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Is my business classified as a Leisure Business / Does my business qualify for the Governments 12 month Business Rates Holiday?

The Rates relief is a billing authority (Local Authority) matter and not set by central Government.

Government guidance to Local Authorities outlines which properties will benefit from the relief.  These include hereditaments mainly used:

a. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,

b. for assembly and leisure; or

c. as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

British Marine has sought clarification from Runnymede BC on their interpretation of what marine businesses would fall within the definition of “Sports and Leisure Facilities”.  Runnymede BC confirmed that marinas, boat hire and Passenger boat bases would all fall within scope of a “leisure facility”.

Similarly, chandleries and boat show rooms would fall within the scope of shops.

Members should contact their Local Authority if they are unsure on the classification of their business.

Can I claim on my insurance as a result of COVID-19?

On 17 March 2020 the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued a statement on COVID-19. It confirmed that most firms would not have purchased the cover required to allow them to claim on their insurance as a result of COVID-19.

The statement said that standard business interruption cover does not include forced closure by authorities. However, it notes that a small minority might have purchased an extension to their cover to include closure due to an infectious disease. In this instance, the ABI recognises that some parties might be able to claim where infectious disease cover is accompanied by an enforced closure.

British Marine would advise its members to check the details of their cover directly with their insurer.

Can I defer tax payments?

The UK Government will allow all UK businesses to temporarily defer VAT payments. This deferral applies from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Our members should be aware that businesses are not required to apply for this deferral. Instead, every UK business will be given until the end of the 2020/21 tax year to pay any VAT due from the three-month deferral period. Income Tax will similarly be deferred, with payments due on 31 July 2020 now deferred until 31 January 2021.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged by the Government in the deferral period.

For more information, contact HMRC’s Time to Pay helpline by calling: 0800 0159 559.

Do I have to pay Statutory Sick Pay to staff off work because of COVID-19?

This depends on the number of staff employed. For businesses with fewer than 250 members of staff, the Government has said it will, for a period of up to two weeks, refund the cost of each employee which is off work due to COVID-19. Over the coming weeks, it will establish a repayment scheme alongside employers. Whilst this scheme is being set up, employers should maintain records of all employee-related absence and ask each member of staff, where necessary, to obtain an isolation note from NHS 111 online.

For companies with more than 250 members of staff, the Government has announced other financial measures which may be more applicable.

How can I get involved ? / How can I help?

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations that can support the supply of ventilators and ventilator components as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19. Please email if you can help in any way.

How do I look after my staff and ensure their health and wellbeing?

British Marine understands that the Government’s advice which says we should all avoid non-essential contact could be difficult and stressful for many people to follow.

We know how important mental health is to our overall wellbeing. We would strongly encourage our members to visit the charity Mind, The World Health Organisation and the Mental Health Foundation for more information and details of what you can do to improve your own mental health and wellbeing during these times.

How will COVID-19 affect my business?

The Office for Budget Responsibility believes that Coronavirus will have a significant impact on the UK economy and expects COVID-19 will bring temporary disruption to supply chains, exports and global markets.

British Marine recognises how concerned its members are at this time and is working closely with industry and Government to ensure these concerns are fully communicated and understood.

We want to hear from all affected businesses to enable us to build a clear picture of the challenges facing the industry and discuss the support available with Government, councils and other public bodies. Please contact us directly by calling 01784 223663 to discuss the support available.

I am a small boating business with no premises, and I don’t pay business rates. Do I qualify for any of the grants?

The UK Government has announced a package of grants for businesses in the leisure and hospitality sectors. These grants are intended for businesses which have premises and, under normal circumstances, would be required to pay Business Rates. Regrettably, businesses in these sectors which do not have premises (and therefore do not pay Business Rates) are ineligible for these grants.

British Marine recognises the importance of providing financial support to businesses in the industry which do not qualify for these grants. This is why we have written directly to Government to request specialist financial support for the industry, which takes into account the costs that our members do have to meet. More information can be found on our lobbying page. 

Is COVID-19 having an impact on the work of Navigation Authorities?

British Marine understands that Navigation Authorities are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely. We would strongly encourage our members to contact the appropriate Navigation Authority for further information on the availability of navigations at this time.

We understand the Canal and River Trust is working with employees, volunteers and partners to keep their respective waterways open and available to our members. However, the CRT says that use of the towpath should now be limited, particularly by those that use it for daily exercise.

We are aware that the Broads Authority has made some changes to the staffing requirements at different moorings, and boats within the navigation area still need to be tolled.

