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Coronavirus update

Coronavirus help and support for your business

As the impact of Coronavirus is felt in communities and organisations across the UK, we would like to reassure you that Unity is here to help you through these challenging times.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions below to give you the latest information and advice to support your business.

We’ll keep this page updated and the information is correct at the time of writing, but please visit regularly as things may change.

Contacting us for routine enquiries

To enable us to help the people who need us most, we’re asking all customers with routine enquiries to view our online tutorials, or to send us a secure message through Internet Banking.

This will allow us to maximise our availability for those customers most impacted by Coronavirus who seek more complex help over the phone.

We’re continuing to answer your calls 5 days a week, Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm (Thursdays 9.30am-5pm).

Coronavirus FAQs

  • 1. How do pay in cash or bank online with Unity?

    Paying in cash

    Your normal banking and phone services for everyday transactions can be conducted online as usual and where customers need to make deposits, we urge you to follow the Government guidance around social distancing.

    NatWest
    RBS
    Ulster Branch
    The Post Office

    Due to Government advice, some branches may be operating via reduced opening hours. You can use the above banks’ Branch Finder tool to find out which branches are open near you. If your usual branch is closed, you can switch to online banking to complete any necessary payments.

     

    Foreign Transfers

    Please note, we are unable to transfer funds to countries that are currently in lockdown due to Coronavirus.

    For an up to date list on impacted currencies, you can view Western Union’s website.

     

    Help with internet banking

    We are on-hand to help you with your Internet Banking account. We can support you in the following ways:

    Log in: Visit www.unity-online.co.uk/Logon.aspx and enter your username and password. Select ‘Log in’.

    Secure Customer Authentication: You may be asked to verify your identity through SCA when logging on or completing actions on your account. View our tutorials to receive a step by step guide on how to complete these additional security measures.

    Contact us: To enable us to release telephone capacity and assist those with more complex needs, we are asking customers with routine enquiries to view our tutorials or send us a secure message through Internet Banking.

    Open a new account: You can set up an account by visiting the apply.unity.co.uk website. You can submit all relevant documentation, including proof of identification, online.

    If you are not yet registered with online banking, contact our Customer Services team on 0345 140 1000* to get set up.

  • 2. What additional help is available from Unity?

    Accessing finance

    If you’re concerned with the financial impact of Coronavirus on your business and would like to speak to us about additional help and support, such as alternative arrangements around your lending and repayment terms, please contact your Relationship Manager.

    If you have a Current Account with Unity but don’t have a Relationship Manager and would like to discuss available options, call our Customer Service Team on 0345 140 1000*.

    We have also included detailed links of other ways to access finance for different business sectors within section 4 of the FAQs.

    Help with fees and payments

    Unity’s fees have not increased since 2016 – as part of our efforts to help our customers at this difficult time, there are no fee increases planned in our standard tariff.

  • 3. What help is available from the Government?

    A package of measures is available through the Government to support businesses and charities to minimise the impact of Coronavirus.

     

    Testing

    If your employees are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, they can request a test to take from home. It’s vital that they get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

    To find out if your employees can get a test, visit the GOV.UK website.

    You can apply for a test on the GOV.UK website or by calling 119.

     

    Job Retention Scheme

    Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended Job Retention Scheme, which will continue until March 2021.

    Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time and will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for just 5% of total employment costs.

    The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1 November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

     

    Bounce Back loans for SMEs

    Small businesses can benefit from a fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover.

    For more information, view the GOV.UK website.

     

    Pay as you Grow

    More than 1m businesses which have borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be offered the choice of more time and greater flexibility for their repayments.

    Full details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

     

    Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

    The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme extension will support the self-employed who are facing reduced demand over the winter months, in the form of two grants.

    Full details can be found here.

     

    VAT

    The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30 June 2020. For those who opted into the scheme, your VAT liabilities do not need to be paid in full until the end of March 2022.

    Full details including how to get help with your deferral can be found here.

