NEWS

Latest News
& Updates

Home Improvement & Trade Counter Round-Up

To help our network and installers across the industry, we’ve put together an ‘operational trading’ update on the main retailers and trade counters in home improvement showing availability and details around ordering and deliveries for emergency and key supplies. We’ll be keeping this up to date regularly as things change day to day.

Retailer

Store Online Delivery Click & Collect

Further information

B&Q x x Limited products only
Boilerparts.co.uk n/a x
CCL
Edmundson
Greentech X x
Homebase X x
Jewson x x Essentials only
Plumbworld n/a x
Screwfix x x Essentials only
Tradepoint x
Travis Perkins x x x Emergency repair and maintenance only
Waxman Energy x x
Wickes x Queuing system of 15-20 minutes on website to place orders
Wolseley (Plumbcentre) x x Collection from safest point on site only
YESSS Electrical x x

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is designed to support the self-employed who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, whereby the government will pay a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

The details:

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is open to any self-employed with income up to £50,000 who have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.
  • It will be available to people who genuinely earn more than half of their income through self-employment.
  • It will be available to those who are already in self-employment and who have submitted their Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19. The government has allowed anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, 4 weeks to submit their tax return i.e. before 23 April 2020.
  • You must be trading when you apply and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-2021.
  • HMRC is working on the scheme and they expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June.
  • If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you directly and ask you to fill out a simple online form.
  • HMRC will pay the grant directly into your bank account, in one instalment.
  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be open for 3 months. The government may extend this if necessary.

What about now?

For anyone who is struggling right now, the government points to the following measures:

  • Self-employed people can access the Business Interruption Loans (more detail on this on page 3).
  • Self-assessment income tax payments, that were due in July, can be deferred to the end of January 2021.
  • Self-employed people who have no income will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and/or Universal Credit (dependant on eligibility).

Business photo created by mindandi – www.freepik.com

QASSS Coronavirus Business Round-Up

We are in extraordinary times and we want to support you and your business as much as possible during this period. We’ve put together a business round-up with advice and updates on a number of key areas to help you navigate the confusion.

We cover:

  • Business Finance
    – VAT & Income Tax Payments Deferral
    – Business Interruption Loans
    – Job Retention Scheme
    – Statutory Sick Pay
  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Cyber Security
  • Support Services

Click here to view the bulletin.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Legislation will be introduced to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • The government will refund £94.25 per week, maximum £188.50, to your company for the 2019/20 tax year. The figures for the 2020/21 tax year will be £95.85 and £191.70 respectively.
  • This SSP will be paid from the first day of absence for anyone self-isolating due to coronavirus from 13 March 2020.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020. If you’re a director of a limited company with less than 250 employees, you can pay yourself two weeks of SSP if you need to self-isolate subject to meeting the minimum payroll requirement for SSP.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers.

How to access the scheme

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course.

Understand that you will not reclaim this SSP through your real-time information (RTI) submissions when processing payroll. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

Medical photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salaries for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

What it means:

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
  • The scheme, lasting for an initial period of three months, will be extended “if necessary”.
  • The employer can choose whether to top-up the remaining 20% of employees’ pay.
  • The wage subsidy will apply to workers who have already been laid off since 1st March, due to the pandemic, provided the employer brings them back onto the payroll.
  • The scheme is to help employers keep their staff on the books, rather than lay them off. It isn’t targeted at the self-employed.

You will need to:

  1.  Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. To ‘furlough a worker’ means that you have laid them off due to no work, but you have not yet made them redundant. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  1. Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

VAT and Income Tax Payments

VAT

  • Businesses will be supported by deferring VAT payments for 3 months.
  • The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
  • All UK businesses are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
  • Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the period.
  • VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax

  • If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due on 31 July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred until 31 January 2021.
  • If you are self-employed you are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Business Interruption Loans

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years.

The government will pay to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will not face any upfront costs and will benefit from lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year, and;
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

How to access the scheme

The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites.

All major banks are offering this scheme. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

The loan scheme provides the bank with a Government-backed guarantee which will enable your business manager to approve it, whereas, without that guarantee, your request for a loan may have been declined.

Please note: It’s important that you are aware that you, the borrower, will always remain 100% liable for the debt. The CIBLS guarantee is to the lender, not you, the SME.

Business photo created by katemangostar – www.freepik.com

Business Interruption Insurance

Does standard business interruption insurance provide cover for businesses who are not able to operate due to the effects of Covid-19?

Business insurance policies are designed to cover standard risks and are therefore unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19. This includes forced closure by the authorities. Businesses may have chosen to purchase cover that will specifically provide for business interruption arising from notifiable or infectious diseases. For certain notifiable disease extensions, cover may apply if other policy conditions are met. However, this type of extension is not commonly included as standard. Furthermore, the likely costs to businesses of cover that includes more unusual risks – such as those posed by new diseases – would be prohibitive. Businesses who are concerned about the impacts of Covid-19 should check the scope of their cover with the insurance company or broker.

Does a ‘notifiable disease’ extension cover my business for Covid-19?

Most notifiable disease extensions tend to cover specific diseases that will be named in the cover. If Covid-19 is not specified, then cover may not apply. Some notifiable disease extensions are more general and do not specify certain diseases. In these cases, business interruption cover for Covid-19 may apply if it is present in the business. If you are unsure about what your policy covers, check with your broker or the insurer if you purchased it directly.

