Supporting your business during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find out what you can expect from us as well as ways to support your business

Get informed

The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is creating unique challenges for small businesses throughout the UK. As such, we’ve compiled a brief guide to inform you about what 123 Reg is doing as well as any steps you can take to help keep your business going.

Putting our customers first

Some of our customers have implemented unique strategies to continue offering their services and overcome the fact that their customer base has begun self-isolating, or to assist NHS workers. While these measures might not be viable for every business, it’s worth considering how exactly you could cater your business accordingly.

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Pick for Britain

Helping to bring employers and farm workers together to ensure that the public can continue to enjoy British fruit and veg.

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The Spirit of Manchester

Converted its distillery operations to produce hand sanitiser for the NHS Nightingale Hospital NW.

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Dorset Nectar

Offering a free, sterilised delivery service within 10 miles of Bridport.

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Kitchen CUT

Created a free online tool (F+B To Go) that allows restaurants to set up an online menu and ordering system that they can embed on their own website.

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The Kent Foodie

Offering full-page adverts in their magazine for only £35.

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The Sweet Cabin

Offering free local deliveries on online orders of £10 or more.

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hiyacar

Offering free car hire to all key workers throughout the UK (excluding insurance).

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yourparkingspace

Offering NHS workers free parking at 900+ car parks across the UK.

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timetohelp

A hub for people looking for help and support as well as those who wish to volunteer and fundraise for organisations in Lancashire.

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Toast Ale

Have removed delivery charges on their products.

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Body Electric Dance Studios

Currently streaming classes to their dance groups.

We’d love to know how you’re adapting your business and showcase your story above! Get in touch with us at pr@123-reg.co.uk and tell us what you’re doing to make a difference.

What 123 Reg is doing

Want to know what we’re doing to assist our customers and employees during COVID-19? Check out some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Frequently asked questions

Overcoming this challenging situation

If you’re not sure about the best way to operate your business in these changing times, here are some quick options and ideas that you could easily implement:

Re-opening
As the government begins easing the lockdown and allowing non-essential retail shops to open, businesses will need to implement new measures to stay in accordance with social distancing rules. For instance, any items that are handled by customers will need to be quarantined for 72 hours, while protective coverings are to be placed on large items such as beds or sofas. Reasonable steps should also be taken to ensure that customers are kept 2m apart from each other, such as setting up floor markings or physical barriers.

Due to the variety of work environments, employees should follow guidance from their employer based on a workplace risk assessment. To help with this, you may check this government guide to see what your workplace must do to keep people safe.

Face coverings
Members of the public are required to wear a face covering at certain indoor settings, such as shops, cinemas, theatres, massage parlours, places of worship, museums and more. Restaurants, pubs and bars do not require face coverings though, while customers may remove their covering at an indoor premise that has a café or designated seating area for eating or drinking. However, only this seated area is exempt.

Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a face covering, while those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing one may prove so in the form of an exemption card, badge or home-made sign. For more information along with a list of establishments where face coverings are mandatory, be sure to check the government’s official guidance. You can also find further relevant details on the government’s official page, including which types of businesses are to remain closed.

Eat Out to Help Out scheme
Although the government’s restaurant discount scheme has officially ended, several businesses are unofficially continuing it at their own expense in order to attract more customers.



The scheme initially allowed cafes and restaurants to offer customers a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks, up to a maximum of £10 per person, and then claim the money back from the government.



For more information about the original scheme, please visit the government’s official page. You can also see which companies are still offering the discount for their services here.

International business travel
Although travelling internationally is not recommended at this time, if it’s a necessity for your business then you’ll need to take a few precautions. Before and while you’re travelling, be sure to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice for the country you’re visiting as well as their official coronavirus requirements.

Once you arrive back in the UK, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days, unless the country you visited is on the government’s travel corridor exemption list. If your journey includes any transit stops, this rule also applies should any new passengers get on or if any passengers mix with people outside the transport and then get back on

.

As always, please refer to the government’s official guidance as well as the BBC’s global report for any further developments.

Communications
Make sure that you inform customers about any changes to your service operations, opening hours or delivery options as soon as possible. Furthermore, be sure to announce these changes across your entire website and social media channels.

Honesty and transparency are always appreciated and, given current circumstances, most people will understand if it’ll take longer for them to receive their goods.

In any case, any messages sent out to your customers should be as brief and clear as possible, since many will probably be busy dealing with the effects of the outbreak on their personal lives.


