Director’s Update 26 March 2020

26 Mar 2020

Those of you old enough to remember Fawlty Towers will recall a typically chaotic scene where Basil said 'Perhaps it's a dream' and then after banging his head several times on the counter said 'No it's not a dream we're stuck with it'.

The Numbers

Well we are all stuck in a nightmare and since numbers are our business, let's use some to see why we are. An expert said last night that 'normal' flu transmits on average to about 1.3 other people whereas, with COVID-19 it's about 3. Not a big difference you might think until you look at the total numbers after 10 transmission cycles. With flu it would be 14 people, with COVID-19 a staggering 59,000! The maths geeks among us will be able to work that out - it's 3 to the power of 10. So we had better all grin and bear the lockdown hadn't we?

Easier said than done perhaps if you are self-employed because to date no work means no money. At all. Thankfully the government is finally set to announce some measures today, apparently with perhaps a magic 80% figure again related to average earnings in some form. Difficult to do and it will no doubt take a while to set up so this particular issue will continue to cause people to travel to work when they might otherwise stay home.

Bear in mind that the Job Retention Scheme was announcedlast Friday and details are still as hard to find as a needle in Boris Johnson's hair. So don't despair if you cannot find any, they do not yet exist. Which does not help anyone as queries from our clients show.

Minimum Wage Employees

Another thought - what about employees on minimum wage? The general assumption under JRS is the employers can pay 80% of normal gross wage. But it would normally be illegal to pay below minimum wage or is there going to be a special dispensation of some kind? If not would need to be very careful of just taking a broad brush approach to calculating gross wages of paying 80% of normal.

To reiterate at the moment no-one knows how JRS will work exactly so tread carefully.

Also be careful if taking advantage of the welcome VAT deferral. If you have a direct debit set up youmust cancel it beforethe VAT return is submitted or the money will still disappear and you will then have to try and get it back.

On a brighter note - Business Rates Rebate

On a brighter note the rates rebate info has now appeared on Hull City Council's website so make sure you do not miss out on this if you are entitled see HERE. [http://www.hull.gov.uk/business/business-grants-and-funding/covid-19-grant-funding-schemes]

COVID-19 Service Update

From 1 April 2020 the Chancellor has announced a new £10,000 grant only available to businesses that qualify for Small Business Rates Relief or the expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value below £15,000.

There is also a grant available of £25,000 for businesses in receipt of the expanded Retail Discount with a Rateable Value between £15,000 and below £51,000. The government has now released the guidance and further details are available HERE.

COVID-19 Grant Funding Schemes

The Council is writing to eligible businesses

The Council will write to all businesses that the Council believes will be eligible for the above grants and you should expect to receive your letter in early April 2020.

The letter has to be sent to the address that the Council already holds for the business which will be the address your last Business Rates bill was posted to.

We are putting in place an online form which businesses will be able to complete to provide specific information required to claim the grant and to provide their bank details.

This will enable the Council to then pay businesses directly into that bank account automatically. Over 4000 businesses will be eligible for these grants so we are following this approach to ensure payments are made as quickly and accurately as possible.

Further updates and guidance on completing the online forms will be available online here in the coming days.

We are in an unprecedented situation and we want to assure you that The Council will do everything in its power to work with the businesses of Hull.

Our business support team is working with colleagues from across the area to make sure that the information available is as up-to-date as possible and that Hull businesses are able to access the support available. 

The Council's 300301 phone line remains open if you wish to speak with them directly.

Attached is information with details of the wider business support measures that have been announced to date.

Information is emerging all the time and this note is being constantly updated

If you are a company or a sole trader who occupies a small property, small business rates relief may help you to pay your business rates.

The relief is available to ratepayers who have one main property, but can also be available to ratepayers that also occupy other properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900. 

The reductions available for 2020-21 are:

  • 100 per cent for ratepayers with a rateable value of less then £12.000
  • a sliding reduction for ratepayers with a rateable value between £12,000 and £15,000 
  • a lower multiplier is used for properties with a rateable value less than £51,000. This is now automatically used regardless of the numbers of properties occupied

For 2020-21 the small business rates multiplier is 49.9p.

Finally, if the younger readers have never watched Fawlty Towers it is recommended to try and lighten the gloom - you lucky people.

Stay safe.

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