FSB weekly newsletter: September 25

News 25 Sep 2020

COVID-19: THE LATEST RESTRICTIONS

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

England
In England, the hospitality sector including pubs, bars and restaurants are now restricted to table service only and are required to shut at 10pm. Meanwhile, people have been told to -work from home if they can.' These restrictions are likely to last at six months.

The clampdown comes after Government chiefs raised the Covid-19 alert level. FSB National Chairman told Mike Cherry told The Guardian and The Times that this will leave many fearing for their futures, adding: "We've already suffered from six months of disruption and small businesses and the self-employed will be dismayed at facing another six months of restrictions."

Areas still under local lockdown include Bolton, Greater Manchester and Leicester. In all other areas, the rule of six still applies.

Scotland
This week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined new measures designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including restrictions upon hospitality businesses' opening hours which now have to shut at 10pm. Non-essential offices are also to remain closed.

FSB's Scotland Policy Chair, Andrew McRae, reacted to the new measures: "Decision-makers looking for another push from local firms need to provide reassurance that they've both got a plan and got their back." Official guidance for smaller firms in Scotland can be found on the Government's website and further FSB's comments can be read in The Sun.

Wales
Four more counties have been put into local lockdown, meaning Caerphilly, Rhonnda Cynon Taf, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Merthyr Tydfil are under additional restrictions. This means people can only meet outside included extended households who cannot currently meet up indoors. It also means people cannot enter or leave the area without good reason (such as going to work) and licensed premises must be closed by 10pm.

Northern Ireland
Restrictions include no mixing households in private dwellings - with some exemptions including caring responsibilities, building or maintenance work, the services of any trade or profession and supporting living arrangements. People can form a bubble with one other household but this must not consist of more than six people.

Bars and private members' clubs which do not serve food, or have outdoor space available are now permitted to open, with strict requirements in place including the need for table service. Under the current regulations a maximum of six people from no more than two households can be seated at a table in a venue where alcohol may be consumed. More than six people are permitted if everyone is from the same household.


Winter Economic Plan
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his latest rescue package to save jobs on Thursday. He confirmed the furlough scheme will not be continued passed October 31 and will be replaced with a wage subsidy scheme. Employees must work at least a third of their normal hours, but for every hour not worked, the employer and government will each pay one third towards their usual pay.

He also announced a -pay as you grow' programme meaning businesses will be able to extend their Bounce Back Loans from six to ten years, and suspend payments for six months. All loan guarantee schemes have been extended to January, and the VAT cut for hospitality and tourism firms has been extended from Jan 13 to the end of March.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry responded to the news in The Telegraph, Sky News, LBC and BBC News.


ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES

Track and Trace app
The Track and Trace app launch in England and Wales on Thursday, following in the footsteps of Scotland and Northern Ireland. It has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot, informing people whether they need to self-isolate or book a test.

Prompt Payment Code reforms
The Government has launched a survey seeking the views and opinions on the proposed reform and strengthening of the Prompt Payment Code. Signatories of the code pledge to pay suppliers on time, give clear evidence to suppliers and encourage good practice.

Recruiting apprentices after redundancy
The Government is helping apprentices facing redundancy due to the pandemic find other work. For more information about how to help develop creative talent by recruiting an apprentice, visit the Government's website.

Digital Boost
A non-profit free of charge online platform has added FutureLearn courses and content to its library. These could help your businesses with digital skills, branding and business strategy.

Social value requirements
Businesses and contractors looking to win government work must now set out how they will also deliver on the government's social value priorities. The changes mean that from 1 January 2021, the government will now have to ensure that all major procurements explicitly elevate social value.

Immigration System
FSB is hosting a webinar on the UK's new immigration system on Tuesday 29 September at 10am. FSB will be joined by officials from the Home Office who will outline the changes, what businesses need to do to prepare and how the changes will affect small firms. Registration is essential.
 

POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB

  •        The Chancellor unveiled his six-month winter plan of support measures on Thursday. We were pleased to see a number of announcements, including another two rounds of the Self Employment Scheme as well as the Pay as you Grow scheme

  •         But we will need to continue to work with both the Government and the opposition to ensure the announcements, particularly on the two thirds wage support proposal go far enough to protect our members and support jobs

  •     FSB was mentioned by Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions, as he pushed the Government on the future of furlough

  •         FSB was very active at this week's Labour "Connected" Conference + Business Forum, taking part in breakout sessions ranging from cyber-crime to high streets protection to future trade deals

  •        We hosted a special Business Breakfast with Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, with Rob Burlison from Intuit and Roni Savage, Founder of Jomas Associates and FSB Construction chair

  •        Among the topics discussed were business rates reform, tackling late payments and what businesses needed to help navigate the next six months of difficulty

  •         National Chair Mike Cherry took part in a roundtable to discuss the long-term future of business rates with members of the Labour frontbench and other representative organisations

  •        Chair of Policy and Advocacy, Martin McTague, took part in the Small Business Summit, where he discussed fairer ways businesses could pay off loan debts with Rachel Reeves, Shadow Duchy of Lancaster and Ed Miliband, Shadow BEIS Secretary

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