021.

The regional rate for 2020-21 has not been set yet, so it is not yet possible to estimate your rate bill for 2020-21. The Small Business Rate Relief scheme will be continued in 2020-21. Eligibility is based on the Net Annual Value (NAV) of your business property.

There is no application procedure, relief will be applied automatically to your business rates bill by LPS if you qualify. This will ensure that if you are eligible you will receive the benefit of the rate relief immediately.

The Regional Rate has been adjusted downward to offset the change in the total rateable value due to Reval2020. A further 12.5% cut has now been made in the NI Budget 2020-21. This will effectively see an 18% reduction on the 2019-20 figure which is intended to benefit all business ratepayers and help with the economic recovery needed on the other side of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the Covid-19 measures announced, there are other existing reliefs available to help business ratepayers. These rate support schemes include:

  • Charitable Exemption for rates: offers charitable bodies 100% relief.
  • Sports and Recreation Rate Relief: provides sport and recreation bodies 80% relief on the parts of their premises that are used for sporting purposes. Community amateur sports clubs receive 100% relief.
  • Industrial Derating: provides manufacturing businesses with a 70% reduction in rates.
  • Non-Domestic Vacant Rating: rates are payable on vacant non-domestic properties at 50% of the normal level.

Small and medium-sized businesses and employers (employers with less than 250 employees on or before 28 February 2020) can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19. The rebate will cover up to two weeks Statutory Sick Pay per employee.

The Scheme covers all types of employment contracts including: full-time, part-time, agency contracts, flexible or zero-hour. The eligible period for the scheme is on or after 13 March 2020.

The online service for small and medium sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments is now open.

Options to Defer and or Extend

The Government will be automatically deferring business payment for Value Added Tax (VAT). Deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 and all UK businesses are eligible. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay.  Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of you VAT return.

Update: You can delay VAT payments due before 30 June 2020 until 31 March 2021

The VAT payment deferral period ends on 30 June 2020. This means you’ll need to:

  • set-up cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment
  • submit VAT returns as normal, and on time
  • pay the VAT in full on payments due after 30 June

Any VAT payments you have deferred between 20 March and 30 June should be paid in full on or before 31 March 2021. You can make additional payments with subsequent returns.

More information: www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings, cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.

  • More information: contact the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 024 1222

Payments due in July 2020 to be deferred to January 2021. No applications required as deferral will be automatic. No penalties or interest for late payments will be applied in this period.

Firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities may apply to HMRC to defer tax payments. Agree to defer tax payments 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. HMRC has also scaled up their “Time to Pay offer” and have established a dedicated COVID-19 helpline.

From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a three-month extension for filing their accounts. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take 15 minutes to complete. Companies should simply cite Covid-19 or Health matters as the grounds for their application. Extensions applied for on these grounds will be automatically and immediately granted.

Late filing penalties

If you do not apply for an extension and your accounts have been filed late, an automatic penalty will be imposed. The registrar has very limited discretion not to collect a penalty. Each appeal is treated on a case-by-case basis, and GOV.UK already has policies in place to deal with appeals based upon unforeseen poor health. Appeals based upon Covid-19 will be considered under these policies but will be treated sympathetically.

Strike-off process temporarily paused

Support is available to help businesses avoid being struck off the Companies House register as they deal with the impact of Covid-19. Businesses will be given additional support to help them meet their legal responsibilities. Strike-off process will be temporarily paused for an undisclosed period to prevent companies being dissolved.

Temporary upload service

Companies House have developed a temporary service to upload a documents to Companies House as an emergency response to the Coronavirus outbreak. This temporary online service allows you to upload a number of completed forms, that would usually be sent to them in a paper format, electronically and send them to Companies House directly and instantly.

Benefit Support

Increasing basic element by £1,000 for the next 12 months.

To be increased by £1,000 per year for the next 12 months. Persons who are self-employed have access in full to Universal Credit, providing they meet the usual eligibility criteria. The requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak. The standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit will both increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating i.e. additional income of £1,040 per annum. Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.