Latest Industry Updates – COVID-19
Find COVID-19 guidance at https://www.nfda-uk.co.uk/guidance
29 May 2020
Chancellor Provides Update on Job Retention Scheme
At today’s daily Downing Street press conference, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which will see the scheme close at the end of October, following confirmation of the scheme’s extension earlier this month.
The next steps for the scheme, as set out by the Chancellor this evening, are as follows:
- June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
- August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions.
- September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
- October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
Furthermore, the Chancellor announced that the ‘flexible furlough’ capability will be granted from 1 July, a month earlier than first indicated. This allows an employer to bring a furloughed employee back to work part-time, with the Government covering costs for the remaining days.
Finally, the Chancellor confirmed that the CJRS will close to new entrants on June 30.
Full announcement here
28 May 2020
UK Government Launches Test and Trace Service: Guidance Employers, Business
From today, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
The NHS test and trace service:
- provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
- gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
- alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus
There is specific guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, business, workers and the self-employed which can be found here.
27 May 2020
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate System Now Active
The Government has launched the online service that will be used to repay employers the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to current or former employees.
You can use the scheme as an employer if:
- you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
- you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:
- full-time employees
- part-time employees
- employees on agency contracts
- employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
- fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends)
The rebate service can be accessed here.
26 May 2020
Prime Minister confirms car showrooms can reopen from 1 June
The Prime Minister has confirmed car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, "as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers".
As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing, the Government said.
21 May 2020
Scottish Government Publishes Lockdown Exit Strategy
The Scottish Government has published its plan to ease lockdown in Scotland, following the publication of similar plans for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The plan outlines the five phases to reopen businesses and leisure activities in Scotland, beginning with ‘lockdown’, which is the current status of the country’s measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
Phase 1 could be activated as soon as 28 May, as part of the Government’s 3-week review cycle. This would allow some outdoor workplaces to open with physical distancing measures, as well as allowing workplaces in the next phase to begin preparing to open. Phase 2 would allow “previously closed small retail units” to open, whilst “larger retail” and indoor office spaces would be permitted to open as part of Phase 3 – Phase 4 would see all workplaces permitted to open in line with public health advice.
With publication of this plan, the Scottish Government has highlighted that it will be kept under constant review and that “the location of changes within the phases is liable to vary as the evidence develops”.
The NFDA will continue to engage with the Scottish Government to clarify the position for automotive retailers operating in Scotland.
The full plan can be found here
19 May 2020
Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme Boosted
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has been expanded, allowing applicants to now access loans of up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million – a £150 million increase on the total amount available at the time of the scheme’s launch.
The expanded loans will be available from 26 May.
Full announcement here
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch
A new online service will be launched on 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees, the government announced today (19 May 2020).
Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP and is payable if an employee is unable to work because they:
- have coronavirus; or
- are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or
- are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
Full announcement here
15 May 2020
Welsh Government Publishes Exit Strategy
Following the publication of lockdown exit strategies for England and Northern Ireland, the Welsh Government has published its plan for exiting lockdown in Wales.
The plan includes a traffic light system to represent broad phases, illustrating how Wales can begin lifting lockdown measures. The colours are red, amber, and green, with above red being the lockdown phase. The plan indicates that ‘non-essential retail’ would be permitted to begin opening as part of the ‘amber’ phase, with physical distancing measures in place.
The full plan can be found here
13 May 2020
Government Announces Trade Credit Insurance Guarantee
Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen today announced that the Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance.
This measure will ensure businesses and supply chains are better protected in the event a customer misses a payment deadline or defaults on payment.
The Government will work with businesses and the insurance industry on the full details of the scheme to ensure firms are supported and risk is appropriately shared between the Government and insurers.
The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the intent is for agreements to be in place with insurers by end of this month.
The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover CV-19 economic challenges, and will provisionally last until the end of the year. Further details will be announced in due course.