Are there any other extensions to business interruption that may provide cover?

Some coverage may exist if the business has purchased a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ extension to a business interruption policy. Again, purchase of these extensions tends to be rare and this is not generally covered under standard business interruption policies. Generally, ‘denial of access’ cover applies to cordoned off areas and loss of trade resulting from a denial of access to premises. If a business is forced to close or is told to close by an appropriate authority or is cordoned off, this could trigger a claim under a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ business interruption extension if the infectious disease cover is unspecified or if it includes Covid-19.

Here is some advice from HICS

Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard policies are dependent on damage to property and will generally exclude pandemics. However, we strongly recommend businesses check to see if cover applies for Covid-19 and if so, the specific terms and conditions that apply. Insurance policies can differ significantly, so we’d encourage you to contact your broker or insurer who will be able to help.

If you do have insurance that covers Covid-19, your insurance company is likely to use a Loss Adjuster to represent them. We would strongly advise businesses who have cover in place, to access specialist advice in helping them to prepare, present and negotiate claims. At HICS, we can help with the claims process and can arrange access to a Loss Adjusting service, should you need independent advice regarding  complex, major or difficult claims.

To find out more about this specialist service, contact Scott Robinson our Commercial Director via s.robinson@qasss.co.uk

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

An Interview with Mass Foam Systems Limited

Recently we talked to HICS member, Mass Foam Systems Limited, about all things insulation. We found out their biggest achievement to date, what trends they have noticed regarding insulation and their predictions for the year ahead.

Introduce yourself – who is your company and what do you do?

We are Roy Dunn & Brian Massow, Directors of Mass Foam Systems. Mass Foam Systems is one of the UK’s largest installers of Icynene Spray Foam.

You’ve been a HICS member since August 2019, what made you join HICS?

We joined HICS to improve our customers’ confidence when having our market-leading insulation products installed.

So, Icynene spray foam insulation, what got you into it? Why spray foam?

We chose spray foam as we enjoy being able to sell a product that we have faith in that would really benefit UK homeowners by making their homes more energy efficient which in turn helps the environment and global warming.

Tell us an interesting fact why consumers should be considering Icynene spray foam insulation in their homes and/or insulation in general.

Customers can save up to 50% on heating and cooling costs every year. Icynene provides air sealing which prevents heat loss, therefore, saving you money.

What is your greatest company achievement to date?

We have been honoured to be able to assist Chessington Zoo with the insulation of their giraffe enclosure with Icynene Spray Foam. They wanted to insulate to increase warmth and comfort for their giraffes. We used an open-cell foam to insulate as it has no harmful chemicals, so it was safe to apply without harming the animals. We even got to meet the giraffes which was an experience we will never forget!

Have you noticed any trends regarding insulation recently?

UK homeowners are being driven to look at the insulation of their properties and EPC levels with a view to making their homes more energy efficient. Some are wanting an A-rated insulation product which will make their homes’ energy efficient whilst helping the environment and global warming.

What is your 2020 prediction for insulation?

We have seen massive growth in the first quarter of 2020 as open cell spray foam gains more popularity. We are expecting Mass Foam Systems to see one of our busiest years ever with our quality installs and our open-cell breathable products.

And last but not least, if you could invite any 3 people in the world to a dinner party – who would you invite?

  1. Prince Charles of Wales because of his passion for a sustainable future with regards to the environment and our future King of England.
  2. Greta Thunberg as she is our future generation with a passion for the environment and climate change.
  3. Kevin McCloud MBE for his knowledge of quality sustainable property design.

Photo from left to right: Roy Dunn and Brian Massow (Mass Foam).

Coronavirus Contingency Plan

We are sending special thoughts to all our installers and consumers out there that may be experiencing a negative impact due to the coronavirus. This is a difficult time and we’re here to support you where we can.

We are currently operating as normal, but we do have extensive contingency plans in place so that we can all stay safe AND it will be business as usual to continue to support you and your customers.

General Operations

Should the worst happen, our contingency plan means that all our people can work remotely from home, including remote access for all emails and website contact emails.

Our people are our most important asset and will continue to be remunerated in the normal way whilst working from home.

Telephone Lines

As part of our contingency plan, our telephone lines will be diverted so that all calls and enquires whether for our service delivery team, customer service or our ADR and complaints team, can be covered by our people remotely.

Non-Urgent Business

To ensure we continue to deliver our services to installers and customers, non-urgent business will continue to be reviewed, including the suspension of group meetings, business travel and attendance of exhibitions and events.

Inspections and Remedial Works

We have spoken with our inspection providers about their contingency plans and how their inspection and remedial services may be affected. All our suppliers have their own processes in place should the worst happen. All are currently operating as normal until advised otherwise. Should the situation worsen, our suppliers will be providing guidelines and information on their contingency plans which we will then share more widely.

Consumers

Consumers that use our installer network can rest assured our contingency plans mean that it will be business as usual. Our team can fully work remotely from home, meaning that they will have access to all emails and can take all phone calls as usual to deal with any complaints, disputes and/or support as usual.

For now, please keep safe and stay up to date with the advice from the NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/