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Coronavirus (COVID-19) For information on changes to our services, what you can do to protect yourself, support your community and guidance to assist employers and businesses visit our Coronavirus pages.

Coronavirus - Business and licensing

The best source of advice for businesses, which includes more detail on all national business support schemes, is GOV.UK.

Keeping up to date

We will be sending out regular email updates in our business newsletter:

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Cash grants to businesses due to coronavirus outbreak

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

The government announced cash grants of up to £25,000 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

  • For businesses that were actively trading and occupying properties with rateable values of £15,000 or less the grant is expected to be £10,000
  • For businesses that were actively trading and occupying properties with rateable values between £15,000 and £51,000 the grant is expected to be £25,000

Businesses in any sector receiving the small business rate relief

Businesses in receipt of small business rate relief on 11 March 2020 will receive a grant of £10,000.  There are some exceptions.

  • Properties which are occupied for personal use, e.g. private stables, beach huts and moorings will not qualify for a cash grant even if they are in receipt of relief
  • Properties where the liability is calculated using the small business multiplier but not in receipt of small business rate relief will not qualify for the grant.

Please see the government guidance for full details of the scheme.

While the Government is clear that there is not an application process, we do need to capture key information from eligible businesses to enable us to make the payment. If your business meets the eligibility criteria, please complete the form and return it to our dedicated email address revenues@cotswold.gov.uk.

We will process the grant as quickly as possible and expect payments to be dispatched by Friday 10 April. During this time our team will be exceptionally busy and it would be helpful if you could refer to our website for updates and, apart from submitting the form, only contact us by email if really urgent.

The Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud – and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to clawback.

Further support for businesses

Please visit the Government’s Business Support website for the full range of financial support for businesses including for the self-employed.

Business rate relief

We are working to identify businesses that will qualify for the additional business rate relief announced by Government.  We will be contacting eligible businesses to notify you of the relief and revised business rate bills will be issued as fast as possible. 

Business rates payments deferred

The council will not be collecting any business rates payments by direct debit during April 2020 to help ease business cashflow concerns. Instead, this payment will be deferred until all appropriate reliefs and grants have been applied. For those businesses that pay their business rates from April to January, this change will mean that payment instalments will move from May to February. The deferral will take place automatically - no action is required from businesses.

Workers' Support Package

The Government has announced a Workers' Support Package to ensure staff are still paid during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will pay 80% of workers' wages up to £2,500 per month
  • VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred
  • Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at Budget, will now be interest free for twelve months.

Guidance for Employers

Employers will be able to use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) 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. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April.
www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Guidance for Employees

Guidance to support workers understand whether they are eligible for the scheme, and how much the employer can claim if they are unable to operate or if there is no work due to coronavirus (COVID 19).
www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Support for the self-employed

The Chancellor has just announced the Self-employed Income Support Scheme. This will be a grant worth 80% of the person's monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. To be eligible for the scheme, the person:

  • must earn the majority of income from self-employment
  • must earn a maximum of £50,000 per year averaged over the last three years
  • must have a tax return for 2019

People that have only been trading for one or two years will still be eligible. There will be an extra four weeks grace for those who have not yet submitted their 2019 tax return so they can be included in the scheme.

The scheme will be administered by HMRC and it is hoped it will be up and running in June. People do not need to contact HMRC now; if they are eligible HMRC will contact them directly.

For more information: Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Business closures

For an up to date list of businesses that need to close and the list of those allowed to remain open, please visit the Gov.uk website

 

Changes to licensing service

In line with government advice, officers will be working from home more often. This means our capacity to meet with people will be affected. We request that you please do the following:

  1. In the first instance, please use email as a means of contact with us. Our email address (ers@cotswold.gov.uk)will be monitored throughout the day and we will respond as soon as we are able.
  2. If you need to provide any documents, please email them to ers@cotswold.gov.uk.  If you have any problems with emailing please contact us on 01285 623000 and we will try and find a solution.
  3. Any phone messages will continue to be passed through to licensing and callers can expect a call back within two working days.
  4. From now on, knowledge tests will be cancelled until further notice.

