Month: March 2020

Tuesday 31.03.20 Coronavirus Up-date for Neath Businesses

Coronavirus Up-date for Neath Businesses

The Welsh Government has announced a further package of support for Welsh Businesses. Yesterday’s announcement states that businesses will also be able to benefit from a £400m emergency pot providing:

  • Grants of £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people.
  • Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees.
  • Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales.

The Economic Resilience Fund will support businesses forced to temporarily cease trading – to go into “hibernation” – or which need cash-flow support to adapt to a remote way of working.

Qualifying businesses will be able to apply by mid-April.

Details of the application process and eligibility are being finalised and will be published shortly, so please keep an eye on the Neath Inspired Facebook page or our website:

This funding will be provided by the Welsh Government and is exclusive to Wales it is in addition to the previously announced £1.4 billion supporting businesses dealing with the coronavirus impact, which includes rate relief schemes and business grants [See our previous Facebook posts].



As you have previously been advised the WG will cover up to 80% of employees’ wages for employees that would otherwise be laid off, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month per employee as a grant. This wage support will last for at least 3 months. This can be backdated and apply to employees who were on the payroll as of 28th February, even if they have since been let go
Employers need to designate affected employees as “furloughed workers”. You must then notify your employees of this change [this change remains subject to existing employment law].
Also, employers need to make sure that the details of the employees that have been “furloughed” is submitted to HMRC, either direct to HMRC by you, on their new online portal [when it is launched] or via your accountant or third party book-keeper who deals with payroll on your behalf. It will be important to notify HMRC as soon as their portal is up and running to avoid delays which are expected anyway.
Regarding self-employed people, which many of you are, we await new information from the Government to remedy the unfairness that as an employer your staff will be guaranteed 80% of their earnings but you as employers are not. We suggest that you lobby the Welsh Government to bring this forward ASAP to get rid of the uncertainty that this lack of information brings.
In order to mitigate the financial strains on your business and if you pay rent, you are advised to contact your landlords and ask for a “Rent Holiday” or at least that rent is deferred to a later date when you reopen and cash flow is restored.

12.30pm Monday 23.03.20 Coronavirus: The Latest from the Welsh Government

Business rate relief

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses

You will get one-year business rates relief in 2020 to 2021. This means that you will not have to pay any business rates during this time.

Q.How do I apply for this rate relief?

A.You do not need to do anything. The rate relief will be administered through the business rates system. Your local authority will contact you.



Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £12,001 and £51,000

You will get a grant of £25,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less

All businesses that are eligible for Small Business Rates Relief will get a grant of £10,000.

Q. How do I apply for a grant?

A. You do not need to do anything to apply for the grant. This will be administered through the business rates system. You do not need to contact your local authority. They will contact you.

New small business grant

Q. What is this grant?

A. New Businesses will be able to apply for a new business grant.  Details about how to apply will be available shortly.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The UK government has set up a new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Small and medium sized (SMEs) businesses will be able to apply for bank loans and overdrafts.

The UK government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The UK government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.

Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as UK government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

Q. How do I apply for a loan?

A. Further details, including on the lenders providing access to this scheme will be announced in the coming days, and the scheme will be available from early week commencing 23 March 2020.


Additional support

Get help and support for your business on Business Wales, or phone 03000 6 03000.

Get grants, loans and investment for your business on Development Bank of Wales, or phone 0800 587 4140.

Coronavirus: Questions and Answers for Employers

Coronavirus: Questions and Answers for Employers [Information from ACAS]

Q. I have an employee who doesn’t want to come to work because of the risk of contracting Coronavirus. What should I do?

A. Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus. This could particularly be the case for those who are at higher risk.

As an employer you should listen to any concerns staff may have and should take steps to protect everyone.

If an employee still does not want to come in, they may be able to arrange with you to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. You do not have to agree to this.

If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, you may have to resort to disciplinary action, however, given this crisis is unprecedented this should be a last resort.

[More Information from ACAS @ ]


Q What if I feel I need to close my shop due to the lack of trade following Government recommendations that people should avoid unnecessary social contact?

 A. If you need to close your shop temporarily, you should plan your actions carefully.

The Coronavirus outbreak has created a situation that is difficult for both you as an employer and your staff who will be facing difficult issues. It’s a good idea to have open and transparent discussions with them making sure the pressure that your business faces is understood and that you are determined to do what it takes to survive the crisis and still be trading when the recovery comes.

Lay-offs and short-time working:

You may have to ask staff to reduce their contracted hours.

If you think you will need to do this, it’s important to talk with them as early as possible before closure and to keep in touch with them during the closed.

Unless it says in the employees Contract of Employment or is agreed otherwise, employers need to pay their staff during this time. We are awaiting a Government response to this as to whether or not the £10k grant promised by the Welsh Government should be used to pay employees.

Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a ‘statutory guarantee payment’ of up to £29 a day from you.

This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any period of 3 months. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, employees might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.

[More information from ACAS ]

[Your nearest Job Centre Plus ]

Using Holiday Entitlement

You have the right to tell staff when to take holiday if you need to. For example, you can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.

If you do decide to do this, you must tell your staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.

For example, if you want to close for 5 days, you should tell everyone at least 10 days before.

This could affect holidays staff have already booked or planned. You should explain clearly why you need to close and try to resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans.

 Q. What should I do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone?

 A. Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency.

A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but you might offer pay depending on the employee’s contract or workplace policy.

The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.

If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum for this time from day one. They will also need to follow self-isolation guidance on GOV.UK.


