DAILY BUSINESS BRIEFING FROM GOVERNMENT'S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE (courtesy of White Label)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a suite of interventions for self-employed workers to match the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for PAYE employees.

Self-employed people adversely affected by the COVID-19 restrictions will receive a grant worth up to 80% of average monthly profits over the last three years with a maximum of £2,500 per month. It will be open for at least three months and will be extended longer if necessary.

The grant will be open to any business with trading profits of up to £50,000 and only available to those in self employment who submitted a tax return in 2019, and the Chancellor also announced a four-week extension from today for anyone who missed the January tax return deadline.

It is expected self-employed people will have access to the scheme no later than the beginning of June, with HMRC contacting those eligible. Self-employed workers will be paid directly and they will also be able to access the Business Interruption Loan.

Speaking at today’s press conference, the Chancellor said: “I am proud of what we have done so far but we know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious. Through no fault of their own, they risk losing their livelihoods. To you I say, you have not been forgotten.

“I am confident we will support millions of businesses, families and self-employed people to get through this, together, are will emerge on the other side both stronger and more united.”

The Chancellor also promised that detailed guidance around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be published on 26 th March.

NEW GUIDANCE RELEASED on 26 th MARCH

Business Rates Retail Discount Expanded:
Guidance on the operation of expanded retail discount 2020 to 2021 has been updated so that certain properties previously excluded from the relief, but that have been the forced to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions, will now be eligible for the relief. Many high street businesses that have closed due to Covid-19 restrictions will now be exempt from business rates including retail, leisure, and hospitality properties, estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls.

Vehicle owners to be granted MOT exemption:
Temporary exemption will enable vital services to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine. Further information can be found here .

Producing hand sanitiser and gel for coronavirus (COVID-19)
HMRC have produced guidance on temporary changes to the use and supply of denatured alcohol and duty-free spirits, to help businesses who produce hand sanitiser and gel.

Hotel accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people
Guidance has been updated to clarify the exemption for hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to open so they can offer accommodation to key workers and support rough sleepers to keep them off the streets and in suitable accommodation. Further guidance can be found here .

BUSINESS SUPPORT PACKAGES: LATEST INFORMATION & UPDATES

The government and British Business Bank have issued further guidelines regarding the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme ,making further clarification on the subject of personal guarantees.

Whether a lender requires a personal guarantee for a loan supported by the (CBILS) is at the discretion of the lender, who is accredited by the British Business Bank. However, a lender is not allowed to take a personal guarantee against a borrower's principle residence under the scheme. So even if a personal guarantee is required under the lender's credit policy, it cannot be taken against the borrower's home. Some major lenders have announced that they are not going to require personal guarantees on loans under CBILS the scheme (of any size). More information can be found here .


REQUESTS FOR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND ASSISTANCE

Call for rapid sanitising technology for ambulances
Do you have an innovative or novel approach to get ambulances cleaner quicker to help combat Coronavirus? The Defence and Security Accelerator has launched a new Innovation Focus Area as part of its Open Call for Innovation seeking industry’s help to identify rapid sanitising technology solutions that can be demonstrated in a live trial on an ambulance. More information is available here .
Hounslow Chamber of Commerce is the primary support, networking, and representation organisation in west London for SMEs.

We support the interests, the commercial aspirations and the investment for some 18,000 firms - from Chiswick to Feltham, Heathrow to Osterley and Brentford to Bedfont - the Chamber is the voice for all businesses located in the borough.