Full announcement here
NFDA confirms click and collect option for dealers
“Following updated Government guidance issued this morning, NFDA can confirm that although physical ‘car showrooms’ should remain closed to the public pending further developments, dealers are entitled to offer a ‘click and collect’ service at dealerships for vehicles purchased remotely”, said Sue Robinson Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK.
Provided dealers follow strict social distancing and hygiene protocols at their sites (and provided customers do not enter the actual ‘car showroom’ to organise/complete the collection), customers may visit dealership premises to collect purchased vehicles (as well as dropping off vehicles for repair, servicing etc. and collecting them post repair/service).
While it is up to each dealer to decide what collection (or delivery) format best suits their operations, NFDA would suggest that handover/paperwork is completed on the dealership forecourt / in the dealership parking area, using an appointment system with appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures in place (as explained in separate Government and NFDA/SMMT guidance).
The updated Government guidance can be accessed here (with the concession regarding ‘click and collect’ set out under the Retail section): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance. The NFDA guidance also follows helpful, informal engagement with Trading Standards
12 May 2020
Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which covers 80% of furloughed employee’s wage costs, has been extended until the end of October, the Chancellor confirmed today.
The scheme, which was due to expire at the end of June, will now be extended until the end of October, with the Government guaranteeing that the amount covered by the scheme will remain at 80%.
From July, businesses will be able to bring back furloughed employees part time, with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of furloughed staff.
The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.
Full details on the scheme’s extension will be set out before the end of May.
Full announcement here
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Government Guidance for Workplaces Published
The Government has published a series of guidelines for 8 workplace settings, to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The 8 settings covered by the guidelines include ‘shops and branches’, ‘offices’ and ‘vehicles’. Businesses may need to use more than one of these guides when deciding what they need to do to keep their site safe.
The workplace guidance documents can be found here
Northern Ireland Executive Publishes Lockdown Exit Plan
The Northern Ireland Executive has published its lockdown exit strategy, following the publication of guidance for England by the UK Government. Similar to the UK plan, the NI document outlines how different sectors of the economy can begin to reopen as part of a step-by-step process.
Under the plan, ‘non-food retail’ will be allowed to reopen as part of step 2, provided that social distancing, in-store person limits and other mitigating measures are in place as per a risk assessment. Some ‘large outdoor based retail’, such as garden centres will be allowed to open as part of step 1.
Full announcement here
11 May 2020
Government publishes further guidance
The Government has announced that opening of non-essential retail will be allowed “when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The intention is for this to happen in phases from 1 June; the Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.”
There remains uncertainty around what applies to automotive retailers.
NFDA is currently requesting further clarification from the Government. We expect sector-specific guidance to be published tomorrow, this is likely to provide us with a clearer picture of the next steps.
6 May 2020
One-Year MOT Exemption for Motorists in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced that a one-year MOT temporary exemption certificate (TEC) will be processed automatically from Monday 11 May.
Owners of all eligible cars, goods vehicles, trailers and motorcycles, will no longer have to book and pay for an MOT appointment in order to get a TEC. TECs will be applied to eligible vehicles for up to one year from the date the vehicle was due to be tested. Any appointments in the system will now be cancelled and refunds issued.
Vehicles due an MOT soon will also now have a TEC processed automatically. There is now no longer any need to book and pay for a test in order to get a TEC.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd highlighted that despite the temporary exemption, it remains “critically important” that vehicle owners take responsibility for the maintenance and condition of their vehicle, and that the police have a range of enforcement powers against owners of offending vehicles.
View the full announcement here
4 May 2020
Bounce Back Loan Scheme Launched Today
The ‘Bounce Back Loan’ scheme, which provides fast loans of up to £50,000 to SMEs, launched today through the British Business Bank.
A lender can provide a six-year term loan, from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover. The maximum loan amount is £50,000.
Lenders will provide loans with an interest rate of 2.5%, with the first year’s interest covered by the Treasury. There are no repayments for the first 12 months and early repayments are permitted.
For information on accessing the scheme click here
Top-up to local business grant funds scheme (2 May 2020)
A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously the outside scope of the business grant funds scheme.