     

    Tax Liabilities

    A dedicated helpline is available to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. Call the dedicated helpline number 0800 0159 559.

     

    Previous schemes announced by the Government at the start of the pandemic have also been updated:

     

    Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

    The CBILS is providing a fund of £5m through existing Commercial Lenders with a Government guarantee of 80% against each loan and no interest payable for the first 12 months of the loan.

    You can find more information about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and see the list of providers on the British Business Bank website.

    If you would like to discuss additional lending, please get in touch with your Relationship Manager in the first instance who will review requests on a case-by-case basis.

     

    £1.25bn package to support start-ups

    The government provided a £1.25bn package to support innovative new companies that are not eligible for existing Coronavirus rescue schemes.

    Find out more and apply for a Start Up loan here.

     

    Statutory sick pay

    Businesses with under 250 employees who have employee absence due to Coronavirus can claim a refund of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

    Employers will need to maintain records of staff absences and SSP made while a new rebate scheme is being created.

    More information on eligibility and how to access the scheme is available here.

     

    Business Rates

    The Government has confirmed a 12-month business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020/21 tax year.

    No business action is needed but any enquiries should be directed to the relevant local authority. More information is available here.

     

    Useful links

    To keep up-to-date with the latest information, please visit the following websites:

    • GOV.UK

    For official Government updates and advice including the impact of Covid-19 on organisations, available financial support and how to stay safe, visit this link.

    • British Chambers of Commerce

    As the Coronavirus continues to impact the operations of businesses, learn more about the steps that Chambers and members can implement to minimise impact on local communities and support the UK government’s strategy here.

    • British Business Bank

    The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is just one of the measures the Government has implemented to help to support small businesses. Key features and information of the scheme can be found here.

    • UK Finance

    UK Finance regularly responds to Coronavirus updates through its Covid-19 support page.

    • Big Society Capital

    Big Society Capital have released a guide sharing tips on how to make the most of government support, managing relationships with funders, as well as business and operational planning; visit Good Finance.

  • 4. Do you have any information for specific sectors?

    Charities

    GOV.UK has released a guide to help with running your charity during the Covid-19. This includes holding meetings, using funds and further advice.

    The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has published guidance on managing finances, supporting employees, supporting service users and insight into how other charities are helping to deal with Coronavirus: NCVO practical support

    Guidance for dealing with Coronavirus has also been released specifically for each UK country:

    Crowdfunder is offering 100% free crowd-funding throughout the crisis (i.e. you won’t pay any fees).

    The Government has pledged £750m of funding for charities.

    Social Enterprises

    Social Enterprise UK are posting resources to inform the social enterprise community about available support.

    Social Investment Scotland has shared a hub of support for social enterprises and communities during this uncertain period.

    Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) have published information about foundations responses, funding options and other useful resources.

    Social Enterprises may also be eligible for the government schemes published here.

    Trade Unions

    Unions across the country have released guidance to assist members through the Coronavirus pandemic, including TUC, GMB, Unison, NEU and Unite. If your Union isn’t listed here, you can search online for their latest advice.

     

    Credit Unions

    We recommend staying up to date with any guidance, support and updates for Credit Unions by regularly visiting the ABCUL website.  

    Wales has made £1m of funding available to Credit Unions. Read here.

    Healthcare

    The Care Quality Commission has shared the following guide for Care Homes and providers registering to increase existing or introduce new capacity for patients being released from hospital: CQC guidance

    GOV.UK has released guidance for supported living providers.

    To help find your business funding solution, the NACFB’s not-for-profit trade body hosts a searchable broker directory through its free platform: findSMEfinance

    For all support available to individuals and businesses affected by Coronavirus, view the Government advice.

    Social Housing

    The National Housing Federation has coordinated an urgent programme of work designed to support and connect the social housing sector: NHF webpage.

