What is the Rail Alliance doing?

In response to the growing concern and uncertainty of the current situation regarding COVID-19, Rail Alliance remains focused on providing support, guidance and opportunities for its SME Community made up of close to 670 members. In light of the difficult circumstances facing the rail industry, Rail Alliance is providing all Community members access to exclusive, online, digital content, free of charge. This has been rapidly implemented so that SMEs can utilise the platform to engage digitally, utilise content that is otherwise paid for, and learn and apply skills and training to working remotely.

 

 

 

  • The decision has now been taken for all Rail Alliance and BCRRE team members to work from home and will be available by email and mobile phone. You can also get in touch using our contact form at the top of the page or by clicking here
  • No meetings or events will be held at Rail Alliance offices at QRTC or at BCRRE until further notice (however we will instead revert where appropriate to conference call / video-conference meetings instead)
  • All Rail Alliance events taking place between now and July will be postponed, and where deemed appropriate, the Rail Alliance programme of events will be moved to an online platform

Share your Views and Concerns

“We’re living through a rapidly evolving situation, and for government responses to remain relevant, we rely on a near-continuous feedback loop from businesses at the sharp end.” – Michael Noakes, Head of Rail, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

 

 

 


The latest updates from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Latest Update: 27/03/2020

Guidance for businesses and workers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government has today published guidance for businesses and workers on how to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.
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.
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
 
Guidance for Employees
The guidance published today will 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).
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
Michael Noakes, Head of Rail, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

 


Latest Government & Industry Advice/Guidance

Latest updates 25.03.20

Government has produced the following information about which businesses need to close (revised today, 26/03/20) – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/875304/240320_Revised_Guidance.pdf

Build UK has issued the attached guidance on contractual issues caused by coronavirus. This has also been published on their website – https://builduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Guidance-on-Contractual-Issues-Caused-by-Coronavirus.pdf

BEIS toolkit – https://industrialstrategy.frontify.com/d/55EzeVU6rhza/covid-19-business-support

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’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Employers will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and
  • 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.
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Government has said it hopes this will be available by end April and the scheme is backdated to 1 March. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months.
The deferral will apply from 20 March until the end of June. 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 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC Time to Pay
HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice. This can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch this week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. 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. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free.
Further information is available on the British Business Bank website

 


Financial support Advice/Guidance

Our colleagues at Crowe UK have put together this helpful flowchart to help understand the support you may be entitled to. Click the image below to enlarge

 

Procurement Policy Notice – Supplier Relief
The above was issued on 20 March and is important for those who have contracts with any public body, including Network Rail.

Updated guidance for households with possible infection can be found here

Updated guidance for business/employers can be found here

Updated guidance for staff working in the transport sector is here

Public Health England have produce guidance posters for transport workers here

The ORR have also issued some advice here

For individual businesses, the first port of call for advice and support is gov.uk. However, Government is also scaling up the Business Support Helpline so businesses in England, of all sizes, can pick up the phone and speak directly to an advisor (Devolved Administrations have their own equivalent services in place). The number to call is: 0300 456 3565

HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Find all the information here. The number is 0800 0159 559

Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here

Guidance for British people living or travelling overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Find the update guidance here


Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility
The Bank of England will provide funding – aimed at large businesses – by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity. The facility will offer financing on terms comparable to those prevailing in markets in the period before the impact of Covid-19. The facility will look through temporary impacts on firms’ balance sheets and cash flows by basing eligibility on firms’ credit ratings prior to the Covid-19 shock. The scheme will operate for at least 12 months.

Read here for more information 

For companies within the West Midlands BCRS Business Loans has some information available on 12 month interest free loans within the region (as well as signposting the information for other regions). For more information click here


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month. The scheme, open to any employer in the country, will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open before the end of April for at least 3 months. The employer can choose to fund the differences between the grant and an employee’s salary but does not have to.

