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Coronavirus (COVID-19) For information on changes to our services, how to get help, support your community, advice and grants for employers and businesses visit our Coronavirus pages.

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Coronavirus - Business and licensing

The best source of advice for businesses, which includes more detail on all national business support schemes, is GOV.UK.

Cash grants to businesses

Businesses in receipt of small business rate relief on 11 March 2020 will receive a grant of £10,000. There are some exceptions:

  • properties which are occupied for personal use, for example, private stables, beach huts and moorings will not qualify for a cash grant even if they are in receipt of relief
  • properties where the liability is calculated using the small business multiplier but not in receipt of small business rate relief will not qualify for the grant.

Please see the government guidance for full details of the scheme.

If you think you might be eligible for funding complete the form and return it to local.taxation@westoxon.gov.uk.

The Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud, any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to clawback.

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

Applications for the discretionary business grants will open on 1 June.

The closing date is Sunday 14 June. We will confirm award amounts on Friday 26 June.

There are two levels of grants, up to a maximum of £25,000 and up to £10,000. We want to help as many businesses as possible so the majority of grants will be up to £10,000.

You will need to provide evidence of your ongoing business property costs and your reduced turnover. 

In line with Government guidance, the fund will prioritise these types of businesses:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, who do not have their own Business Rates assessment
  • regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own Business Rates assessment
  • Bed and Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of Business Rates
  • charity properties in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief

We are also able to apply local discretion to include 'Businesses that supply goods or services to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses'.

Eligibility criteria

You can apply for a discretionary grant if your business:

  • is based in West Oxfordshire
  • has suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • has relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • is not eligible for any other support schemes. This excludes the job retention scheme (Furlough) and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme

Businesses will not be eligible if they:

  • were not trading on 11 March 2020,
  • are in administration, insolvent or had a striking-off notice issued,
  • have business property costs, for example, Rateable Value, Annual Rent or Annual Mortgage costs, above £51,000,
  • are eligible for other Covid-19 related grants, for example, Small Business or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants
  • would be taken over the state aid limit by the grant

Working safely during coronavirus

Read working safely during coronavirus on GOV.UK. This government guidance is to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. There are eight guides, which cover a range of different types of work.

Safer transport guidance

Read Coronavirus safer transport guidance for operators on GOV.UK. Government guidance to help organisations, agencies and others, such as self-employed transport providers, understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.

Business rates payments deferred

We have not collected any direct debit business rates payments during April 2020.  The payment will be deferred until all appropriate reliefs and grants have been applied. For those businesses that pay their business rates from April to January your payment instalments will move from May to February. The deferral will take place automatically.

Support for employees and self-employed

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will pay 80% of workers' wages up to £2,500 per month. If you are an employee you can check if you are eligible for the job retention scheme.

The Self-employed Income Support Scheme is a grant worth 80% of the person's monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

Community organisations

The Oxfordshire Community Resilience Fund is now open to applications. It provides grants to community organisations to help them meet new needs and keep going.

Animal businesses and licensing

The Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) have issued some guidance on safe practices for animal businesses.

Support for zoos

The Zoo Support Fund is now open to applications.

Zoos are eligible to apply if the zoo or aquarium:

  • holds a licence (full or dispensation) under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • has been granted an exemption under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and holds a licence under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018

The fund is intended to help smaller zoos at immediate risk to protect the welfare of animals living on site or by rehoming. 

Bars, pubs, leisure venues, and street trading

Contact us by emailing ers@westoxon.gov.uk  you can use this email to send us any documents.   If you have any problems emailing or need to make a payment please phone us on 01993 861000.  

Insurance

If your renewal is due in the next six months to save money on insurance, you can voluntarily surrender your Consent or licence to us and this will be retained until such time that you reinstate your insurance.  The licence will be returned to you (with the original expiry date) once you can provide necessary insurance.  No refunds will be given for any period of time lost on the licence.  During the time that we retain your licence and you have no insurance, you cannot conduct any business that requires a licence

Renewals

For any renewal that is due in the next six months you can pay over a 12 month period. This will be 12 monthly direct debits and a mandate must be completed before the licence is issued. Failure to pay an instalment will result in the licence being suspended

You can also defer the application and the renewal application will be honoured at a later date.  Provided that all requirements are met for licensing then the application will be charged as a renewal

These arrangements will not be a permanent arrangement and are for six months. This will be reviewed in the future and may be extended if the COVID-19 situation does not improve.     

Premises Licence

Invoices will still be sent out as usual. The licence can contact the licensing team to defer payment for 6 months. If you choose to do this, the next annual fee will be due six months after (e.g. two fees will be due in a 12 month period).

The delivery of food is not licensable under the Licensing Act 2003. It is therefore open to businesses to start food delivery services immediately from a licensing perspective.

