FSB weekly newsletter: July 31

News 31 Jul 2020

Covid 19: The latest

England

Bowling rinks, skating parks and casinos were due to reopen tomorrow (August 1) but plans have now been postponed to 15 August at the earliest. Plans to allow beauticians to offer face-to-face treatments have also been banned for at least two more weeks.

Meanwhile face coverings, which became mandatory in shops across England last Friday (July 24), will now be rolled out in more settings from 8 August, including museums. There will be a greater police presence to enforce this.

The Government has stressed that the introduction of new restrictions is “not a return to lockdown” but further local restrictions will be implemented as needed.

There is no change to guidance regarding working from home, meaning employers still have discretion to consult with employees on bringing people into workplaces safely in line with the Government’s Covid-19 secure guidelines.

Local restrictions are in place in various locations across the country, where these rules differ. 

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

Pubs, restaurants and coffee shops will be allowed to reopen on Monday (3 August).

New rules making it compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport, including taxis, came into effect on Monday (27 July).  

Also on Monday, the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors reopened, as well as beauty salons, nail parlours, tattoo shops, cinemas, amusement arcades, museums and galleries. Driving lessons also resumed on the same day.

However, there is no set date yet for indoor gyms, swimming pools and theatres to reopen.

Northern Ireland

7 August will see indoor sports courts, skating rinks, leisure centres and soft play areas reopen.

Cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls and arcades reopened on 29 July.

The Government has published a full list of businesses which must remain shut.

LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES

Furlough scheme to wind down
From tomorrow, the Treasury is starting a gradual winding down of the furlough scheme. Employers will now need to contribute national insurance and pension contributions for furloughed staff. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry told the Financial Times that we “urgently” need the Treasury to outline how it intends to support company directors, the newly self-employed and others who have been left out of support measures. Meanwhile, External Affairs Chief Craig Beaumont joined the Financial Times’ Claer Barret to answer readers’ questions on how the changes will affect businesses.

Procurement survey
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has launched a ‘tell us once’ approach to procurement, and is keen for firms to fill out a web-based survey around how it can better serve small firms, make its services easier to use and remove duplication from the services it provides.  

Skills toolkit
The Department for Education is asking for new course applications for the Skills Toolkit, which was launched in April as a new online learning platform to help people boost their skills while staying at home. It is now looking to add more courses to the 17 already on the platform, targeting apprentices, graduates and those who have recently become unemployed.

Fair play masterclass
FSB is hosting a webinar at 11am on 4 August to discuss the UK’s poor payment culture, which forces £50,00 businesses to close each year. Be sure to sign-up.

NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS

Small businesses and the future
The Financial Times has spoken to FSB members who say they’re “not going down without a fight” as small businesses face intense pressure. FSB Chief of External Affairs, Craig Beaumont, told the paper that although redundancies are set to rise, we are also likely to see an increase in start-ups and the self-employed, as well as innovations.

Gaps in worker business support
Darren Jones, the Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, has written to the Secretary of State Alok Sharma to outline a number of key issues for the Government to address in its approach to businesses and workers after Covid-19. In it, he highlights issues around the impact of late payments, citing FSB evidence.

Virtual roundtable
FSB members joined the US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson for a virtual roundtable to discuss the opportunities that could potentially arise as the result of a UK-US free trade deal. Both sides are keen to put small businesses at the heart of any agreement and talks will continue.

Funding for Leicester businesses
Leicester businesses will receive £3 million worth of government funding to help with the financial impacts caused by local lockdown measures. Leicester will receive £2.6 million, while Oadby and Wigston will share the remaining £400,000, the BBC reports.

New cash grants
The government has announced £20 million of new funding to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Small and medium-sized businesses will have access to grants worth between £1,000 and £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment, as well as legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track.

Eat Out to Help Out
The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme goes live on Monday, allowing people up to £10 off the cost of a meal. To be eligible, restaurants must register on the Government’s website.

POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB

  • As the first stage of unwinding the furlough scheme begins, we are liaising with Government ministers, advisers and officials to ensure businesses are sufficiently supported as they continue to encounter disruption
  • We are currently working with other government departments, including the Treasury, the Department of International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy on furlough, late payments, reopening, return to work, immigration and trade
  • We are working with officials from the Department of Health and Social care on proposed changes to the new Obesity strategy and the impact this will have on small retailers
  • Policy and advocacy chair Martin McTague took part in a meeting with the Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds and the shadow secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to discuss local lockdowns, the impact of quarantine announcements on employees and employers and the wider economy recovery
  • We are keeping a close eye on local lockdowns – particularly in light of the financial package awarded to businesses in Leicester and will be pushing for funding in other areas where restrictions are put into place
  • We continue to monitor how reopening is going and which sectors remain disproportionately affected
  • Parliament is in recess and will return on 1 September, but engagement with MPs will continue in August as virtual party conference preparations are finalised

JOIN BIG VOICE AND MAKE YOUR BUSINESS HEARD

Big Voice is FSB's unique online research community for members. By responding to one of our surveys, members give us the evidence we need to engage with politicians around the world on the subjects that matter to you.