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MOT testing to be reintroduced from August
The Government has today announced that mandatory MOT testing is to be reintroduced from 1 August 2020 as Covid-19 restrictions are slowly lifted.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, drivers were granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing in March to help slow the spread of the virus. However, as restrictions are eased, all drivers whose car, motorcycle or van is due for an MOT test from 1 August will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle.
Drivers with an MOT due date before 1 August will still receive a six-month exemption from testing.
According to the Department for Transport, over 90% of garages are open across the country and testing capacity has reached 70% of normal levels and is steadily increasing.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has also issued guidance to all MOT testers about safely conducting tests in line with the latest government advice.
Government suspends HGV Levy for 12 months, from 1 August.
The Department for Transport has confirmed that it will be suspending the HGV Levy for twelve months, from 1 August to help support and provide some relief to hauliers.
Writing to the BVRLA and other key industry bodies last week, the DfT acknowledged the importance of the haulage industry in keeping the country moving and playing a key role in supporting our economic recovery and growth post pandemic.
There is no need for registered keepers to do anything to benefit from the twelve-month suspension. A levy rate of zero will automatically apply at a vehicle’s normal VED/Levy renewal date from August onwards so that each vehicle will benefit from twelve months of zero Levy.
Safer travel guidance updated
The guidance for passengers also includes advice for those car sharing.
Major changes to insolvency law
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act has received Royal Assent and came into force on 26 June 2020.
The Act is the largest change to the UK’s corporate insolvency regime in more than 20 years. It introduces new corporate restructuring tools and temporary easements to give distressed businesses the breathing space they need to get advice and seek a rescue.
The Act also provides temporary relief until 30 September 2020 from being subject to a winding up petition and from wrongful trading provisions where a business can demonstrate its difficulties arise from trading conditions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. These easements are explained in more detail in a series of factsheets.
Guidance for Companies House customers has also been updated to reflect the changes.
Government unveils £200 million to help innovative businesses
The Sustainable Innovation Fund, unveiled this weekend, is designed to help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.
The £200 million fund is for businesses developing new technologies focused on sustainability, such as making homes and offices more energy efficient, creating ground-breaking medical technologies or reducing the carbon footprint of public transport in our towns and cities.
‘One metre plus’ is introduced as new social distancing minimum requirement
The Prime Minister has today announced that, where it is not possible to maintain a 2m distance, people should keep a gap of ‘one metre plus’ to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Other measures to ease lockdown restrictions in England were also announced today, including the opening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers from 4 July.
The Government will be publishing guidance on how businesses can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers. These include:
- avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts
- reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces
- improving ventilation
- using protective screens and face coverings
- closing non-essential social spaces
- providing hand sanitiser
- changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams
Have your say on preferred timings for MOT testing for cars and vans
The Department for Transport is consulting on removing the six-month exemption currently in place for MOT testing of cars and vans and would welcome members’ views on timings.
All cars and vans which would usually require an MOT test after 30 March 2020 are currently exempt for six months from the date the test is due.
The Government is proposing to return to mandatory MOT testing with one of the following options:
- Within two to four weeks from the date of announcement (i.e. an announcement is made that extensions would not apply to any tests due two to four weeks after the announcement is made)
- Within four to six weeks from the date of announcement
- Within six to eight weeks from the date of announcement
None of these options affect exemptions that have already been issued. Those revised expiry dates will remain in place. These options affect the issue of new exemptions for MOTs that are coming up to their due dates. Please email email@example.com with your preference by Thursday morning at the latest.
MOT for dangerous goods vehicles starts in July
The Government has updated guidance to state that you can book a dangerous goods vehicle (ADR) MOT inspection from 4 July 2020 - but you can still apply for a waiver if you have a 3-month MOT exemption.
From 4 July 2020, lorry, bus or trailer annual tests (MOT) and ADR annual inspections will restart. If you’ve been issued a 3-month MOT exemption and you do not get your vehicle tested you must apply for a waiver to continue transporting dangerous goods.
ONS publishes estimates on economic impact of Covid-19
The Office for National Statistics has published an article explaining how Covid-19 will affect the production of the UK National Accounts, including estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) and the UK Institutional Sector Accounts.
The ONS has also published material on how Covid-19 might affect estimates of inflation, the labour market and productivity. Taken together, these provide a holistic picture of the potential effect of the pandemic on the UK economy and the practical effects of how it will be measured.
Restrictions eased for the 2.2m people who have been shielding
Government guidance on shielding and protecting the vulnerable during Covid-19 has been updated today to reflect easing of lockdown changes that will allow those who are shielding to leave their home, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.
This follows yesterday’s announcement from the Health and Social Care Secretary, who confirmed that those shielding can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6 July.
Updated guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government has updated guidance to provide more information about flexible furlough and overpayments.
New figures show Covid-19 growth rate across regions
The government has published UK wide and regional growth rates for England for the first time, alongside R values. The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing day-by-day.
It is an approximation of the change of number infections each day. If the growth rate is greater than zero (+ positive), then the disease will grow. If the growth rate is less than zero the disease will shrink.
DVSA confirms HGV testing restart on 4 July
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed that HGV testing will restart on 4 July.
Today’s announcement from the DVSA backs-up what was disclosed in yesterday’s BVRLA Covid-19 bulletin. It confirms the three-month exemption for vehicles with July dates (whether originally due in July or moved from April.
From August, it will only give a three-month exemption to vehicles that are due for a test that month and which haven’t already had an exemption (so those that were originally due in May will not get another exemption). This approach will continue for the rest of the year to ensure that test centres are not hit with two-months' worth of tests needing to be done in one month.
DVSA recognises that October will present a problem because of the vehicles that were previously given a three-month exemption in April and then also in July. As well as threatening to overload test centres, this is also peak logistics season in the run up to Christmas. DVSA is seeking a change in legislation which will allow it to exempt certain vehicles from testing based on their age and Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) score.
Members should email BVRLA Director of Fleet Services, Amanda Brandon with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Government provides workplace risk assessment tool for English employers
The Government has developed an online tool that can help businesses in England to reopen safely during Coronavirus. It encourages businesses to carry out a risk assessment and helps to identify the workplace adjustments that they should make. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect employees and visitors on site. Employees can also use this tool to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe. It can be downloaded here.
Scotland moves to Phase 2 of Covid-19 recovery
Today Scotland has moved to phase two of its routemap for easing Coronavirus lockdown restrictions. A useful summary of what has changed and is due to change in the coming days can be found on this BBC webpage.
Welsh Government announces changes to lockdown laws
MPs identify gaps in Coronavirus support
This week the Treasury Select Committee published its report on gaps in Coronavirus support for employees and the self-employed. You can find a summary of the key findings and recommendations here.
Latest updates on UK travel and tourism
The VisitBritain website continues to provide a range of advice and information for businesses involved in the UK travel and tourism sector. It includes statistics, best practice guidance and the latest Government updates.
BVRLA launches its Covid-19 Recovery Plan
Today the BVRLA has launched its Covid-19 Recovery Plan, making clear to policymakers that the vehicle rental, leasing and fleet sectors can deliver a swift rebound in the economy and a faster trajectory towards transport decarbonisation.
The association has also written a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak providing a more detailed proposal on the tax and stimulus measures that should be deployed to ensure a net zero recovery and healthy automotive sector.
DVSA provides vehicle testing update
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is recommending that fleet operators should get cars and vans tested now that garages are open, even if they have been granted an exemption during the Covid pandemic.
This will help to mitigate the risk of a backlog and too much demand at one time, once the six-month exemption period expires. Any vehicle that has been granted a six-month exemption will not have it removed.
For HGVs the plan is to start testing in July, although an exact date has not yet been confirmed. The DVSA anticipates giving a three-month exemption for vehicles whose test is due in July, including vehicles that have already been given a previous exemption.
From August, they will only give a three-month exemption to vehicles that are due for a test that month and which haven’t already had an exemption. This approach will continue for the rest of the year to ensure that test centres are not hit with two-months' worth of tests needing to be done in one month.
DVSA recognises that October will present a problem because of the vehicles that were previously given a three-month exemption in April and then also in July. As well as threatening to overload test centres, this is also peak logistics season in the run up to Christmas. DVSA is seeking a change in legislation which will allow it to exempt certain vehicles from testing based on their age and Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) score.
Members should email BVRLA Director of Fleet Services, Amanda Brandon with any questions at email@example.com
Road transport usage continues to rise
According to the Government’s transport usage figures, car usage is back to 70% of average pre-pandemic levels. For all motor vehicles, the figure is slightly higher at 74%.
Average national rail usage figures remain low at 8%, whilst London Underground usage figures are at 14%.
Jobs market starting to pick up
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, total online job adverts increased from 45.6% to 50.1% of their 2019 average, the largest increase since lockdown began.
The increase is spread relatively evenly across many categories of job adverts, with every sector seeing a positive change. While levels of online job adverts are still far below pre-lockdown levels, this may offer early evidence of some recovery in demand for labour.
Advice about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
The Government’s YouTube video about how to make a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme claim has been updated today. Members may also be interested in registering for the next live webinar about the scheme.
Deferral of VAT payments ends on 30 June
Guidance for the Deferral of VAT payments has been updated to include an end date of 30 June 2020. This means you’ll need to:
- set-up cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment
- submit VAT returns as normal, and on time
- pay the VAT in full on payments due after 30 June
200,000 more jobs furloughed in the past week
Latest HMRC data about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme shows that there are now 9.1 million jobs being furloughed across the UK, up 200,000 on last week.
Data also includes figures on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which appears to have plateaued remaining at 2.6 million claims made, and the VAT payments deferral scheme which shows over 100,000 more businesses taking up the deferral scheme during the past month.
Almost 96,000 more businesses apply for Government loan schemes
Latest figures from HM Treasury published yesterday show that 95,993 more businesses have applied for one of the Government’s coronavirus loan schemes during the past week. New figures are published every Tuesday.
92,716 applied for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which has been the most sought-after scheme with over 1 million businesses applying for the Scheme to date. As at the close of business on 15 June, 863,584 applications had been granted costing the Treasury £26.34 billion.
In addition, this past week saw 3,187 more businesses apply for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, 46 apply for the Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and 44 apply for the Future Fund Scheme.
Local Authority grant payments exceed £10 billion
The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has published latest figures showing the number of grants made and the amount paid by each local authority in England.
£10.36 billion has been paid out to over 844,000 businesses as at 14 June.
Government consults with industry to discuss economic recovery
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has chaired a series of economic recovery roundtables bringing together businesses, business representative organisations, regulators and leading academics.
Discussions focused on the measures necessary to support economic recovery and ensure we have the right opportunities in place for growth across the country over the next 18 months and beyond.
As well as the roundtables, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy is also taking in written submissions from other key industry influencers, including the BVRLA, who will be publishing its submitted recommendations later this week.
Guidance updated on business closures to reflect easing of restrictions
Government guidance on the closure of certain businesses and venues has been updated to reflect regulatory changes that took effect on 15 June, including the opening of many non-essential retail outlets.
HMRC hosts webinar on new flexible furlough scheme
Members can register to attend an hour-long HMRC webinar on ‘The Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing’. There are four time slots to choose from. Two on Thursday 18 and two on Friday 19 June.
Guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been updated to reflect how the scheme is changing.
Government video on running your business during Covid-19 is updated
The YouTube video for ‘Running your business through the coronavirus pandemic’ has been updated. The video gives an overview of the support available to help businesses deal with the economic impact of coronavirus including:
- deferral of VAT and Income Tax payments
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- HMRC Time to Pay Scheme
Latest ONS figures indicate working from home still prevalent
Latest Office for National Statistics figures show that just under 4 in 10 adults in employment (37%) said they had left their home to travel to and from work in the past seven days, decreasing from 40% the previous week.
The largest increase in reasons for leaving the home this week is for meeting up with people in a personal place, such as visiting friends or family at home, up to 19% compared with 8% last week.
Expenses for employees travelling to a temporary workplace
HMRC advice on How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during Covid-19 has been updated to include guidance on paying travel and subsistence expenses to an employee travelling to a temporary workplace.
Further restriction lifted and social bubbles introduced
Social distancing guidance and FAQs on what you can and cannot do have been updated to include new rules on support bubbles. Other restrictions that have been lifted today include the ability to visit more shops, outdoor attractions and places of worship.
“Bubbling” describes a policy where people living in small, non-overlapping, groups of households are permitted to mix with one another, effectively creating one large household out of two or more smaller households. No person can be a member of more than one bubble.
Minutes taken from the SAGE meeting on 14 May show that the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) advised the Government against introducing social bubbles at a time when other distancing measures have only just been lifted, or in conjunction with the release of other measures. SAGE also published a paper on the behavioural considerations of bubbles on 14 May.
Reproduction ‘R’ rate figures explained
According to the latest data on 12 June, the average R rate in the UK was 0.7-0.9. All but one English county shows an average reported R rate with a range that reaches or exceeds 1.0.
The lowest reported average was in the East of England with an R rate of 0.7-0.9. The South West had the highest reported figure at 0.8-1.1.
When a region has an R-rate range exceeding 1, it does not necessarily mean the epidemic is increasing in that region, just that the uncertainty in the data means it cannot be ruled out. It is also possible that an outbreak in one place could result in an R above 1 for the whole region.
NHS test and trace alerts
The Government has updated its guidance on NHS test and trace: How it works to include the new details of where the text alert will come from. Previously it came from ‘NHS’ but now it will come from ‘NHStracing’.
Automotive sector has received £3.3bn in furlough support
The latest HMRC data shows that the automotive wholesale, retail and repair sector has been the biggest user of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Figures for claims made up to 31 May 2020 show that the sector has furloughed more than 1.6 million staff at a cost to the government of £3.3bn. This means that the sector is responsible for 18% of total furloughed staff and 19% of the total cash paid out to furloughed workers.
From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.
From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. More details of how this will work can be found on the government’s CJRS advice page.
Over 100,000 automotive sector workers get self-employed support
HMRC has also published data on uptake for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), showing that there have been around 120,000 claims from the automotive wholesale, retail and repair sector at an average of just under £3,000.
The scheme allows an eligible individual to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.
This first SEISS grant has been announced to close for claims on 13th July 2020.
On 29th May 2020 SEISS was extended to allow a second and final grant when the scheme reopens for applications in August. This will be a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.
Weekly transport statistics show motor vehicle usage is up
The Department for Transport has published its weekly statistics on transport usage across Great Britain during the coronavirus.
In terms of motor vehicles, figures show that as a percentage of the equivalent day pre-pandemic, motor vehicle usage was at 68% of normal levels on 8 June, having reached an all-time low of 23% on 13 April.
