Covid-19: The latest
See our Covid-19 hub for the latest news and updates.
England is still under a nationwide lockdown, meaning people can only leave the house to:
- Work if it is impossible to work from home
- Shop for essentials
- Provide care
- Attend a medical appointment
Non-essential retailers are shut, together with gyms, hairdressers, sports facilities, pubs and restaurants.
The First Minister announced that lockdown measures in Scotland will now remain in place until at least mid-February. You can find out details on all grant funding available in Scotland in the Finance Secretary’s letter to business.
Wales remains under an Alert Level 4 lockdown which requires hospitality, leisure, tourism and non-essential retail to close.
The Sector Specific Fund of the Economic Resilience Fund is open for applications from those hospitality, leisure and tourism firms who were impacted by the restrictions announced by Welsh Government on 4 December.
Intense restrictions continue to be in place, with much of the economy mandated to close and tight restrictions in place on household mixing and travel, these restrictions have now been extended until 5 March. Only retail and services considered essential are permitted to open and people are being urged to stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel. A scheme to support Limited Company Directors is now open for applications and the level of grant support has been enhanced.
The transition period came to an end on December 31 2020. If you are a UK business which trades with Europe, you will need to change your procedures and complete additional paperwork. See FSB’s transition hub for further advice.
ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is accepting applications for the third self-employed grant. This covers the period from on or after 1 November – applications must be made by 29 January. You can claim for the third grant even if you did not claim for the first or second.
Parliamentary Export Programme
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has partnered with MPs for a three-part series of online sessions for local businesses on how to grow your internationally. All sessions are chaired by local MPs and include Q&A sessions.
HMRC may still accept claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from December onwards if the employer has a reasonable excuse for not claiming in time, such as self-isolation or illness. If you have already submitted a claim for December but need to make an amendment, this can be done until January 28.
Diversity, inclusion and occupational health
Public Health England and the Society of Occupational Medicine have come together for a webinar on how to refresh your approach to workplace diversity and inclusion post-2020. It will be held on January 28 at 2.30pm.
Small firms and Test and Trace
The next phase of the Test and Trace programme is going to expand the provision of testing to smaller employers and the self-employed where people cannot work from home as part of local authority community testing plans.
Prompt Payment Code (PPC)
From 1 July, 95 per cent of invoices from small suppliers must be paid within 30 days by signatories of the PPC, reduced from 60 days, following our continued #FairPayFairPlay campaigning efforts. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry told the Financial Times that “ending our pernicious poor payment culture for good over the coming months will be fundamental to turning our hopes of economic recovery into reality.”
Good Business Charter
Small businesses are being offered a new way to have their employee wellbeing, sustainability and diversity credentials acknowledged thanks to a fresh collaboration between FSB and the Good Business Charter. A new streamlined process will allow firms with up to 50 employees to apply for accreditation through a straightforward Q&A. FSB National Vice Chair Martin McTague said: “It’s so important that those who are dedicated to ethical practices are provided with a streamlined route to this.”
Employers to help design college courses
A new government blueprint for a further education system will see employers have a greater say in designing college courses and qualifications. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry told the Financial Times: “Small businesses must be afforded the financial support and guidance necessary.”
POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB
- We continue to work with MPs and government officials to discuss immediate business support measures.
- We are looking into how additional grants relating to restrictions are being delivered to small businesses.
- FSB Vice Chair Martin McTague took part in a meeting alongside other business groups and Labour officials to discuss local authority grants, helping businesses manage debt beyond the Covid crisis and other asks from our budget submission.
- We continue to lobby for the Directors Income Support Scheme. MP Jesse Norman responded to questions from SNP Treasury Spokesperson Alison Thewliss – who was briefed by FSB – about this and the newly-employed. being included in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
- We met with NatWest to help inform the first formal session of the FSB/NatWest Bank SME Taskforce Group, designed to help small businesses meet the needs of the post Covid-19 economy.
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