Coronavirus advice for businesses

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We are talking to and meeting with local businesses across the city to see what can be done to help them and we have called on the government to do as much as possible. 

We are working closely with central government and the health service to cope with whatever contingency plans are needed. But the reality of coronavirus is changing daily and we all need to take our guide from health experts.

The important thing is that we pull together to keep Westminster running.

You can also sign up for our digital updates for the latest on our coronavirus response.

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1. How the council is supporting businesses

It's a priority that we do everything to enable the business sector to bounce back following this period of immense uncertainty. The council will continue to advocate with a strong voice for the needs of businesses in Westminster to ensure we get through this situation as a cohesive and enterprising community.

Find the latest information on a range of ways council and government can support your business through the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s vitally important that businesses make use of all the support that the Government has offered and the council will also do all it can to support them. For a full range of government support offers please head to the Government's business support website.

You can contact the council’s dedicated Business Unit for help and practical advice to help get through this situation. Please sign up for the daily MyWestminster enewsletter bulletin. These will keep you updated daily on all the changes to council services, the latest advice and guidance relating to health and also up to date information for your business.

2. Leader's statements

“The impact on local businesses of all sizes and sectors is of deep concern to me and my council colleagues. I have seen for myself when visiting Chinatown and speaking with business leaders that they need as much help as possible right now to support them through these unprecedented times. I have written twice to the Chancellor imploring him to do as much as he can to support businesses operating in the unique environment of central London and I welcome the further measures he has recently announced.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Rachael Robathan

 

Read the Leader’s letter to the Chancellor from 13 March

Read the Leader’s letter to the Chancellor from 19 March

3. Support for your business

Find the latest information on a range of ways council and government can support your business through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has published guidance that will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of COVID-19
  • what to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 has been in business settings
  • eligibility for sick pay

This guidance also provides details of support available to businesses including:

  • statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax

​​The Chancellor announced on 21 March that companies and organisations will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC under a new Coronavirus job retention scheme, to cover the wages of people who are not working due to coronavirus shutdowns, but who haven’t been laid off. Through this scheme the Government will provide grants to businesses to cover 80% of the salary of retained workers with the maximum contribution being set at £2,500 a month per worker.

The Chancellor also deferred VAT payments for all businesses until end of June and added that the Universal Credit standard allowance will increase by £1,000, for the next 12 months, as will the Working Tax Credit basic element. Finally, he also announced that the Government will extend the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme. This means that businesses receiving a loan from this scheme will now not pay interest for 12 months (up from 6 months from previous announcements).

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 the Government has said. This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Business support grants announced by the government

We are currently awaiting advice from The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for guidance for local authorities on how to administer these grants. If your business is eligible, there is no need to contact us, we will seek to make payment as soon as possible. 
Subject to final clarification within the government guidance, we believe we have the relevant data to make the payments, either by BACS or by cheque.

For further information visit the GOV.UK guidance for employers and businesses page

 

 

4. Rubbish, recycling and cleaning

​​Councils across London, alongside waste disposal authorities, private waste companies and all those who help collect and process our recycling and waste in the capital, are working hard together to provide the best possible service while we are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Waste and recycling crews are designated as essential front-line workers during the crisis, and they continue to do a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances.

Our aim is to do everything we can to keep the streets clean, keep collecting your rubbish and make sure your recycling bins continue to be emptied as often as possible, while protecting the health of all our workers as well as the general public.

But as most of us are now staying at home, it seems likely that this will create more household waste and put pressure on our recycling and waste services.

Although all of London’s councils are still running collections from households, most local household tips and recycling centres across the city are now closed. Where there are staff shortages due to sickness, councils may need to make changes to services like garden waste collections and the removal of bulky items such as mattresses, white goods or furniture.

The situation is fluid and incredibly challenging, so we need your help to make sure the service can continue to be delivered as efficiently and safely as possible.

You can really help by:

  • Regularly checking on your local council’s website for updates on types and frequencies of recycling collection where you live
  • Not taking any of your waste and recycling to your local tip or recycling centre. This is not defined by the Government as an essential journey, and most local household tips and recycling centres have been closed
  • Trying to minimise the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste you produce. Every bit you can reduce will make a real difference to maintaining a good service for everyone
  • Checking locally about what can and can’t be recycled in your council collections
  • If you’re self-isolating and feeling ill, putting any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double-bagging them. These bags should then be put aside for at least 72 hours (3 days) before you put them out into your external bin
  • Avoiding doing big clear-outs while at home, which will create more rubbish and recycling for council crews to collect. Please hold onto large items such as furniture, mattresses etc. until the outbreak has subsided; and do not dispose of waste on a bonfire as the smoke causes air pollution and has potential health effects for you and your neighbours
  • Continuing to wash your hands regularly, maintaining good hygiene when handling your rubbish and recycling and keeping your distance when the workers are doing their collections where you live.

London Recycles will be providing regular updates on recycling services across the capital so please check at www.londonrecycles.co.uk for the latest information and advice.

For information regarding our commercial waste services, please contact https://cleanstreets.westminster.gov.uk/

5. Market traders

The council is temporarily waiving the charges increase planned for 1 April 2020 for market traders.

All Westminster markets are currently open, but we will keep this under constant review. 

6. Planning services

The Planning (Major Applications) Sub-Committee scheduled for Tuesday, 31st March and the Planning Applications Sub-Committee (3) scheduled for Tuesday, 7th April have both been postponed. However, the planning applications sub-committee planned for Tuesday, 14th April will go ahead as a virtual, online meeting. For further information, keep checking the council’s committee web pages.

Planning and Building Control Services are still operating but with some temporary measures introduced. For example:

  • planning officers will not be able to undertake site visits which require face-to-face contact or entering a property until further notice, although photographs may be acceptable
  • planning enforcement inspections will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • planning applications should be submitted online via the Planning Portal

Officers are contactable over e-mail or by phone. Officers can also arrange and participate in conference calls using Microsoft Teams and Skype.

For further details please see our additional information page.

7. Events and Filming

The government has now given very clear guidance in relation to social distancing, mass gatherings and non-essential social contact.

In light of this advice, from now until Thursday 30 April, Westminster City Council will not be supporting any event and filming activity within our parks and open spaces, or on the public highway within the City of Westminster. 

Given the ongoing uncertainty in relation to Covid-19 these timescales are subject to change. As a result, we are not able to offer or confirm alternative dates at this time.

The council will not be accepting any new event applications until further notice. Please continue to check our events and filming webpage for future updates.

Should you wish to discuss this further then please contact your assigned officer or email: eventsandfilming@westminster.gov.uk

We understand how disappointing this news will be, but the world is in an unprecedented situation and whilst events and filming are hugely important to the city, public health must be everyone’s top priority.

9. Council committees

For information on council meetings, please see the committees section.

10. Myth busting

It is important to receive information regarding the Coronavirus from official sources such as the NHS and Government. The World Health Organisation also has some handy myth busting advice.

Last updated: 28 March 2020