COVID-19: THE LATEST
For all the latest news and updates, visit our Covid-19 hub.
The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a toolkit for employers to help ensure employees get reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines.
Access the toolkit to get materials for you to run internal awareness campaigns, including key messages, posters, fact sheets and videos providing accurate, up-to-date information.
If you are a UK business which trades with Europe, keep track of the latest changes and developments via FSB's transition hub.
NEWS & OPPORTUNITIES
NICs rise rushed through Parliament
We were deeply disappointed to see the rises in employers' and employees' National Insurance contributions and the dividend tax rushed through Parliament this week, before there had been time for any proper scrutiny of the policy's likely economic impact. We are grateful to the MPs who raised our members' objections in the House of Commons on Tuesday, not least our prediction of the potential impact on jobs, when all stages of the Health and Social Care Levy Bill were passed.
Vacancy rate hides recruiting woes
Mike Cherry, FSB's National Chair, warned that ONS employment figures showing a record vacancy rate "don't reflect the lived reality for many small employers", and said that following the announcement of a NICs rise, the Employment Allowance should be uprated, and the New Enterprise Allowance retained, in order to give small firms and entrepreneurs a boost.
Retail sales fall
Retail sales saw a reduction of 0.9% in August, defying many predictions of a rise, and prompting concern from FSB about the overall health of small shops. Mike Cherry said: "Supply chain problems are hitting hard alongside spiralling employment costs and staff shortages, while the consumer-led recovery could be losing steam."
The deadline to apply for the fifth (and final) Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant is 30 September. If you think you may be eligible, find out more and apply here.
Pandemic sick pay rebate scheme deadline
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is coming to an end on 30 September; you have until the end of the year (31 December) to make any claims.
Government Covid advice updated
Following the release of the Government's autumn and winter plan for Covid, its advice for England on how to work safely during coronavirus has been updated. NHS Test and Trace and the Cabinet Office are holding a webinar on the latest Covid information and guidance on 20 September.
FSB is holding a webinar next Tuesday (21 September), Menopause in the Workplace, to explore how small businesses can take positive steps to support themselves and their employees, along with guidance on absence management, Statutory Sick Pay and the Equality Act, and more.
Life Sciences webinar
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and others will speak at a webinar on 23 September to set out the Government's plans for the life sciences sector. Sign up here.
Net zero competition
Small businesses with under 50 employees can apply to the Heroes of Net Zero competition, organised by the Government. The winners, who best demonstrate the steps they have taken towards sustainability, will receive a prize package worth £4,500 and an invitation to the COP26 climate summit in November.
Import checks deadline pushed back
The Government has announced that a range of checks on imports due to come in following the UK's departure from the EU will have their introduction dates pushed back. The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as opposed to 1 October 2021, while the new requirements for Export Health Certificates, Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at border control posts, and the requirement for Safety and Security declarations on imports have all been delayed until 1 July 2022.
HMRC goods guides
HMRC has produced a series of guides for businesses which import and/or export goods, covering: moving goods into the UK, out of Great Britain, into or through Great Britain, out of Northern Ireland, and out of the UK through common transit countries; using common or union transit to move goods into, through and out of the UK; and moving goods into or through Northern Ireland using common or union transit.
Plastic tax guidance updated
The guidance for importers/manufacturers of plastic packaging relating to the Plastic Packaging Tax, which will come into effect as of April 2022, has been updated.
Start-up scheme expanded
The Government's Kick Off In Business courses, offering a "free, fully funded, one week online programme to help you start a business or become self-employed in England", has added new areas and upcoming webinars.
Digital security grant
UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of £8 million in grant funding for projects in the digital security by design software ecosystem, funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Protecting IP rights in China
The Intellectual Property Office is offering a webinar on 22 September for SMEs on how they can protect and enforce their IP in China, both online and off. Sign up here.
FedEx small business grant competition
Up to £50,000 is on offer to small businesses across Europe, including in the UK, via a FedEx competition.
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