From alderman Saskia Bruines.
Dear business owners of The Hague,
The corona crisis and the measures taken to control the spread of the virus have major consequences for our lives and the The Hague economy. These measures have serious economic impacts, both directly and indirectly, and in the short and long term. Many businesses have had to close their doors, are having difficulty or can no longer do business with foreign partners, are no longer supplied with parts or products, are faced with rising transport costs, or have had their fairs and trips canceled.
You, like me, are undoubtedly concerned. At the same time, I am extremely proud to see so many heartwarming initiatives in which business owners are trying to help each other or the residents of The Hague, despite the concerns about their own company. In addition, I see that many of you are looking for new ways to continue doing business, often with people intensively working from home. Business owners of The Hague are clearly showing their innovative strength.
We will not leave you to fight this battle alone. I want to assure you that the municipality of The Hague has heard your concerns and is working on various important actions. To get an understanding of what we are dealing with, the impact of the crisis in the short and long term is being mapped out as much as possible. Furthermore, we are working on the practical implementation of the national economic measures insofar as these lie within the responsibilities of the municipality. To this end, the capacity for this implementation is being greatly expanded. We are also considering additional measures, which I would like to inform you about in this letter.
At the beginning of this week, a lot of work has been done to maintain a steady and current information flow to businesses in The Hague by making information available online. A separate webpage has been made with all important information from the National Government and the municipality: https://www.denhaag.nl/nl/in-de-stad/ondernemen/coronavirus-informatie-voor-
ondernemers.htm. This page is constantly updated.
Continuous updates are also available via the Twitter channel of the business owners portal “Ondernemersportaal” (@OPDenHaag). Due to the current restrictions, the walk-in office hours of the “Ondernemersportaal” have been suspended for the time being. However, the digital and telephone services of the “Ondernemersportaal” are running smoothly and the capacity has been increased (070-3536004 and firstname.lastname@example.org). The employees of the municipality are ready to answer your questions.
In addition to SMEs, account management has also been intensified with large companies and various stakeholders in The Hague. Together with them, we are trying to gain insight into the long-term consequences as well as how we can get the economy going again after the crisis.
Measures from the National Government
On March 17, 2020, the National Government announced economic measures to support business owners, on top of the BMKB that was announced March 12. These measures are:
- The implementation of a temporary scheme allowing companies to apply for help in paying their labour costs (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment)
Businesses with loss of revenue can receive up to 90% of the wage bill of all employees (including flex workers) for three months.
- Additional support for independent contractors (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and municipalities)
Independent contractors (including self-employed persons) can request additional income support from the municipality (grant) for three months without a partner or capital test, or an attractive loan for working capital.
- Broadening of the scope of the Guarantee Corporate Financing scheme (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy)
The ministry guarantees 50% on bank loans from 1.5 to 150 million per company.
- Broadening of the SME credit guarantee scheme (BKMB) (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy)
The government guarantees up to 90% for SME loans instead of 50%.
- Temporary guarantees for companies active in agriculture and horticulture (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality)
There will be a separate guarantee for agricultural and horticultural companies.
- Relaxed rules with respect to the payment of taxes and reduced fines (Dutch Tax and Customs Administration)
A deferment of payment can be requested for income tax, corporation tax, payroll tax, and value-added tax (VAT). Any fines that may be imposed for the late payment of taxes do not need to be paid. The interest on overdue tax and the interest on tax will be lowered to 0%.
- Interest-rate deduction on Qredits microcredit for small companies (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy)
Small companies will be granted a six-month deferment of repayment, and the interest rate on their loans will automatically be lowered to 2% during this period.
- Meetings with respect to tourist tax (central government/municipalities)
The government is consulting with municipalities about the possibility of waiving and retracting provisional local tax assessments. For the record: this measure does not apply to our municipality because The Hague does not work with provisional tourist tax assessments.
- Meetings with the arts and culture sector
The government is in discussion with the arts and culture sector regarding the necessity of sector-specific measures.
- Compensation scheme for impacted sectors (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy)
A number of sectors will be hit particularly hard by the health-related measures, such as the cultural sector, the event and travel industry, and the hospitality industry. The government will launch a compensation scheme. Companies in these branches can immediately receive 4,000 euros at an Emergency Desk (“Noodloket”).
Measures from the Municipality of The Hague
We have an additional local support package, aimed at helping SMEs and employees through the crisis. This The Hague package currently consist of acute measures that focus on:
Information, communication, and services:
- expansion of information provision for business owners (including self-employed persons);
- scaling-up the services of the self-employed persons desk, “bureau zelfstandigen”. Self-employed persons can receive additional income support to cover cost of living for a period of 3 months, through an accelerated procedure. The procedure will be done as quickly as possible and in order to keep operations simple, no capital or partner test applies to this temporary assistance scheme. Support is also available in the form of a working capital loan to solve liquidity problems (up to EUR 10,157) at a reduced interest rate;
- extra effort in account management because many companies have their own unique challenges and we want to respond to each specifically.
Measures to alleviate liquidity pressures:
- possibility to defer payment of tourist tax;
- possibility to postpone property tax;
- not sending Business Investment Zone (BIZ) taxes for the next three months;
- deferral of payment for company parking permits;
- offering customised options for delayed rental payments for municipal real estate and encouraging the same for private property;
- payment arrangements (such as deferral of payments), including for overdue taxes;
- as of March 23, the recovery interest for all tax debts is temporarily reduced to 0.01% (was 4%);
- the collection of outstanding debts is mitigated; this means that any seizure actions are suspended;
- if business owners want to make use of the options for postponing payments, they can make this known to the Tax Affairs (“Belastingzaken”) section of the Municipality of The Hague. Capacity is being added to process applications as quickly as possible. The Tax Collection (“Invordering van Belastingzaken”) department (070-3533820, email@example.com) is available to answer questions.
- leniency regarding agreements stipulated in subsidy conditions for organisers whose event/congress, etc., cannot proceed;
- facilitate delivery services where possible (parking, loading/unloading, opening and closing times);
- extra local and social purchasing where (legally) possible;
- temporary resources in vulnerable sectors to prevent a return to welfare where possible;
- options to intensify efforts to make up for lost sales, for example via temporary extra marketing.
In the coming period, we will work out the above measures and determine whether additional measures are required. I will continue to inform you about this and let you know exactly what these measures mean for you. Moreover, I advise you to regularly check the website of The Hague.
The most important contact details:
Business owners portal – Ondernemersportaal, 070-3536004, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @OPDenHaag
Tax Collection department – Invordering van Belastingzaken, 070-353 3820, email@example.com
Social Affairs and Employment intake desk – SZW intakebalie, 070 353 75 00
I wish you strength during this difficult period with your company and more importantly, I wish you good health.