Business Energy

Coronavirus, lockdown and your business

Local lockdowns are once again in force across the UK, meaning business owners in different regions of the country will be facing different challenges.

Here’s all you need to know about the latest lockdown rules, along with information on any financial support that’s available and tips on how to get ready for life under local lockdown restrictions.

business electricity bills

What financial support is available to help businesses through lockdown?

To help employers and employees cope with the financial burden of local lockdowns, the government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (more commonly known as the furlough scheme) so it now runs until the end of March.

After initially winding down the scheme during September and October, the extended scheme will once again pay 80% of the wages of eligible employees who are placed on leave, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. To qualify, employees must have been on the payroll by October 30.

For additional support with your business finances and help with cash flow, commercial rent and other overheads, the government has extended the application deadlines for CBILS, CLBILS and Bounce Back Loans, as well as for the Future Fund. All of these schemes now have an application deadline of January 31, 2021.

If you need additional business finance to help you through this next lockdown and beyond, it could also be worth exploring other funding options.

You should also look into the Local Restrictions Support Grant, which offers up to £3,000 a month for any businesses forced to close their premises because of lockdown.

What if you’re struggling to pay your business energy bills during lockdown?

Just because your business stops trading temporarily, it doesn’t mean your business isn’t still racking up energy bills.

If you're struggling to pay your business energy bills, perhaps because you've had to temporarily stop trading and or vacate your premises, you need to get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible to work out a repayment plan. Alternatively, our energy experts on hand call to help you work out the best way to arrange a repayment plan with your supplier.

It might also be worth comparing energy deals to see if you could save money with a better deal.

Give us a call on 0800 035 3817 to discuss your options.

If you need help working out which restrictions relate to you and your business, it’s worth checking out the latest details at https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions. It might even be worth bookmarking this link to keep on top of any subsequent government updates regarding coronavirus restrictions.

What are the rules for local tiered lockdowns in England?

Once the national lockdown restrictions have been lifted, England will return to the following local ‘tiered’ lockdowns:

Tier One (medium risk)

  • No indoor or outdoor meetings for groups of more than six people, unless you’re in a larger household or a support bubble.
  • Pubs, bars, and restaurants must be closed and emptied of customers by 10pm.

Tier Two (high risk)

  • All Tier One rules, including the ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfews.
  • You aren’t allowed to meet indoors to socialise with people you don’t live with, whether in private homes, pubs or restaurants. You can still meet people in your support bubble and provide childcare for Under 14s.
  • No outdoor meetings in groups of more than six people.

Tier Three (very high risk)

  • All Tier One and Tier Two restrictions, including the ‘rule of six’ – both indoors and outdoors – and 10pm curfews.
  • You’re not allowed to meet indoors with anyone who isn’t part of your support bubble, whether at home or another venue.
  • You must not meet in certain outdoor locations, including private or pub gardens, but can meet in parks, beaches, countryside, or forests, as long as you are in a group of six or less.
  • You cannot travel outside of a Tier Three lockdown area other than for work, education, youth services or caring work.
  • All pubs must close unless they regularly serve ‘substantial meals’ and alcohol can only be served as part of a meal.

The future remains uncertain for business owners across the UK, but it looks like we’ll be in some sort of lockdown for the foreseeable future. That’s why it’s essential to keep on top of your finances.

Switching business gas and electricity suppliers is a quick and simple way to cut costs - to start an energy price comparison and see how much you could save, give us a call on 0800 035 3817 or leave your postcode on our business energy page and we’ll give you a call back.

What are the lockdown rules for Scotland?

Scotland has introduced a five-tier lockdown system with each region moving into one of five levels, from Level Zero, which is the lowest risk, to Level Four, which is the highest risk:

  • Level Zero – Life is as close to pre-Covid as possible.
  • Level One – Six people from two households can meet indoors and up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or at a pub or restaurant. Hospitality venues have a 10:30pm curfew.
  • Level Two – Gatherings between households inside people’s homes is not permitted, but up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or at a Covid-secure pub or restaurant. Most hospitality venues can open. Alcohol can be served indoors with a meal until 8pm and outdoors until 10:30pm.
  • Level Three – Gatherings between households inside people’s homes is not permitted. Pubs and restaurants can open until 6pm but can’t serve alcohol. Leisure and entertainment venues are closed and non-essential travel in or out of a Level three zone isn’t permitted.
  • Level Four – Restrictions similar to full lockdown.

What are the lockdown rules for Wales?

Wales has taken a slightly different approach from England and Scotland, and is favouring a set of national restrictions right across the country over the tiered approach.

The main rules in Wales are as follows:

  • The maximum number of people that can meet is four, including children under 11
  • Face coverings must still be worn in indoor public places
  • Do not mix in other people’s homes, except in very limited circumstances.
  • If you do need to see other people, try to stick to a bubble of one or two people - it’s safer to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally
  • Try to meet people outdoors rather than indoors where possible, even in circumstances where the law allows you to meet indoors
  • Always be mindful of social distancing, even outdoors
  • Work from home if you can
  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants are banned from selling alcohol on the premises and all must close at 6pm. Takeaway services can continue after 6pm.
  • Leisure facilities, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos, soft play areas, museums and galleries are all closed.
  • All shops and outdoor visitor attractions can remain open
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