COVID-19 – Information Page

This page provides an overview and links to information related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which are relevant to ITSPA members and the wider industry.

Advice for Businesses:

  • Working Safely during COVID-19 information. This guidance outlines Government recommendations for employers to make their workspaces compliant and safe for employees to return to work.

Details of the most relevant support schemes announced by Government are below:

  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme information. This scheme allows SMEs to borrow between £2,000 - £50,000 from Government, and businesses are eligible if they are UK based, established before 1st March 2020 and impacted by COVID-19. The Government guarantees 100% of the loan and there will be no fees or interest for first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate is 2.5% a year. The length of the loan is six years. Your business needs to comply with the Business in Difficulty criteria set out in EU State Aid rules to be eligible for this scheme.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme information - The scheme will help SMEs access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The scheme will be operated through accredited lenders via the British Business Bank. The Government has confirmed that this scheme will remain open until the end of October.
  • Coronavirus Future Fund information. The Government will match the funds raised from third party investment from £125,000 - £5 million through a convertible debt model. This scheme is being operated through the British Business Bank and will run from 20th May until September 2020, with scope for extension if there is sufficient demand.
  • Corporate Financing Facility information - The Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme information - Any UK employer with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary (80% of wages) for those that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis. This scheme has been extended until October, with flexibility to the scheme expected to be introduced in July.
  • Small Business Grant Funding information - Additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. A one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
  • VAT deferral information – Supporting businesses to defer VAT payments for 3 months.
  • Statutory Sick Pay Rebate information – Enabling SMEs to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus, covering up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work due to coronavirus.
  • Deferral of Self-Assessment information – Payments that should ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021
  • Innovate UK support package information. Up to £90 million is available in continuity grants to businesses who are existing Innovate UK award holders whose projects are at risk because of COVID-19.
  • Support for Businesses outside of Government information.

Advice for Employees:

  • Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme information – If they have suffered a loss in income, the self-employed will be eligible for a taxable grant worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This will be available for three months and will be paid from the beginning of June.
  • Statutory Sick Pay Information.
  • Universal Credit Information.
  • Employment and Support Allowance Information.
  • Lay-offs and short time working Information.
  • Problems in paying tax bills information.

Telecoms-specific information:

Government measures with telecoms companies to support vulnerable consumers

The Government has confirmed that major ISPs and mobile providers (BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and KCOM) have agreed the following commitments to support vulnerable consumers:

  • Providers will work with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
  • Providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
  • Providers will offer some new mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported.
  • All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out

Regulatory information

  • Ofcom published a revised Plan of Work 2020/21 at the end of April.
  • On 12th May, Openreach wrote to Ofcom proposing two offers for the network access charges during the COVID-19 pandemic and Ofcom has made a statement announcing that they have agreed to these proposals.
  • Ofcom are discussing with the Government the implementation deadlines of the European Electronic Communications Code, as this may need to be delayed. Ofcom will provide a statement on this in September, with the expectation that the regulations will be implemented in December and CPs will have 12 months to put measures in place.
  • Ofcom will we take a ‘pragmatic approach’ to enforcement of end of contract notifications, and state that they recognise the challenges facing providers at this time and the steps they need to take to respond to the impact of the coronavirus.

Further information is available here: Ofcom information on COVID-19

Osborne Clarke Information hub

Associate member of ITSPA, Osborne Clarke LLP have a hub of insights on the legal issues relating to coronavirus which can be accessed here

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