Any hot food and drinks delivered between 11pm and 5am will require a Late Night Refreshment Licence.

Alcohol deliveries cannot be included in your food deliveries unless:

  • you have an off sales licence for alcohol
  • payment for alcohol deliveries is taken where you hold the licence and is taken during your licensing times.
  • you must ensure you have adequate age verification procedures in place for deliveries that include alcohol.

Cancelling or postponing an event

If you need to postpone your event due to the Covid-19 outbreak, you need to check your licence. Most premises licenses will be issued in perpetuity and can therefore be used at any time in the future. Some premises licences however may be time limited. If your premises licence is time limited used for different dates. On the front page of your licence please refer to the section that read “Where the licence is time limited the dates”.

Temporary Event Notice

We will accept a Temporary Event Notice without payment for a different date providing that you inform us that the event is being postponed.  This will be subject to the statutory consultation with the Police and Environmental Health.  We will not issue a refund for any cancelled event.

 

Food businesses and takeaway regulations

For the latest guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) visit GOV.UK.

There is guidance from the government available if you are thinking of re-opening your food business.

Due to Coronavirus many food businesses may wish to diversify and offer collection, delivery or takeaway services. Contact us on ers@westoxon.gov.uk if you need further advice or information.

To register your premises to serve or sell food or drink whether or not the premises operate commercially visit the registering a food business page.

Where possible delivery staff should have minimal contact with staff and also customers and follow the food safety guidelines. Use contactless payments or pre-payments wherever possible. Arrange for orders to be left on doorsteps to avoid physical contact with the customers and keep to two metres away for social distancing. Sanitise hands regularly and before and after drop off.

 

Health and safety for businesses

We have produced a checklist before you re-open your business to make sure that you are able to do so safely.

Managing Legionella before re-opening your business 

It is very important that all public, residential and office buildings manage and keep all water systems safe whilst closed or during partial shutdown.

The European Study Group for Legionella Infections has produced guidance on managing legionella in water systems in your businesses.

The Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group have guidance on temporary pool closures which may be helpful for leisure centres and swimming pools.

Taxi and private hire licence holders

Contact us by emailing ers@westoxon.gov.uk  you can use this email to send us any documents.   If you have any problems emailing or need to make a payment please phone us on 01993 861000.  

Licensing committees have been postponed for the time being until alternative arrangements have been put in place.

Knowledge tests are cancelled until further notice.

We will deal with complaints and compliance issues as normal.

Your vehicle MOT has been extended for six months if it was due on or after the 30 March.

Insurance

Association of British Insurers (ABI) motor insurance members have committed to support taxi and private hire drivers seeking alternative sources of income. Licenced taxi or private hire drivers that had hire or reward insurance in place, as of 8 March, will not need to contact their insurer to extend their your existing cover while driving this vehicle to carry parcels, medical supplies, household goods, groceries or takeaway meals during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The ABI’s commitment will be in place until the end of the Covid-19 restrictions, or until 31 July 2020, whichever is sooner.

To save money on insurance, you can voluntarily surrender your plate to us and this will be retained until such time that you reinstate your insurance. The plate will be returned to you (with the original expiry date) once you can provide the necessary documents. No refunds will be given for any period of time lost on the plate. During the time that we retain your plate and you have no insurance, you cannot use the vehicle for any journey that requires a licence

Medicals

We are aware that drivers may face difficulties with getting medicals done as surgeries are cancelling non-urgent appointments. There has been no official advice from the government and so we will be seeking permission to do the following:

  1. If you have had an appointment cancelled or are unable to make an appointment we will require a letter stating your medical condition has not changed since your last medical report.  If no contact is made before expiry then suspensions will be issued in the normal way. 
  2. New applicants will not be issued with a licence until they have complied with all the requirements including medicals.
  3. Existing drivers with pre-existing health conditions will be dealt with on a case-to-case basis.

Renewals due in the next 6 months

For any renewal (driver or vehicle) that is due in the next six months we will allow you to pay over a 12 month period. This will be 12 monthly direct debits and a mandate must be completed before the licence is issued. Failure to pay an instalment will result in the licence being suspended

You can also defer the application and the renewal application will be honoured at a later date. Provided that all requirements are met for licensing then the application will be charged as a renewal. If this is a vehicle, it must be for the same vehicle registration number. The 15 year upper age limit will still apply and vehicles will not be relicensed that have met this age limit

Volunteers needed

We are looking for licensed taxi or private hire drivers to help transport our homeless clients to emergency accommodation.  We are particularly looking for companies who have licensed minibuses or six seater vehicles and are willing to take bookings after hours.  If you are interested email housing@westoxon.gov.uk with your contact details.

 

Keeping up to date

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