By contrast, national rail usage has only increased marginally, reported at 9% of normal usage levels on 8 June, up from its lowest level of 4% on 10 April.
Data lists daily figures from 1 March 2020 and is updated every Wednesday at 14.00.
New parents returning to work are eligible for furlough scheme
HM Treasury has announced that people on paternity and maternity leave who return to work in the coming months will be eligible for the government’s furlough scheme.
ONS figures show household spending down by one-fifth
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than one-fifth of usual household spending has not been possible during the lockdown, with activities like travel, holidays and meals out being prevented.
New measures to help the most isolated and lonely
Social distancing guidance and FAQs on what you can and cannot do have been updated to reflect new rules on ‘support bubbles’ for England. From 13 June, single adults who lives alone or with dependent children can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each others’ homes, including overnight, without needing to stay two metres apart.
You can see people you do not live with if you meet outdoors in a group of up to six people, whilst observing social distancing guidelines and keeping at least two metres apart.
Over 11 million helped by furlough and self-employment schemes
Latest figures from HMRC show that as at 7 June, 1.1 million businesses had 8.9 million employees on furlough, taking the cost of claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to £19.6 billion since it launched on 20 April.
In addition, 2.6 million individuals have claimed the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme since it started on 13 May, at a total cost of £7.5 billion.
More than 750,000 businesses receive Bounce Back Loans
Latest figures from HM Treasury show that as at 7 June, more than 780,000 businesses have received almost £24 billion via the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has granted 47,650 loans of the 93,305 applications to date, lending £9.56 billion. Meanwhile, the Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has granted 244 loans of the 615 applied for, lending £1.57 billion.
A full list of approved lenders can be found on the British Business Bank website.
Companies House launches new system for submitting paperwork online
Companies House has today launched a temporary service enabling businesses to digitally upload forms that are usually submitted in paper format. The service has been developed as part of the Covid-19 emergency response and should be used during the coronavirus outbreak.
A list of documents that can be loaded via this service has also been published.
HMRC urges businesses to be vigilant against fraud
HMRC has issued guidance explaining how to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email or text message is phishing or bogus.
Government seeks business input on Covid-19 recovery
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has launched five new business-focused working groups to help unleash Britain's growth potential as it looks for a speedy recovery post Covid.
Focused on five key themes, each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:
- The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
- Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
- Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
- Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
- The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK
The membership of the five working groups will be published in due course.
Face coverings mandatory on public transport
Government guidance on staying safe outside your home and FAQs on what you can and can’t do during the Covid-19 outbreak have been updated to reflect the fact that, from Monday 15 June, everybody will be required to wear face coverings when using public transport.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “People should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. So, while respecting social distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene remain the most important steps we can all take to stay safe, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect each other.”
The latest Office for National Statistics figures on Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 5 June 2020 show that almost 3 in 10 adults (28%) reported that they had used face coverings outside of their home in the past week, a similar proportion to last week (29%). The most common use was when people were shopping.
Public Health England has published guidance on how to wear and make a face covering.
BVRLA urges Government action on new quarantine rules
The BVRLA has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to highlight the potentially devastating impact on inbound tourism that will be caused by the new quarantine rules that take effect from 8 June.
In the letter BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney urges the Government to introduce some immediate measures to mitigate the impact that the new rules will have on tourism and the car rental sector. He asks the Government to:
- As soon as possible, designate countries as ‘safe’ where COVID-19 infection levels are low enough, so that arrivals from these countries are exempt from the quarantine. Priority should be given to key trading partners and the countries that generate the greatest number of inbound travellers.
- For countries where the quarantine is being applied, explore ways in which inbound travellers can pre-qualify for a quarantine exemption (for example, by producing a recognised antibody test result).
- The Government has committed to reviewing the scheme every three weeks. This should be reviewed more frequently given the peak Summer tourist season is fast approaching and the number and scale of Covid-19 cases is constantly evolving.
“Our members operate at every major UK airport and car rental plays a pivotal role in helping people travel to, from and within their destination,” said Keaney.
“The Transport Secretary’s advice is that people have a ‘civic duty’ not to use public transport - this means that car rental will be an absolutely essential partner for the UK tourism industry as it recovers.”
Update on Driver CPC and Tachograph rules
The Department for Transport (DfT) has updated some of the Covid-19 related rules and exemptions surrounding Driver CPC testing and tachographs.
- Driver Qualification Card (DQC) validity - The validity of DQCs that expire between 1 February 2020 and 31 August 2020 has been extended for seven months. Full details are on the DfT website.
- Tachograph Calibration and inspections due before 31 August 2020 - All tachograph calibration and inspection certificates which are listed as expiring between 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020, are extended by six months from the date the calibration was originally due. All tachograph calibration certificates expiring from 1 September 2020 must be renewed as usual.
- Tachograph card renewal - From 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020, drivers who apply to renew their tachograph card no later than 15 days before their card is due to expire, can continue to drive until they receive a new card. Full details are on the DfT website.
Final date for the current furlough scheme
The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time is 10 June 2020. This will enable the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June 2020.
Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Government guarantees Trade Credit Insurance
The Government has announced that it will provide guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions helping businesses to trade with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment.
Trade Credit Insurance underwrites an estimated £350 billion of economic activity for more than 630,000 businesses in the UK each year.
Exemptions from border quarantine rules
The Government has published a list of who will be exempt from new border quarantine rules taking effect on Monday 8 June. Those driving goods vehicles are included in the exemptions.
Quarantine measures at the border start on Monday
Rules covering new measures to be imposed at the UK border from Monday have being published today, according to a government announcement.
Home Secretary Priti Patel made an Oral Ministerial Statement to Parliament this afternoon.
Passengers arriving in the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and anybody failing to comply with the mandatory conditions may face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and unlimited fine.
The BVRLA is writing to Ministers to make them aware of the adverse impact that this measure will have on the vehicle rental sector, where a number of operators are heavily reliant on inbound airport travellers.
The association shares widespread concerns that the policy is poorly timed and almost impossible to implement effectively. The move may cause more harm than good to UK citizens, having a drastic effect on the aviation, travel and broader tourism-related industries.
How to treat expenses during Covid-19
Government guidance has been updated which explains how to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during Covid-19.
Find out about taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC.
Late payment support from the Small Business Commissioner
The Small Business Commissioner is an independent public body set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment and unfavourable payment practices in the private sector.
Many small businesses are having disputes over delayed payments or in some cases, non-payment because of the financial hardship being experienced by all sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. To date the SBC has helped small businesses recover over £500,000 during the coronavirus crisis.
If you’d like some advice you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekly statistics available showing transport usage
The Department for Transport is monitoring the use of the transport system during the Covid-19 pandemic and is publishing statistics every Wednesday showing transport use by mode.
Government webinars to support businesses
The Government has published a selection of webinars and videos on YouTube to support businesses wanting advice on the different financial support packages available for businesses.
The YouTube video about the Statutory Sick Pay rebate scheme has been updated today.
Government acknowledges BVRLA support for businesses during Covid
The BVRLA is one of only two UK trade associations listed on the Government website as providing Coronavirus support to businesses in the transport industry.
The Government website promotes a link to the BVRLA Covid-19 Business Advice page where there is a wealth of information to support the vehicle rental, leasing and fleet sectors.
The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy also recently cited the BVRLA as a good example of an industry body supporting its sectors well through regular communication, guidance, advice, webinars and learning resources.
FCA survey to assess impact of Covid-19
The Financial Conduct Authority is writing to all solo regulated firms to collate information to help them understand the impact of Covid 19 and inform future priorities.
In a meeting earlier today with the BVRLA, the FCA confirmed that it will be contacting around 13,000 solo regulated firms within the next week, asking them to complete a mandatory 10-question survey that will cover:
- Liquidity/cash availability and needs
- Recent financial performance
- Scale of business activity
- Access to government schemes
The survey will take around an hour to complete and firms will have a week to respond so regulated members are encouraged to look out for the survey.
The FCA is keen to identify emerging risks of potential harm to consumers, the market and to competition within such markets and the survey will help to inform key areas of focus and priority.
Members are also advised to read today’s news story in the Weekly Update: Beware of fraudsters posing as the FCA.
Business can offer to help the UK’s Covid response
The Government has opened an online portal to enable businesses to submit offers of help to support the UK’s Covid-19 response.
Transport and logistics, for moving goods or people, is one of the categories of support that they are looking for.
You’ll be asked some questions about the type of support you can give. You’ll then be contacted as soon as possible if your support is needed. You’ll need your company number if you have one.
Guidance for delivery and collection of vehicles
The BVRLA has today published Guidance for vehicle collection, delivery, distribution, storage and technical services.
The 9-page document was written by the Finance and Leasing Association with contributions from the BVRLA, National Association of Motor Auctions and the Vehicle Remarketing Association.
The short guide, which reflects Government guidance as at 1 June 2020, is intended to clarify the requirements that apply on vehicle and parts collections, delivery and distribution, storage and technical services.
Government webinar on working safely in offices
The BVRLA is reminding members of the free webinars being hosted by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy on working safely.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 2 June, there is an hour-long webinar providing advice on how to work safely in offices or similar indoor environments. The webinar starts at 11am and members can register to attend here.
Chancellor extends support for businesses
During his announcement on Friday, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and announced three changes to the job retention scheme:
- From 1 July 2020, the scheme will be more flexible enabling employers to bring previously furloughed staff back part time and still receive a grant for the time they are not working.
- From 1 August 2020, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of furloughed staff and the contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
- The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June.
The BVRLA had been calling for flexible furloughing during discussions with BEIS and HM Treasury and although this flexibility is not coming as early as the association would have liked, we are pleased to see the Chancellor bringing the date forward to July, from the originally planned date of August. This will help many members across all sectors.
Part-time furloughing explained
From 1 July 2020, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages for furloughed staff covering any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August. This flexibility in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes a month earlier than previously announced to help people get back to work.
Employers will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return and will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working. This means that employees can work as much or as little as the business needs, with no minimum time that they can furlough staff for.
Any working hours arrangement agreed between a business and their employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, they will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. They can choose to make claims for longer periods such as on monthly or two weekly cycles if preferred. Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.
If employees are unable to return to work, or employers do not have work for them to do, they can remain on furlough and the employer can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.
Employer contributions explained
From August, the government grant provided through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be slowly tapered with employers being asked to contribute more over time.
- In June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work – employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work
- in August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed
- in September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
- in October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
- the cap on the furlough grant will be proportional to the hours not worked.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Eligible self-employed people will be able to claim a second and final grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.
The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant. People do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant. Claims for the first SEISS grant, which opened on 13 May, must be made no later than 13 July.
Eligible self-employed people must make a claim before that date to receive the first SEISS grant (a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months' worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.
Guidance on what you can and cannot do
The Government has updated its guidance on what you can and cannot do to include the changes that came into effect today. This includes the fact that you can meet in a group of up to six people, including you and any carers, as long as you practise strict social distancing.
Updated BVRLA Guidance on Operating during Covid-19
The Guide has been updated to include:
- An Employee Covid-19 Charter template
- Updated references to testing and the new Test and Trace service
- Example usage of plexiglass in vehicles for delivery and collection
Minister wants to hear about members’ experiences with banks
As part of the BVRLA’s regular catch-up with BEIS Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP, we have been keeping him informed of how the various government loan schemes have been working for members.
The Minister is in regular contact with the banking sector and individual lenders and is very keen to hear of specific examples where companies feel that they are not getting sufficient support from their bank.
Members who are happy to share their experiences, particularly if they have experience of being refused a loan or finding that the process takes a long time, should email details to BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs, Toby Poston at email@example.com, who will ensure that the minister is made aware of the issues.
Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
Guidance has been published today for the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund which is open to small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.
Eligible businesses could get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000. To be eligible your business must:
- Be based in England
- have fewer than 50 employees
- have fixed building costs such as rent
- have been trading on 11 March 2020
- have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus
Applications can be made through your local authority website.
Updated: Guidance on Working Safely during Covid-19
The Government’s workplace safety guidance documents have been updated today to include details on the new Test and Trace service.
Members will be particularly interested in the guidance for working safely in office, vehicle and branch settings.
ONS publishes data on the impact of Covid-19 on society
The Office for National Statistics has today published findings from a recent survey assessing the social impacts of coronavirus on people, households and communities in Great Britain
Over 4 in 10 adults (43%) said the coronavirus was having an impact on their work, and of these the most common impacts were similar to previous weeks: being furloughed, needing to work from home and a change in hours worked.
The largest change amongst those who said their work was affected was seen with increasing levels of concern about health and safety at work. This increased to 20% this week from 11% last week.
The most common concerns people had around health and safety at their workplace were: difficulties in following social distancing advice, difficulty in following hygiene advice, and limited or no protective equipment in place.
How to conduct a Covid-19 risk assessment in the workplace
The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance to help you conduct a risk assessment.
Carrying out a risk assessment in one of the 5 practical steps that the Government is asking businesses to follow to help keep employees and customers safe in the workplace:
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
- Help people to work from home
- Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk
Employers have a duty to consult their workers, and unions where applicable, as part of their risk assessment. Involving workers in this will help build trust and confidence that all reasonably practicable steps are being taken to reduce risks of COVID-19, so that people can return to work safely. Employers should share the risk assessment with employees and consider publishing it on their website.
NHS Test and Trace service goes live
The new NHS Test and Trace service has launched across England today.
The Government has today published guidance for people who have been notified by NHS Test and Trace that they are a contact of a person who has had a positive test result for Covid-19.
New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
The Government has also published guidance for employers and businesses to explain how they can play their part in the NHS test and trace programme to slow the spread of the virus.
It is vital that employers:
- make their workplaces as safe as possible
- encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and support them when in isolation
Full details of how the Test and Trace service works has also been published.
New criteria added for eligibility of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
The Government has today updated the guidance for the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to reflect that employers can now claim for employees who are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus.
Covid-19 risk level and case volumes by local area and region
The Government is publishing a daily dashboard showing data on the latest number of Covid-19 cases and risk levels across the UK.
You can look by local authority and region to see relevant information local to you. The ‘rate’ shows the number of cases per 100,000 population, so is more indicative of the level of risk as a comparison to other areas of the UK.
Practical tips for businesses planning a safe return to work
The Government is advising that businesses take the following 5 practical steps to help keep employees and customers safe in the workplace:
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
- Help people to work from home
- Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk
Businesses are continuing to access support packages
HMRC is publishing weekly data to show the number of businesses and individuals claiming from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
During the past week a further 14,000 businesses have furloughed 400,000 more employees, taking the total numbers on furlough to 8.4 million, with one million businesses now using the scheme.
Later this week, the Chancellor is expected to announce how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will work when it expires in its current format at the end of July, providing some much-needed certainty to businesses facing tough decisions.
Those claiming from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme rose by 300,000 during the past week, taking the total number to 2.3 million.
UK Government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen
The UK Government has announced a roadmap for reopening a broader range of retail outlets starting from next month, including car showrooms.
Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement.
From 1 June 2020, it intends to allow outdoor markets to reopen, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space.
From 15 June 2020, UK Government wants to allow other retailers to open, ranging from shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets - if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.
System now open for claiming back Statutory Sick Pay
The online service you’ll use to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to employees due to coronavirus is now open.
You can check service availability and issues online.
Those entering the UK must travel by private car
The Government has announced new measures at the UK border, which includes 14 days’ self-isolation for anyone entering the UK, bar a short list of exemptions.
In an announcement delivered by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel on Friday, the Government states that people should use personal transport, such as a car, to travel to their accommodation. They should not use public transport or taxis.
Once they have arrived at their accommodation, they should remain there for 14 days. The measures have been introduced to guard against a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Consumer sentiment research on travel and tourism
Consumer insights consultancy BVA-BDRC is publishing weekly research briefings that track consumer sentiment in relation to tourism and leisure.
BVRLA webinar on working with Covid-19
Over 100 members tuned in to the BVRLA’s Working with Covid webinar yesterday to receive a thorough update on the wider automotive market and how it is responding to the Coronavirus.
The free webinar has now been uploaded and can be viewed on the BVRLA website.
Expert speakers from Autotrader, cap hpi, the Finance & Leasing Association and Jardine Motors Group joined the BVRLA on the webinar to discuss current Covid-19 priorities, motor finance trends, consumer confidence research and trends, the used vehicle market and outlook and vehicle logistics from a dealership perspective.
Government hosts webinars on working safely during Coronavirus
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is hosting a series of free webinars to support businesses preparing their organisations and employees for a safe return to work.
Last week the Government issued guidance on working safely during Coronavirus to support organisations that are currently permitted to open.
The webinars reflect the guidance and cover different types of workplace settings.
BVRLA members will be particularly interested in registering for one or more of the following:
- Shops and Branches - Thursday 28 May, 11am. For those who run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
- Vehicles - Thursday 28 May, 3pm. For those who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
- Offices and contact centres - Tuesday 2 June, 11am. For those who run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
Transport for London briefs businesses
Transport for London has published a Briefing for Business outlining the city’s plan to help London re-open carefully, safely and sustainably following lockdown.
The plan explains that the public transport system will need to operate very differently because of the huge reduction in capacity as a result of the national requirement to maintain two metres distance between passengers.
Larger businesses to benefit from loans of up to £200 million
The Government yesterday announced that it is extending the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50 million to £200 million.
Loans under the expanded scheme will be made available to large businesses affected by coronavirus from next week.
Companies receiving help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay.
Dedicated Business Support Helplines for all regions of the UK
Businesses can access free, impartial business support and signposting services, including business advice on Covid-19 by calling a dedicated helpline:
The Business Support Helpline number for businesses in England has changed to 0800 998 1098.
For businesses in Scotland the helpline number is 0300 303 0660, in Wales it is 0330 060 300 and in Northern Ireland it is 0800 181 4422.
Outlook for the automotive sector post pandemic
Recent weeks have seen a surge in commentary reporting on what the future may hold for the automotive sector and its different business models and technologies. Here are a few:
ING Bank highlights research from consultants CapGemini that shows that 40% of people under 35 in the UK are considering buying a car in 2020. It also points to a potential delay in the uptake of mobility services, particularly car sharing, and assesses the impact of low fuel prices and an economic downturn on demand for electric vehicles.
FT article picks up from the ING report and assesses the potential for any short- or long-term pick-up in demand for cars, particularly from a younger demographic worried about using public transport. It also quotes high-profile figures within the automotive sector on the likelihood for any government incentives or scrappage schemes and whether these will be solely based on electric vehicles.
Bloomberg NEF Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 The Bloomberg New Economic Forum team have just published their annual EV Outlook, which provides industry-acknowledged forecasts on EV model availability, demand, share of new vehicle sales and growth in demand for new mobility services.
Cyber Security Guidance for businesses during Covid-19
The National Cyber Security Centre has today published guidance to support businesses moving from physical to digital delivery as part of the ongoing Covid-19 response.
The guidance includes advice on home working, video teleconferencing and spotting email scams related to Covid-19.
Department for International Trade hosts series of webinars
The DIT is running a series of hour-long webinars to help businesses during the Covid-19 whose operations rely on international trade. You can register to attend via the following links:
Risk management when considering new markets takes place at 10am tomorrow (Thursday 21 May)
Managing disruption of supply chains during COVID-19 takes place at 2.30pm on Friday 22 May
Apprentice programme guidance is updated
Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations has been updated to include the Government’s new safer working guidelines and information on calculating wages for furloughed apprentices, off-the-job training, and redundant apprentices.
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme opens in one week
This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.
Latest figures show uptake of financial support for businesses
New figures on the UK-wide government support schemes for individuals and businesses have been published today showing that over 10 million are benefiting from the schemes in place.
Eight million jobs have been furloughed, two million have claimed Self-employment Income Support and just under 500,000 businesses have taken up the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Anybody with Covid-19 symptoms can now be tested
The Government confirmed yesterday that anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.
Staying safe outside your home
Guidance outlining the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible has been updated. It now includes the loss or change in your normal sense of small or taste as a new official coronavirus symptom.
An affected sense of smell is confirmed as a coronavirus symptom
The UK Chief Medical Officer has announced that from today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop anosmia – which is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell.
It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked. A new continuous cough or fever are also symptoms that also require self-isolation.
All members of a symptomatic household must self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
Freight industry exempt from international travel restrictions
Freight industry guidance on international travel during the Covid-19 pandemic states that international and domestic freight transport, including by air, ship, road and rail, is classified by UK government as an essential activity in the context of its travel advice.
The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.
Coronavirus Business Support Blog
The Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Blog from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is where you can find out how other businesses have used government support schemes and working safely guidance.
Current case studies include Aston Martin and KFC, which detail how they have been making their workplaces COVID-secure.
Automotive aftermarket launches COVID-19 guidance
The UK automotive aftermarket sector has signalled its readiness to cope with increased demand for MOT tests, service, maintenance and repair with the publication of a new sector-specific guide to help restart the aftermarket.
The 7-page document has been produced as a collaboration between the Garage Equipment Association (GEA), Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Sector-specific guide for manufacturers during Covid
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has published a set of new sector-specific guidance for UK automotive manufacturing industry as manufacturers across England begin to introduce staff back into the workplace.
The new 12-page guidance provides best-practice advice to help to ensure that all automotive production sites are safe spaces for workers.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The coronavirus crisis has taken a heavy toll on the automotive industry but, as lockdown measures begin to ease, at last there is some light at the end of the tunnel. […] However, to accelerate this crucial sector’s recovery we need all parts of the jigsaw to be in place, starting with the reopening of automotive showrooms to drive essential market demand.”
Holiday entitlement and pay during Covid-19
The Government has published guidance outlining how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations in terms of workers who continue to work and those who have been furloughed.
Government borrowing at highest levels since WWII
The Office for Budget Responsibility currently estimates that the cost of the coronavirus response to the UK Government is at £123.2bn. It expects government borrowing to equal 15.2% of the UK economy, the highest level since the end of World War Two. As the country moves beyond the pandemic, reducing the deficit will be a key challenge for the government.
Transport for London receives grant to keep services going
The Government has allocated £1.6 billion to TfL to support the continuation of services in the Capital. £505 million of the grant is a loan.
The agreement includes increasing service levels as soon as possible to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines while on the network, making sure those who have no alternative to public transport can travel safely.
How Covid-19 testing works
The Government has published guidance on testing for the public, patients and professional users of testing kits to explain how they work. Information has also been published on where tests can be accessed.
The BVRLA Guide to Operating during the Covid-19 pandemic
The association has published a 20-page guide for members, tailored specifically for those operating in the vehicle rental and leasing sectors.
It will be updated as new advice and guidance emerges from Government. If you have any questions about this guidance or would like to provide feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
SMMT and NFDA publish joint safety guidance as they urge dealers to re-open
The SMMT and NFDA have published joint guidance advising vehicle retailers on how they can safely restart their businesses.
The best-practice guidance covers the entire customer experience, from booking appointments to showroom interactions, test drives, click & collect, part exchanges and aftersales, and includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation and protective personal equipment (PPE). Developed together with dealers and manufacturers, it is designed to complement government guidance for the overall UK retail sector, to help dealers of all shapes and sizes implement legal requirements as part of individual risk assessments in line with their unique business and customer needs.
Car showrooms are scheduled to re-open from June 1 as part of a planned phased opening of non-essential retail outlets outlined in the Government’s COVID-19 recovery roadmap.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme now open
From 8am today, Wednesday 13 May 2020, self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
The grant is worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500, and will be paid in a single instalment. You can check eligibility for the scheme and make a claim if you are eligible.
Self-employed people can register to attend a HMRC webinar which provides further information on the scheme.
New taskforces set up to plan for opening of closed businesses
The Government has set up five new ministerial-led taskforces to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely:
- international aviation led by the Department for Transport
- pubs and restaurants led by Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy)
- non-essential retail, including salons led by Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy
- recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
- places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings led by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Government to guarantee Trade Credit insurance
The Government has today announced that it will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring that the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.
Job Retention Scheme extended and will become more flexible
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the lifeline for millions of UK workers, announcing that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), due to finish at the end of June, is being extended to the end of October.
In an announcement earlier today the Chancellor confirmed that the scheme will be maintained in its current format until the end of July.
From August the scheme will become more flexible, with employers able to bring furloughed staff back to work on a part-time basis. The Chancellor also indicated that he would be expecting employers to contribute towards the cost of furloughing from August onwards.
The scheme has so far helped over a million businesses to furlough 7.5 million people. The CIPD claims that the CJRS has already safeguarded 4.2 million jobs in the UK.
“The extension of the CJRS is great news for all employers that are trying to plan their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said BVRLA Chief Executive, Gerry Keaney.
“We would like to thank all of the members that provided their feedback on this topic and helped us send a clear message to Government.”
Full details of how the Job Retention Scheme will work beyond July will be announced later this month.
Government publishes new COVID-19 safety guidelines for the workplace
The government has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed to understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
It covers eight workplace settings and with many businesses operating in more than one type of workplace, such as an office, a branch and a fleet of vehicles, you may need to use more than one of these guides as you consider what you need to do to keep everybody safe.
The guidance sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
- Work from home, if you can
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
- Maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
- Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk
- Reinforce cleaning processes
The eight workplace settings with published ‘Covid-19 secure guidelines’ are as follows:
Vehicles – for those who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
Shops and branches – for those who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
Offices and contact centres – for those who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
Construction and other outdoor work – for those who work in or run outdoor work environments.
Factories, plants and warehouses - for those who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses
Homes – for those who work in, visit or deliver to home environments as well as their employers
Labs and research facilities – for those who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery – for those who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
The BVRLA is currently working on more detailed and specific safety guidance for the vehicle rental and leasing sector. This will be cross-referenced with the new government guidelines and published shortly.
Guidance for transport operators
The government has published guidance to help organisations, agencies and self-employed transport providers understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.
Updated social distancing guidance
COVID-19 lockdown FAQs updated
Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcements unveiling his roadmap to releasing the lockdown, commentators and the public have voiced concerns that they are confused about what they now can and cannot do.
To provide some clarity, the government has updated its set of FAQs which outlines what people can and cannot do as of tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May). This only applies to people in England. Those in other parts of the UK should follow the rules of their respective devolved nation.
Active transport strategy to ease pressure on public transport
Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks, as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund to relieve the pressure on public transport.
Government publishes COVID-19 recovery strategy
The Government has today published a 60-page document outlining the UK Government’s plan for rebuilding and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document, which the Government hopes will provide a roadmap for exiting the lockdown and living with the virus, included three specific areas of interest for members:
- Workplace safety guidelines - Later this week, the Government will publish new guidelines that will set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. The BVRLA is developing some sector-specific operational guidance for the vehicle rental and leasing sectors and this will be published once the association has been able to cross-check it against the new Government material.
- Reduced public transport use – People that must travel to work are being advised to avoid public transport. The BVRLA is working with officials at the DfT to ascertain what role the vehicle rental and car club sector could play in helping staff with any commuting or business travel needs.
- Winding down of support measures – The Government describes these as ‘extraordinarily costly’ and says they ‘cannot be sustained for a prolonged period’. The BVRLA continues to engage with policymakers on ways in which the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be wound down as it supports a gradual return to work for many furloughed workers.
PM’s announcement splits Covid messaging across the UK
Yesterday the Prime Minister addressed the nation, announcing a new change in emphasis replacing the ‘Stay home’ message with ‘Stay alert’, stating that those who cannot work from home should now be encouraged to return to work.
Although the Prime Minister suggested that there is consensus across the devolved nations, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have made clear that they will be sticking with the ‘Stay home’ message as they believe it is too early to ask people to leave their homes and go back to work.
The PM’s announcement sets out a ‘conditional’ roadmap for the slow easing of restrictions based on whether people follow the rules and achieve satisfactory levels for the five tests, which require that we must:
- protect our NHS
- see sustained falls in the death rate
- see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection
- sort out our challenges in getting enough PPE to the people who need it
- make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease - the R - back up over one
If these are at a satisfactory level, then the easing of restrictions can progress. If not, then restrictions will remain, be re-introduced or be further strengthened.
Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces
The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces to help reduce the spread of coronavirus although face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing, which remain the most important actions.
New BVRLA webinar: Working with COVID-19
As the Government begins lifting the COVID-19 lockdown, a new BVRLA webinar will give a status report on the recovery of the automotive market.
On Wednesday May 20th, the BVRLA will join forces with expert speakers from Autotrader, cap hpi, the FLA and Jardine Motor Group to give members a steer on:
- Current COVID-19 priorities for the BVRLA
- Motor finance
- Consumer confidence
- Used vehicle market and outlook
- Vehicle movements
“Businesses and consumers are starting to think about how they recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and the lockdown,” said BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs, Toby Poston.
“Within the automotive industry, people are assessing the state of their own sector and making plans for how they can operate safely while the virus remains a threat.
“By bringing experts together from across the industry, we can provide BVRLA members with a holistic view of what is happening within their wider supply chain - giving them greater confidence in building their own recovery plans.”
The webinar will be hosted by Lee Hamlett, Chairman of the BVRLA’s RVR (Residual Values and Remarketing) Committee.
BVRLA members can register for this free event here.
Staying safe outside your home
The Government has published guidance to set out the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent with others outside your home is as safe as possible.
If you are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, you should follow the guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people.
New road signs for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to help social distancing
The Department for Transport has issued statutory guidance for local authorities to help reallocate road space to ensure adherence to social distancing rules.
The Government hopes that people will avoid public transport and will instead travel by car or if possible, walk or cycle.
On Friday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also announced a £2 billion package to put cycling and walking at the heart of Government’s transport policy.
CMA expectations around customer refunds
Government guidance published by the Competition & Markets Authority states that consumer protection law will generally allow consumers to obtain a refund.
For most consumer contracts the CMA would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund where:
- a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services;
- no service is provided by a business, for example because this is prevented by Government public health measures;
- a consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.
Company car guidance during Covid
HMRC has published new guidance on the treatment of Benefit-in-Kind and company cars during the Covid crisis.
Where restrictions on movement apply because of coronavirus and prevent the car from being handed back or collected, HMRC will accept that a company car is unavailable in the following circumstances:
- where the contract has terminated - from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer
- where the contract has not been terminated – after 30 consecutive days from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer
It also recognises that following relaxation of coronavirus restrictions it may take some time to return cars where contracts have been terminated. If your employee continues to have no access to the keys until the car is collected from them, HMRC will still regard the car as being unavailable.
Cyber security awareness
National cyber security authorities have issued guidance to help businesses to protect themselves against cyber criminals who are targeting individuals, small and medium enterprises, and large organizations worldwide with COVID-19-related scams and phishing campaigns.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, have seen an increase in malicious activity with themes related to COVID-19 and are warning people to be extra vigilant.
New car and van registrations plummet during Covid crisis
Latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures published yesterday show a record fall in new car registrations with April figures down -97.3% as coronavirus shuts showrooms.
April saw 4,321 new car registrations as deliveries continue to frontline workers and organisations. In stark contrast, there were 161,064 new cars registered in April last year.
The SMMT are predicting that the year will end with around 1.68 million new car registrations during 2020. The lowest since 1992.
The picture was equally as bleak in the new van market with new light commercial vehicle registrations down -86.2% in April compared to the same period last year.
Year-to-date performance for both car and van registrations is almost half that of 2019.
Business rates revaluation postponed
A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms. This comes after the business rates retail discount was increased to 100% from 50% for 2020 to 2021 to help businesses affected by the impacts of coronavirus.
The government is continuing work on the fundamental review of business rates, with the key aims of reducing the overall burden on businesses, improving the current business rates system, and considering more fundamental changes in the medium-to-long term.
Government explores options to wind down furlough scheme
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to wind down the furlough scheme from July and is exploring options to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ for businesses and employees currently relying on this support.
HM Treasury is still considering several options for tapering the furlough scheme, including cutting the 80% wage subsidy paid by the state to 60% and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments.
Plans are expected to be announced before the middle of May.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that the scheme could cost £42bn over three months if as many as 8.3 million people are furloughed at an 80% subsidy.
Self-employed invited to get ready to make their claims for support
Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.
You can check your eligibility using the new online checker tool. Once the online check is complete, those who are eligible will be given a date when they can submit their claim.
The claims service will open on 13 May and is being delivered ahead of the original timetable. The claims process will be very simple, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim.
There is also further guidance available on ‘How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ and ‘How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’.
Furlough scheme not sustainable long-term
In a recent interview Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged that, with over half of all adults currently being paid by the state, the furlough scheme is not a long-term sustainable solution.
Nonetheless, he indicated that the scheme will not be stopped abruptly, saying: “to anyone that is anxious about this [the end of the scheme] I want to give them reassurance today that there will be no cliff edge to the furlough scheme. I’m working, as we speak, to figure out the most effective way to wind down the scheme and to ease people back into work in a measured way.”
The BVRLA continues to call upon Government to ask for a more flexible approach that enables businesses to have the option of furloughing staff on a part-time basis as part of phasing in a safe return to work.
Local authority payments to small and medium sized businesses
As at 3 May, over £8.6 billion had been paid out to over 697,000 organisations, according to Government figures showing local authority grant payments.
The figures include payments of the Small Business Grants Fund scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund.
To date, around three-quarters of eligible businesses have applied for the grants, funded by a £12.3 billion allocation from central government to local authorities across England.
Government launches test, track and trace plan
Isle of Wight residents will be the first to get access to a new contact tracing app as part of government action to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
The Isle of Wight was chosen to trial the project because it has a single NHS trust that covers all NHS services on the island. Everyone on the island will receive access to the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app from this Thursday, with NHS and council staff able to download from 4pm today, Tuesday 5 May.
The app is part of the government’s next phase of the coronavirus strategy and will improve understanding of how a new integrated approach to test, track and trace will work for the rest of the population.
Applications open today for new loan scheme
On Friday, the Chancellor sent a letter to all accredited lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) setting out the interest rate that Bounce Back Loans will be offered at and outlining legislative and regulatory changes being made to support the delivery of the scheme.
Top-up to local business grant funds scheme
A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses in England previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures. Local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.
PM to outline plan for phased easing of lockdown
Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement on Sunday 10 May outlining the Government’s roadmap to unlock various parts of the UK economy.
The lifting of lockdown measures is not expected to happen all at once and will instead be phased in gradually, allowing the government to monitor the impact of changes at a national and local level.
The Government will closely monitor the impact of any easing of restrictions and will reintroduce any measures that might be required to deal with a localised coronavirus outbreak.
BVRLA works with BEIS on ‘back-to-business' guidance
BEIS is working with management consultancy EY to produce guidance aimed at helping British industry to resume its business activity in a safe way.
It is looking to structure this by workplace environment - retail, hospitality, distribution & logistics, offices, etc - rather than by sector or industry type.
EY is co-ordinating the input from industry, trade unions and others and the BVRLA has been providing specific input and feedback on behalf of the vehicle rental, leasing and fleet sector.
Proposals being considered for how workplaces might operate following the easing of lockdown restrictions include:
- Firms will be expected to implement staggered shifts and keep employees two meters apart where possible. If it is not possible for workers to stay two meters apart, additional measures should be implemented, such as the use of PPE and additional hygiene procedures. Workers may also be allowed to be closer than two meters apart, although only for a very limited time period.
- In offices, hot desking will be stopped, canteens closed, lifts kept half-empty and employees told to try to avoid face-to-face meetings. Workers that deal with customers will have to be protected by plastic screens and appropriate safety equipment.
- Workers who can work from home will be encouraged to do so, potentially for months, to ease the burden on a severely restricted public transport system.
- Workers considered vulnerable (for instance those over 70, pregnant, or with underlying organ or respiratory problems) but who cannot work from home should be put in the ‘safest possible roles’ in the workplace.
- Businesses will be asked to provide more parking spaces to allow colleagues to travel into work separately, alongside additional bike parking.
- Every firm with more than five staff will have to produce a document setting out how the firm will maintain safe working during the current pandemic.
Supplies of PPE
The government would like to get an industry perspective on the availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). It is particularly interested in understanding:
- What type of PPE is required for your business to enable safer working? Can the amount be qualified or quantified?
- What other measures (other than or alongside PPE) need to be in place for business in your sector to operate safely?
- Are you experiencing shortages of traditional PPE (e.g. dust masks)?
- How critical is the need for your sector to access PPE in order to operate safely (bearing in mind the need for critical workers to receive these resources first)?
It has asked the BVRLA to collate some input on behalf of the vehicle rental, leasing and fleet sectors. To share your views, please get in touch with BVRLA Fleet Services Director, Amanda Brandon at email@example.com.
BVRLA collaborates on operational guidance
The BVRLA is working with other trade bodies in the automotive industry to develop some COVID-19 safety guidance on key operational issues, including vehicle collections, deliveries and cleaning.
If there are any other operational issues that you would like to see covered by this kind of industry-wide guidance, please get in touch with BVRLA Fleet Services Director, Amanda Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government invites key workers to get tested
Government is encouraging key workers who cannot work from home to apply for a coronavirus test. Tests are completely voluntary, and you do not have to take it, but are encouraged to do so.
The test will confirm whether you currently have coronavirus, enabling you to take the right steps to look after yourself, protect others, know if you are fit and well to return to your critical role and potentially reduce the amount of time you have to self-isolate for.
There are three ways testing can be done. Either at home, at a mobile unit or at a regional test site. The Government has published full details on how the data being collated will be used.
The BVRLA website is updated daily with Covid-19 Business advice and information
As well as receiving these Covid-19 Bulletin emails, members are also reminded that the BVRLA website contains a dedicated Covid-19 Business Advice section hosting all the latest information as well as the previous Covid-19 Bulletins that have been issued since they launched on 17 March.
If you have a colleague who would also like to receive the BVRLA Covid-19 Bulletin, they should email BVRLA Communications Manager Andrea Davies at email@example.com
Coronavirus: what you can and can’t do
The Government has today published a set of frequently asked questions, helping people to understand what they can and cannot do during the coronavirus outbreak.
Guidance for firms handling complaints during the Covid crisis
The Financial Conduct Authority has today published information clarifying how firms should handle complaints during the coronavirus crisis.
The FCA understands that firms’ capacity to handle complaints could be reduced as a result of coronavirus, but they expect firms to prioritise the following three things:
- paying promptly complainants who have been offered redress and accepted that offer
- the prompt and fair resolution of complaints from:
- consumers who are likely to be vulnerable to harm if their complaint is not resolved promptly and fairly, and
- micro-enterprises and small businesses who are likely to face serious financial difficulties if their complaint is not resolved promptly and fairly
- sending timely holding responses to those complainants in 2. where their complaints cannot be resolved promptly
If firms cannot deliver these priorities effectively through home working, then there should be a minimal physical onsite presence needed to do so, provided that the site is configured for social distancing in line with Government guidelines.
The regulator reiterates that firms should take all reasonable steps to ensure as much complaint handling as possible continues through staff working from home, where this can be done fairly and effectively.
Businesses warned of increase in Mandate Fraud
The UK’s Counter Fraud function is warning businesses of an emerging trend in ‘Mandate Fraud’ as criminals look to exploit the fact that the public sector is rapidly changing ways of working, spending money quickly to deal with COVID-19.
Mandate Fraud is a fraudulent request to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate in order to divert payments or to create new payments.
It can affect customer, supplier or employee bank accounts and is also known as creditor fraud, payment diversion fraud or supplier account takeover fraud.
The BVRLA website is updated daily with Covid-19 Business advice and information
As well as receiving these Covid-19 Bulletin emails, members are also reminded that the BVRLA website contains a dedicated Covid-19 Business Advice section hosting all the latest information as well as the previous Covid-19 Bulletins that have been issued since they launched on 17 March.
Five tests that will determine UK Covid response
The Government has outlined five tests that remain key when determining the strategy to manage the UK’s Covid response and any exit from the current ‘lockdown’. They state that we must:
- continue to boost NHS capacity, preventing it from being overwhelmed.
- see a sustained and consistent fall in the number of deaths.
- see further reductions in the rate of infection to manageable levels, across all the relevant areas and settings.
- be confident that the NHS will be able to cope with future demands, including as a result of any changes to existing measures or new measures we need to take.
- be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.
Delivering yesterday’s daily coronavirus press conference, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “A second spike would be harmful to public health, resulting in many more deaths from Covid-19. That itself would lead to a second lockdown, inflicting further prolonged economic pain on the country.”
Government ramps up on Covid-19 testing
The Government has announced a major new programme of home testing for coronavirus to track the progress of the infection across England.
In the first part of the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-1) programme, 100,000 randomly selected people from 315 local authorities across England will be invited to provide nose and throat swabs, which will be tested for antigens indicating the presence of the virus. This kind of test looks for evidence that someone is currently infected with the coronavirus.
In the second part of the programme (REACT-2), a number of different antibody tests will be assessed for their accuracy and ease of use at home.
The programme forms part of the government’s COVID-19 testing strategy
CBI Survey highlights car dealers as having a tough time
April’s monthly health check of high street and online sales from the CBI reported that two-thirds of businesses had been adversely affected by the pandemic and almost all said they were experiencing cashflow problems.
Wholesalers and car dealers – also covered by the survey – had an even tougher start to the lockdown than retailers.
The CBI said 79% of retailers were suffering from an annual fall in business against 11% reporting an increase, but every one of the 24 motor traders surveyed said activity was down.
According to the survey, which was carried out between 27 March and 15 April:
67% of retailers said the Covid-19 outbreak was having a significant negative impact on their sales.
39% of retailers reported a total shutdown of UK activity due to the outbreak.
44% of retailers reported furloughing staff, while 8% reported permanent staff layoffs.
96% of retailers reported cashflow difficulties, with 40% facing difficulties meeting tax liabilities. A further 31% of retailers also faced constraints on the availability of external finance.
Private sector will carry deep scars following lockdown
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) says that Britain’s economy is likely to lose out on £800bn of income over the next 10 years as the lockdown and a spike in unemployment leave deep scars on the private sector.
The thinktank expects the economy to bounce back next year, but not to its previous level and with the unemployment rate still above 5% after hitting 10.5% this year.
A second peak in the coronavirus outbreak or a prolonged shutdown into the summer would add between a third and a half more to the loss of income this year, NIESR added.
NIESR estimates that the global economy will shrink by 3.5% compared with just 0.5% following the financial crash in 2008, before bouncing back by 7% next year.
The BVRLA website is updated daily with Covid-19 Business advice and information
As well as receiving these Covid-19 Bulletin emails, members are also reminded that the BVRLA website contains a dedicated Covid-19 Business Advice section hosting all the latest information as well as the previous Covid-19 Bulletins that have been issued since they launched on 17 March.
Lenders relax evidence requirements for coronavirus loan scheme applications
To speed up the provision of finance to small and medium-sized businesses under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the largest seven SME lenders (Barclays Bank UK, Danske Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Santander and Virgin Money) have stated that rather than relying on businesses providing forecasts and business plans in applications, lenders will use their own information.
While the exact details of the changes are still to be released, the moves should make the loan scheme easier to access and make the application process quicker.
Coronavirus testing expanded to include all essential workers with symptoms
Coronavirus testing in England has now been expanded to include any worker who needs to leave home to travel to work and cannot work from home.
The guidance has now been updated and the full list for testing now includes:
- all those working on the frontline in health and social care (with or without symptoms)
- patients in the NHS and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms)
- all other essential workers with symptoms
- people who live with essential workers and have symptoms
- people over 65 with symptoms
- anyone who goes into work because they cannot work from home (for example, construction workers) and has symptoms
VED consultation extended along with nine other tax policy consultations
HM Treasury and HMRC have set out new timelines for tax policy consultations extending the deadlines for responses to ten tax policy consultations and calls for evidence by three months.
The Call for evidence on Vehicle Excise Duty is amongst the delayed consultations, which has now been extended to 3 September 2020.
The government’s position on publication of tax policy documents will be kept updated through the public consultations tracker.
Guidance for cleaning of non-healthcare settings
The Government has issued revised guidance for businesses on how to safety clean areas in non-healthcare settings such as:
- waiting rooms
- hotel rooms
- student accommodation
The guidance describes the cleaning required, the appropriate disposal of materials, the cleaning of equipment and hard surfaces, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be worn.
Wages for furloughed staff are now being paid through the Job Retention Scheme
Those who have already made a claim should receive payment within six working days from when a claim was submitted, and it will automatically be sent to the bank account you nominated.
Those who have not yet made a claim can still claim online for a grant for 80% of your furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month. You will receive the funds six working days after you claim, provided your claim matches records that HMRC holds for your PAYE scheme.
Please continue to keep furloughed staff informed and ask them not to contact HMRC directly.
BEIS hosts webinar on financial support for small businesses
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is inviting businesses to register to join a free webinar hosted at 11am on Tuesday 5 May to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses.
HMRC hosts webinar on Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
HMRC is inviting businesses to register to join a free webinar providing an overview of the SSP rebate scheme, including:
- who can claim
- when to start paying SSP
- employees you can claim for
- making a claim
- keeping records
The webinar is being ran several times between 29 April and 1 May, enabling you to choose the time that best suits you.
New loan scheme for small businesses to boost cashflow within days
The Chancellor has introduced a new Bounce Back Loans scheme which will allow businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.
From Monday 4 May, businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.
The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months, providing businesses with a one-year interest free loan. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.
Firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders. The government will work with lenders to ensure loans delivered through this scheme are advanced as quickly as possible and agree a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
BVRLA explores options for getting the sector back up and running safely
The BVRLA is working with members and talking to industry colleagues and government to explore ways in which the sector can get back to work in a sustainable way.
One of the things being discussed is a more flexible type of furloughing that would allow firms to bring staff back to work on a part-time basis. This call was recently echoed by the New Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds MP, who cited Switzerland as an example for the UK to follow.
The BVRLA is currently working on a policy paper on this topic. If any members would like to provide some input, they can contact BVRLA Senior Policy Advisor, Catherine Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public invited to ask questions at daily coronavirus press conference
The Government has changed the format of the daily coronavirus conference to now also include questions from the public.
Anybody over 18 years old can submit a question and questions are reviewed at midday on the day of the press conference, with one selected each day. So far 15,000 questions have been submitted. You can submit questions at www.gov.uk/ask.
Update on VAT deferment
The Government has published updated guidance on Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus, to help businesses manage their cashflow.
You can only defer:
- quarterly and monthly VAT returns’ payments for the periods ending in February, March and April
- payments on account due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020
- annual accounting advance payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020
Guidance to protect your business against scams and fraud
With people spending more time at home and online, criminals are using every opportunity they can to scam innocent people and their businesses.
This guidance explains the simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your business against fraud and cybercrime and where to get help.
New guidance on COVID-19 and salary sacrifice arrangements
The HMRC’s recent Employer Bulletin included some updated guidance for employers on salary sacrifice arrangements which make allowances for the impact of COVID-19.
Its rules allow for employees to opt out of a salary sacrifice arrangement if their financial circumstances have been significantly impacted by a change in their lifestyle - for example a marriage, divorce or partner becoming pregnant or being made redundant.
The new guidance means that employees whose circumstances have now changed because of the coronavirus can now approach their employer to have their salary sacrifice agreement terminated early, with a resulting uplift in their salary as the sum previously sacrificed is returned. Similarly, employers can use the same criteria to suspend or terminate an employee’s salary sacrifice arrangement – with their agreement.
Transport Routes Support Package
The Government is introducing a range of measures to keep trade routes open, including:
- pledges to protect flow of goods between the UK, mainland Europe and Northern Ireland.
- UK, Ireland and France agreeing joint commitment to protecting freight during pandemic
- light rail systems in Sheffield, Manchester, West Midlands, Nottingham and Tyne and Wear also set to receive support
- thousands of volunteers from transport sector are put on standby to support frontline services as new ‘Transport Support Unit’ established, alongside hundreds of government vehicles from the transport network
Grant Funds Subject to Tax
The Government has updated the Guidance on the grant fund schemes to clarify that all grants made under the scheme are subject to tax should the business make a profit during the current financial year.
FCA confirms its stance on motor finance during the coronavirus crisis
The FCA has finalised its position on the support it expects motor finance providers to give to consumer credit customers that are experiencing coronavirus-related payment difficulties.
The authority has also published guidance to accompany the measures, which come into force from Monday 27th April and are expected to last for three months. The key points are:
- Payment deferrals: the FCA will require firms to provide a three-month payment deferral, unless they can make a case that this is obviously not in the customer’s interests to do so. In such cases, firms should provide other ways to help these customers, for example by offering shorter payment deferral periods, reduced payments or a rescheduled term. The guidance does not prevent firms from considering individual customer circumstances, including looking at a customer’s income and expenditure.
- Pre-existing factors & repossessions: where a customer was already experiencing payment difficulties unrelated to coronavirus, the FCA’s existing forbearance rules and guidance in CONC will continue to apply. The FCA moratorium on repossessions is limited to those consumers who are experiencing temporary payment difficulties as a result of circumstances relating to coronavirus and need use of a vehicle.
- Financial impact on firms: FCA is engaging with firms to understand their financial position. Where firms are concerned about the impact of providing payment deferrals or other forbearance according to the new guidance, they should contact the authority as soon as possible.
- Consumer Credit Act: The FCA does not consider that the measures set out in the guidance should result in firms being unable to comply with statutory requirements. It is happy with additional communication being sent with notices of sums in arrears to explain why the notice has been sent.
The BVRLA welcomes the flexibility and pragmatism provided in the guidance, but continues to engage with the FCA and HM Treasury on some vital related issues:
- The need for government to underwrite the full economic loss of providing coronavirus forbearance
- The government should temporarily relax the constraints of meeting the Consumer Credit Act’s administrative requirements
- The government should act to ensure that bank covenants don’t prevent leasing companies from offering coronavirus forbearance
- The FCA should provide a clear message that a three-month payment deferral will not be the automatic response to every forbearance request
The BVRLA will be hosting a free webinar on coronavirus forbearance on 28 April. You can find more details and register on our website.
Government provides more protection against aggressive rent recovery
The government has introduced new measures to protect tenants from landlords using hardline debt recovery tactics.
The plans outlined by Business Secretary Alok Sharma are intended to support businesses that are struggling to pay their bills due to the coronavirus. The measures include:
- A temporary ban on the use of statutory demands and winding-up orders
- Preventing landlords from using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent
The new legislation to protect tenants will be in force until 30 June, and can be extended in line with the previously announced moratorium on commercial lease forfeiture.
The Business Secretary said: “In this exceptional time for the UK, it is vital that we ensure businesses are kept afloat so that they can continue to provide the jobs our economy needs beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our unprecedented package of support can help commercial landlords, including through the recent expansion of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme.
“I know that, like all businesses, they are under pressure, but I would urge them to show forbearance to their tenants. I am also taking steps to ensure the minority of landlords using aggressive tactics to collect their rents can no longer do so while the COVID-19 emergency continues.”
The BVRLA wrote to Alok Sharma on 14th April asking him to help protect its members from hardline landlords during the current crisis.
Operational guidance during Covid-19
The BVRLA is developing a set of guidelines and best practice to help members operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
This will include advice on producing branch or office checklists; vehicle collections and deliveries; customer interactions; vehicle cleaning and other key business processes that are impacted by the need for social distancing and sanitisation.
If you would like to contribute to this guidance or can share examples and pictures of how you are already addressing these issues, please get in touch with Amanda Brandon, Director of Fleet Services on email@example.com.
The association is also looking to work with colleagues across the automotive and financial supply chain to ensure that attempts to return to ‘business as usual’ are as co-ordinated as possible. If you have any suggestions or feedback on this topic, please get in touch with Toby Poston, Director of Corporate Affairs on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Covid-19 testing available for transport workers
The government has now extended its testing programme to include essential and other priority workers that are self-isolating. The updated website includes details of how to apply for tests and what the process involves.
The criteria for workers that can be tested in England includes people working on transport systems and with essential supply chains. Links to the criteria being used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on the same page.
Early feedback from government is that certain vehicle rental staff are likely to be covered by these criteria if they can show that they are working with essential services and supply chains.
The BVRLA will provide further clarification on this topic when it arrives.
HMRC updates employers on COVID-19 measures and Company Car Tax
HMRC has published its latest Employer Bulletin, which includes a host of information on COVID-19 support measures as well as updates on Company Car Tax and Advisory Fuel Rates.
FCA introduces temporary measures
The Financial Conduct Authority has introduced some temporary measures for firms submitting regulatory returns. The extension applies for submissions that are due up to and including 30 June 2020.
For small or medium-size businesses (paying less than £10,000 in fees and levies in 2020/2021) the administrative fee for late returns has also been waived until 30 June 2020.
Short video on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The HMRC has published a 25-minute video on their YouTube channel talking about the Job Retention Scheme. Members are encouraged to take a look.
Economic Impact Analysis
The Centre for Cities has produced an analysis of which cities they believe will suffer the greatest economic impact as a result of Covid-19.
The analysis is based on a model whereby various industries are categorised on the basis of the expected impact of the disease classifying them as either “Unaffected or Higher Demand”, “Affected”, “Vulnerable” or “Very Vulnerable” based on the percentage of businesses they have in each impacted category.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a new marketing campaign, #TogetherInTravel, aimed at galvanizing the global travel and tourism community and showing how the sector is a vital part of life.
Recognising that need to get people travelling again once this pandemic is over, the WTTC has launched the campaign encouraging travellers from around the world to share the hashtag #TogetherInTravel along with a video uniting everyone. Here’s a link for businesses that explains how they can get involved in the campaign.
Online tool to help businesses see what financial support is available for them
The Government has launched a new Business Support Finder to help employers easily identify what support is available to them and their business.
The finder tool on GOV.UK will ask business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire, which can take minutes to complete. They will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.
The Government hopes that the financial business support on offer will save millions of jobs that would otherwise be lost. At 8am yesterday, HMRC opened the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme and by 4pm, over 140,000 firms had applied.
Grant funding provided to businesses by local authorities in England
The Government has published data on the amount of money distributed to SMEs by every local authority in England as part of the two grant schemes launched to help businesses deal with Covid-19.
The UK government has distributed £12.3 billion to local authorities in England, and as of 20 April 2020, £6.11 billion has been paid out to 491,725 businesses properties, approximately half of the grant funding allocated (49.58%).
Simon Clarke, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, wrote to local authorities yesterday. He thanked councils for their efforts responding to the coronavirus pandemic and provided further details of the support on offer, including the additional £1.6 billion of new funding to help councils across the country through the coronavirus pandemic, which takes the total funding provided to £3.2 billion.
Government has taken further action to support bus and lorry drivers
Temporary changes have been applied to help keep 30,000 drivers on the road each month – essential to keeping key supply chains flowing.
The changes - which apply to drivers whose licences are due to expire or have expired since 1 January 2020 - include:
- temporary removal of the routine D4 medical
- as long as they are fit to drive, applicants will be able to apply for a one-year licence without the need to provide further medical evidence
The DVLA has assured the BVRLA that these licence renewal applications are being given the highest priority.
Members are advised that there is a specific address that these applications must be sent to: DVLA, Swansea SA99 1BR.
DVLA extends deregistration period
The DVLA has extended the period after registration in which a vehicle can be deregistered from seven working days to 14 working days.
Members may wish to liaise with dealers, where possible, to see if vehicles which were due to be delivered on the cusp of the lockdown and are no longer required can be deregistered.
DVLA warns of fraudulent websites
The DVLA is warning drivers about misleading third-party websites passing themselves off as DVLA.
These sites might, for example, offer to help you apply for a driving licence, tax your car or connect you to a DVLA contact centre. These sites will often charge additional fees for services that you can get for free or at a lower cost on GOV.UK.
To try and pass themselves off as genuine, these sites might include ‘DVLA’ in their web address (URL). They might also design their site to appear as if it’s DVLA - for example, using DVLA’s old ‘green triangle’ logo, which is no longer in use.
Don’t be fooled by these sites - even if they appear at the top of search engine results. Always double check you’re using GOV.UK.
Job Retention Scheme extended by one month to the end of June
On Friday, the Chancellor announced a one-month extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In his announcement, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:
“With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.
“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery.”
The online system, enabling employers to claim towards furloughed staff’s wages, opened today and is said to be able to process up to 450,000 applications per hour.
To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April. Employers should receive the money within 6 working days of making an application. Members are advised to keep a note or print-out of their claim reference number as they won’t receive a confirmation SMS or email.
Traffic to the site is very busy and the Government has provided a tracker that monitors it and updates you on availability.
BVRLA responds to FCA’s coronavirus forbearance guidance
The BVRLA has urged the FCA to work with government in developing a co-ordinated strategy on motor finance forbearance during the COVID-19 crisis.
The association has today responded to FCA’s draft guidance on motor finance, which said that leasing companies must offer a three-month payment freeze or another alternative which is in the best interests of the customer.
While welcoming the flexibility within the guidance, the BVRLA uses its response to make the case for a comprehensive approach from government and regulators that:
Underwrites the full economic loss resulting from coronavirus forbearance
Relaxes the constraints of meeting Consumer Credit Act administrative requirements
Ensures that bank covenants don’t stop lease companies providing forbearance
Delivers a clear message to consumers that a three-month payment deferral is not the automatic response to every forbearance request
The BVRLA’s full response can be downloaded from our website. The FCA is expected to publish its final guidance shortly.
£1.25 billion support package announced for innovative firms
Today, the Chancellor has announced a £500 million Future Fund designed to ensure high-growth companies across the UK receive the investment they need to continue during the crisis. In addition, £750 million of grants and loans will be available to SMEs focusing on research and development.
Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and launching in May, the Future Fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the government, with private investors at least matching the government commitment. These loans will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are not repaid.
To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years.
The scheme, which will initially be open until the end of September, will be kept under review.
Concerns around forfeiting commercial leases if rent is not paid.
The BVRLA has sent an urgent letter to the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, raising concerns on loopholes in the Coronavirus Act 2020 legislation in relation to the forfeiting of commercial leases if rent is not paid.
The association is concerned that, although the legislation restricts landlords from terminating the lease if rent is not paid, landlords are not prohibited from:
Issuing a statutory demand that requires payment within 21 days, or the possibility of a court instructing that a business be wound-up;
Issuing debt recovery proceedings where a landlord is likely to obtain a default judgement within one month of serving the proceedings. This would be immediately enforceable by enforcement agents/bailiffs; and
Initiating Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) which enables a bailiff to attend the premises and seize assets upon expiry of a seven-day notice. The CRAR is a major risk for vehicle rental operators who have many valuable assets on site (i.e. vehicles).
In its letter, the BVRLA has urged the Government to close these loopholes to protect businesses and apply restrictions on forfeiture to the other legal remedies that landlords can still use.
RIDDOR advice updated to include Covid-19
RIDDOR, (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013), has been updated to include new advice of the reporting of COVID-19.
This follows a joint statement from the HSE, CBI and TUC saying that businesses staying open during the coronavirus must guarantee safe working conditions including social distancing.
You must only make a report under RIDDOR when:
an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.
Read more on RIDDOR reporting of Covid-19 on the Health & Safety Executive website.
Government pledges extra £1.6 billion for councils
Councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion.
This will mean an extra £300 million for the devolved administrations, £155 million for Scotland, £95 million for Wales and £50 million for Northern Ireland.
FCA proposes measures to help motor finance customers facing financial difficulties
The Financial Conduct Authority has announced a proposed package of coronavirus support measures for consumers having difficulties paying their motor finance, including personal contract hire products.
More details can be found in the regulator’s draft temporary guidance for firms offering Motor finance.
If customers are experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus, the FCA is expecting firms to:
offer a 3-month payment freeze or another alternative which is in the best interests of the customer
not take steps to end the agreement or repossess the vehicle
The measures outlined today do not prevent firms from providing more favourable forms of assistance to any customer, including a longer payment freeze, if appropriate.
There is no expectation under this guidance that the firm makes enquiries with each customer to determine the circumstances surrounding a request for a payment deferral, or whether this is not in the customer’s interests. Where a term is being extended, firms should bring to the attention of the customer the need to consider wider implications of the extension – such as potential knock-on effects on insurance, warranties, breakdown cover or MOT.
The BVRLA, together with the Finance & Leasing Association, continues to share its industry views with the FCA and will be submitting a response to today’s proposals by Monday’s deadline. Members wanting to share their views should contact BVRLA Director of Fleet Services, Amanda Brandon Amanda@bvrla.co.uk by 4pm today (Friday 17 April).
The FCA expects to finalise proposals by Friday 24 April 2020, with them coming into force shortly afterwards.
Get ready to claim via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The online service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme launches on Monday and members are being encouraged to get prepared with everything they need to go through the claims process.
To make a claim you will need:
a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'
be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'
the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: name, National Insurance Number, claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.
You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims.
Chancellor expands funding to include large businesses
A government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms.
Launching on Monday, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be available to all viable large businesses and will enable:
businesses with turnover of more than £45m to apply for up to £25 million of finance
Businesses with turnover of more than £250 million to apply for up to £50 million
The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.
The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance.
This complements existing support available for businesses large and small, including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, tax deferrals, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, cash grants for small businesses, and covering the cost of statutory sick pay.
Companies House supports businesses impacted by Covid-19
Companies House has today announced that it will temporarily pause the strike-off process to prevent companies being dissolved.
This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck-off the register.
In addition, companies issued with a late filing penalty due to Covid-19 will have appeals treated sympathetically.
Today’s announcement builds on measures already implemented by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which give businesses the ability to apply for a 3-month extension to file accounts with Companies House.
Relaxation of driver’ hours extended by a further month
The drivers’ hours relaxations that began on Monday 23 March 2020 and were due to end on 21 April 2020, will now run until 31 May 2020.
A specific review of the continuation of the relaxations past 21 April has been conducted and, on the basis of the current evidence, a decision has been made to continue with the relaxations, (apart from the relaxation on break requirements) until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relaxations where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys.
Covid-19 fraud and scams on the rise
Led by UK Finance, and backed by the Government, the Take Five campaign has launched a web page to promote awareness of Covid-19 related fraud and scams.
Unscrupulous criminals are using the publicity around coronavirus as a chance to target businesses and individuals with fraudulent emails, phone calls, texts messages and social media posts.
Fraud poses a major threat to the UK and although it is a crime that the finance industry is committed to tackling, it requires the combined efforts of every sector, both public and private, to overcome.
Members are advised to visit the campaign page to ensure vigilance and help protect your business against scams.
Important change to eligibility of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Chancellor has made a Treasury Direction under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which sets out the legal framework for the Scheme, including an important change to the scheme’s employee eligibility criteria.
The Direction states that:
The employer must have a pay as you earn (“PAYE”) scheme registered on HMRC’s real time information system for PAYE on 19 March 2020 (“a qualifying PAYE scheme”).
Previously the cut-off date was 28 February 2020. The updated criteria includes:
- you can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date; this means that you will have made an RTI submission notifying HMRC of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020
- employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC in an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.
The BVRLA has raised concerns to ministers that those companies who make their RTI submissions on or after the 20th of each month, and will have to use their February RTI submission, could be disadvantaged as new employees could be left out of scope of the scheme.
The association is suggesting that it would be sensible to base employee eligibility criteria on an employee’s start date.
Government data on transport use
The Government has started to publish the transport data that is sent by the Department for Transport to the Cabinet Office each day for use in the government’s daily media briefings.
It shows changes in:
- road traffic in Great Britain
- rail passenger journeys in the UK
- rail station concourse footfall at a set of monitored stations
- Transport for London’s (TfL) tube and bus routes
- bus travel in Great Britain (excluding London)
The data is compiled in as near to real time as possible and also includes a document setting out information on the data sources and methodology used to generate each of the headline measures.
All the slides and datasets that have been used to accompany coronavirus press conferences can be found on this new web page.
Economic scenario by the OBR predicts tough times ahead
The Office for Budget Responsibility has published an economic scenario based on an assumption that there will be a three-month lockdown followed by another three-month period where measures are partially lifted.
The OBR, created in 2010 to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances, does not attempt to predict how long the economic lockdown will last – that is a matter for the Government, informed by medical advice. It does, however, aim to illustrate some of the potential fiscal effects of the coronavirus crisis on the UK economy.
For now, the assumption is that there will be an economic shock with real GDP falling 35 per cent in the second quarter, but bouncing back quickly. The scenario also sees unemployment rising by more than 2 million to 10 per cent in the second quarter.
If the scenario proves to be correct, then lockdown would end around mid-June and restrictions would end mid-September. Actual timescales will depend on how successful the public health measures are in containing the outbreak.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Updated guidance has been released for the government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), providing further clarity on the claiming of grants and how HMRC will work out total income and trading profits.
Updates to the guidance cover:
- Detail of the treatment of losses, averaging and multiple trades
- Clarifications on the calculation of self-employed profits and what is meant by total income
- Confirmation that individuals can continue working, including taking on employment
- Confirmation that owner-managers of Ltd companies can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for their salary
- Confirmation that individuals can access Universal Credit and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- Clarification on overlaps between the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (e.g. you can claim the SEISS and continue working).
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Updates to the guidance cover:
- Confirmation of what should form the basis for furlough pay for employees furloughed on return from (maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption/sick/parental bereavement) leave;
- Confirming employees subject to TUPE transfer/ business reorganisation/ payroll consolidation can be furloughed
- Confirming position for contractors in scope of IR35 in the public sector
- More information on what information employers need to claim the grant
- Clarifying circumstances where an employee shouldn’t be furloughed by multiple employers
BVRLA calls for support to help members offer forbearance
The BVRLA has stepped up engagement with policymakers and regulators to ensure that all members have access to government funding support and are able to offer forbearance to their customers facing financial difficulties.
This comes in a week when Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is expected to publish a consultation on motor finance forbearance required due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Treasury Select Committee is assessing the government’s COVID-19 financial support packages.
Toby Poston, BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs said: “We have had briefings with the Treasury Consumer Credit Team, the FCA Motor Finance team and Treasury Select Committee. We have also written a letter to the HM Treasury Financial Secretary, Jesse Norman MP.
“In conjunction with our colleagues at the Finance & Leasing Association, we have been suggesting ways in which the Government’s financial support packages can get through to the non-bank owned parts of the vehicle leasing sector. The policymakers and regulators we have spoken to are really keen to help and we have been providing feedback from BVRLA members on what kind of assistance their customers need.”
Claiming for employees’ wages under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The online service you will use to claim is expected to be available on 20 April to allow HMRC to begin making payments from 30 April, for companies where this is their payday.
HMRC will pay money into the employers' bank accounts within four to six working days of receiving a claim.
There are things that you can do now to be ready when the system is up and running later this month.
You’ll need to provide the following to make a claim:
The bank account number and sort code you’d like HMRC to use when they pay your claim.
The name and phone number of the person in your business for HMRC to call with any questions.
Your Self-Assessment UTR (Unique Tax Reference), Company UTR or CRN (Company Registration Number).
The name, employee number and National Insurance number for each of your furloughed employees.
The total amount being claimed for all employees and the total furlough period.
If you use an agent who is authorised to act for you for PAYE purposes, they will be able to make a claim on your behalf, so you should talk to them now.
However, if you use a file-only agent return but doesn’t act for you in other matters), they won’t be able to make a claim for you and you’ll need the information listed above from them to make the claim yourself.
HMRC chief urges caution to those tempted to abuse the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Any fraudulent claims made under the scheme – for example, where employees have continued to work while furloughed – are likely to result in criminal convictions.
Jim Harra, Chief Executive HM Revenue and Customs said:
“We are aware that some employees have already been reporting that some employers have asked them to work during the furlough period. We expect the vast majority of employers to do the right thing and in fact in many cases they have no choice because people are genuinely furloughed and cannot work.
“But we will be asking anyone who’s got information about the scheme being abused to let us know and there is an online hotline service for any employee who feels they are being asked to be complicit in something they don’t want to be complicit in.”
Important message to the transport industry from the Secretary of State
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has written a letter of thanks to the transport industry, emphasising the importance of keeping staff safe by adhering to social distancing rules and the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
“During this period of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty, the transport industry has risen magnificently to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus outbreak. You have played a critical role in keeping Britain moving and serving a nation in lockdown and I wanted to thank you for your tireless work, behind the scenes and on the front line.
This week, the Government published Public Health England’s guidance regarding social distancing measures in the workplace. This provides greater detail on how social distancing should be maintained where employees cannot work from home. This guidance, which can be found here, should be followed and I hope that you are already in the process of implementing these measures.
I am aware that concerns have been raised on requirements for PPE. I don’t want anyone working daily on the front line to feel unclear on whether they have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Therefore yesterday, the Government set out its clear, evidence based, strategy providing guidance on the sectors which have a clinical need for PPE. The strategy is available here.”
The BVRLA is asking members to ensure that they read and adhere to the social distancing and PPE guidance.
BVRLA calls for Government to support funders
The BVRLA is working with the Finance & Leasing Association in urging the Government to increase its support for non-bank owned funders.
Currently, non-bank funders are excluded from both the Term Funding Scheme for SMEs, which is open to banks only, and the Covid Corporate Finance Facility.
To meet a huge surge in customer requests for financial support, non-bank funders need access to additional funding on the same terms as their bank-owned counterparts. Some of our suggestions include:
Providing alternative methods for non-bank owned leasing companies to access low-cost term funding or liquidity that can be used to support existing customers, such as a Forbearance Liquidity Funding Scheme.
Expanding the Covid Corporate Finance Facility to provide funding to non-bank owned finance providers.
Opening up the Term Funding Scheme for SMEs to non-bank owned leasing companies.
We will continue to work on this to enable non-bank funders to give appropriate assistance to all individuals and businesses that need support with their vehicle finance costs.
DVLA prioritises services to support critical workers
The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency has confirmed that it is prioritising applications relating to HGV and PCV drivers and critical workers to make sure they get any documentation they need as quickly as possible.
The agency has also produced a set of FAQs for fleets.
Due to staff shortages, the DVLA fleet helpdesk has also reduced its opening hours to 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
All its online services are still available. For more information or to access the services please visit GOV.UK
Social distancing in the workplace
The Government has updated its guidance regarding social distancing measures in the workplace, to provide greater detail on how it can be maintained when employees cannot work from home.
Sector specific guidance is also available and rental operators should read the advice for retail which suggests that you should:
- Manage entry into the store, only allowing a limited number of people into your store at any given time.
- Put up signage to ask customers with symptoms not to enter the store
- Remind both staff and customers to always keep 2 metres from other people, wherever possible.
- Regularly encourage staff to wash their hands with soap and water as often as possible and for 20 seconds every time.
- If feasible, you should also put up plexiglass barriers at all points of regular interaction to further reduce the risk of infection for all parties involved, cleaning the barriers regularly. You should still advise staff to keep 2 metres apart as much as possible.
- Remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating.
Financial support for businesses
The Government has made it easier for businesses to see all the financial support available by brigading all the information in a clearly defined category list published online.
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
HMRC has new online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep. HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.
BVRLA Webinar: Covid-19 Catch up
Over 100 BVRLA members tuned in earlier today to take part in the association’s free Covid-19 Catch up Webinar providing a recap on some of the operational and financial support that is being provided to the vehicle rental and leasing sectors.
The webinar also highlighted some of the key issues that the BVRLA is focusing on during the crisis. Members were able to pose questions, and the BVRLA team is already following up on requests for further guidance on DVLA support and the extension on the MOT/PSV certificates from the NI Government.
Slides from the webinar are available to download.
HMRC Webinars to support employers and the self-employed
HMRC are delivering a programme of webinars on the measures to support employers, people and self-employed individuals through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
You can watch a video of the recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel and you can also register to attend a free webinar to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus by registering here.
Guidance for those using or working in the transport sector
The Government has published transport and travel guidance specifically for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Private parking companies need to be flexible during crisis
BVRLA has worked with the British Parking Association to ask for a more flexible approach to enforcement from private parking companies during the Covid-19 crisis.
- encouraging electronic communication with rental and leasing companies, and
- more time to pay and make representations in recognition of head offices being limited in terms of access for staff
Any specific queries on this from members should be directed to Hayleigh@bvrla.co.uk
State Aid limit on COVID-19 grants
The Government has updated its guidance for businesses setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) to include further information about State Aid restrictions.
For the SBGF, which provides grants of up to £10,000 per site, the cumulative state aid limit on what can be claimed is 200,000 euros per organisation. For the RHLGF, which provides grants of up to £25,000, the cumulative state aid limit on what can be claimed is 800,000 euros.
Can furloughed employees undertake other employment?
HM Treasury has published further information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, providing clarity on whether employees are able to undertake other employment while on furlough.
In case it is helpful to your organisation or those in your networks, full guidance can be found here, but key points for affected individuals include:
- If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme
- You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough
- If you take on new employment, you should make sure you complete the starter checklist form with your new employer correctly
FCA sets out expectations for SM&CR during crisis
The Financial Conduct Authority has outlined its expectations for solo-regulated firms adhering to SM&CR during the Covid-19 crisis.
The regulator has confirmed that is does not require firms to have a single Senior Manager responsible for their coronavirus response and that firms should allocate these responsibilities in the way which best enables them to manage the risks they face.
They also clarify the procedure under the SM&CR for where staff in a Senior Manager position are furloughed.
Key points to note include:
- Firms do not need to submit updated Statements of Responsibilities (SoRs) where a change in Senior Manager is made to cover multiple sicknesses, or other temporary changes in responsibilities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as long as the change is temporary.
- Firms must clearly document everything internally, to ensure that everybody understands who is responsible for what.
- The FCA intends to issue a Modification by Consent to the 12-week rule to support firms using temporary arrangements during the crisis. The 12-week rule allows an individual to cover for a Senior Manager without being approved.
- The FCA states that individuals performing required functions such as Compliance Oversight, the money laundering reporting officer and the Limited Scope Function, should only be furloughed as a last resort.
The FCA does not expect firms to loosen their compliance procedures during this time.
Support for apprentices and employers
The Government has published guidance to support apprentices, employers and training providers to ensure that the UK continues to build the skills and capabilities that the country needs now and in the future.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time.
The use of face masks in the workplace
The guidance for employees, employers and businesses has been updated with guidance on the use of face masks in the community.
The UK does not currently advise use of face masks outside of care settings, in line with PPE guidance, however, Public Health England recommends that employers should ensure that:
- Spaces in the workplace are optimised to allow social distancing to occur, wherever possible
- Signs are visible in the workplace reminding employees not to attend work if they have a fever or cough and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Employees are provided with hand sanitiser for frequent use and regular breaks to allow them to wash their hands for 20 seconds.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme update: Good news for sales staff earning regular commission
The government has published an update on its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, clarifying the fact that workers who earn regular commissions or bonuses can have this income included in their furloughed pay calculations.
This means that employers will be able to claim for any regular, non-discretionary payments that they are obliged to pay to their staff – including overtime, commissions and bonuses. Under the scheme, firms 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.
The key test for including any bonuses and commissions is that the payments are intrinsically linked to the job the person is employed to perform, and that they are paid regularly. Sales staff that are paid bonuses or commissions in each pay period meet this test.
Discretionary bonuses and bonuses are not included.
The updated guidance also tells employers how to claim for employees whose pay varies.
If the employee has been employed for 12 months or more, you can claim the highest of either the:
- same month’s earning from the previous year
- average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year
If the employee has been employed for less than 12 months, you can claim for 80% of their average monthly earnings since they started work.
If the employee only started in February 2020, you should work out a pro-rata figure for their earnings so far and claim for 80%.
The updated guidance on the Job Retention Scheme can be found here.
Vehicle collection and distribution IS permitted during the COVID-19 lockdown
The collection and distribution of vehicles can continue during the current lockdown, if it is done in accordance with current Coronavirus/COVID-19 precautions.
The Department for Transport has now produced two separate letters confirming that vehicles can be collected and distributed, whether it is done in providing vehicle rental services or as part of the wider logistics supply chain.
To support this activity, the BVRLA has collaborated with the SMMT and FLA in producing guidance and best practice advice on how these movements should happen. It includes:
- Social distancing and staff protection measures
- Communication with customers
- Risk assessments
The guidance will be updated as the situation changes and can be found on the BVRLA COVID-19 advice pages.
The BVRLA will be hosting a COVID-19 Catch-up webinar on Wednesday 8 April at 10am.
On this 45-minute webinar the BVRLA team will provide a recap on some of the operational and financial support that has already been provided to the vehicle rental and leasing sector and highlight the issues that we are still focusing on.
If you have any questions that you would like to put to the team, please let us know in advance so that we can be sure of answering them. You can do this by emailing email@example.com
Update on Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
The government has provided more details of its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, which allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees.
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is not available yet. When launched, it will run online and will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:
- have Coronavirus
- cannot work because they are self-isolating at home
Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim.
Government letter supports essential status of vehicle rental
The Department for Transport (DfT) has thanked the vehicle rental sector for supporting essential services and provided a letter confirming that the industry should carry on working to ‘the greatest extent possible’.
In a letter to the BVRLA, DfT Co-Director Ben Rimmington says:
Vehicle rental services were expressly excluded from the list of retail premises ordered to close on 23 March since they supply vehicles that are essential to the continuation of many essential services and basic economic activity. All travel related to the continuation of business of vehicle rental services such as delivery of vehicles or spare parts, and all necessary travel by vehicle rental services staff to their place of work should therefore be considered ‘essential travel’ in the context of current restrictions. That is of course with the important proviso that all staff should work at home if this is at all possible, and that Public Health England guidelines on social distancing should be observed.
We will communicate this to the National Police Chiefs Council to ensure it is shared with all police forces in the context of their important work to enforce the new restrictions on movement. I would be very happy for you to share this letter with your members, and for them to use it as evidence of the government position on this point in the event of any misunderstandings.
The BVRLA is also speaking to the DfT to try and obtain greater clarity about the vehicle leasing sector’s ability to continue with vehicle movements. For the latest information, see the FAQs on the COVID-19 advice pages.
Update on support for vehicle rental companies
With the support of The Tourism Alliance, the BVRLA has asked the LGA to include ‘Vehicle Rental Services’ within this list, which should encourage local authorities to incorporate these businesses into their schemes.
When applied by local authorities, this scheme excludes vehicle rental branches from paying business rates during the 2020-21 tax year.
The BVRLA has received reports that some local authorities have pushed back against claims from vehicle rental operators. If this occurs, please refer them to the LGA website.
Vehicle rental companies can also claim a cash grant of up to £25,000 for each branch through the government’s cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
FCA announcement expected on fee deferral
The BVRLA has been speaking to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about the annual fees for regulated businesses. The FCA recognises that cashflow is tight for many smaller regulated firms and has indicated that it will be making an announcement soon. This could potentially see fee payments staggered or deferred over the next few months. The BVRLA will update members as soon as any announcement is made.
Chancellor revamps emergency loan scheme
The government has made changes to its emergency loan scheme to make it easier for firms to access loans during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The revamp came after the Treasury reported that it had received more than 130,000 loan enquiries from firms and approved more than £90m in loans to nearly 1,000 firms.
The key changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which provides loans of up to £5m for businesses with an annual turnover of up to £45m, are:
- The loans will no longer be restricted to companies that have been refused a loan on commercial terms
- Banks will be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000
The Government has also introduced a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), which will offer government-backed loans of up to £25m to firms with revenues of between £45m and £500m.
The British Business Bank operates the two schemes through its accredited lenders, which includes a range of asset finance providers.
The government has not capped the interest rates that can be charged on the loans, which cannot be used to assist with existing obligations.
More information on these and other support packages is available on the government’s Coronavirus Financial Support website.
Dart Charge – Electronic Solution
Members who are struggling to access their post can sign up to receive electronic penalty charge notices for the Dart Charge. If you would like to receive a spreadsheet of penalties that you have been issued, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your registered keeper details.
COVID-19 guidance on vehicle rental and leasing operations
The BVRLA has produced new FAQ guidance for members and their customers, setting out some of the key requirements and recommended best practice that should be adhered to during the COVID-19 outbreak. It includes advice on:
- Business closures and exemptions
- Essential workers and services
- Rental and lease agreements
- Customer forbearance
- Vehicle movements
- Working in the office or remotely
- Penalty Charge Notices
- BVRLA inspections
This advice is being added to all the time, and the BVRLA is currently working with the FLA, SMMT and key government departments with the aim of developing some ‘accredited’, industry-wide guidance.
If you have a question that needs answering or have some additional best practice that could be shared, please contact Amanda Brandon on Amanda@bvrla.co.uk
HMRC offers webinar advice on supporting employees
HMRC has launched a series of webinars providing employers with more details and guidance on how they can support employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. They include advice on:
- the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- refunding eligible Statutory Sick Pay costs
- furloughed employees and more
Employers can access a recording of the webinar or register for the next one via this GOV.UK page.
HMRC is planning to expand on the range of webinars on offer in the near future.
BVRLA seeks temporary Consumer Credit Act relief for motor finance providers
The BVRLA has written to HM Treasury asking for a temporary relief from Consumer Credit Act (CCA) forbearance provisions. At present, lenders are desperate to ‘do the right thing’ and assist their customers, but they are constrained by some of the procedural rigidities within the CCA. Some of the CCA provisions that are, in normal circumstances, intended to protect consumers are now hamstringing those who want to assist them in their time of need.
Under CCA rules the process for offering forbearance requires a modifying agreement to be signed and agreed. In the current circumstances, this adds unnecessary administrative pressure and customer complexity. Firms are already administratively stretched to breaking point by the Coronavirus pandemic and customers need rapid solutions to their financial challenges.
Firms wanting to take swift action to support their customers are instead being forced to use informal agreements. These agreements leave them open to later challenges and the potential situation where their lease contracts are unenforceable. By acting in their customer’s best interest firms can be opening themselves up to later litigation and ruinous costs. These risks are currently preventing some lenders from providing more support to customers.
There are also potential impacts for the customer in an informal agreement. Such agreements can technically leave them in breach of their contract, which can have an impact on their credit score. Lenders are also obligated to send Arrears Notices which can be deeply unsettling for the consumer at what is already a worrying time.
The BVRLA is working with the FLA as it proposes some emergency secondary legislation aimed at providing temporary relief from CCA forbearance provisions. These measures recognise the extraordinary circumstances of the current crisis and the need to give lenders the tools they need to treat their customers with compassion.
Independent lenders can now access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The British Business Bank (BBB) has now confirmed that FCA regulated credit brokers, finance houses and leasing providers could be eligible to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). CBILS provides financial support to smaller businesses across the UK that are losing revenue or seeing their cashflow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The scheme provides lenders with up to £5m which can then be provided to SMEs in the form of asset finance. CBILS gives lenders a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending. More details can be found on the BBB website. The BBB has said it is doing everything it can to try and speed up the accreditation process.
The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees. Read more at the Government’s Business Support website.
Company Car Benefit in Kind Tax during the COVID-19 outbreak
HMRC has provided the following update on the issue of whether company car tax should be paid while vehicles are unavailable or unused by workers:
“You have asked if the car is ‘unavailable’ to the employee for a period of time could HMRC confirm that the car benefit charge would no longer apply. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as not using cars for a particular period of time, whether that be for 30 days (the period of minimum ‘unavailability’ stated in legislation), or any shorter period that the government might consider.
The benefit charge applies where a car is made available for private use, whether or not it is so used. For example, a car kept on an employee’s driveway during a period of furlough would still be considered to be made available. Neither would HMRC accept a SORN declaration as proof of unavailability. Guidance explains when HMRC would not accept that a car is unavailable and includes when there is no road tax, MOT or insurance.
In most cases, HMRC would expect that the car is handed back to the employer so that it cannot be used. However, we recognise that under the current circumstances it may not be possible to hand the car itself back, so exceptionally, we would accept that where all the keys (or tabs) are in possession of the employer, and the employee does not have the authority to request the keys are returned to them, the car would be ‘unavailable.’"
Food supply chain needs refrigerated vehicles
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is working with the Department for Transport to better understand the spare capacity of temperature-controlled trucks and vans within the vehicle rental and leasing sector.
The COVID-19 outbreak has put more pressure on the food supply chain, with increasing demands for deliveries in and out of retail distribution centres and to individual homes.
Members that have refrigerated vehicles available should get in touch with Chris Seaton at the RHA (email@example.com), who is co-ordinating the logistics sector’s response on this issue.
New website for businesses wanting to offer Coronavirus support
The Government has launched a new website for businesses that feel they might be able to help in the response to Coronavirus.
Some of the help being sought includes:
- transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
- warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
- expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
Business that feel that they can help, can register on the new COVID-19 support website.
HGV licensing and inspection update
The Office of the Traffic Commissioner has confirmed a more flexible approach to adding and removing vehicles from operator licences and the ability for operators to maintain their regular inspection programmes. The latest advice is on their website.
Update on DVLA operations during the Coronavirus pandemic
The DVLA has confirmed that its telephone-based driving licence check service will not be available for the foreseeable future. Members are advised to get customers to generate a check code via the Government’s Driving Licence Check website.
DVLA systems have now been updated to enable fleets to electronically tax vehicles that have been temporarily exempted from requiring an MOT. This service can only be used on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.
Extra support for critical vehicle movements
Cox Automotive has launched a new service to facilitate the movement of vehicles for critical service fleets.
The service is accessed via the company’s Movex platform, an online marketplace that gives trade customers access to a large number of transport providers.
Some of these transport businesses are still operating and providing essential movement services (strictly within the UK Government guidelines) to support a wide variety of critical services.
Any companies needing a transport provider for essential business should visit https://movex.co.uk/
How is Coronavirus impacting the public EV charging network?
BVRLA members and customers are being asked to provide details of EV charge point availability for key workers and essential services.
ZapMap is working with the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) to run a survey to understand:
- the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on EV charging in the UK
- how EVs are being used for essential travel
- to identify key workers who are using EVs and require access to EV charging facilities to continue their work
The results of the survey will be made available to the UK Government, charge point operators and other organisations who are working hard to ensure that EV charging infrastructure is available for all key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The survey will be open for the next few days and can be found here.
Temporary changes to Driver CPC regime
The Department of Transport has put in place temporary changes in professional driver qualifications requirements. This means that truck drivers whose Driver CPC card expires between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 can continue driving.
Most professional lorry and bus drivers must complete 35 hours periodic training every 5 years to maintain a Driver CPC card (sometimes called a ‘driver qualification card’ or ‘DQC’).
The changes have been introduced due to the difficulty drivers will have in completing the required training during the COVID-19 outbreak. More details are available here.
Travel ban exemption template for vehicle rental employees
As police around the country ramp-up their enforcement of the Government's travel lockdown and business closures, BVRLA has published a template letter that vehicle rental members can provide to staff that are supporting key workers and critical services.
The template can be used by any members that want to provide supporting evidence for employees, confirming the reason for their travel. It should be provided to staff on company headed paper.
It is a draft and should be adapted to suit your circumstances. There is no provision currently within legislation for any letter or pass system and as such this document is for guidance only. You can download the draft template here.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: BVRLA seeks clarity on commissions and bonuses
BVRLA has written to the Treasury to obtain more clarity on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The scheme, launched by the Government to support the payroll costs of furloughed workers, provides a grant to cover 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to a maximum of £2,500. Guidance published alongside the scheme says that ‘fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.’
Many sales staff within the automotive supply chain rely on regular commissions and bonuses to supplement an otherwise low basic salary. If the exclusion of commission is applied, this will cause undue hardship for many furloughed workers, who will be unable to receive anything close to 80% of their regular wage.
Elsewhere in its guidance, the Government provides a methodology for calculating the regular wage of employees ‘whose pay varies’. The BVRLA has asked HM Treasury to ensure that furloughed workers who receive basic pay and regular monthly commissions can be treated in this way, by basing the Job Retention Scheme payment on:
- the same month’s earning from the previous year
- average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
“Vehicle orders and deliveries are frozen and the leasing sector faces massive cash flow pressures,” said BVRLA Chief Executive, Gerry Keaney.
“As a result, many leasing broker staff are being furloughed or face that prospect. These workers have been contributing tax and national insurance at their higher-earning level, not at their base salary, so they should benefit equally from any State support.”
Government relaxes insolvency rules
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced that he will make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency.
This will also include enabling companies to continue buying much-needed supplies while attempting a rescue, and temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors, so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.
Petition for SME directors paying themselves through limited companies
Nearly 200,000 people have now signed a petition calling for the Government to provide more self-employment support to the directors of small businesses who take their income from the company as a small salary and the rest as dividends.
Dividend income is not classed as self-employment income for the purposes of the Coronavirus self-employed income support scheme, which provides a taxable grant of up to 80% of an individual’s average monthly profit over the last three years, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This means that many directors will get much less support than they might have hoped for, because it is only based on their small salary.
Some directors will be able to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which offers employers support for a salary subsidy reimbursing 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
WLTP-based motoring taxes will still take effect in April
HM Treasury has confirmed that it will not be delaying the introduction of WLTP-based motoring taxation in April.
The BVRLA is well-aware of the administrative and financial challenges members are facing with this tax change, which have been exacerbated by the huge volume of undelivered and unsupplied vehicles that are stuck at various stages within the order process.
The association has had extensive discussions with HM Treasury on this issue. They have explained that any delay would have to be applied to the whole market and would require Ministerial scrutiny and primary legislation. Given the timescales involved, the fact that Parliament is now in recess and the allocation of Treasury staff to other Covid-19 related priorities, they are unable to make any changes.
Financial support: Job Retention Scheme
The Government has introduced a temporary Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. Claims can be backdated from this date if applicable.
The scheme, due to be up and running by the end of April, is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus.
Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) 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.
Employers can use this scheme anytime during this three-month period and it is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.
You can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for.
The guidance makes it clear that commission and bonuses are not considered when calculating an individual’s wage, just their basic gross salary. The BVRLA is aware that commissions and bonuses form a significant part of the salary package for many motor finance employees and will be highlighting this issue to the Government.
FCA update on compliance and consumer credit support
The BVRLA has been in contact with the FCA for an update on compliance issues during the COVID-19 crisis:
- The authority expects companies to continue with their usual compliance monitoring and reporting procedures, including the submission of regulatory data. The BVRLA highlighted the fact that some firms may be unable to continue recording calls while their staff were working remotely. The FCA advised that where firms are unable to maintain their usual compliance and reporting procedures, they should contact the FCA in the first instance. There is no automatic forbearance on this.
- The FCA stressed the importance of Business Continuity Planning and that firms should be following their plans to ensure good customer outcomes.
- The FCA flagged that there had been an increase in scams taking place during this time and advised that further information would be available shortly on a dedicated web page.
- The BVRLA raised a question on the extension of lease agreements where consumers are asking for payment holidays. At present, firms are required to complete lengthy formal documentation required of them under the Consumer Credit Act. The current surge in such requests is making it hard for members to meet these statutory obligations and provide a speedy ‘good outcome’ for consumers. The FCA recognised that the BVRLA and FLA have raised this issue and advised that it is something that they are already in discussions with Treasury on. They will be providing a further update in due course, but in the meantime would welcome examples of regulatory barriers and paperwork that are impractical given the current circumstances.
Financial support: Self-employment Income Support Scheme
The Government has introduced a Self-employment Income Support Scheme to support self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, whose income has been negatively impacted by coronavirus.
Self-employed people who have set themselves up as a Limited Company are not eligible for this relief.
The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant.
The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.
HMRC’s tax helpline number has changed
HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus.
The tax helpline number has changed to 08000 241222. Opening hours are from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected automatically.
Updated guidance on vehicle rental status
The Government has updated the guidance on businesses that must remain closed, clarifying that ‘vehicle rental services’ are exempt. The Cabinet Office has confirmed that car, van, minibus and truck rental are all exempt where members are working with essential workers, goods and services.
Customer forbearance and liquidity in the motor finance sector
The BVRLA is working with the FLA and HM Treasury to ensure that the Government can provide appropriate support for the motor finance sector as it faces a big rise in requests for payment holidays, early terminations and other adjustments to their leasing contracts. We will keep members updated when we have more news to share, but if you would like to speak to someone at the BVRLA in the meantime, please contact Amanda Brandon.
Penalty Charge Notices and Fines
We are working with a number of stakeholders to try and alleviate concerns around the administration and payment of PCNs and fines during the lockdown period.
- Dart Charge has confirmed that late representations will be acceptable and are piloting an electronic solution. Further details will be available soon.
- Transport for London – has confirmed that the Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone are suspended. If you would like a spreadsheet of penalties issued within the last two weeks, please contact Amanda Brandon.
- London Councils – has asked boroughs to take a flexible approach to enforcement.
- Private parking – we are working with the British Parking Association to encourage its members to accept electronic communication and a more flexible approach to enforcement.
Coronavirus Bill and what it will do
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has identified that to effectively manage a coronavirus outbreak in the UK, we need to introduce new fast-tracked legislation. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has now become law and is available on legislation.gov. Details have been published explaining what the Coronavirus Bill will do.
Business support grant funding
The new guidance on business support grant funding sets out details of eligibility and delivery of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).
Revised Business rates guidance
Guidance has been updated to ensure that certain properties previously excluded from the relief, but that have been forced to close as a result of imposed restrictions, will now be eligible for the relief.
Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim, subject to the terms and conditions of their policy.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Further information is available.
Protection from eviction for commercial tenants
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. Further details are now available.
Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp
The Government has launched a free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. To use it simply add 07860 064422 to your phone contacts and message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.
Car rental exemption from business closures is confirmed
The Government has today published updated guidance on further business premises to close.
No10 has confirmed that the car rental sector was mistakenly omitted from the list of exempted retail businesses in the guidance published this morning, but this will be corrected later today, and car rental will continue to be exempt from closure.
Three-month extension to file business accounts
The Government has confirmed that from today, businesses can apply for a 3-month extension to file accounts with Companies House.
This joint initiative between the government and Companies House will enable businesses to prioritise managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.
Six-month MOT exemption introduced
Vehicle owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities.
All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. This temporary legislation will be in place for 12 months.
Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles and should follow advice on keeping a vehicle in a good condition.
If you cannot get an MOT that’s due because you’re in self-isolation, the Department for Transport is working with insurers and the police to ensure people are not unfairly penalised for things out of their control.
Three-month driving test suspension
All practical driving tests and annual testing for lorries, buses and coaches have been suspended for up to three months.
Car rental is exempt from retail business closure
The Government has today published guidance on business closure following the introduction of new measures confirming that all retail outlets selling non-essential goods must close immediately to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The following retail businesses, including vehicle rental, are exempt from closure:
Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.
UK in lockdown to mitigate virus spread
At 8.30pm yesterday (23 March) the Prime Minister announced that UK citizens must stay at home and only leave their home for the following reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- travelling to and from work, but only where this is ‘absolutely necessary’ and cannot be done from home. All workers must work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so.
The Government is not saying that the construction industry stops at this point
Government launches dedicated business support website
Today, the Government has launched a dedicated Coronavirus Business Support website to help businesses during this Covid-19 national emergency.
A government information campaign has also launched today to ensure businesses are aware of the support available to them and how to access it. In addition to a new central website, the campaign will use media channels including radio, social media and television to reach businesses eligible for help.
Government initiates business shutdown
This weekend the Government published a list of business and venue types that must remain closed from Saturday 21 March, in a move to help combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. A full list can be found on the Gov.UK website.
The Government has also published plans on enforcing the closure requirements that will see fines issued to those flouting the rules.
Although vehicle rental operators are not currently being asked to close, everybody is being asked to adhere to strict social distancing measures, maintaining a minimum of 2m distance from others.
Updated guidance for UK businesses trading internationally
On Saturday 21 March, the Government updated its Covid-19 guidance for UK businesses trading internationally and members are advised to check the latest update on the Gov.UK website.
DVSA: Lorry, Bus and trailer MOT exemption
The DVSA has confirmed that lorries, buses and trailers will be exempt from needing an MOT for three months from 21 March 2020.
You may need to apply for this exemption, depending on your vehicle and should check the full guidance on the GOV.uk website.
TfL: Suspension of all road user charging schemes
Transport for London has announced that all road user charging schemes in the capital will be temporarily suspended from today (23 March) until further notice.
The London Mayor hopes that this will help critical workers, particularly those in the NHS, to travel round London as easily as possible during this national emergency. It also supports the supply chain, the effort to keep supermarkets fully stocked and the city's continued operation.
Schools close their doors today for the foreseeable future and the Government is asking parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, to help limit the spreading of the Covid-19 virus.
Education providers are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children who are either deemed vulnerable or for those whose parents are classed as key workers.
What constitutes ‘vulnerable children’:
Children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with Education, Health & Care Plans (ECHP).
What is a ‘key worker’?:
Those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors critical to the Covid-19 response as outlined in a list published by the Government yesterday.
Transport falls under this list and includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Is vehicle rental classed as a key sector for the Covid-19 response?
Only vehicle rental staff that can prove that they play an essential role in supplying mobility to NHS, social care and other critical services (as set out in the link above), should assume that they also qualify as being able to use the emergency educational provision provided by schools.
Where functions can be carried out at home, they should, be in line with government’s advice to invoke social distancing and minimise contact with others.
To conclude today’s Bulletin, I want to draw your attention to the updated BVRLA Covid-19 web page which contains further information about business rates and includes links to information for those businesses based in devolved nations.
We are continuing to seek clarity from government on whether the business rate support and cash grants are also available for van and truck rental companies and leasing brokers.
BVRLA Chief Executive
The Government has confirmed that car rental companies in England will benefit from a business rate holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
The recently announced initiative is designed to help support businesses managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The guidance which has been published for local authorities confirms that where the premises are wholly or mainly being used for the purposes of car rental, the business rates holiday is available.
Organisations can apply to their local authority if their branch is based in, and pays business rates to, an English local authority, regardless of where the head office is located.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to your relevant local authority.
Full details on the support for businesses is available on the Government website.
BVRLA Chief Executive
BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney wrote to the Chancellor on 18 March 2020 asking for business and regulatory support for the fleet sector.
The letter makes clear the vital role that the vehicle rental sector will play in maintaining the essential movement of people, goods and services as the Covid-19 situation evolves.
In the letter, the government is asked to provide:
- Around 50% of most rental operator transactions are for leisure purposes (i.e. not for business), and most of this business is generated via airports, ports and other tourist locations. Can you ensure the vehicle rental sector is also included within your definition of the ‘leisure’ industry so that SME vehicle rental companies can obtain grants where their rateable value is between £15,000 and below £51,000.
- Abolish the payment of business rates for all companies until it is clear the economic impact of the outbreak is beginning to decrease.
- Ensure, in legislation, that banks are not permitted to foreclose on rental, leasing or car club businesses during the crisis and until this legislation is abolished.
- Provide all businesses with at least three-months relief from paying VAT or employer’s National Insurance.
- The government should guarantee a significant percentage of the salary of workers who are at serious risk of redundancy.
- Cut VAT on goods and services, to stimulate demand and consumer spending, especially when the crisis is over.
- Require HMRC’s default position to be the offer of a payment plan as part of the Time to Pay Scheme. Current guidance only states that HMRC “may” offer a plan.
- We would echo the CBI’s call for “emergency relief for SMEs if the total cost of sick pay becomes unsustainable” to help maintain their cash flow.
Operational and regulatory support
- Ensure any planned business or transport closures being considered do not include vehicle rental branches. We have already seen rental branches exempted from such closures in France, Austria and Spain, due to their essential role in providing mobility.
- Penalty charge notices. With most staff now working remotely, people must be exempted or given more time to provide driver details and pay penalty charge notices and parking fines, due to:
a) Posted fines and charges sitting unopened in empty offices
b) Vehicles being stranded due to COVID-19 related closures or illness
- We would also request a temporary relaxation of the strict requirements for MOTs and commercial vehicle periodic maintenance inspections as many fleets are finding that test centres, authorised testing facilities (ATFs) and workshops are closed or unavailable.
- Require local authorities to follow London’s lead in relaxing rules on overnight and weekend deliveries, enabling logistics companies to maintain the supply chain for food medicines and other essential goods.
Update from Chief Executive Gerry Keaney
I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the various steps the BVRLA is taking in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak. These include the measures we are taking to keep staff and members safe. They also include the activities we are undertaking to ensure that we keep the industry protected and well-informed during these turbulent times.
Although the BVRLA remains very much open for business, we are taking steps to adapt working practices to minimise face-to-face engagement.
We will review these processes again at the end of April but until then, the following now applies:
- There will be no face-to-face meetings of any kind either at the BVRLA office or off-site, including Committees, Working Groups or small business meetings.
- All meetings will be conducted using telephone and videoconferencing facilities such as Zoom and PowWowNow.
- All face-to-face BVRLA training courses will be rescheduled.
- BVRLA staff are setting up for remote working, where feasible and in accordance with government guidelines
As the pace of change continues to develop, the BVRLA will be working hard to ensure that you are provided with regular, rapid and repeated communications on all the latest advice and guidance relating to Covid-19.
We have introduced a dedicated Covid-19 Business Advice section on the BVRLA website and will be sending you a series of Covid-19 Bulletin emails to help keep you informed.
We are assessing our planned schedule of BVRLA conferences and forums and we will keep you updated in due course about any postponements or cancellations.
We continue to liaise directly with a range of government departments (BEIS, Treasury, DfT, MHCLG, Cabinet Office) and stakeholders (Leaseurope, UK airports, CBI, Tourism Alliance) to ensure that the needs of BVRLA members are taken into consideration. Some of the urgent actions we have called for include:
- Excluding vehicle rental branches and car clubs from any future business or transport restrictions
- Asking airports to relieve rental branches from the usual fixed fees and guaranteed operational requirements
If you have any questions, or would like to make suggestions about what support you feel our sector needs, please email the policy team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with the BVRLA management team, I will continue to review the situation and keep you updated via regular updates.
BVRLA Chief Executive