Coronavirus General FAQs

Please read these FAQs in conjunction with the official guidance from the UK government. These will be amended as and when we receive updated information. The material is provided only as a guide and is not legal advice. You are strongly advised to seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner regarding your individual circumstances.

If you have any queries please contact:

UK Chambers of CommerceGlobal British Chambers of Commerce

How will the value of the pound change as we ease out of lockdown?

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Businesses of all sizes, sectors and across every community, region and nation have been impacted by Coronavirus. Its effect on the UK economy is also huge. Some industries have been hit harder than others, such as retailers, hospitality, travel and manufacturing. But there have also been bright spots, such as pharmaceuticals, IT, and supermarkets of course. Bright spots are not just across sectors, but have also been seen in currency markets.

Looking at sterling, it fell sharply as the UK started to go into lockdown, and all eyes are on the pound as we ease out of it. The UK had another credit rating downgrade which would normally affect sterling negatively, but this time the affect has been subdued as rates have come down globally and there has been monetary expansion everywhere on a massive scale. The US has seen huge quantitative easing, and even Japan announced unlimited support. Comparing the UK to others, we are in a position where interest rates seem actually bullish, which is why sterling has been relatively steady. Despite everything, to some there is there a remarkable view that the UK has become a safe haven.

For more information on the lockdown, and how we restart and recover, listen to moneycorp's webinar in partnership with BCC, to hear the views of Vicky Pryce, a renowned Economist and Business Consultant and BCC Director General, Adam Marshall, as they discuss what needs to be addressed in order to protect businesses and jobs. Have a listen to the webinar and read the 10 key talking points.

The ChamberFX service for the British Chamber of Commerce is provided by moneycorp. For more information on how this bespoke service helps members, please contact [email protected] or 02038 230 526.

My business can support the manufacture of testing capacity and testing kits - who do I contact?

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In the first instance you should take a look at the specification criteria.

If you think you meet this specification, see the guidance on helping the government increase testing capacity and fill in the relevant form or register your capacity here.

If you have enquiries about this process, please contact 0800 915 9965 or [email protected]

My business can help provide PPE for the NHS – who do I contact?

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In the first instance, contact your local Chamber as they can put you in touch with local NHS trusts who need the equipment. You can also fill in this form.

A new hub containing guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection prevention and control (IPC) is now available, containing information for both health and social care settings and other workers and sectors.

My business can support the production of ventilators - who do I contact?

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If you are able to support the production of ventilators, please click the link to submit your details, or contact [email protected]

Critical Workers and School Closures FAQS

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The Government has announced the closure of schools, colleges and nurseries until further notice. Schools will provide care for the children of workers that the Government has listed as critical to the response to COVID 19.

Please read in conjunction with:

BCC has sought clarification from Ministers on the status of workers who provide time-critical services not directly related to the response to COVID 19 and will update these FAQs as further information is obtained.

Critical Workers and School Closures FAQS

Can I postpone the AGM?

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The Business Secretary Alok Sharma has confirmed that the government will put in place measures to ensure that companies required to hold annual general meetings can do so flexibly in a manner which is compatible with the best public health guidance. This might include postponing or holding the AGM online or by phone using only proxy voting.

Does my business still need to pay tax as usual?

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See our Coronavirus Hub FAQ page on UK Government Support Measures for detailed information.

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?

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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?

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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?

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See our Coronavirus Hub FAQ page on UK Government Support Measures for detailed information.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.

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

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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?

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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?

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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.

How will this period impact my staff’s annual leave allowances at the end of the year?

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BEIS have announced that rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19(27/03). Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.

How to I carry out a Right to Rent and Right to Work check during the coronavirus outbreak?

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Since 30 March 2020, Right to Work checks have been temporarily adjusted to make it easier for employers to carry them out during the coronavirus outbreak.

Until further notice, employers do not need to see original documents and can complete Right to Work checks over video calls.

Prospective workers are now able to submit scanned documents, rather than originals, to show they have the right to work. Checks continue to be necessary and it is an offence to knowingly employ or let property to anyone who does not have legal immigration status in the UK.

If prospective or existing employees cannot provide any of the accepted documents, employers should use the Employer Checking Service.

Once the temporary changes end, employers will be asked to carry out prescribed checks on existing employees who started work during the pandemic.

Full guidance on what it means for employers can be found on GOV.UK and see further guidance from the Home Office.

Where do I find more information on Coronavirus and Pensions?

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The Pensions Regulator has issued guidance to provide support for those facing difficult decisions and circumstances.

BCC responds to enhanced Coronavirus support for businesses

BCC Director General Adam Marshall comments on the Chancellor’s announcement of further support for businesses and jobs as Coronavirus restrictions increase.

BCC responds to 'time is running out’ campaign

BCC Director General Adam Marshall responds to the launch of the government’s ‘time is running out’ campaign, urging businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period.

Chambers of Commerce challenge PM to meet five business tests for Covid restrictions

In a letter to the Prime Minister, BCC Director General Adam Marshall, President Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith and Chamber CEOs from across the United Kingdom set five business tests that must be met to limit the impact of new restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.

BCC and Drax: Breaking down climate barriers for businesses

As part of the Race to Zero, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in collaboration with energy company Drax Group, is calling on the government to use the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement to work in partnership with businesses to achieve the UK’s climate goals, as many firms continue to manage the impact of Coronavirus.