This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The Government has asked local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.
However, local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.
See the full announcement here
1 May 2020
FCA publishes how firms should handle complaints during coronavirus
Today the FCA has published information clarifying how firms should handle complaints during the coronavirus crisis. You can find the full information here.
Firms should take all reasonable steps to ensure as much complaint handling as possible continues through staff working from home, where this can be done fairly and effectively.
We understand that firms’ capacity to handle complaints could be reduced as a result of coronavirus. We therefore expect firms to prioritise:
- paying promptly complainants who have been offered redress and accepted that offer
- the prompt and fair resolution of complaints from:
- sending timely holding responses to those complainants in 2. where their complaints cannot be resolved promptly
- consumers who are likely to be vulnerable to harm if their complaint is not resolved promptly and fairly, and
- micro-enterprises and small businesses who are likely to face serious financial difficulties if their complaint is not resolved promptly and fairly
If a firm cannot deliver these three priorities effectively, or sufficiently, through home working, then we consider it could be appropriate for the firm to maintain the minimal physical onsite presence needed to do so, provided that the site is configured for social distancing in line with Government guidelines.
29 April 2020
Update on unaccompanied test drives on trade plates during COVID-19
We are pleased to confirm that, following our discussions with the DVLA, the trade licensing policy has been reviewed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The DVLA has confirmed that test drives on trade plated vehicles may be carried out unaccompanied.
The NFDA had previously approached the DVLA for formal clarification on the issue of test drives carried out without a dealership staff member in accordance with COVID-19 social distancing measures.
The DVLA stipulates that trade plates are property of the Secretary of State and car dealerships should take all precautions to ensure that trade plates are not stolen by offering them to known and trusted customers, and, where this is not the case, dealers should obtain some form of security from the prospective customer.
We advise dealers to contact their insurance company and inform them of this revised DVLA policy and ensure that vehicles are still covered on the insurance policy during an unaccompanied test drive
28 April 2020
Further details on 'Bounce Back Loan' scheme
The Government has published further details about the recently announced ‘Bounce Back Loan’ scheme, which aims to provide fast-track finance to small and medium sized businesses.
Applications for the scheme open on 4 May 2020 – firms approved for funding will be able to access loans of between £2,000-£50,000, with no interest, fees or repayment for the first 12 months.
The scheme is covered by a 100% guarantee by HM Treasury, with funds available within days of application.
Firms that have already borrowed funds under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) may not apply for a Bounce Back loan. However, if the amount borrowed under CBILS is within the range covered by the Bounce Back scheme, businesses can ask their lender to transfer the loan into the Bounce Back scheme until 4 November 2020.
The NFDA will share more information on this scheme as it becomes available. For further details, visit the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan
27 April 2020
Chancellor announces ‘Bounce Back loan’ scheme
Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders, the Chancellor announced today.
The new Bounce Back Loans scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000, can be applied for through a short, standardised online application. The loan should reach businesses within days- providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.
The loans will be available from 09:00 on Monday 4 May.
View the full announcement here
New measures to protect companies from aggressive rent collection and closure
The Government has announced start dates for new measures to protect high street shops and other companies under strain, to protect them from aggressive rent collection and debt recovery tactics.
To stop these practices, the government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands (made between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020) and winding up petitions presented from Monday 27 April, through to 30 June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus.
Government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
View the full announcement here
24 April 2020
Update on pay for furloughed workers taking family related leave
Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate, the government announced today (24 April).
Full earnings will apply to Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Parental Bereavement Pay and Adoption Pay.
View the full announcement here
Government extends testing to great number of professions
At yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that more frontline workers and their families will now be eligible for testing.
Workers in eligible professions can either self-refer for testing or be referred by their employer.
Government guidelines on eligible workers includes ‘transport workers, including:
- those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response
- those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass’
For the full list of eligible professions, see the Government testing guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested#essential-workers
The NFDA will monitor this topic and provide further clarification when it arises.
