COVID-19: Easing the lockdown
The Government announced this week that social distancing rules will be relaxed in England on 4 July. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen but people should still stay two metres apart where possible. However, where that distance is not possible, a “one metre” plus rule should be followed.
Meanwhile in Scotland, where non-essential retail is due to reopen from Monday (29 June) outdoor hospitality firms will be allowed to reopen on 6 July. Restaurants and hairdressers will follow later in the month, on 25 July.
In Wales, all shops were able to reopen from Monday (June 22) so long as social distancing can take place. In Northern Ireland, caravan parks are permitted to reopen from 26 June while hotels, restaurants and pubs that serve food and have table service can reopen from 3 July.
FSB's coronavirus support hub includes a host of advice, guidance and resources. Due to the rapidly changing nature of Covid-19, information and advice from the Government can change quickly. For up to date advice, please see the Government's website.
LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES
In partnership with Digital Boost UK, Google UK has committed to offering 10,000 hours of free 1:1 mentoring support over the course of the next 12 months to UK small businesses and charities. The collection of free tools highlight quick ways to speak to customers using Google Maps and search, alongside tips on finding more customers locally and online.
Our latest Small Business Index survey is now in the field – please check your inbox to take part if you’re a Big Voice member. The study focuses on how business owners have changed their models over the last three months in light of Covid-19. Your answers give us the insights we need to campaign on your behalf.
LATEST NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS
Armed Forces Week
This week, FSB announced a new partnership with X-Forces Enterprise, the UK’s largest provider of enterprise support to ex-military personnel in business. The new XFE Military in Business Knowledge Exchange Hub (XFE hub) was also launched. The hub is free-to-use and a must have resource for the self-employed. National Chairman Mike Cherry – himself a veteran Reservist – recognised the contribution that services leavers make to the small business community in this video.
FSB calls on Chancellor for support
In an op-ed for the Telegraph on Monday, Mike Cherry says he has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to outline what small business owners and the self-employed would like to see from some anticipated economic interventions next month. He said: “Small firms, and the communities we’re at the heart of, are resilient. We’ve emerged from crises stronger in the past. With leadership and the right support, we can do so again.”
Apprenticeship starts drop by half
Figures released this week show that new apprenticeship numbers have dropped by nearly half during lockdown. FSB is calling for an apprenticeship guarantee to help those who have had apprenticeships disrupted or would like to start one whilst supporting firms with both wage and training costs.
Give small businesses a boost in UK/US trade talks
In the Times’ Red Box this week, Mike Cherry stressed that it’s “absolutely vital” that small businesses are placed front and centre of UK-US trade negotiations, highlighting the importance of trans-Atlantic trade for those who export or import. FSB has championed a Small Business chapter for trade deals, and we hope to see the first chapter in a UK trade deal, to be announced shortly.
POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB
- We made our submissions to the treasury ahead of the upcoming economic event, which is expected on Wednesday (8 July.)
- We have been mentioned in Parliament a number of times this week – including by Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall, who quizzed the Prime Minister about the health and safety aspects and costs of reopening bars, cafes and pubs. Baroness Burt in the House of Lords also discussed late payments and the devastating effect these have had on the Covid-19 supply chain. We will be doing more late payment support work once the FSB report is published next week.
- The Corporate Insolvency Bill, designed to make temporary changes to the law relating to the governance and regulation of companies and other entities, whilst they find themselves in difficulty has received Royal Assent.
- We are in regular contact with MPs from across the House of Commons as we begin to exit the initial peak of the crisis. We’re now looking at more long-term issues and how to help businesses recover, including:
- Tackling inflexibility from landlords when it comes to future rents
- Tackling late payments as we are hearing reports that smaller suppliers are being told they will not receive payment for work already taken place
- 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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