COVID-19 Update

Latest update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK (updated on 25th August 2020)

  1. Safety at work guidelines
  2. Business Support from the Government
  3. Travel
  4. Other sources to consult and approved by the BLCC

Below you will find the latest information on business support provided by the UK Government, who can get back to work and updates on how to get from the UK to Belgium.

NB: the notes below are based upon information the government have published so far and as they do not seem always to know how to implement the new policies,  we are dealing with a moving target.


1. Safety at work

Most workplaces have re-opened and employees who cannot work from home are encouraged to go back to work but under strict safety guidelines. In order to make sure that your employees are safe, you should read and act upon the Government’s following guidelines which are subdivided per sector:

Note that employees who can work from home, should continue to do so.


2. Business Support from the British Government

You can find the latest updates for both businesses and employees on the following links:

Support for Businesses

Guidance for Employees

Herewith also some more detailed explanations of the different schemes in place:

Furloughed employees (CJRS)

The chancellor announced on 20th March that the government will reimburse 80% of the salary for employees who have been designated and notified rightfully by their employers as “furloughed”.

The BLCC has successfully applied for furlough for many members with UK staff and will continue to do so until the scheme ends. Refunds from the UK Government to the employers, have been made within a week. Herewith the main points:

  • The CJRS was closed to new entrants on 30 June 2020.
  • Since 1 July 2020, employers can bring back employees to work part-time, for any amount of time and any shift pattern. Any claim under CJRS will be limited to normal hours not worked.
  • September 2020 – Government will pay 70% of wages up to a reduced £2,187.50 cap. Employers will pay employers’ NIC, pension costs and 10% of wages to a total cap of £2,500.
  • October 2020 - Government will pay 60% of wages up to a reduced £1,875 cap. Employers will pay employers’ NIC, pension costs and 20% of wages to a total cap of £2,500.
  • The cap will be proportional to hours not worked.
  • The CJRS will be closed-down 31 October 2020.

Our payroll administrators and our legal team can advise you on the practical side of things.

VAT Deferment

The Chancellor has also stated that all VAT due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 can be deferred – there is no requirement to inform HMRC of this  - the VAT due in this deferment period must be paid to HMRC before 31 March 2021. If you normally pay by direct debit and wish to defer your payment you should cancel this direct debit. This deferment is now over and normal VAT payments have resumed since 1 July.

Business Rate Relief for small businesses

If you rent or use your own premises in the UK, you may receive a business rates tax holiday up to April 2021. This will be sent to you by post or e-mail by your local council.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

To support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance, banks get Government support to keep lending.

Having worked closely with Her Majesty's Treasury and the British Business Bank, CBILS can provide facilities of up to £5 million for UK smaller businesses (SMEs) who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.

Many small businesses that have applied for a government backed CBILS loan thus far have been offered standard overdrafts and loans – without the Government's 80% guarantee – on the basis that they fit the banks’ criteria for this type of lending.

The Chancellor has now confirmed that this is not the intention of his CBILS scheme and that from now on all businesses affected by the COVID-19 disruption should be offered a CBILS loan with the government guarantee.

Who is eligible for CBILS?

To help you understand if you may be eligible, please ensure you answer yes to the following points below:

  • Your application must be for business purposes
  • You must be a UK-based SME with annual turnover of up to £45 million
  • Your CBILS-backed facility will be used to support primarily trading in the UK
  • You wish to borrow between £25,001 up to a maximum of £5 million.
  • Loan term 1- 6 years.
  • No arrangement fees. No security fees. No interest payments for 12 months.
  • Capital Repayment Holiday up to 12 months meaning nothing to pay for 12 months.
  • Loans in the scheme are limited to 25% of your 2019 turnover or double your annual wage bill whichever is greater.

Further eligibility applies. If banks can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the CBILS scheme, then they will do so.

You can find out more information and how to apply for the scheme by going to your Business Banking homepage, or speaking to your Relationship Manager.

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

If you are struggling to pay your taxes to HMRC whether that is PAYE, VAT or Corporation tax you can contact HMRC on 0800 0159 559, to ask for a payment plan.

If you have any further questions regarding any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.


3. Travel

To Belgium

Belgians who want to travel back to Belgium should check the latest news on the following website:

You can also contact them by calling +32 78 15 17 71 – opening hours between 9h and 18h BE time (7d/7)

In order to travel through France, you can generate an International Travel Certificate for France in French & English with a QR code that can be used on their smartphone or tablet:

To the UK

Before you travel to the UK, please check the Government’s website:

There are also some exceptions to the quarantine obligation which can be consulted on the following list:

In order to travel to the UK through France, transiting you can generate an International Travel Certificate for France in French & English with a QR code that can be used on their smartphone or tablet:


4. Other approved sources

The BLCC also recommends the following webpages provided by its Members to deal with issues such as:

  • Dealing with orders being cancelled by business customers.
  • Retaining ownership to goods supplied
  • Handling consumer cancellations.
  • Negotiating with landlords.