Daily Update: Corona Virus Business Support


Chancellor’s report on recession – Tuesday 19th May

Rishi Sunak gave evidence to the House of Lord Economic Affairs Committee today saying it is “not obvious that there will be an immediate bounce back”,  and that therefore a V shaped recession is unlikely.  Clearly, even if our businesses re-open quickly, consumers might not start spending again for quite sometime.

Mr Sunak told us that “In all cases, it will take a little bit of time for things to get back to normal, even once we have reopened currently closed sectors,” and he described the situation we are in as “a severe recession the likes of which we have not seen”.

The Chamber met the Bank of England and we were shown a projected GDP fall of 25% in the second quarter and a possible contraction of over 14 per cent for the year.  To put this into perspective, this would be worse than the great depression of the 1930’s and worse than the position we were in after the Second World War.

It is therefore up to us, the business community, to prepare to protect our businesses and our employees and endeavour to make sure this projection does not become a reality.  To buck the trend, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Conduct an emergency cash flow to make sure you can ride this out.  We can help you produce a cash flow – just call us for assistance on 01323 641144.
  2. You must find new routes to market.  The Chamber is therefore working with tech suppliers to develop two online solutions:
    • Firstly, to make buying local, non-food items as quickly, easily and cheaply as on Amazon, without the charge to the retailer.
    • Secondly to make a website for ordering food on line as quickly and easily as JustEats without the restaurant having to pay 30% of its turnover.
    • If we are successful, and these websites take off, we will make sure the money paid stays in the local economy.  We will then need you help to promote these alternatives to everyone you know locally.
  3. We all need to find ways to pursuade the buying public that our businesses are safe and easily available for them to use.  If you cannot sell goods online, you need to display a clear social distancing policy and make sure that your customers are aware of it and confident that trading with you is safe.

There are providers of signage, PPE, screens and sanitisers in the Chamber and we would encourage you to talk to Fieldskill and the Identity Group to learn what is available for your business.

Check these out:

Virus tests are now available for all

If you think you may have the virus, you can apply for a test here.

The test is open to anyone, not just key workers if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A new, dry cough
  • A high temperature
  • A loss or change of smell or taste

 

Problem with the Discretionary Fund

A significant problem has been discovered with the new £617m Discretionary Fund that will impact a number of small businesses. The Guidance on the eligibility for the fund states that this grant funding is for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes including the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

What this means is that sole traders that either pay council tax such as B&Bs, operate without premises, or operate from premises where the rates are paid by someone else, will not be eligible for this Fund because they are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. The net result being that sole traders with low levels of profitability end up with little support through the SEISS and no support through the Discretionary Fund.  The Chamber will continue to lobby to overcome this.

Conversely, self-catering operators, people who have set themselves up as registered businesses and those people whose income from their businesses is less than 50% of their total income, will be eligible provided that they don’t pay business rates.

 

Quarantining travellers from abroad

It seems that the Government’s proposals for quarantining people coming to the UK will be announced on Monday rather than today as we were originally informed. It is also notable that the Government seems to be back-tracking on last week’s announcement that the quarantine would not apply to travel between the UK and France with a spokeperson from No 10 saying that the exemption will be limited to people in key professions such as truck drivers and scientists.

 

Claiming statutory sick pay

The online service for reclaiming SSP is not available yet but HMRC have announced that businesses will need their Government Gateway user ID to file a claim. Businesses will also need to enrol for the PAYE Online service Businesses that use an agent to complete their PAYE online for you will be able to use their agent to file a claim. The HMRC have also said that an alternative way to claim will be available that claim for those unable to use the online system.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Road & Rail Investment

The Government has announced £1.7 billion of investment to improve journeys for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers across England through repairs to local roads and is fast tracking £175 m of repair works while fewer passengers are using transport system. I’m not sure if this is simply a reannouncement of the Budget plans to invest in road and rail services or in addition to that funding commitment.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/multi-billion-pound-road-and-railway-investment-to-put-nation-on-path-to-recovery

At the same time the Government has also published a vision document regarding the installation of  high powered fast recharging points able to will deliver around 120-145 miles of range in just 15 minutes for electric vehicles The vision is for:

  • At least 6 high powered, open access chargepoints at motorway service areas in England by 2023
  • Around 2,500 high powered chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A roads by 2030
  • 6,000 high powered chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A roads by 2035.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-vision-for-the-rapid-chargepoint-network-in-england

 

Job retention (furlough) scheme extended

The Chancellor has announced that the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October and is now more flexible to help your business emerge from lockdown.

Full details of the announcement can be found here: https://bit.ly/CJRSExtension.

