FSB Friday newsletter: October 16

News 16 Oct 2020

Covid 19: The latest

See our Covid-19 hub for the latest news and updates.

England
The Government has created a new tier system outlining different restrictions for different regions dependent on designated alert levels across the country. Areas have been split into three categories, ranging from medium to very high.

FSB National Chair Mike Cherry responded to the news on Sky, stressing that while "safety must come first," the new system will mean "huge disruption" for small firms. He called for more financial support for those left struggling as a result of the new restrictions. He also told TalkRadio's Julia Hartley Brewer that many firms in supply chains have had no government support but have been severely impacted.

Details of local restrictions can be found on authority websites.

Wales
People living in Covid-19 hotspots across the UK are not allowed to enter Wales from today (16 October). FSB has pushed the Welsh Government to provide guidance around what this means for businesses, particularly those in the tourism and hospitality industries.

Scotland
Businesses required to close will now be able to apply for grants of between £2,000 to £3,000, with smaller grants available for those experiencing hardship. The deadline to apply is 20 October.

Face coverings are now mandatory in more workplace settings, including canteens, communal areas and corridors from Monday (19 October).

Northern Ireland
From 6pm today (16 October) restrictions will be put in place across Northern Ireland, which will significantly impact hospitality and close contact businesses, as well as other sectors. These are likely to be in place for four weeks and supersede previous local restrictions in other areas of Northern Ireland. We are still waiting for further clarity on what is defined as -close contact' but understand this includes businesses such as hairdressers, barbers, tattoo studios and barber salons.

ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES

Expert panellists wanted
The Financial Ombudsman Service is looking for new SME expert panel members whose expertise and experience can help it reach the right decisions in resolving complaints. It is looking for people who have experience operating at board level who could be called in on a variety of areas, including commercial insurance and forensic accounting.

NHS Track and Trace webinar
FSB hosted a webinar with Chair of NHS Test and Trace Dido Harding and FSB National Vice Chairman Martin McTague earlier this week. The event discussed how small businesses are engaging with the programme and what improvements can be made, and is available to watch back

Covid-19 survey
We want to hear from you - whether you're a member or a non-member - about the impact Covid-19 has had on your firm as part of our latest survey.

Webinars for business
If your business trades with the EU, be sure to register for a series of government webinars on steps to help with preparedness ahead of the end of the transition period on 1 January. Organised by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, they are tailored to different sectors, including life sciences, aerospace and construction.

NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS 

UK unemployment rate rises
FSB National Chair Mike Cherry responded to Office of National Statistics figures showing that the UK unemployment rate has risen to 4.5 per cent and the Claimant Count has risen to 120 per cent since March to more than 2.7 million. He told the Telegraph on Tuesday that these figures are a "stark reminder" of the human impact of the pandemic and stressed, as harsher restrictions take effect, "further measures may well be needed" to help protect jobs. 

Digital Services Tax
It emerged this week that the impact of the new digital services tax on Amazon could be minimal but small traders who use its online marketplace will face an increase in fees regardless. FSB National Chair Mike Cherry told the Evening Standard that Amazon should reconsider the fresh charge, calling on all online marketplaces to support SMEs during this crisis.

Black History Month
FSB member and business owner Jemma Fairhay tells FSB about her business journey so far, the challenges she's faced and what Black History Month needs to her in a Twitter video.

Banks closed to new customers
FSB Chief of External Affairs, Craig Beaumont, tells BBC Radio 4 that the closure of bank account applications to new entrants is causing "huge damage" right across the small business community at a time when we should be encouraging people to set up firms.

POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB

We've lobbied MPs in relation to the three-tier support for small businesses and the self-employed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak then referred to and mentioned FSB in his response to Labour's opposition day debate on the economy on Wednesday.

We've also raised issues relating to transition and late payments during the BRO online call with officials from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

FSB National Chair Mike Cherry took part in Labour's meeting with business representatives and Labour leader Keir Starmer, discussing our recent submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR.)

We've also submitted evidence on behalf of FSB members to the Public Accounts Committee ahead of its investigation into the use of cash. 


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