Advice and help for businesses


Business Rates Relief

All local businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in 2020-21.

There will be no need for businesses to apply for the relief.

We have issued amended Business Rates bills to those businesses that will qualify for 100% Business Rate Retail Relief. If you have not received an amended bill and you think you qualify, please contact us If you have not received anything by 1 April.

Business Grants

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value over £15,000 and under £51,000 will also receive a cash grant of £25,000.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable of £15,000 or under will receive a cash payment of £10,000

All businesses in receipt of small business rates relief and rural rate relief – regardless of sector – will be eligible for a cash payment of £10,000.

There will be no need for businesses to apply for the grant.

Currently, we are starting to receive applications for the business grants and we are working on processing them.

We have issued a letter to all businesses who qualify for the grants with instructions on what you need to do to receive the grant. If you have not received a letter by 5 April please email us.

Business advice

The Government are helping businesses and their employees during this difficult time.

They'll can give you financial help and support, general advice and more.

You can find out more information on their website.

Change of use to takeaway - Pubs and restaurants

Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways.

The government will set out measures so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways to serve people having to stay at home.

Relaxation of planning measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period. Currently, planning permission is required for businesses to carry out this change.

If you are intending on exercising your temporary permitted rights as set out by Official legislation to change the use of a building and any land within its curtilage from:

  1. a use falling within:
    • (i) Class A3 (restaurants and cafes) or
    • (ii) Class A4 (drinking establishments)
  2. a mixed use for any purpose within Class A3 and A4 or
  3. a use as a drinking establishment with expanded food provision

to a use, at any time during the period 24 March 2020 and ending on 23 March 2021 for the provision of a hot food takeaway then you need to do the following:

However the new temporary permitted development rights only apply where conditions have not been imposed removing the right to use the premises as a take-away.

If you are uncertain of whether rights have been removed to use the premises as a take-away please contact us.

  1. notify in writing by email if the building and any land within its immediate grounds is being used or will be used, for the provision of takeaway food at any time during the period set out above.
  2. Provide the address, business premises number and post code to identify the building/immediate land that is being used.

What we will do:

  1. We will acknowledge receipt of your notification (by email)
  2. Update the electronic planning record to reflect the temporary use.

Advice on food safety

Food businesses and home catering

If you’re a pub, restaurant, café or leisure venue that provides food, you may be thinking about delivering the food you make to your local community.

Food businesses must be registered as a food business with us first to be able to sell or supply food. If you are changing what you do, such as undertaking home deliveries and or different foods which could be ready to eat ‘high risk’ foods you must tell us.

As well as your normal safe control measures for preparing food safety, consider the following:

Temperature Control

Keep high risk foods out of the ‘temperature danger zone’.

Cold food must be at or below 8oC.

Hot food should be cooked to 75oC and if not served immediately, held hot at or above 63oC until served or prepared for delivery.

Check the cold food (fridge/ freezer) and hot food temperatures regularly with a clean thermometer.

Food Wrapping

All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures they cannot be contaminated.

Keep foods covered by using food grade wrapping, for example: lidded containers, cling film, foil tightly wrapped around the food.

Separate certain foods

Keep any raw food (such as raw meat, fish, unwashed vegetables and fruit) segregated from ready to eat foods – storing them and delivering them in separate containers.

Keep any food prepared for a customer with an allergy separate from any other foods, so that there is no risk of cross-contamination.

Allergens

Allergen information must be provided before the food is purchased in writing or verbally over the telephone. It must also be available in a written format when the food is delivered, for example, with a label.

Further information on allergen management can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

Contact free service and delivery

Limiting customer contact when serving or delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy.

Ensure you use social distancing (2 metres between people).

Where you are handed goods, money etc. wash your hands frequently – if you cannot do so, use disposable gloves and or alcohol based hand sanitiser.

Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.

Staff should wash their hands thoroughly in between serving each customer, for at least 20 seconds. Delivery drivers should use hand sanitiser or disposable gloves and wash their hands thoroughly on return to the business.

Takeaway counters

Set up an area for customers to stand, ensuring they are distanced from staff and other customers.

Home deliveries

Ensure you have a system in place to ascertain whether customers are self-isolating, so that staff can be aware of this and appropriate precautions can be taken. For example, leaving deliveries at the customers doorstep, rather than handing it over to them, then knocking on the door /phoning the customer to alert them, stepping back and waiting nearby for your customer to collect the food.

Food deliveries

Vehicles or containers

Food delivery vehicles e.g. cars, cycles, must be in good condition and clean.

Boxes/ trays used to store packaged food containers should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, ideally with a sanitiser or disinfectant (tested to BS EN 1276/ BS EN 13697) adhering to the ‘contact’ time specified on the label, using a single use cloth or paper towel.

Keeping food hot or cold whilst delivering

Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported.

Ideally pack foods in an insulated box or cool bag with cool pack(s).

Hot food must be kept as hot as possible and transporting in an insulated box will help. It’s recommended you keep delivery distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes and no longer than 2 hours.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided advice for selling food online, for takeaway or delivery.

Staff Hygiene and Infection Control

You and your staff must practice high levels of personal hygiene at all times.

The food business must ensure food handlers (including delivery drivers) are fit for work.

Staff must be provided with clear instructions about infection control and any staff likely to come into contact with food must report any illness or symptoms to the food business operator immediately.

The Government have issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses. You can find our more on GOV.UK.

Email us if you're changing what you do.

Help for self-employed people

What are the key measures to note for the self-employed?

Universal Credit

The minimum income threshold for Universal Credit will be temporarily removed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, providing compensation for any income losses.

Universal Credit will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, with no need to attend a job centre.

At present, single claimants under the age of 25 are eligible for a monthly entitlement of £251.77, while those aged 25 and over can claim £317.82.

You can apply online

You can find details of your nearest Job Centre Plus here or contact the Maidstone office on 0800 169 0190.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

ESA will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth day. At present, single claimants under the age of 25 can claim up to £57.90 per month, while those aged 25 and over can receive up to £73.10

HMRC 'Time to Pay'

HMRC has launched a helpline for businesses and the self-employed concerned about paying tax due to COVID-19. Businesses may be eligible to receive financial support, on a case-by-case basis, through the 'Time to Pay' support scheme. HMRC's dedicated helpline number is 0800 0159 559.

HMRC will also waive penalties related to late payments and interest in cases where a business has administrative problems in contacting them or paying taxes as a result of COVID-19.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme administered by the British Business Bank, which supports businesses in accessing bank loans (worth up to £1.2 million) and overdrafts - approach one of the 40+ accredited lenders with a borrowing proposal.

IR35

A delay to proposed IR35 tax reforms - measures aimed at clamping down on tax avoidance by targeting contractors who provide the same services as employees (but which has affected freelancers more widely) - will now be delayed by one year, to April 2021.

What key measures do not apply to the self-employed? 

Statutory sick pay is not applicable for the self-employed, as this is money paid by employers. The above-mentioned adjustments around Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance are designed to ease the burden on the self-employed.

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