Key Questions

Am I eligible?
All UK businesses are eligible

What do I need to do to access it?
You will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as furloughed workers (when staff members are required to take an unpaid leave of absence) and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. Workers should not undertake work while they are ‘furloughed’.
  • 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).

HMRC are currently working to set up a system for reimbursement as existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Who do I need to speak to?
HMRC. This scheme is currently expected to open by the end of April.


Network Rail and Sentinel
In order to mitigate the risks of not having sufficient, skilled people to maintain the network safely for vital freight and key worker services, Network Rail has temporarily extended by four months all Sentinel railway competences and medical certificates. The system will be updated by 26 March but for the avoidance of doubt, the extension period is effective from 23 March 2020.


1. Treasury

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a further workers’ support package to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus.

A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages; Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost; and to ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

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’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Employers will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and
  • 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.
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility. The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. It will help businesses across a wide range of sectors to pay salaries, rents and suppliers, even while experiencing severe disruption to cashflows. Commercial paper eligible for the scheme will be issued by non-financial companies that make a material contribution to the UK economy and that had, prior to being affected by Covid-19, a short or long- term rating of investment grade, or financial health equivalent to an investment-grade rating. Including new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling the Government to offer whatever further financial support it thinks necessary to businesses, and increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. 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. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free.

Deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. The deferral will apply immediately until the end of June. 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 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Strengthening the safety net for those who work for themselves

  • Minimum income floor suspended for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
  • For the self-employed, we are also deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021. We will announce further measures to support self-employed people over the coming days.

HMRC Time to Pay. HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer – Time to Pay – to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice. This can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559.

Your business may be able to get support to lessen the cost or financial effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) through:

  • Changes to Statutory Sick Pay
  • Cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief
  • The temporary lowering of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for Universal Credit for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating following government advice

Self-employed
A Treasury spokesman said late last week that self-employed workers would already “benefit from a relaxation of the earnings rules for self-employed claimants under universal credit and deferring income tax self-assessment payments due in July 2020”. They added: “We have always said we will go further where we can and are actively considering further steps.” Covering the salaries of freelancers and the self-employed, calculated from their average earnings, is thought to be under consideration.

Cash flow: The Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner are calling on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease COVID-19 related cash flow issues. You can find more information here.

IR35: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay has also announced that the IR35 tax reforms will be pushed back by one year:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-announces-change-to-the-off-payroll-working-rules.

2. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Closure of schools and care for the children of critical workers

Further details on exams and grades announced

  • Further details on arrangements for exams which have been cancelled to fight spread of coronavirus has been produced by the Department for Education.

Providing proof of coronavirus absence from work

  • People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.

Guidance posters for staff, employers and businesses

Request for Business Intelligence. The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual?businesses and supply chain. BEIS welcomes information from businesses on:

  • The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets?
  • Actions?being taken by firms to address these impacts?
  • Any gaps in the?Government?response?from?your?perspective?

Please send your intelligence?to intel@beis.gov.uk. BEIS are aware that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly. Please note that this inbox is only for receiving intelligence only and does not provide business advice.

Alternatively you can click the link below to give feedback to BEIS through us

3. Cabinet Office

Further to the Cabinet Office’s first Procurement Policy Notice (PPN 01/20), a second Procurement Policy Note (PPN 02/20) regarding supplier relief was published on 20 March. It sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak:

  • “It is vital that contracting authorities pay all suppliers as quickly as possible to maintain cash flow and protect jobs. Contracting authorities should also take action to continue to pay suppliers at risk due to COVID-19 on a continuity and retention basis. Contracting authorities can consider making advance payments to suppliers if necessary.”

In effect, the second Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. Contracting authorities must act now to ensure suppliers at risk are in a position to resume normal contract delivery once the outbreak is over.

4. Cabinet Office & Department for Education

‘Key workers’ definition for Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision:

  • “If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
  • “Transport: This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.”
  • If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service. If your school is closed then please contact your local authority , who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

5. Department for International Trade / UK Export Finance Guidance

This advice is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes: DIT support for UK business trading internationally; and financial support for business trading internationally.

