**Edit** We have now updated this article to include the latest government guidance for businesses in Tier 4.
As of Thursday 5th November England will enter a second national lockdown. That means all non-essential shops and many other businesses will be required to close and any workers who are able to work from home must do so.
This is another nail in the coffin for thousands of businesses who were already barely holding on in 2020. So what exactly can these businesses do to stay afloat? Especially as many were relying on the usual increase in trade around Christmas.
To help our clients, we’ve compiled a list of ideas designed to help businesses survive lockdown. This list contains ideas for marketing, ways to pivot your business, financial help you can apply for and other creative ideas for giving your business the best chance at resilience.
Don’t forget, during the last national lockdown back in March, it was the businesses who were the most open to change who set themselves up for success.
If there’s anything we’ve missed from this list, please feel free to let us know on social media!
Support for Businesses Forced To Close Under Tier 4
Recently, Wales, the South West and London have moved into Tier 4. This means stronger restrictions for businesses due to a stricter lockdown. If your business has been affected by Tier 4 closures, you may be eligible for the following support:
Local Restrictions Support Grant
Businesses who have been forced to close under any tier restrictions may be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Your business must have been closed for at least 14 days continuously and have been unable to supply your usual in-person form of service. That means, for example, even if your a pub who is now offering a takeaway service, you are still eligible for this grant.
Businesses who are still able to offer a remote service, such as accountants operating over email and Zoom, are not eligible for the grant.
Your business must meet a list of eligibility criteria, and you can review these on the Government website.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant is based on the rateable value of your business property:
- If your business’ rateable value is less than £15,000, you may be eligible for up to £667 for each 14-day period your business is closed.
- If your business’ rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000, you may be eligible for up to £1,000 for each 14-day period your business is closed.
- Businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000 may be eligible for up to £1,500 for every 14-day period your business is forced to close.
You can apply for this support grant through Gov.UK.
Government Support and Grants
Apprenticeship Incentive Grants
If your business needs to hire new starters during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s well worth looking into apprenticeships. With an apprenticeship, you can take on a new starter of any age over 16. There are a huge range of approved apprenticeship standards suitable for any business.
If your business takes on an apprentice before the end of March 2021, it will be eligible for grants. Your business can claim:
- £1,500 for every apprentice hired aged 16-24
- £1,000 for every apprentice hired aged 25+
- An extra £1,000 on top for apprentices aged 16-18
You can find out more about the Apprenticeship Incentive Grants over on our blog post here.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If you need to put some of your employees on furlough temporarily, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to April 2021. As an employer, you can apply for a grant to help pay for a 80% of your employees wages up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be reviewed in January.
Don’t forget to remind employees that if their salary has been reduced due to furlough, they may also be able to apply for universal credit. They can also apply for an advanced payment if they need to access their funds more urgently. You can find all the information regarding this on the government website.
If you are a UK based business who had a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you can defer the payment until 31 March 2021. Discuss this with your accountant if you’re note sure how to account for this.
Christmas Support Payments for Pubs
The government recognises that pubs have been hit particularly hard due to tiered regulations. As a result of this, they have introduced a £1,000 grant that can be claimed by pubs who are in tier 2 or tier 3 in December 2020. This grant is only available to pubs based in England, who have less than 50% revenue from food sales. The grant is in addition to any other financial aid and grants you are eligible for.
The Kickstart Scheme Grant
The government’s Kickstart Scheme was designed to encourage employers to take on 16-24 year olds currently on universal credit. This could be beneficial for your business if lockdown has created an increased demand in your business and you need to grow your workforce quickly to survive.
Businesses such as distribution and delivery companies are the most likely to benefit from this grant during lockdown. Especially as most consumers will need to shop online for Christmas presents this year.
Business Rates Relief for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
If your business is in the Retail, Hospitality or Leisure industry, don’t forget that you do not need to pay business rates for the 2020 – 2021 tax year. Your local council should apply this discount automatically.
Claim Back Statutory Sick Pay
You can claim back up to two weeks of statutory sick pay for any employees who are off sick or must stay off work due to quarantine with COVID-19. You can learn more here.
Consider Applying to Reduce Your Payments on Account for 2021
If you complete a self assessment and make payments on account, your 2021 tax bill may be higher than it actually needs to be, as HMRC will estimate your payments based on your previous tax bill.
