A variety of resources to help LI members with remote working, business continuity, resilience and more
During the coronavirus outbreak, many members will be trying to operate their businesses in isolation or with severely restricted travel and resources. The LI technical standards and policy teams are curating some tips and resources that may be helpful in the coming weeks and months.
If you would like to recommend additions to the below list, please share them in the comments below or send them to email@example.com.
Employers and SMEs
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
For: SMEs. All UK-based businesses with turnover not exceeding £45 million per year, that meet British Business Bank eligibility criteria, are eligible.
The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. Once the Scheme is launched, all major banks will offer loans. There are currently 40 accredited providers, with more being added. Businesses wishing to apply for this scheme should approach the lenders directly, with as much information as possible up front, and as soon as possible, since decisions on applications can take 4-6 weeks with the facility taking a further 2 weeks to arrive. Some may want to approach an alternative lender they have a relationship with if their first choice is not in a position to help.
Businesses in Wales
The Development Bank of Wales is currently offering all business customers a three-month capital loan repayment holiday. More information here.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Relief Scheme
For: Businesses with fewer than 250 employees, to cover COVID-19 related work absences.
This refund will cover up to two weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and SSP payments.
Small Business Bonus and Rural Relief
For: Businesses receiving certain types of business rate relief.
Small firms in England receiving the Small Business Bonus (SBBS) or rural rate relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant. Businesses will be also be able to request to defer all payment. These grants will be available in early April 2020; check back on the UK Government website. | Details of Small Business Grant Fund
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
For: Larger firms.
Larger firms are eligible for support through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility. Details and eligibility criteria are available on the Bank of England website.
The UK Government and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) both offer guidance and templates:
- Gov.UK – Business continuity planning guidance
- Business Continuity for Dummies chapter 3: Quick wins
- FSB.org.uk – How to create a business continuity plan
Your local authority may also offer similar resources.
If you’re involved in a contract, you’ll need to understand the concept of force majeure and follow the national debate. Some resources to start with:
Many issues you will need to figure out with your clients directly (such as not going out on site). You may wish to streamline future business by entering simple (non-construction) contracts speedily and entirely digitally. In this case, check out contract management platform Concord.
Sarah Fox is offering a free contract review.
Helping your staff: Checklist
- Develop systems to enable staff to work from home.
- Ensure that staff contact details, payroll and management lines are clear and up to date.
- Create policies and plans for supporting flexible working arrangements – this will be key for those with childcare commitments.
- Ensure that business planning takes into consideration increased staff absence for the coming months.
- Ongoing connection is crucial to team cohesion and wellbeing. Set up check ins, catch ups and other regular interactions to support mental well-being.
Teleconferencing, videoconferencing and instant messaging
There are several options out there for remote alternatives to face-to-face meetings. Do bear in mind that teleconferencing requires a good, enduring internet connection.
- Zoom.US, which offers free videoconferencing for 40 minutes. (Please note need to change default settings to minimise gatecrashers)
- Microsoft Teams (bundled with 365) – An on demand webinar is available
- For those looking to live stream without webinar software, YouTube offers a solution
- For up to four people the ubiquitous WhatsApp is easy to use for videoconferencing.
Employees and contractors
- The proposed rollout in April of IR35 to the private sector has been postponed for one year.
- The next self-assessment income tax payment for self-employed workers, due on 31 July 2020, has been deferred to January 2021 with no penalties or interest payable.
- Mortgage ‘payment holidays’ are available for mortgage customers affected by COVID-19. If you’re struggling to keep up mortgage payments due to disruption, contact your bank directly.
- People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from day one. Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to anyone staying at home on government advice.
- ACAS has provided a resource page to help employers and employees with various issues
General resources and information
Here are some stories of how architects – albeit over the pond – are responding to the crisis. Have any similar insight? Please share it in the comments below, and/or let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can spread the word to other members.
Support for businesses and self-employed
This is a rapidly developing area, and information is quickly becoming out of date. But those new to the topic might make a start here:
- Govt ‘finder’ page to help you find support for your business
- Email from Govt 26 Mar 8:05 pm: COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- FBS.org.uk – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed
- In Scotland, the government has launched a small business coronavirus helpline (0300 303 0660)
- NIBusinessInfo.co.uk – Support and advice for small businesses in Northern Ireland
- Business Wales
- IPSE’s COVID-19 Hub for self-employed people
Your local authority, LEP or similar is likely to have published some useful resources. As one example (much of which will apply everywhere) see Hertfordshire’s.
- The Planning Advisory Service has compiled and will keep updated a list of Covid-19 planning related FAQs on its website
- Companies have extended the deadlines for filing accounts | Apply
- The LGA has developed a hub for local authorities. (We are aware that many parks managers are exercised by instructions to close playgrounds and in some cases parks. Closing of parks and cemeteries is being discouraged by government)
- The LGIU has a dashboard to provide COVID-19 stats and comparators for upper tier authority areas
- CLC Site Operating procedures
- HSE guidance on social distancing and keeping businesses open by working safely
- Grants available from National Heritage Lottery Fund and Sports England for qualifying projects, with the hope of helping struggling practices.
- CLC Statement on Payments and Contracts
- UK Govt guidance on social distancing in the workplace
- UK Govt guidance on Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces
- Bounce-back loans
- Temporary changes to the Planning system
- Advice from CIBSE on office spaces, on emerging from lockdown
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to suggest any additions to this list, or have any insight as to how your business is coping during the corona crisis, please get in touch or share your story in the comments below.