Key details to note:

  • Furloughed workers across the UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.
  • From August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.
  • The employer payments will substitute the contribution HMG is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

Further details will be made available by the end of the month.  We believe that this scheme is more flexible and will allow you to bring staff back to work part time.  You would pay them for the days they work and HMRC would pay them for the days they don’t work and remain furloughed.  Once we have clarification we will let you know.

 

Eastbourne COBRA Meeting Minutes 6th May

The meeting was very successful and we managed to get our request in to the MPs office for the many members who have not been eligible for support as yet.  The minutes are shown here:

Cobra Eastbourne Minutes 6th May 2020

 

Great news for managed tenants from the Government

As you know, the Chamber has been lobbying hard to get support for businesses that don’t trade from rateable premises.  After speaking to the BBC TV we managed to get the Political Editor, Amanda Akass, to come and meet members working in managed premises like the Enterprise Shopping Centre.  Denise Harwood, the General Manager of the Enterprise, was intervewed along with our MP, Caroline Ansell.  As a result of this pressure the government extended their small business grants’

We are waiting to find out how these discretionary funds will be shared out by the Borough and Distric Councils.

The details we have so far are given here.

The Chamber and Caroline Ansell are still focused on micro-businesses working from home and businesses whose rateable values are over £51,000; so watch this space.

 

Free online learning to boost workplace skills

If you have furloughed staff, offer them the opportunity to improve their workplace skills with these accredited online learning platform which are designed to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home.  Launched today by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson these valuable traning courses are well worth it.

Free courses are available through The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

These are the skills which are highly valued by employers and sought after in a wide range of jobs. With more people expected to be working and studying remotely in the coming months, the platform offers a great opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace. Find out more information here.

 

100% government backed loan scheme for small business

The new Bounce Back Loans scheme, announced by the Chancellor today, will allow businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and from Monday 4 May, businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. 

The Government, which has been consulting extensively with business representatives about the design of the new scheme, will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. 

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. Loans should reach businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible. 

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May. Firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders. The government will work with lenders to ensure loans delivered through this scheme are advanced as quickly as possible and agree a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan. 

The new scheme will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). 

The Government is also taking additional steps on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure that lenders have the confidence they need to process finance applications quickly, including removing the per lender portfolio cap for the government guarantee, and changing the viability tests that so that all banks will need to assess is whether a business was viable pre COVID-19. 

 

Useful government tool

This quick and easy government tool points businesses in the right direction to the support available to their specific circumstances.  Enjoy!

https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

 

Daily health update

 

#RallyRoundEastbourne good news stories

Chamber members are working together to help the disadvantaged in Eastbourne and make sure everyone gets the support they need:

  • John Hesse’s Landcaping sent a team of workers to help a single mum without charge.  The mum’s severely disabled son is having difficulty sleeping.  One of the directors suggested getting fresh air in the garden to help him sleep but was told it was impossible to get the wheelchair out as the garden was overgrown.  First thing the next day the team turned up unannounced and cleared the garden free of charge.
  • East Sussex College Group (ESCG) in Eastbourne has turned the Kings Restaurant Building over to the DGH.  It is being used as a Chemotherapy Ward to keep cancer patients away from the coronavirus wards.
  • EHA members have stepped up to offer their empty hotel rooms for domestic violence sufferers.
  • Furloughed staff are volunteering in droves to help with food deliveries via www.3va.org.uk 
  • ESCG has donated 6,000 frozen meals to Matthew 25 Mission for the homeless and vulnerable people.  The EHA stepped forward to provide hotel freezers to store the meals.

We all need good news at the moment so, do you have a good news story to share?  Just let us know!

 

Virtual networking

The Chamber is holding virtual networking every Wednesday at 10am.  It’s a great opportunity to meet up with Chamber friends, share your concerns, help and advise each other over a cup of coffee, relaxing in your own home.  If you would like to attend, email Jill Benjafield here so we can send you the link.  This networking is hosted by Herron Fisher on behalf of the Chamber.

 

Help line for the vulnerable – please share

There is a Helpline for vulnerable people.  Please share this with all your contacts:  0800 028 8327

 

Eat Local

Check out this lovely website for local food prduce and deliveries.

 

Volunteers still needed

If you or your staff have been furloughed and want to keep busy, 3VA and EBC are still looking for volunteers to help deliver food and support the elderly and vulnerable.  Visit their website here and get involved.

 

Government support website

The government has a dedicated website that collates information on the support available for businesses in detail:

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/  

 

 

If you need any help or clarification on any of the above, email us here or call us on 01323 641144.