Offices

All of our reception areas are now closed.  If you have an application to make please either post this to us (we are receiving post once a week) or email everything to us at ers@cotswold.gov.uk.  We are happy to accept photographs of documents but please make sure that these are legible before sending.  Payments can be made by calling the Council on (01285) 623000.

Cancelling or postponing a Temporary Events Notice

We will accept a Temporary Event Notice without payment for a different date providing that you inform us that the event is being postponed.  This will be subject to the statutory consultation with the Police and Environmental Health.  However, we will not issue a refund for any cancelled event.

Premises Licence Annual Fees

These will be collected as normal and suspensions carried out on non-payment.

Starting a food delivery business

The government recently announced emergency plans to relax planning laws to allow bars, restaurants and other leisure venues to start food deliveries. 

Relaxation of planning measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period. The measures will apply to hot food and drinks.

Serving of alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.

What does your premises licence allow you to do?

We are still waiting for more information from the government, but based on what we know from the announcement:

The delivery of food is not licensable under the Licensing Act 2003. It is therefore open to businesses to start food delivery services immediately from a licensing perspective.

However, note that hot food and beverage delivered between 11pm and 5am will require a Late Night Refreshment Licence.

Alcohol deliveries cannot be included in your food deliveries unless:

  • you have an off sales licence for alcohol
  • payment for alcohol deliveries is taken where you hold the licence and is taken during your licensing times.
  • you must ensure you have adequate age verification procedures in place for deliveries that include alcohol.

Postponing an event

If you need to postpone your event due to the Covid-19 outbreak, you need to check your licence very carefully. Most premises licenses will be issued in perpetuity and can therefore be used at any time in the future. Some premises licences however may be time limited. If your premises licence is time limited, it cannot be relied on for different dates. You can check if your premises licence is time limited. On the front page of your licence please refer to the section that read “Where the licence is time limited the dates”.

Food businesses and takeaway regulations

For the latest government guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19):

Due to Coronavirus many of our food businesses may wish to diversify and offer collection, delivery or takeaway services. Please read our leaflet and contact us on ers@cotswold.gov.uk if you need further advice or information.

To register your premises to serve or sell food or drink whether or not the premises operate commercially, please visit the food business registration page.

Delivery services

Where possible, delivery staff should have minimal contact with staff and also customers. Use contactless payments or pre-payments wherever possible. Arrange for orders to be left on doorsteps to avoid physical contact with the customers and keep to two metres away for social distancing. Sanitise hands regularly and before and after drop off.

Taxi and private hire licence holders

As the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, we are constantly keeping the matter under review, following government advice and looking at its own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver the services.

In relation to the taxi and private hire trade, we need to relay the information below. Note please that the situation is constantly changing and some of the information may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience.

Medicals and MOTs

Medicals

We are aware that drivers may face difficulties with getting medicals done as surgeries are cancelling non-urgent appointments. There has been no official advice from the government and so we will be seeking permission to do the following:

  1. If licence holder contacts us to say they have had their appointment cancelled or are unable to make an appointment we will require a letter stating their medical condition has not changed since their last medical report.  However if no contact is made prior to the expiry then suspensions will be issued in the normal way as we can assume that they have made no effort to book their medicals in the required time.
  2. New applicants will not be issued with a licence until they have complied with all the requirements including medicals.
  3. Existing drivers with pre-existing health conditions will be dealt with on a case-to-case basis.

MOTs

Due to recent Government guidance MOTs have been extended for a further six months.

Precautions

We would like to also take the opportunity to remind the trade of the official advice and the importance of following these for your own, but also your passengers, protection.

  • If you are vulnerable either due to your age, suppressed immunity or pre-existing health conditions, please consider whether it is in your interest to work.
  • If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus through a passenger (or anyone/where else), please consider the official advice to self-isolate particularly if you are displaying symptoms.
  • Regularly clean touch points (such as steering wheel, door handles both inside and outside etc.) with alcohol (minimum 60%) wipes or bleach based cleaning products.
  • Regularly clean the inside of your vehicle with warm water and soap.
  • Consider carrying tissues in your car and where possible and practical, please wash your hands regularly
  • Read the COVID-19: guidance for staff in the transport sector

Licensing committees have been postponed for the time being until alternative arrangements have been put in place.

