FSB weekly newsletter: May 29

News 29 May 2020

YOUR WEEKLY SMALL BUSINESS NEWSLETTER 

Our weekly newsletter brings you the latest news, advice and opportunities from our Westminster office each week. It's free to join and you can share this link with new subscribers.

COVID-19: THE LATEST

FSB's coronavirus support hub includes advice and guidance on reducing the risks of coronavirus to you and your business.

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.

FSB's Facebook group giving small businesses the chance to discuss how the lockdown is affecting them now has over 4,000 members. We’d love for you to join us.  

LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES

Employment roundtables

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is hosting a series of online roundtables with FSB members on the economy and labour market, with a particular focus on the Covid-19 outbreak. This is an opportunity for you to directly contribute to the development of LPC's advice on next year's minimum wage rates, and share your experience with Low Pay Commissioners. Attendance is limited and registration is required. You can sign-up for the three sessions which will have a focus on retail (1 June), hospitality (3 June) and broader perspectives (8 June) on Eventbrite. 

LATEST NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS

New Horizons report

This week we launched our latest policy report, New Horizons, on how small firms are navigating the Covid-19 crisis and helping their local communities. It also features our recommendations for Government around how to help businesses recover. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: "Small firms have long been the champions of innovating, adapting and engaging with others, especially during difficult periods."

Self-employed income support scheme

With the government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme due to end at the end of this week, Mike Cherry told Yahoo Finance UK that hairdressers, personal trailers, B&B owners and others would not be able to return to work for many more weeks and are therefore facing an income “cliff-edge”. He added: "They must not be forgotten. An extension to the SEISS should be announced before the week is out."

Call for support for left-out directors

FSB has written to Small Business Minister Paul Scully MP to highlight how company directors who pay themselves through dividends have "slipped through the cracks" of different support measures.

The letter, sent on Wednesday, proposes a range of options for resolving the situation, including direct income support for directors' lost dividends, creating an expanded grant scheme for businesses which have been unable to claim grants, and indefinitely suspending plans for the implementation of new IR35 rules.

In the letter, Mike Cherry writes: "If we don't act now, the economy will suffer a second blow further down the line, with company directors forced to shut up shop."

That evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Commons Liaison Committee he was "looking at" options around director support.  

Shops to reopen

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from this coming Monday 1 June, provided they are able to meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

From June 15, other non-essential shops such as fashion retailers, gift shops, arcades and craft fairs, can reopen from next week. Mike Cherry appeared on LBC with Tom Swarbrick to welcome the plan - but said many will need additional support to put the right support measures in place.

Coronavirus Sick Pay rebate

The Coronavirus Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was launched on Monday, following our calls for the initiative. We are now recommending that SSP rebate be extended to cover multiple absences over a 28 week period for those who employ less than 50 employees.

IFG webinar

Friday saw Policy & Advocacy Chairman Martin McTague join the Institute for Government for a webinar with Conservative peer Nicky Morgan to discuss the government's support for businesses during the Covid-19 emergency.

POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB 

  • We continue to take part in regular departmental conference calls with our opposite numbers, involving different business groups and trade bodies, to discuss what more the department and Government could be doing to make all the different support packages as accessible and efficacious as possible for small businesses.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care, together with the Department for Business, has launched the NHS Track + Trace – seen as an important arm to getting businesses and employees back to work safely. We are in constant discussions with the Department for Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy to ensure employer guidance covers instances such as when employees are required to self-isolate but have limited Statutory Sick Pay options.
  • Select Committee Chairs, in particular new BEIS Committee Chair Darren Jones MP, pressed our case for the self-employed and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in the special Liaison Committee meeting with the Prime Minister this week. The Prime Minister reaffirmed his promise of parity of support
  • We are also in regular contact with MPs from across the House of Commons – taking forward issues from our members as we begin to exit the initial peak of the crisis, and onto more long term issues which can help small businesses recover. Parliament returns on Tuesday in a more “full” setting.  
  • We have resumed working with Government and Parliament on the Immigration Bill, the Trade Bill and the new Corporate Insolvency Bill (all stages to be debated on Wednesday), among a number of important pieces of legislation passing the floor of the House.

JOIN BIG VOICE AND MAKE YOUR BUSINESS HEARD

Big Voice is FSB's unique online research community and its free link 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.