Coronavirus Outbreak - Newsletter II

Less than a week since my last newsletter, things are moving very fast. We know now that schools will be closing on Friday and we anticipate that it’s not long until we all have to into lockdown.

We were disappointed and felt the frustration in our inderpendent businesses and our food and drink businesses particularly at the government’s advice to avoid pubs, restaurants and theatres as this left businesses in a very vulnerable situation. We have looked into this a bit further and have had confirmation that businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th March that advice to avoid theatre, pubs and theatres is sufficient to make a claim. Please note that insurance policies differ significantly so please check with your insurance provider.

While we welcome the measures announced by Government to offer business rate relief in some sectors, we believe the measures announced so far are insufficient and we are urging government to go further to support our local economies.

In the meantime, this newsletter summarises the help that is available for businesses.

We know these are very uncertain times, you will have seen us asking for creative ways in which we can help support your business. We are keeping our social media channels focused on supporting our small businesses and informing our visitors of any changes in opening hours, stocks, etc.

In the meantime, we are still working in the office and setting all our systems up so that we can work from home when required. If you have any queries or would like to discuss how we may be able to support please give me a call on 01707497930 or email 


Government Financial Support for Businesses

The government announced various measures over the last few days:

Smaller Businesses will be able to access a cash grant of up to £25k.
If your company’s rateable value is under £51k then you will be eligible for this grant. More information will be made available soon but it is likely to be accessed through the local authorities.
Business Support Helpline Your business can get advice and financial help from government-backed schemes through the new helpline Telephone: 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm or visit the website

Business Rates Holiday
The government will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors.  Read more here
  • f you are currently receiving the retail discount for your Business Rates bill, you will receive a revised bill with 100% relief shortly
  • if your business occupies a property in the retail sector with a rateable value of £51,000 or more, or if your business occupies a property in the leisure or hospitality sectors you may also be eligible for the 100% discount on your business rates bill
  • you will shortly hear from your Local Authority. If you have any questions, you should contact your Local Authority

A £10k grant will be made available for businesses that are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief This is instead of the £3k grants announced in the last budget earlier this month.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that was going to become available ‘over the coming weeks’ has been brought forward, and we now expect the new scheme to become available in week commencing 23 March 2020. It has also been increased to £5million and businesses will be able to access it interest free for the first 6 months Read more here .

HMRC's Time to Pay
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. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated HMRC Coronavirus Helpline 0800 015 9559

Firms with less than 250 staff members can reclaim SSP (Statuary Sick Pay) payments for up to two weeks. Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible. More information here.

As a BID we are here to help...

We have been out and about this week speaking to businesses and discussing ways in which we are able to keep trade going. Please let us know if you are offering any of the following
  • Click and Collect
  • Online payments
  • Gift Cards / store cards
  • Home delivery
  • Special opening times for older and vulnerable people
We are using our very engaged social media channels to support the local economy while it’s active, please send us any updates or info you’d like to share on our pages, it can really make a difference to your business, just like it did to Future Gifts. We posted this picture yesterday on Facebook and it has already reached over 8,000 people and increased their sales by a large amount. Please make the most of this tool, just email me

Some help to reassure your customers

With the severity of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to develop quickly, we are recommending that all town centre businesses increase their promotion of good hygiene for staff and customers – this might include additional hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand rub at entrances/exits, extra bins for the disposal of tissues and prominent posters reinforcing cleanliness (a link to some poster templates to use is below). Public/customer-facing businesses may also wish to consider powerful virucidal disinfectant.

Download the poster and print it by following this link.
By displaying this poster, you confirm to adhere to the statements made in line with the Government guidelines.

Some more useful links

Contact us 
Office - 01707 497 930 
Office Email -
Ambassadors -
Mariana -
Nicky -
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Welwyn Garden City BID · The Gate House · Fretherne Road · Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire AL8 6NS · United Kingdom

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