Plunkett adviser and More Than A Pub Steering Group Member David Hollings shares his experiences and advice on business support from the government for dealing with Covid-19. 

“The pub still has costs but little or no income to cover these”

I am chair of The Dog Inn at Belthorn, a directly managed community owned pub. Like everyone else in the community owned pubs movement we are having to find our way through consequences of having to close our pub.

This is an incredibly difficult time for community owned pubs who have had to close the main part of the business or all their business. The pub still has costs but little or no income to cover these. The government has announced a range of help, the main parts are summarised below.

Please note that the government assistance is organised differently in Scotland and Wales. This blog focuses on England, but weblinks to the relevant Scottish and Welsh government sites and the Northern Ireland Executive are given at the end.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England are those receiving the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000. Such businesses will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property. Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

The person or organisation who according to the billing authority’s records was the ratepayer for the property on the 11 March 2020 will receive the funding. The schemes will be delivered by the Local Authority to which you normally pay your business rates – if you are eligible, your Local Authority should already have contacted you to arrange payment.

Some local authorities have been quicker than others. The Dog Inn has already received it’s £10k grant but community owned pubs in other areas are still waiting. But this means we are confident we can cover the running costs of a closed pub until July.

Furloughed Employees

If you cannot sustain some or all of your staff because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

You must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online – this can take up to 10 days
  • a UK bank account

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020. Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed and claimed for in accordance with this scheme.

Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. I can advice on how to calculate wages for staff on zero hours contracts.

Furlough payments are not expected to come through until May.

At The Dog Inn we decided to furlough our staff on their full wage (not 80%) based on their average hours per week in February as our staff do not necessarily work consistent shifts.

VAT Deferral

If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to:

  • defer the payment until a later date
  • pay the VAT due as normal

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred as a result of the Chancellor’s announcement.

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.You do not need to tell HMRC that you are deferring your VAT payment.

If you cannot pay other taxes, such as Corporation Tax, because of coronavirus (COVID-19) you may be able to delay (defer) some tax payments without paying a penalty.

Business Rate Relief

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

You’re eligible if your property is a:

  • shop
  • restaurant, café, bar or pub
  • cinema or live music venue
  • assembly or leisure property – for example, a sports club, a gym or a spa
  • hospitality property – for example, a hotel, a guest house or self-catering accommodation

You do not need to take any action. Your local council will apply the discount automatically.

You can estimate the business rate relief using this business rates calculator.

The Latest information for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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