The employer referral portal allows employers to refer essential workers who are self-isolating either because they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms, for testing. It is a secure portal for employers to use to upload the full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers.
If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.
In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email firstname.lastname@example.org with 2 email addresses that will primarily be used to load essential worker contact details.
Once employer details have been verified, 2 login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.
FCA confirms support for motor finance and high-cost credit customers
The FCA will be introducing the package of measures it outlined last week to support consumer credit customers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
The regulator outlines the following three areas of support for motor finance customers:
- Firms to provide a 3-month payment freeze to customers who are having temporary difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments due to coronavirus. If customers are experiencing temporary payment difficulties due to coronavirus and need use of the vehicle, firms should not take steps to end the agreement or repossess the vehicle.
- Firms should not alter Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) or Personal Contract Hire (PCH) agreements in a way that is unfair. For example, firms should not try to recalculate PCP balloon payments based on a temporary depreciation of car prices caused by the coronavirus situation. The FCA expect firms to act fairly where terms are adjusted.
- Where a customer wishes to keep their vehicle at the end of their PCP agreement, but does not have the cash to cover the balloon payment due to coronavirus-related payment difficulties, firms should work with the customer to find an appropriate solution. Given the increased potential for disparity between the balloon payment and the value of the vehicle in the current climate, firms should ensure that solutions do not lead to unfair outcomes. For example, refinancing the balloon payment might not be appropriate in the circumstances.
22 April 2020
FCA extends some regulatory returns up to 30 June
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has extended the submission deadlines for a number of regulatory returns. The extension applies for submissions that are due up to and including 30 June 2020.
For small or medium-size businesses (paying less than £10,000 in fees and levies in 2020/2021) the administrative fee for late returns has been waived until 30 June 2020 (this also applies to any returns not listed below).
Returns not included on the FCA’s extension list are not included and firms must submit their data in the usual timeframe.
For the full list of extended returns and the length of those extensions, see the full announcement: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/regulatory-reporting/changes-regulatory-reporting-30-june-2020
20 April 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up and running
The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) went live today. The system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within 6 working days of making an application. To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April. You should keep a note or print-out of your claim reference number as you won’t receive a confirmation SMS or email.
Service and Availability Issues
HMRC have also posted a service and availability updates page. If you are attempting to use the CJRS and are experiencing technical difficulties, check the service and availability page for further information on the issue.
HMRC service and availability issues: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-service-availability-and-issues/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-service-availability-and-issues
17 April 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) Extended to June 2020 – Opens Monday 20 April
The Chancellor has today announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which allows employers to furlough employees with Government grants to cover 80% of wage costs, has been extended until the end of June 2020.
Applications for the CJRS will open on Monday 20 April.
To prepare to make your claim you will need:
- a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'
- be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'
- the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
- if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.
You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims.
Full details of applying for CJRS: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Chancellor’s announcement on extending the CJRS: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-to-end-of-june
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme Launches Monday 20 April
Following the Chancellor’s announcement on 3 April, HM Treasury has confirmed that the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will launch on Monday 20 April.
All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of Government-backed finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance.
The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.
The launch of this scheme is in addition to the existing Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS), which is open only to businesses with a turnover of less than £45 million.
Full details of CLBILS available here
17 April 2020
FCA proposes measures for motor finance customers
The FCA has announced a number consumer measures for motor finance which include a 3-month payment freeze. The proposed package aims to directly support consumers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus.
The FCA expects firms to provide a 3-month payment freeze to customers who are having temporary difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments due to coronavirus. If customers are experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus, firms should not take steps to end the agreement or repossess the vehicle.
The FCA has also proposed that:
- Firms should not change customer contracts in a way that is unfair. For example, firms should not try to use temporary depreciation of car prices caused by the coronavirus situation to recalculate Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) balloon payments at the end of the term. We will expect firms to act fairly where terms are adjusted.