Free Employers Advice from ACAS – Link:






Latest Coronavirus Advice For Neath Businesses – 12.30pm 18th March 2020


Support for Businesses in Neath 

Coronavirus advice – Business Wales – Jeremy Miles – Neath Inspired

Any business affected should as a first port of call, contact the Business Wales telephone helpline on 03000 603000.  They can help with practical advice on coronavirus related support, whether provided by the Welsh Government, the UK Government or elsewhere. If you have any difficulties getting the support and signposting you need, please get back in touch with my office.

Grants £100m will be available for a new Welsh Government grant scheme for small businesses. Further details on this new grant scheme will be confirmed as soon as possible and we will circulate details.

Development Bank of Wales This has equity and loan funding it can make available immediately to otherwise healthy small businesses to them through the cash flow and other challenges they may face in next, difficult, few weeks and months.  Please contact: 0800 587 4140

The Welsh Government has announced that all businesses supported by Development Bank of Wales will give a three-month capital repayment holiday.

Other measures are being considered and we will circulate further information as soon as possible.

Business Rates The Welsh Government has announced that all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill in 2020-2021. The Welsh Government is allocating every penny of the funding it will be receiving as a consequence of the schemes the UK Government announced in England last week, to support businesses in Wales.

Statutory sick pay The UK Government is bringing forward legislation to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim statutory sick pay paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This will be available to businesses in Wales and the Welsh Government is now working on supporting employers in Wales to make sure they have the right mechanisms in place to access this.  The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19 • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020 • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19 • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force Please call 0800 0159 559 for further information.

Business Loans The UK Government announced a temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme through the British Business Bank. This will be available to businesses in Wales via high street banks and the Development Bank for Wales and it will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.  The UK Government currently say this will take a few weeks to roll out. As soon as information on roll-out is available, we will circulate it.

Lenders will be provided with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. Businesses and banks will not be charged for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value.

HMRC – Time to Pay  A Time to Pay scheme is also available whereby all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. This is also available to businesses in Wales.  These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.   Self-employed and Freelancers The UK Government has delayed tax reforms known as IR35 for a year, given coronavirus, an important boost for freelancers. This complex piece of counter-tax avoidance law, was intended to be widened to the private sector from April this year, with the aim of targeting those who work as an employee but under their own private company in order to reduce their tax bills. It has however received immense criticism as an attack on thousands of people who need the flexibility of contract work.  The minimum income floor in Universal Credit will be temporarily relaxed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will be compensated for losses in income



Welsh Government Announces Support for Businesses Hit by the Coronavirus

Emergency support for businesses hit by Coronavirus

The Welsh Government is today announcing a package of support worth more than £200m for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.

Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

A further £100m will be available for a new grant scheme for small businesses which are not eligible for this new business rate relief. Further details on this new grant scheme will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Announcing the decision, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“I’m pleased we can offer this package of support to businesses as part of our response to the coronavirus outbreak.  We are allocating every penny of the funding we will be receiving as a consequence of the schemes the UK Government announced in England last week to support businesses in Wales.

“But I know that helping businesses with their rates bills will not be enough to protect them from the severe drop in custom many are experiencing as coronavirus cases increase.

“We will be calling on the UK Government to act quickly and decisively to provide a very significant support package for vulnerable businesses and their employees.”

Please Note:

  1. The enhancements to Non-Domestic Rate Relief in Wales will cost approximately £105 million and are in addition to the Welsh Government’s existing High Street and Retail Rates Relief and Small Business Rates Relief schemes.
  2. In addition, a fund of at least £105million has been allocated to support small businesses which are not eligible for the enhanced scheme, for example businesses which already pay no Non-Domestic Rates
  3. This announcement follows confirmation yesterday by the UK Government of the consequential funding for Wales from the business support schemes for England announced last week. This consequential is based on population rather than need.

4. With many businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries facing many months of severely depressed trade, we are suggesting a range of tax and employment-related initiatives which the UK Government could take to prevent business bankruptcies.


Neath Businesses Re-assured About Rates Budget Promises

Neath AM, Jeremy Miles, has reassured Neath Businesses that all funding that comes to Wales as a result of the UK Government’s Budget announcement on non-domestic rates will be used to support Welsh businesses.

In a response to an enquiry from Neath Inspired, Jeremy confirmed that he totally appreciates the very real concerns raised on behalf of local businesses, which are shared by many.  Jeremy said  “The Welsh Government wants to roll-out a support package as quickly as possible to help businesses deal with the impact of Coronavirus. Plans are underway, but confirmation from the UK Treasury is currently holding this back.”

“Throughout this Assembly term, each time new money has been made available to extend non-domestic rates support in Wales, the Welsh Government has matched – or exceeded – the funding provided to deliver the most suitable support for Welsh businesses.”

Rishi Sunak announced in his budget speech that English companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the tax holiday. It is part of a package of “extraordinary” measures to support the UK economy in the face of disruption from the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures only apply to firms in England as Welsh Business Rates decisions are devolved.

Rishi Sunak said the business rates system as a whole would be reviewed, with the conclusions published in the autumn.

Firms in England have campaigned for several years for the system to be reformed, arguing it makes it hard for bricks and mortar retailers to compete with online rivals.

Mr Skates, WG Minister for Economy & Transport, announced today that: “We committed that every penny of the funding which will come to Wales as a result of the UK Budget announcement about non-domestic rates relief in England will be used to support businesses in Wales.

“We are urgently seeking clarity from the UK Government about the package of funding available for the emergency coronavirus response so we can develop our business support. “We will do all we can to protect the Welsh economy and support Welsh businesses.”

Jeremy Miles office reported that: We are currently working with the Welsh Government Economy Department, putting together a briefing for businesses in Neath town and across the constituency. This will include FAQs and all relevant information that you will need.