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UPDATED INFORMATION Furlough Portal & Support Schemes 20/4/20
For the last few weeks Hitchin BID has been focusing on supporting businesses, promoting products and services, advertising vouchers and delivery services and offer you all up to date information on how to access grants and loans to help get you through these challenging times. Many of you would have received your BID levy bills, these are statutory payments based on your Rateable Value and are not affected by the Government’s recent changes to business rate payments. We do however,  understand that these are very challenging times for businesses, and hope the new Government packages with additional support, will help businesses with fixed costs such as these.
 
Although many of the activities we deliver are temporarily put on hold, we are working on a town centre recovery strategy to help businesses get back to normal and encourage visitors to use and support the town once the restrictions start to be lifted. Part of the BID levy will be used to fund these projects which will directly benefit many businesses in the town centre. 

As always, if you have any questions or need advice on the support available to you, I am here to take calls and emails at any time of the day on 07597380818 or tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com 
 
Claiming for furlough – Now Open!
This morning, HMRC opened the portal for businesses to claim refund for furloughed staff.  


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 us 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 us on 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.

How to claim
As you prepare to make a claim, please note:


the only way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim
you can make the claim yourself even if you usually use an agent
claims will be paid within 6 working days; you should not contact HMRC unless it is absolutely necessary – any queries should be directed to your agent, representative or the HMRC webchat service
HMRC cannot answer any queries from employees – they will need to raise these with you, as their employer, directly.

Information you will need before you make a claim:
You will need to have the following information before applying:
 
  • 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; we will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

If you want an agent to act for you
Please note:


agents authorised to act for you on PAYE matters can make the claim on your behalf using their ID and password
you will need to tell your agent which UK bank account you want the grant to be paid into, in order to ensure funds are paid as quickly as possible to you.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims.
Please follow this link for the most up to date information on furlough claiming https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme 
 
Andrew Pearce from Bradshaw Johnson Chartered Accountants on Bancroft has kindly agreed to offer free impartial financial business advice on this process. Please email andrew.pearce@bjca.co.uk   
 
Government Grants – You Must Apply!
North Herts District Council have made a large number of grant payments and continue to process many others this week. You must apply for the grant to receive payment. Businesses who do not apply and are eligible may not receive payment. Please follow this link to read the eligibility criteria and apply for the grant https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/emergency-planning/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-help-businesses  If you are unsure if you are eligible, please complete the application form and the Council will be in touch.
 
If you have any questions please contact revenues@north-herts.gov.uk 

Free IT support
Mark at Idea Anvil on Bancroft have kindly offer local small businesses free IT support to help them through this challenging time. If there are any businesses or organisations in Hitchin that do not have any IT resource to support them during this disruption then within reason they are happy to provide that free of charge during these extraordinary times and until businesses get moving again on a more normal footing.
 
For example if businesses need help with;
 
  • remote support for their staff that are working from home, setting up email, printers, cloud services
  • or they have a technical issue in the workplace,
  • or need technical advice on any aspect of IT systems or services,
  • or simply someone to bounce ideas off

If you want to discuss this at all please contact me – mark.scott@ideasanvil.com  Managing Director, Ideasanvil Ltd. - https://www.ideasanvil.com/  
 
Delivering products and food
Setting up a delivery service for food and products can be a complicated and daunting task. I understand that some businesses are in need of advice on how to set this service up whilst keeping within the health and safety Government guidelines. If you are keen to set up a delivery service and need some advice, please get in touch.

If you are already set up for deliveries, please email tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com with the following information to be added to the business directory as a delivery businesses on the www.hitchinherts.com website and to promote you on our social media platforms.
 
  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Type of food or product
  • Logistics of delivery

Local Business Vouchers
To try and ease cashflow challenges over the coming weeks, we are encouraging businesses to create and offer vouchers for residents to buy now and redeem later in the year. We have set up a voucher page on the www.hitchinherts.com website which we will promote on various social media platforms.
 
Please send us the following information to tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com         
 
  • What the voucher includes
  • Which business it is for
  • An image or company logo to accompany the listing
  • Contact details (website, phone number) for customers to call or purchase voucher.

If you don’t already have vouchers, we are also offering all businesses FREE voucher printing in the Information Office. Please email a PDF of your voucher and how many you want printed to tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com