     

    Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs)

    Unity Trust Bank supports funding for CDFIs. CDFIs are available to support to smaller businesses or those who find it difficult to access finance from mainstream sources. If you’re interested in accessing CDFI funding, you can search here.

    Employee Owned Companies

    The Employee Ownership Association has recorded a guide of information for its EO community, including FAQs and financial support: EOA resources.

    NACFB hosts a searchable broker platform for businesses looking for finance – Findsmefinance.

     

    Co-Operatives

    Co-Operatives UK has produced and collated a range of practical guides and guidance for co‑ops: view website.

    Self-Employed

    The Government has increased its support to the self-employed under the third instalment of the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

  • 5. Do you have any tips around Business continuity?

    Tips for working from home

    Working from home may be a change for you and your employees. For guidance and tips on working at home effectively, read the below links:

    GOV.UK: Working safely during Coronavirus

    Every Mind Matters: 7 simple tips to tackle working from home

    SHP: Home working advice and wellbeing considerations for self-isolation

     

    Looking after your mental health

    During these uncertain times, it’s natural to feel concerned or overwhelmed. Here’s what you can do to protect your mental health during this period:

    • Acceptance: These are strange and unprecedented times for us all. Understand that everyone feels differently about Covid-19 and it’s ok to feel anxious. Reach out for help if you need it and keep talking to your friends, family and colleagues.
    • Take a break: These uncertain times may evoke a sense of panic and you may feel that there are endless things to sort out. Try taking regular screen breaks to move around and adjust your mindset – this is great for productivity too.
    • Talk to us: We are here to support you. If you have any concerns, please get in contact directly with your Relationship Manager, or our Customer Services team on 0345 140 1000*.

    You can view the Mind Charity website for professional support and further guidance on staying healthy.

    Business Continuity Planning

    The Coronavirus outbreak has proved how important it is for businesses to operate from a well-constructed business continuity plan. The Federation for Small Businesses has shared some helpful guides to pulling together and executing the perfect plan:

    Services for Federation of Small Businesses

    FSB members have access to a range of tools to support their business, including a 24/7 legal advice helpline staffed by UK-based lawyers and Care Service providing practical advice and emotional support.

    In Section 4 we have provided sector-specific guidance for businesses who are unsure about the options available to access finance. If you are unsure about your eligibility for Government financial support and what options are available for your organisation, view Section 4.

     

    Returning to work

    Businesses that can work effectively from home must do so. Those who cannot work effectively from home such as people who work in construction and manufacturing should continue to travel to and attend work. Public sector employees must also continue to go into work.

    In addition to informing staff of new government requirements around self-isolation, the best way to protect your employees is to remind them to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser for 20 seconds.

    For more information and advice about how you can return to work safely, you can view the GOV.UK website.

  • 6. How do I stay safe from increasing fraud?

    Criminals are using the unpredictability of the Coronavirus situation to target organisations. Here’s what you need to look out for to identify fraudulent activity and protect your business:

    Phishing/vishing scams

    With working from home now commonplace, fraudsters are likely to attempt phishing/vishing scams knowing people are away from the usual office environment. Emails may claim to include important information about Coronavirus including advice from the Government or World Health Organisation, as well as an illegitimate link.

    We encourage you to take your time when reading and interacting with your emails or Internet Banking account. Ensure you double check email addresses and keep an eye out for any strange spelling mistakes or links. If you have any doubts, please contact us immediately.

    Cold calls

    Cold callers may ring through from an unknown number, claiming to be your bank and insisting the need for you to provide personal information or transfer monies to a different account. Please be aware that Unity would never ask for your personal bank details. End the call and get in contact with us.

    Refunds

    Scammers may approach their victims with fake product refunds whilst pretending to be travel agents, airlines and insurance companies. Be wary of any communications that promise you are owed large amounts of money, as this may well be fraudulent. If you are in doubt, call the company directly on a number you know to be correct – not the one supplied on the communication.

    Useful links:

Updated 06 November 2020

*Calls may be recorded and monitored for training purposes.