The Port of London Authority has published advice and closed navigational control centres at Gravesend and Woolwich to non-essential visitors. It is also ceasing harbour service in the upper district of the Thames.

We would advise our members in Scotland to visit the Scottish Canals website for further information on navigations open to members. We understand that “all but critical” Scottish Canals’ operations will stop, although the towpath will remain open.

Should I close my business

There has been a significant amount of confusion following Government’s announcement that all non-essential businesses should close with immediate effect.

Government has produced guidance on those businesses they deem to be “Non-essential”. In their latest guidance, government have made it clear that:

“People can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do absolutely cannot be done from home.

With the exception of the organisations covered by non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services.”

Date – 25.3.20

Should I continue to export outside the UK?

The Government has published advice for businesses that export outside the UK and are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day operations.

Businesses concerned about late payments, export insurance and direct lending are advised to contact UK Export Finance in the first instance for more information on the support available to them. UKEF can be contacted by emailing

Should I continue to file my accounts with Companies House?

On 25 March 2020 Companies House issued a statement which said it was granting a three-month extension to all UK businesses to enable them to file accounts later in the year. British Marine understands that businesses must apply online for the extension, however any business which references COVID-19 will automatically be granted this extension. Members can find more information here.

Should I take extra precautions when cleaning the workplace?

The Government has published guidance which sets out what it believes is the most effective way to clean surfaces, communal areas and items of clothing.

British Marine would encourage its members to familiarise themselves with this guidance and to follow advice from the NHS and Public Health England.

What grants are available?

The UK Government has also announced a series of grants for UK businesses. For businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 they will be entitled to receive a grant of up to £10,000.

For businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 they will be eligible to receive a grant of up to £25,000. British Marine understands that local authorities will contact eligible businesses directly and so there is no requirement to file an application.

Information on Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure click here

Information on Small Business Grant Funding click here


What help is available for the self-employed?

On 26 March 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a package of support for the self-employed, including the introduction of a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. 
The scheme allows self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits. This average is calculated using data from the previous three tax years and will see Government pay up to £2,500 per month to those that are eligible. We understand this scheme will be open for a period of three months, but could be extended if required.

The grant will be paid directly into the recipient’s bank account, in one simple instalment and will be open to anyone with an income of up to £50,000. British Marine understands that the measures, which will be in place by June, do not apply to individuals that have established a Limited Company. 
British Marine would advise all of its members which are self-employed to visit the GOV.UK website for full details of the support readily available to them, while the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is being set up. 
HMRC will contact eligible parties and invite them to apply online, as soon as the scheme is live. Further information on the support available to the self-employed can be found here.


What support is available from the Government to support cashflow?

The Government has launched a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to help businesses that may require additional financial assistance.

The scheme will provide loans of up to £5 million in value. These will be backed by the British Business Bank and delivered through commercial lenders. This scheme is now open for applications and we would encourage businesses to discuss their requirements directly with the banks participating in the scheme, details of which can be found here.

The Government has also launched a COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility to help larger companies manage their debt in the interim and finance short-term liabilities.

The full range of measures announced for business can be found here

Will I have to pay Business Rates?

The Government is introducing a business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for the forthcoming tax year. This will apply to all businesses in those sectors and based in England. We understand that local authorities will contact eligible businesses directly to discuss the business rates holiday and any rebilling required.

Update 02/04/2020

The LGA have published advice for Local Authorities on what additional tourism businesses should be included in the Business Rates Relief Scheme within the flexibility allowed in the official guidance. While this does not compel individual councils to incorporate these businesses into their schemes, we hope that it will both encourage many to do so and to provide evidence for businesses to make the case that they should be included in the scheme.

The business types included on the list are:

  • Amusement Arcades
  • Car Rental Sites
  • Conference and Exhibition venues
  • Travel and Tour Operators
  • Tourism Information Centres
  • Tourism Boards/Destination Management Organisations
  • Coach operators
  • English Language Schools
  • Travel/Hospitality Industry Charities (offices)
  • Marinas/Boat Hire/Passenger Boat Facilities

What help is the Government providing to employers to enable them to safeguard jobs?

The Government is taking additional measures to protect jobs by creating a dedicated Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme applies to all UK businesses, regardless of their size.

Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of staff who are not working but are furloughed and kept on the company’s payroll system.

This grant from the UK Government will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 per month. We understand payments will be backdated to 1 March 2020 with the expectation that the scheme will be in place for a period of three months, with the first set of grants being delivered by the end of April.

We advise any individual that has been laid off on or after 1 March to contact their previous employer to discuss what options might be available.

Guidance for employers, including details of how to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found here