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I hope life is being kind to you all, and you are managing to keep your sanity as the strange times continue!

I am just pulling together a list of points, that have surfaced over the last few days as the promises made by way of support, are firmed up with some online guidance to answer some of our questions.  It has to be said that the guidance is still vague, and there are a few scenarios that aren't covered, but we hope that as the days and weeks pass, more information will come to light as the Government respond to some of the questions that remain unanswered.


Grants and Self Employed Income Support Grant

  • We told you last week about the £10,000 or £25,000 grants available to those who have a business premises and this is also available to self catering accommodation (that has been available to let for 140 days or more per year).
  • We wanted to clarify, that anyone eligible for the self employed income support grant (80% of your Net monthly profits, based on an average of the last three years), will not be paid out from HMRC until June.  You are able to claim Universal Credit in the meantime, this will not impact you being able to qualify for this.  You are also allowed to continue working in a self employed capacity or otherwise.  Continuing to work may affect your ability to claim Universal Credit though.

Who can actually work?

The streets aren't exactly deserted, but there is a distinct change in the behaviour of most people right now.  Rush hour has moved from City Centre streets to Supermarkets queues and there is a feeling of anxiety in the air.  But there are definitely going to be winners in this situation, for instance the stats show that UK Grocery sales for week ending 14th March were increased by 22% in the same week last year.  An increase of £467 million in spending in comparison to 2019 figures.

The guidance specifically states that the following businesses are allowed to remain open;
  • Restaurants, Pubs, Bars/Cafes - Can continue to provide a collection or delivery service, closed to the public, with exception to pre-approved collections.
  • Supermarket and Food Shops
  • All medical services, doctors, dentists, pharmacies/chemists.
  • Petrol stations
  • Bicycle shops
  • Hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire
  • Veterinary surgeries and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Corner shops and newsagents
  • Off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Post offices
  • Vehicle rental services
  • Car garages and MOT services
  • Car parks
  • High street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points where they are on the premises of any of the above businesses
Although not all services above have chosen to stay open, they are allowed and after the initial 3 week period has passed it may be that we see more of an increase in some of the above trades/services, re-opening in some capacity to be able to continue providing a limited service.

* Tradesmen can continue to carry out work in people's homes, so long as the tradesman is not working within 2 metres of another person, takes all precautions and has no symptoms/not came into contact with anyone with symptoms in the last 14 days.  No work should be carried out in any household that is self isolating, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the household, ie. Emergency plumbing, Gas Leak, etc.

Nicola Sturgeon made specific reference to Gardeners and Window Cleaners, saying; 

"If they can go about their business safely this can be good for the community and we would encourage them to do so."

I would think it would be fair to extend this to many small businesses, who will be able to continue working safely, on their own, without posing a risk to themselves or others, and still bringing in some sort of income.

Don't forget the National Minimum Wage increase on the 1st April 2020 (tomorrow!) this has NOT been delayed due to the current situation.

Year 25 and over| 21 to 24| 18 to 20| Under 18| Apprentice
April 2019 (current rate) £8.21 £7.70 £6.15 £4.35 £3.90
April 2020 £8.72 £8.20 £6.45 £4.55 £4.15

Advice for Landlords

We have had reports that some commercial lenders have refused the 3 month mortgage break due to the mortgage falling under a commercial lending basis, however as per the guidance, there is nothing that excludes you from requesting this.  Each lender will take a different approach to their lending policy and enforcing this.

The guidance states that NO landlord will be able to evict a tenant due to any hardship created by the Corona Virus at this current time, and the eviction process has been extended in order to deter this type of response to unpaid or late rent, etc.

Whether you allow your tenant a rent break through this period, will very much depend on your personal circumstances.  You do not have to offer this, and your regardless of whether you not you are financially stable enough to offer your tenant a rent break, this rent will still remain due and payable at an agreed later date.  You would be encouraged to pass on any mortgage break you get from your lender to your tenant.

You should not carry out tenant inspections or visits throughout this time, unless it is to respond to any urgent repairs which could pose a safety concern.


About the author

Emma Armstrong

Emma Armstrong

Emma has worked in finance for over 15 years, becoming a self-employed Bookkeeper 11 years ago, and training to become a Certified Accountant before launching B-Able in 2012.

Emma is dedicated to providing her clients with reliable business support.