Weekly Brief 10 - March 6 2020

News 6 Mar 2020

Coronavirus and FlyBe's collapse in this week's Weekly Brief

A wrap of the week's small business news from FSB's Westminster Press, Policy and Public Affairs Office. To sign-up for Weekly Brief emails, please use this link.


FSB has issued advice and guidance on reducing the risks of the Covid-19 virus to your business. The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached over 100, with more cases expected to emerge. FSB's guidance includes information about business insurance, FSB's own health and medical service and why you need a business continuity plan. 

If your business has been affected by coronavirus and you would be happy to share your story with the media, please contact us.

Women in STEM
The UK is currently experiencing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) gap, with businesses struggling to fill STEM vacancies. This gap widens even further when we look at women specifically. Although FSB's research shows there are more women than ever starting their own small businesses, many of these are in low-growth sectors, such as care, as opposed to sectors such as manufacturing where the average gross value added is higher.

To mark this year's International Women's Day on 8 March we are going to celebrate inspirational women in STEM that have taken the brave step to go it alone with our latest campaign She Means STEM. Follow our social media channels to help us amplify.

Sick pay
HMRC is holding a number of webinars explaining how to navigate Statutory Sick Pay, how to calculate it and when to pay it. The first will be held on Wednesday 11 March from 2pm to 3pm and the second on Friday 13 March from 10am to 11am. Sign up using the links provided.

Holiday pay
The Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy has launched a new -Holiday Pay' campaign aimed at increasing compliance with the rules that govern pay for absences. All workers are legally entitled to earn holiday pay for every hour they work, whether part-time, in shifts, or during irregular hours. But there's a massive percentage of workers who don't get what they are entitled to, meaning they collectively miss out on £1.8 billion a year.

Pay.UK event
The UK's collective payments body Pay.UK is holding a user workshop later this month on changes to retail payments which are taking effect as part of its New Payments Architecture initiative. The changes will allow payments to move more seamlessly and carry more associated data to enable additional user services. Full details: Tuesday 17 March, 3pm, at Royal Pharmaceutical Society, E1W 1AW - RSVP [email protected].

Digital Leaders Week
Are you a small business in the UK's digital marketplace for ideas, initiatives and services? If so, you might be interested in participating in the UK-wide Digital Leaders Week - running from 15-19 June 2020 - which is giving small businesses the opportunity to host virtual events to share ideas, products and views with other industry leaders.  

If you are a small business in England who will be offering, or would like to offer, T level industry placements to young people aged 16-19, then check-out the Government's dedicated website offering advice and support in this area. Industry placements must last at least 315 hours (approx. 45 days). The site explains how to register to offer industry placements and support industry placements.

Expert committee
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is establishing a new Regulatory Horizons Council committee to advise the Government about emerging technologies, as well as the regulatory reform needed to support their introduction. You can apply to join the new group on the Cabinet Office website.


The week began with FSB urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to maintain entrepreneur's relief, following reports that it could be scrapped at Wednesday's Budget. In a number of national newspapers, including The Times, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said 38,000 people a year stood to lose an average of £15,000 if the relief were to be removed. 

Saw the capital play host to the British Kebab Awards, which brought hundreds of the UK's best small restaurants together for a ceremony at the Park Plaza. Speaking at the event, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan highlighted the UK's "thriving hospitality trade," adding: "These awards highlight the importance of the kebab industry's contributions to the city's culture and economy." 

FSB published its Budget submission, highlighting the importance of tackling late payments, extending the employment allowance, reforming business rates, protecting entrepreneurs' relief, fixing potholes and rolling-out high-speed broadband.

Wednesday also saw the Welsh Government announce it will provide flood-affected small businesses with a £2,500 grant to help recover from damage, as well as discretionary business rates relief for three months. 

Saw the collapse of FlyBe. Public anxiety due to coronavirus has caused a slump in airline bookings - the airline's demise will have a knock-on effect on the thousands of small businesses that use air travel to attend meetings. In a statement, National Cherry Mike Chairman said: "this underlines the need for Government to invest in an integrated transport system."

Thursday also saw the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee announce it will launch an inquiry into Broadband and the road to 5G connectivity, assessing the Government's pledge to ensure every home and business in the UK has gigabit capable broadband by 2025.

Elsewhere, National Chairman Mike Cherry appeared on Sky News to discuss the impact coronavirus is having on small businesses and the support available to them.  

FSB published its latest report, -Street's Ahead', which finds that, despite tough times for small businesses, there are many positive examples of success to be found in our towns, cities and villages. The study finds that almost 30 per cent of small businesses on high streets are helping to address key issues by being part of local initiatives such as Business Improvement Districts. It also flags the importance of targeted support, with 38 per cent saying they would not survive without business rates relief. 

From the corridors of power

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour, Shadow Secretary for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) referred to  the Federation of Small Businesses comments on the costs of flooding to small businesses and  affordable flood insurance.

David Mundell (Conservative, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) referred to the joint letter by the Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Small Businesses, to secure the long-term future of access to cash.


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