Information for council suppliers, including charities

I’ve heard most council staff are working from home, what impact will this have on suppliers?

Most council officers are able to work remotely and can interact with suppliers through email, telephone and the tender portal - rather than face to face. The majority of normal services can be conducted at home, including management of contracts, payment of invoices, etc.

Will contract managers continue to undertake contract monitoring visits over the coming weeks and months?

The council recognises that where services invoke their business continuity plans, they may be unable to continue with all their usual activities. We also have our own business continuity plan, so we will focus on tasks that will keep people safe and keep our core services running.

We will be scaling back or postponing routine contract management activity so that collectively we can focus on mission critical activities. Our current plan is to prioritise monitoring where there are serious concerns or where we are working with providers to support service improvements. Your Contract Manager will keep you informed of any changes in contract monitoring arrangements.

We are a small organisation and could have cash flow problems if invoices are not paid on time. Can you provide assurance that you have enough staff to make sure we are paid?

The council recognises that cash flow can be a challenge for smaller organisations, and that if the situation with coronavirus escalates, then this could put additional financial pressure on providers.

Payment of providers has been identified as a critical activity, so our aim is to ensure staff are available to make payments as soon as possible. Our aim is to make payments as quickly as possible and in line with current terms and conditions. Any reconciliation will be done at a later date to avoid delays in payment. You must also ensure that you are paying your own staff and supply chain on time; this will be monitored.

We think COVID-19 will put significant financial pressure on our organisation and we are worried we might collapse. Can the council provide us with an additional funding as a ‘loan’ to help us manage?

We will continue to pay providers on current terms and conditions as long as they deliver the service. We have also recognised payment of invoices as a critical activity within our own business continuity planning.

You should also view the information provided by Central Government on financial aid.

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

How do I get support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ 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.
  • 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.

For more information, please visit the government's Covid-19 support for business page.

What support can I get for deferring VAT and Income Tax payments?

Central Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

VAT

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Eligibility

All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

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 to 2021 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

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021.

Eligibility

If you are self-employed you are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

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

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 coronavirus and have outstanding tax liabilities.

For more information, please visit the government's Covid-19 support for business page.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Central Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to coronavirus.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of coronavirus
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based
  • your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

How to access the scheme

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legislation has passed.

For more information, please visit the government's coronavirus support for business page.

Is there any support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will support Small & Medium Enterprises with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

Central Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Central Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to Small & Medium Enterprises. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria

For more information, please visit the government's Covid-19 support for business page.

Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

How to access the scheme

The scheme is now open for applications. All major banks are offering this scheme.

To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.

The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

For more information, please visit the government's coronavirus support for business page.

Will this impact unitary?

No, from 1 April 2020, a new Buckinghamshire Council replaced the existing county and district councils, all of which have now ceased to exist. (Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council and Wycombe District Council).

Under the Local Government (Structural Changes) (Transfer of Functions, Property, Rights and Liabilities) Regulations 2008 & The Buckinghamshire (Structural Changes) Order 2019, all current contracts have transferred to the new council on 1 April 2020. From 1 April 2020, there will be changes to the payment and invoicing processes you currently use

Invoicing Buckinghamshire Council during the coronavirus crisis

Our third party scanning provider are not processing any hard copy invoices they receive by post to:

  • Buckinghamshire Council, PO Box 7724, Corby Delivery Office, Crucible Road, Corby NN17 5ZZ

Invoices in a pdf format will be processed if sent to [email protected]

Where you have specific contracts with Buckinghamshire County Council, please continue to email your invoices to your usual mailboxes or contacts.

These mailboxes have been updated to [email protected] Examples of these invoices will be for: