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Coronavirus General FAQs

Please note that these General FAQs will be updated as and when more guidance becomes available.

To submit a question to be answered about these issues or any other coronavirus support announced by the government please email: [email protected]

Cash Flow

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Does my business still need to pay tax as usual?

The UK Government has announced changes to the way businesses pay tax:

Deferral of VAT payments from 20 March until 30 June 2020. These are automatic: all are eligible with no application required. No business will need to pay VAT liabilities from this period until 5 April 2021.

12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England. This is for properties used as shops; restaurants and cafes; drinking establishments; cinemas and live music venues; hotels, guest and boarding premises; and self-catering accommodation.

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on 31 July 2020 deferred until 31 January 2021.

HMRC operates a helpline for businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Links to information on measures in:

Does my business still need to pay utility companies as usual? Will utility services be cut off if I cannot pay?

There has been no official announcement of enforced suspension of billing by utility companies (as of 23/3/20). Businesses should check for announcements by their suppliers and contact them for clarification of changes to terms and conditions if necessary.

Does my business still need to pay rent as usual? Will eviction rules still apply?

The UK Government has announced that commercial tenants unable to pay rent in the next three months because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.

Will my business be able to access bank funding?

UK Finance represents banks and other organisations that lend to businesses. It states that its members are ‘putting in place emergency measures, including extensions to overdraft, invoice finance and other working capital facilities, payment holidays and fee waivers’. Businesses worried about cashflow should contact their bank / finance provider to discuss the help available.

Travel and Trade

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Will employees be able to travel in the UK or internationally?

Business should plan for an indefinite period of heavy restrictions to international travel across all regions of the globe. Official FCO guidance (correct as of 23/3/20):

‘As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.’

For travel within the UK, businesses should check in with official guidance and news alerts on social distancing and self-isolation rules. Government advice on movement is evolving by the day.

Will airports and seaports remain open to ship goods?

UK seaports remain open. Operators state their intention to stay operational through the crisis subject, to evolving government guidance. The UK government updated its official guidance for seaports on COVID-19 on 19 March. This focuses on procedures for reporting and processing of cases in #marine settings.

The global shipping industry reports disruption to freight movements. particularly to vessels inbound from Asia. This follows from factory shutdowns and other disruptions to production and logistics.

Airports worldwide remain open to freight movements, subject to official guidance. But the disruption to passenger flights and personal travel has affected air freight. Passenger planes carry just over half of the world’s air freight by weight: the reduction in passenger flights has forced up cargo rates for dedicated freight planes on some routes.

Will my business be able to send and receive goods internationally? And what happens to goods en route to countries with closed borders?

Some countries are restricting export of goods judged to be essential in the coronavirus crisis. The UK has banned certain medicines from parallel export (where goods intended for UK patients are sold overseas).

The Department for International Trade has a dedicated Coronavirus web resource for companies that trade internationally. This includes a commitment to support importers find alternative overseas suppliers where supply chains are interrupted.

BCC urges banks to deliver financial support to businesses on the ground

BCC Director General Adam Marshall and President Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith have written to bank leaders urging them to get support from CBILS to businesses on the ground as soon as possible.

BCC comments on government support for the self-employed

Welcoming measures outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to support the self-employed and sole traders whose businesses have been affected by Coronavirus, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:  

BCC responds to new social distancing measures

BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall responds to the Prime Minister’s announcement of further restrictions to tackle the spread of Coronavirus

BCC comments on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Commenting on the introduction of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the BCC's Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said: