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Mayor of Lewisham's open letter to businesses

Read the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan's, letter to businesses regarding COVID-19.

Dear Business Leaders,

Coronavirus is first and foremost a public health emergency. We must all do our bit to prevent the spread of this disease. But we know that it will also have a very significant impact on many businesses, and on the wider economy.

The situation we are facing is unprecedented in its scale, and the situation is changing very rapidly. I want to reassure you that Lewisham Council is working hard to support our community, including local businesses.

Working together to halt the spread of coronavirus

The Government has announced further measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. All non-essential shops should be closed, and people should only leave home to shop for food, health reasons or work but only when this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Please do ensure that your organisation follows this advice, and that your employees work from home if they possibly can.

Government support for businesses

You will know that the Government announced a package of measures to support businesses facing an impact from coronavirus, and workers. These steps include:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Employers will be able to access financial support to pay part of the salaries of employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

VAT payments can be deferred for 3 months. Income Tax payments due from self-employed workers in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

HMRC Time to Pay Scheme to help with tax

Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme.

Statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises

SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs for sickness absence due to COVID–19.

Business rates support

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and nursery businesses are legible for a business rates holiday for the 2020–21 tax year.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

Provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, will receive a grant of £10,000. Those with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000, will receive a grant of £25,000.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Commercial insurance

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). Please contact your provider.

Further announcements are awaited in relation to possible assistance for the self- employed and other sectors. Detail of the Government’s ongoing programme of support to business can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Lewisham Council support for business

We will be doing all that we can in the weeks and months ahead to mitigate the impact on our local economy, and on the business that we know you have worked so hard to build.

For instance the Council will be providing a 4 month reduction on annual business parking permits from 1 April 2020.

The package of business rates measures announced by the Chancellor will help many businesses in the borough and we will be in contact with you shortly if you are affected.

If you would like more information about the package of financial measures, please the Government's guidance on business rates and expanded retail discounts and the Government's guidance on business support grant funding.

Signposting and further information

Information and advice from the Government will continue to change quickly.

We will be updating our website to keep you informed of the support available. You can also sign up to receive regular emails from me and the Council.

If you would like to get in touch with the council about support for your business, please email economyandpartnerships@lewisham.gov.uk or call 020 8314 3535 (helpline open Easter Friday and Easter Monday 10am to 4pm).

We would appreciate if you could use the e-mail address prior to making contact with our team by phone.

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep yourselves, your employees, and our business community safe.

Yours sincerely,

Damien Egan

Mayor of Lewisham