If you’ve actually performed worse than you expected due to the impact of COVID-19, consult your accountant and consider contacting HMRC about reducing your payments on account.
Apply for the Self Employed Income Support Grant
If you previously applied for the SEISS scheme and you were successful, you’ll likely be eligible for the extension to the scheme. The grant is based on your average monthly trading profits.
The applications for the extended SEISS grant won’t open online until the 14th December 2020, so don’t forget to put the date in your diary.
Apply for Coronavirus Business Loans
The government has backed loan schemes for businesses who need a short term boost during the pandemic. These are:
The CBILS is for small to medium businesses and offers up to £5 million. 80% of the finance is guaranteed by the government and the government will pay an interest and fees from the first year. The scheme is only open until 31 January 2021, so act fast!
Bounce Back Loans are designed for small and medium businesses and will allow them to lend between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The government guarantees 100% of the loan, and there are no fees for 12 months. BBLs are open for application until 31 January 2021.
Pivot Your Business
Consider Retraining Your Staff Using Apprenticeships
Most people don’t realise you can use apprenticeships to retrain your staff. As long as you’re able to set aside some time from their schedule for training, this can be an invaluable method of pivoting your business.
Perhaps you’ve suddenly realised you need to get your business online – you could retrain a staff member whose role has become defunct and instead train them in Digital Marketing.
Or perhaps you need to ensure your staff have the customer service skills to handle an increased volume of calls and instant messenger queries. There’s an apprenticeship for almost any skill you require!
Take On Essential New Staff With Apprenticeship Grants
There’s plenty of incentives for employers taking on new apprentices at the moment. If you need to expand your warehouse or manufacturing team due to increased online demand, or you need to grow your call centre for example, you can take on an apprentice of any age and benefit from a government grant.
Businesses who take on apprentices aged 16-24 can get £2,000 for each apprentice. You can receive £1,500 for every apprentice aged 25 and above. There’s a further £1,000 you can receive on top of this for apprentices aged 16-18.
Get Online – It’s More Affordable Than You Think
Think your business can’t afford to get online? Running online orders can be as simple as having a Facebook Page or Instagram account and Paypal!
Paypal will allow you to send invoices to people’s e-mail addresses, so you can sell direct from your social media accounts.
You could also consider eBay, Etsy or Depop to make things simple.
If you’d like to go a step further towards a professional site, Shopify is very affordable and offers plenty of easy to use templates that even beginners can master in no time.
Shopify also has plenty of free tools you can use to create every aspect of your online store, from your terms and conditions to your logo.
If you’re not selling products, why not try a simple drag and drop website builder like Wix?
Analyse Your Resources and Rethink How To Sell Them
During regional lockdowns in October, many pubs realised they were losing business due to mixed household groups no longer being able to dine with each other, but they recognised a growing demand for flexible workspace. So many pubs started to offer a package where workers could pay a one-off daily fee to work from the pub with unlimited tea and coffee.
Now pubs are being forced to close, but they still own plenty of resources. They could:
- Offer takeaway food and deliveries.
- Open up their car parks for a fee to those who still need parking for work.
- Offer webinar-based cookery lessons with their chefs
- Take this time to train their staff over Zoom or Skype.
- Create and sell ‘cook-at-home’ kits.
- Offer a booze delivery service.
- Offer a Whiskey/Gin/Rum guided tasting session over Zoom or Skype.
- Offer pre-made kids meals for busy parents.
- Purchase a food truck or horsebox and offer lunches for those working from home.
With a little creative thinking, there are plenty of ways you can pivot your business. Even if it’s just for short term survival – you might hate the idea of being a takeaway business, but if it sees you through a rough patch, it may be worth exploring as a concept.
Consider Investing In Staff Mental Wellbeing
Being in lockdown your staff will likely face isolation, worries about job security, childcare stresses and worries about not being able to see family over the holiday season.
All of these combined can lead to stress, depression and anxiety, and result in much lower work productivity. Can you blame them?
If you want to keep your team at optimal productivity levels when working from home during lockdown, you’ll need to invest some time and a little money into mental health training.
We have a completely free Workplace Wellbeing challenge available on our website and we also offer courses in Mental Health Awareness and Mental Health First Aid, which are all excellent investments for now and the future!
What will you be doing this lockdown period to help your business survive? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on LinkedIn and let’s discuss!