The Chancellor yesterday announced the Government’s Winter Economy Plan. As well as introducing the Job Support Scheme (see our article about JSS here), there were further key changes to the financial support schemes offered to businesses affected by COVID-19. These both follow the change made last Friday, which made businesses assisting the NHS’ track and trace programme a legal requirement. Some of the key points brought in by these changes are below:
Deferral and extension of Government COVID-19 Loan Repayments
The Chancellor has announced the new “Pay as You Grow” flexible repayment system. This system is designed to give existing COVID-related loan schemes more flexibility, and includes the following measures:
- The Government will give all businesses that borrowed under the Bounce Back Loans (“BBL”) the option to extend the term of their loan from 6 to 10 years, which will reduce their monthly repayments accordingly;
- Borrowers under the BBL scheme will also have the option of interest only payment periods of up to 6 months (an option each borrower will be able to use up to three times), as well as a one-time payment holiday of up to six months (although this will only be available once the borrower has made six repayments);
- Lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (“CBIL”) may extend loan terms from 6 to 10 years. This will be at the discretion of the lender who will make this decision on a case-by-case basis, and loans may only be extended where the provision of extra time, and therefore lower repayments, will help the business repay their loan; and
- The deadlines to apply for the CBIL, BBL, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Future Fund have all been extended until 30 November 2020.
- VAT will remain at 5% for those in the tourism and hospitality sector until March 31st 2021;
- Businesses that deferred their VAT bills can utilise the “New Payment Scheme”, making their deferred bill payable over 11 interest-free instalments instead of as a lump sum in March 2021;
- Self-assessed taxpayers will also be able to benefit from a 12-month extension on the “Time to Pay” service, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, which were due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
Track and Trace now mandatory for some businesses
As of 18 September 2020, it is now a legal requirement that businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors, or those who provide close contact services (for example, hairdressers):
- Ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors (being no more than 6 people) to provide their name and contact details;
- Keep a record of all staff on their premises, their working hours and their contact details;
- Keep records of visitors/customers and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS track and trace if requested;
- From 24 September, display an official NHS QR code so customers and visitors can check in with the NHS contact tracing app (and, where visitors/customers do so, premises need not physically take details); and
- Refuse entry to anyone who will not provide their details or scan the QR code.
These requirements had previously been encouraged, but are now mandatory for certain businesses. Please see our previous articles on how businesses collect data for the purposes of track and trace. Our initial article is available here, and a further update here. Full Government guidance can be found here.
Should businesses need any advice or assistance in complying with the new requirements, please contact our Corporate and Data Protection Teams at Leathes Prior on 01603 610911 or by email.
Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Specific legal and tax advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.