Remote working
If, like us and many other companies, you’re now working from home, it’s worth downloading video conferencing and messaging software to ensure a smooth transition. Some great options include:

  • Microsoft Teams – a free version is available that offers unlimited chat and video calling, although you may already have Teams if you’re subscribed to our Office 365 package
  • Zoom – host unlimited one-to-one meetings or 40-minute sessions with 3 or more people on a free Basic account. Our Website Builder packages (excluding Starter) include Zoom meeting tools as standard. Zoom has suspended this time limit for schools and you can request to have this restriction lifted by by visiting their site
  • Google Hangouts – make free group video calls for up to 10 contacts
  • WhatsApp Business – send automated messages and quick replies to potential clients
  • Facebook Live – broadcast live events to your customers


Useful tools
With more businesses placing a greater emphasis on their online presence, here are a selection of easy-to-use marketing and design tools that can help you boost your company image and workflow process:

  • Over – enhance your social media images and graphics
  • Canva – create professional-looking designs for your images, gift vouchers and more
  • Pexels – a library of free, high-quality stock photos
  • SurveyMonkey – send surveys that collate your customers’ feedback
  • Evernote – organise your work and collaborate with your colleagues
  • Hootsuite – manage your social media from one place
  • Google Ads – get up to £120 in credit for Google ads

Helpful blog articles

Here are a few articles we’ve produced featuring general tips and advice on how you can adapt your business and make the most out of the current situation.

  • Four ways to communicate to customers when you can’t meet face-to-face

    Read more
  • Five tools for your remote team to stay productive and connected

    Read more
  • Working From Home: Location, Location, Location

    Read more
  • Six tips to make remote working work for you

    Read more
  • Six types of discount strategies for small businesses

    Read more
  • Your checklist of 10 must-have features for your first ecommerce site

    Read more

These and many other helpful articles can all be found on our blog.

Government and national resources

Even during these difficult times, you’ve still got a business to run and ongoing costs to meet. At the time of writing, to help with this the UK government has announced that it will offer a 100% Business Rates retail discount for companies whose property’s rateable value is less than £51,000. Businesses that pay little to no rates may also receive a £3,000 grant, provided they’re currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rates Relief. For those who are self-employed, you’ll be able to claim a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

In addition to this, the government has launched ‘Business Interruption Loan Scheme that will support small and medium-sized businesses that need access to bank lending and overdraft services, provided they have an annual turnover of up to £45 million. For start-up companies that are unable to apply for this scheme, the government has also announced the Future Fund, which offers these innovative businesses loans ranging from £125,000 to £5 million. This loan is subject to equal match funding from private investors and the business having raised £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors within the last 5 years.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you’re self-employed, you may eligible to claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Since applications for the first grant closed on 13 July 2020, the scheme has been re-opened to those whose business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020. The grant could be up to 70% of your average monthly trading profits and would be paid out in a single instalment that’s capped at a total of £6,570. Those who did not make a claim for the first grant will still be eligible, although applications must be submitted before 19 October 2020. For more information or to see whether you’re fully eligible, check the government’s official guidance.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If your employees have been placed on furlough, you may be able to claim 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month, along with any National Insurance and pension contributions through the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern and will still be able to claim this grant for any normal hours not worked. When claiming for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

However, this scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June and employers will only be able to furlough employees that have been furloughed for a full 3-week period prior to 30 June. As such, the final date an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

From 1 September, the government will be reducing their contribution to 70% of employee wages, up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month. However, to ensure that employees continue to receive 80% of their wages, employers will pay 10% of salaries (up to a cap of £312.50) in addition to pension contributions and National Insurance. In October the government contribution will reduce again to 60% with another increase to employer contribution. For more information about these changes, please read the government’s official update.

Bounce Back Loans
Since some businesses have missed out on or don’t meet the criteria for existing schemes, they may apply for a Bounce Back Loan, which serves as a simpler and quicker alternative to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. To qualify, a firm must be UK based, established before 1st March 2020 and been adversely impacted by the coronavirus, whereupon they could receive up to £50,000. All lenders will charge a flat rate of 2.5%, while the government will cover the cost of fees and interest for the first 12 months and guarantee 100% of the loan if the firm defaults.

Plans for Jobs 2020
In addition to this, the government has unveiled its Plans for Jobs which will support the UK’s economic growth, employment rate and public finances going forward. Among the most prominent points of this policy include:

  • The Job Retention Bonus scheme, which will encourage UK employers to keep on furloughed workers by rewarding firms with one-off payments of £1,000 for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021
  • Implementing a temporary VAT cut on supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks, from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, to support jobs and businesses within the hospitality sector, such as bars, restaurants, pubs and cafés. This reduced rate of VAT also applies to supplies of accommodation as well as admission to attractions across the UK
  • Temporarily cutting Stamp Duty Land Tax to help protect and create jobs as well as boost confidence in the housing market. As part of it, the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT will be increased to £500,000 until 31 March 2021 and cut the tax due for everyone who would have otherwise paid SDLT

Short-term solutions
If, however, you’re facing immediate cashflow issues, you may be able to delay your tax payments to HMRC by calling their helpline on 0800 015 559. Alternatively, you could get in touch with the Small Business Commissioner, an independent office dedicated to assisting small businesses affected by late or unfair payment issues.

It’s also worth checking to see if you’re covered by your business insurance – especially if you’ve purchased supply chain or denial of access cover – since the Chancellor has confirmed that the government’s advice is sufficient for businesses to make a claim, where they have appropriate interruption cover for pandemics in place.

As always, you should stay on top of the latest information and advice for businesses on the government’s gov.uk website and the latest health guidance from the NHS and World Health Organisation.