- Where a customer wishes to keep their vehicle at the end of their PCP agreement, but does not have the cash to cover the balloon payment due to coronavirus-related financial difficulties, firms should work with the customer to find an appropriate solution.
The full announcement can be found here.
15 April 2020
Furlough scheme cut-off date extended to 19 March
HMRC has today announced that the cut-off date for eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended, to 19 March 2020.
When the CJRS was first announced, individuals originally had to be employed on February 28 2020 to qualify for the scheme. However, following a review of the scheme’s delivery the Government has announced that the cut-off date will be extended to 19 March 2020.
Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.
The CJRS is due to be fully operational next week.
Full Government announcement here
8 April 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers
The Government has published guidance on some temporary flexibilities that are being introduced into the apprenticeship system in light of Coronavirus. The guidance issues information on:
- delivering apprenticeships flexibly to those working at home
- continuing training and end-point assessment for furloughed apprentices
- applying the policy on breaks in learning
- delays to end-point assessment (EPA)
- alternative arrangements for EPA and external quality assurance
Full guidance available here.
3 April 2020
Update – Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This morning, the Chancellor announced a number of changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), that will broaden the range of businesses that will be eligible for Government backed loans.
Under new measures announced by the Chancellor, CBILS will:
- End the requirement for lenders to request personal guarantees on loans under £250,000
- Extend so that all small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible.
- Make operational changes to speed up lending approvals.
Firms with Turnover Over £45 Million
The Chancellor also announced that Government is making provisions for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million to be able to access loans of up to £25 million. A Government guarantee of 80% will be provided to facilitate lending, with loans backed by a guarantee under CBILS are to “be offered at commercial rates of interest”.
Further details will be announced later in the month.
Read the Chancellor's announcement here
1 April 2020
Reminder: Businesses and Venues to Close
To reduce social contact, the Government recently issued guidance listing the types of businesses and venues which must now close, with exceptions that are permitted to remain open.
As of 1 April 2020, the guidance lists the following among the exceptions:
- “Petrol stations”
- “Vehicle rental services”
- “Car garages and MOT services”
We are aware of instances where local Environmental Health officers have queried a businesses’ decision to remain open, despite being listed as a premise which may do so.
If you choose to continue operating in the ensuing period, we advise you to consult the Government guidance to ensure your activities are synonymous with those listed in the ‘exceptions’ column of the guidance.
The guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The NFDA will update members immediately if any changes are made to Government guidance relevant to our sector.
30 March 2020
Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue
Under the plans, the UK’s Insolvency Framework will add new restructuring tools:
- A moratorium for companies giving them space from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure;
- Protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and;
- A new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan
The proposals will also include safeguards for creditors and suppliers to ensure they are paid, while existing laws against fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will remain in place to deter against ‘reckless misuse’ of the new measures.
Wrongful trading provisions
The Government will also temporarily suspend the wrongful trading provisions to give company directors greater confidence to use their best endeavours to continue to trade during this pandemic emergency, without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency.
Relaxing rules on AGMs
The Business Secretary also announced today that the government will introduce legislation to ensure those companies required by law to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) will be able to do so safely, consistent with the restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced to address the spread of coronavirus.
Companies will temporarily be extended greater flexibilities, including holding AGMs online or postponing the meetings.
See the full announcement:
Rates and allowances: HMRC interest rates for late and early payments
HMRC has published guidance on the latest interest rates for late and early payments, after the Bank of England base rate was recently revised.
See the guidance note with the new rates here
27 March 2020
Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19
Find updated information here .
Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
HMRC has published further information on the VAT deferment scheme. The scheme allows businesses to defer VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.
If businesses choose to defer, they do not need to tell HMRC – although they will need to submit VAT returns on time.
If you choose to defer your VAT payment as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), you must pay the VAT due on or before 31 March 2021.
Find more information here
25 March 2020
DVSA Announces MOT Exemption
Following the Transport Secretary’s announcement this morning (25 March 2020) that vehicle owners will be exempt from MOTs for 6 months, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has outlined the details of the exemption.