We will deal with complaints and compliance issues as normal.

Advice from Department for Transport on COVID-19 (released 25/3/20)

Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect our NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave our houses are set out in the government guidance.

Clearly if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible, including washing your hands as soon as you get home.

Critical Worker Status

Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered Critical Workers. Those undertaking Home to School transport or the transport of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people may be considered Critical Workers on a case-by-case basis. Critical Workers should also whenever possible make suitable arrangements for their children to stay at home; requests for children to attend school should be discussed with the school.”

Renewals due in the next 6 months

The Council are trying to support you during this difficult time and have been given approval to permit the following:

  • To save money on insurance, you can voluntarily surrender your plate to the Council and this will be retained until such time that you reinstate your insurance. The plate will be returned to you (with the original expiry date) once you can provide the necessary documents. No refunds will be given for any period of time lost on the plate. During the time that the Council retains your plate and you have no insurance, you cannot use the vehicle for any journey that requires a licence
  • For any renewal (driver or vehicle) that is due in the next 6 months the Council will allow you to take the opportunity to pay over a 12 month period. This will be 12 monthly direct debits and a mandate must be completed before the licence is issued. Failure to pay an instalment will result in the licence being suspended
  • For any renewal (driver or vehicle) that is due in the next 6 months the Council will allow you to take the opportunity to defer the application and the renewal application will be honoured at a later date. Provided that all requirements are met for licensing then the application will be charged as a renewal. If this is a vehicle, it must be for the same vehicle registration number. Also, the 15 year upper age limit will still apply and vehicles will not be relicensed that have met this age limit

These arrangements will not be a permanent arrangement and is for the duration of 6 months. This will be reviewed in the future and may be extended if the COVID-19 situation does not improve.

Offices

All of our reception areas are now closed.  If you have an application to make please either post this to us (we are receiving post once a week) or email everything to us at ers@cotswold.gov.uk.  We are happy to accept photographs of documents but please make sure that these are legible before sending.  Payments can be made by calling the Council on (01285) 623000.

Housing service needs help!

The Council is looking to work with licensed taxi/private hire drivers to assist with transporting our homeless client’s to emergency accommodation.  We are particularly looking for companies who have licensed minibuses or 6 seater vehicles and/or are willing to take bookings after hours.  If you are interested, please can you email housingadvice@cotswold.gov.uk with your contact details.

Volunteers needed

The NHS are looking for volunteers to help transport patients and to help move vital equipment.  If you are interested please go to: https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs   

Bars, pubs,leisure venues, street trading and animal activity licensing

Renewals due in the next 6 months

The Council are trying to support you during this difficult time and have just been given approval to permit the following:

  • To save money on insurance, you can voluntarily surrender your Consent/licence to the Council and this will be retained until such time that you reinstate your insurance.  The licence will be returned to you (with the original expiry date) once you can provide necessary insurance.  No refunds will be given for any period of time lost on the licence.  During the time that the Council retains your licence and you have no insurance, you cannot conduct any business that requires a licence
  • For any renewal that is due in the next 6 months the Council can allow you to take the opportunity to pay over a 12 month period.   This will be 12 monthly direct debits and a mandate must be completed before the licence is issued.  Failure to pay an instalment will result in the licence being suspended
  • For any renewal that is due in the next 6 months the Council can allow you to take the opportunity to defer the application and the renewal application will be honoured at a later date.  Provided that all requirements are met for licensing then the application will be charged as a renewal

These arrangements will not be a permanent arrangement and is for the duration of 6 months.  This will be reviewed in the future and may be extended if the COVID-19 situation does not improve.           

Offices

All of our reception areas are now closed.  If you have an application to make please either post this to us (we are receiving post once a week) or email everything to us at ers@cotswold.gov.uk.  We are happy to accept photographs of documents but please make sure that these are legible before sending.  Payments can be made by calling the Council on (01285) 623000.

Volunteers needed

The NHS are looking for volunteers to help transport patients and to help move vital equipment.  If you are interested please go to: https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs   

Support for charitable organisations

The Charities Aid Foundation has set up a grant scheme for small charitable organisations. They are providing grants of up to £10,000. For more information and to apply visit their website.