FSB Friday newsletter: July 24

News 24 Jul 2020

Covid 19: The latest

England
From today (24 July) wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets is mandatory and those who fail to comply with the new rules face fines of up to £100. Those with disabilities and children under the age of 11 are exempt. Exemption cards can be downloaded from the Government’s website. Find out what this means for your business and the rules surrounding it.

From tomorrow (25 July) indoor pools and gyms can reopen.

Other notable information:

  • Bowling rinks, skating parks, casinos and beauticians can resume work from August 1
  • Indoor arts performances can happen form August 1 and gatherings at sports venues will be trialled
  • Nightclubs and soft play centres must still stay shut
  • Conferences and business events will be allowed to resume in October
  • Local authorities have been given additional powers to manage local lockdowns  

Scotland
Scotland has set out a roadmap for businesses to reopen as the country moves out of lockdown, and is currently in Phase 3 of its plan. Spaces allowed to reopen include factories, warehouses, labs and research facilities – but not non-essential offices.

Non-essential retail, shopping centres, outdoor markets, hospitality businesses, holiday accommodation, hairdressers, museums, cinemas and beauticians have also been allowed to reopen. But indoor gyms and live indoor and outdoor events (except from drive-in events) cannot reopen.

Face coverings are compulsory on all transport and shops, but those under the age of 11 and with disabilities are exempt.

Wales

Outdoor tourism and hospitality businesses are set to be allowed to reopen on 3 August, but this will be confirmed at the next government review on 30 July. Meanwhile, outdoor gyms, community centres and playgrounds reopened on Monday (20 July) but there is no set date yet for indoor gyms, swimming pools and theatres.

Northern Ireland

Cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls and arcades will reopen on 29 July, while 7 August will see indoor sports courts, skating rinks, leisure centres and soft play areas reopen. The Government has published a full list of businesses which must remain shut.

LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES

Staying active
With more people than ever working from home, FSB has partnered with Sports England to create a guide to help people stay active during the day. The guidance helps readers to assess their current habits, barriers to change and ways to build healthier routines.

Creative industries webinar
FSB is hosting a webinar for those in the creative industries, providing information on finance, how to access the new arts sector fund and technology solutions. It will be held on Friday 31 July and attendees must register in advice.  

Sustainable Innovation Fund
UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £55 million for new projects which could help aid a sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19. The deadline to apply is 29July.

Military in business networking
FSB has joined forces with X-Force Enterprise to share expertise and top tips for former military personnel trying to navigate the current economic climate. The event will be held on 27 August. Attendees need to pre-book.

Mentoring circles
The Department of Work and Pensions is looking for businesses to get involved in its youth mentoring circles initiative. The project was rolled out in 2019 for young people who struggle with access to role models or inspiring mentors, aiming to provide them with feedback, support and advice.

US Embassy event
The US Embassy in London is holding a virtual discussion on opportunities for international trade with Dr Sharon Freeman, the President and chief executive of Gems of Wisdom Consulting. She will discuss how a UK US free trade deal could help strip away tariffs and red tape, assisting small firms looking to do business across the pond. The event will take place on Wednesday, 29 July from 3pm to 430pm.

NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS

No shows
FSB Head of Media Alan Soady spoke to local BBC Radio stations this week about how no-shows are damaging restaurants and hairdressers trying to rebuild following the pandemic. He explained the financial impact this has had, as well as the potential repercussions for the track and trace system.

Treasury tax shake-up
The Government has announced that it will be extending its Making Tax Digital initiative from 2022. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry told the Telegraph this needs to be “done right”, warning that the year one cost of adapting to firms already affected has been £546 on average. He said: “The last thing we need is wholesale expansion of Making Tax Digital without the right support in place.”

Call for green home scheme reform
The Daily Telegraph also reported that the Chancellor’s green homes voucher scheme has thrown up challenges as the September start-date has caused customers to cancel instillations and hold off purchases. FSB External Affairs Chief Craig Beaumont called the project “brilliant” but urged officials to backdate the grants. “This will unlock the benefits of this policy right now rather than acting as a temporary disincentive until September.

POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB

  • We’re continuing to liaise with Government ministers, advisers, bodies officials on matters such as furlough, late payments, reopening the economy and returning to work, immigration and trade.
  • In Equalities Questions on Wednesday, Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft told the Government to consider our key recommendation for a dedicated scheme to help ethnic minority businesses access external finance – to which Minister Kemi Badenoch confirmed the Government will look at the report and its findings.
  • We’re also monitoring the reopening process, as well as the safety of employers and customers and which sectors are disproportionately affected and/or experience a hit to footfall.
  • The Business and Planning Bill and the Finance Bill have released Royal Assent.
  • Parliament has risen for recess and will return on September 1 but FSB will continue to engage with MPs throughout August, while preparing for virtual party conferences.
  • Our next steps include:
  • Further work on inflexibility regarding rents, and strengthening MHCLG’s proposed Code of Practice
  • Tackling late payments and pushing the recommendations of the Late Again report
  • New to firm digital innovation and the introduction of digital vouchers for smaller businesses
  • Helping businesses with reskilling, retraining and upskilling their staff quickly, calling for the government to support small businesses through the National Skills Fund

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