From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months. Vehicle owners do not need to do anything to extend their vehicle’s MOT expiry date if it’s on or after 30 March 2020. However, the DVSA highlights that vehicles must nonetheless be ‘safe to drive’ and in a roadworthy condition. Garages and repair shops may remain open for essential repair work.
MOTs Due Before 29 March
If a vehicle’s MOT runs out while the owner is staying at home because they or someone they live with has symptoms of coronavirus (self-isolation), they should book an MOT test after their period of self-isolation is over.
The DVSA warns that motorists who are extremely vulnerable to the Coronavirus should not take their vehicle for an MOT. The police and insurers are working to find solutions which ensure people are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT.
The DVSA advises that “you should register your vehicle as off the road (SORN) if both:
- your MOT and vehicle tax are both due to run out
- you’re not able to get your vehicle tested because you’re self-isolating”
When no longer self-isolating, the driver should then tax their vehicle once it has passed its MOT.
“The temporary MoT exemption is positive as it will allow vital services to continue and aftersales workshops to prioritise essential repair works on critical vehicles”, said Sue Robinson, Director of the NFDA.
On Sunday 22 March, the NFDA wrote to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP asking for a three-month MoT moratorium. Today, the Government has communicated that vehicle owners will be granted MoT exemption “in battle against coronavirus”.
Limiting the spread of coronavirus at your centre
- follow social distancing advice and keep at least 2 metres between customers and members of staff at all times
- remind employees and customers to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal
- frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
- use seat covers and new disposable gloves for every test
You can download posters, leaflets and other materials to display at your MOT centre.
Please see the full DVSA guidance:
24 March 2020
Further Businesses and Premises to Close
Following to the Prime Minister’s address to the nation last night, the Government has today (24.03.2020) published a document detailing the closure of all businesses that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises.
Included on this list are ‘car showrooms’ and ‘auction houses’, which must now close, as well as workplace canteens.
However, ‘garages’ and ‘repair shops’ are listed as premises which are permitted to remain open, along with ‘petrol stations’, ‘car rentals’, and essential service providers in other sectors
Premises which remain open must:
- Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and
- Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
- Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open
See the full guidance for premises to close here
20 March 2020
Government guidance on ‘key workers’
Below is an extract from the Gov.UK list of key workers who may still send their children to school if needs be, allowing them to continue working during school closures in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.”
The Government document issued on 19 March is titled ‘Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining education provision’ and is intended for schools to determine how ‘key workers’ should be classified for the purposes of allowing their children to remain in school.
The full document can be found here: Full Document
20 March 2020
UK interest rates slashed again
The Bank of England has cut interest rates again in an emergency move as it tries to support the UK economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the second cut in interest rates in just over a week, bringing them down to 0.1% from 0.25%.
Interest rates are now at the lowest ever in the Bank's 325-year history.The Bank said it would also increase its holdings of UK government and corporate bonds by £200bn with an effort to lower the cost of borrowing.
Source BBC news
17 March 2020
NFDA CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT FRANCHISED DEALERS AND AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL AFTERMARKET
On 17 March 2020, NFDA wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP and Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy, to urge the Government to support franchised retailers during the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
NFDA is concerned that the Government is only targeting support at one group of businesses, small to medium enterprises (SMEs). NFDA outlined that franchised vehicle retailers pay very high levels of business rates and operate on much tighter margins than most SMEs, with an inherent high fixed costs exposure including rent, business rates, VAT and wages.
As a result, NFDA recommends that:
- Temporary business rates relief be extended to all retail businesses, regardless of their rate bill
- The British Business Bank be authorised to extend the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to any retail business, regardless of size
- Statutory Sick Pay (due to Coronavirus) relief should be provided for the first two weeks to all retail businesses, regardless of size.
Further to its letter to the Chancellor, the NFDA has also written to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, to ask for assurances that service and repair workshops in franchised dealerships will not be closed as part of any anticipated nationwide ‘lockdowns’ or temporary closures of UK shops.