DIT can support businesses by: providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products; and offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus can contact DIT’s dedicated business support team by emailing COVID19@trade.gov.uk. This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses that trade internationally to understand how best the department can support them. Further guidance for employees, employers and businesses is also available online.

If your supply chain has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), DIT can help you to find alternative suppliers. The department has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will be able to advise you on the options available. If you have an advisory or professional services firm that can help UK companies to find alternative suppliers, email COVID19@trade.gov.uk with the subject line “Supply chain support”.

  • International support for businesses involved in overseas projects – If you are operating projects in other countries, follow local guidance and speak to your nearest UK embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you can read the general advice on Overseas Business Risk in the relevant country.
  • Financial support for British businesses trading internationally. The Chancellor announced (17 March 2020) an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP. This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, where the government announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

Financial support for exporters

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions. Help from UKEF:

  • If your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
  • If you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control
  • UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services
  • UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.

Further notice to exporters

6. Scottish Government

The Scottish Government announced a £2.2bn business support package including:

  • 10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief;
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year;
  • First minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board.

This supersedes the £350M of support previously outlined by the Scottish Government and includes the £1.9bn of support as outlined by the Chancellor.

7. Welsh Government

The Welsh Government announced a £1.4bn business support package including a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

8. Transport for London

Information about TfL actions in response to coronavirus can be found here: https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/coronavirus-covid-

9. Network Rail

We are working with our supply chain to keep Britain moving whilst prioritising the safety of the public, passengers and railway staff. A dedicated email address has been set up for use by our supply chain in relation to Covid-19.  If you are one of our suppliers and have any questions or concerns please contact us via COVID-19supplychain@networkrail.co.uk

Network Rail also has helpful information on train services:  https://www.networkrail.co.uk/coronavirus

10. Daily information and business support helpline

11. Rail Delivery Group

In the line with government advice people should only makes journeys if they are necessary, in which case, the most up to date information about services can be found at nationalrail.co.uk .

The Department for Transport has today confirmed, that it is prepared to stand behind the industry commercially with an offer of a temporary package of support for the franchises for which it is responsible. The industry strongly welcomes this offer and, while we need to finalise the details, such support will ensure that train companies, working with Network Rail, can focus all their efforts on delivering a vital service at a time of national need.  More details regarding this announcement can be found in the Department for Transport press release here.

“For our customers doing the right thing by not using their tickets for non-essential travel, today’s announcement also builds on the steps the industry has already taken to remove and waive fees for cancelling or rescheduling journeys during this period. Any national ticket type bought before 07.00 today (23 March) for travel after 07:00 today can now be refunded or rescheduled fee free. This includes refunds for unused time on Season tickets and previously non-refundable Advance tickets. Our thanks must go again, to railway workers up and down the country who have been doing an incredible job in difficult circumstances and to all other key workers for their efforts in response to COVID-19.”

Should you have any questions relating to today’s announcement regarding government support to industry, changes to national refund policies, or the reduced timetable, please get in touch with a member of the public affairs team public.affairs@raildeliverygroup.com.

Guidance for Railway Stakeholders MANAGEMENT OF COVID-19 – a series of potential measures published by the International Union of Railways March 2020

For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employees, employers and businesses. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts. Information includes:


Business Support announced in the Budget  

The Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19. Points to note:

  • A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41m to apply for a loan of up to £1.2m, with the Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses.
  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
  • A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.
  • There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, and worth a total of £2bn.
  • Finally, the Government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

BEIS: Production and Supply of Ventilators and Ventilator Components

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19.

Please click here 


Request for business intelligence: How is COVID-19 impacting businesses?

BEIS is also seeking business intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting individual businesses and business sectors.  It would welcome information from SMEs on:

•    The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
•    Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
•    Any gaps in the Government response from an SME perspective

Please send this information to intel@beis.gov.uk .  If individual company information is commercially sensitive, confidentiality will be respected.