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.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
FSB has secured a hugely ambitious package of government measures aimed at supporting the small business and self-employed community through this difficult period. Please visit our dedicated coronavirus hub for information and guidance as well as the Government's support hub. If you are impacted by current disruption we'd like to hear from you - please get in touch.
While the Government's Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help 3.8million people, there remain groups who have been left behind. We're feeding examples of them to the Government to highlight the plight of those who are falling between the cracks. It is important that we represent the full picture of our whole community to those in power. To share your story, please send us an e-mail.
LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the CBILS so all viable small and medium businesses that have faced financial difficulty during the pandemic are eligible - as opposed to just those that are unable to secure regular commercial funding. The government is also stopping the need for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000.
The spread of Covid-19 will be causing stress and worry for small businesses and the self-employed, so it's more important than ever to take steps to support your own mental health and that of any employees you may have. Our dedicated wellbeing hub includes resources that can help.
FSB has launched a Facebook group for members, small business owners and the self-employed to chat, share best practice and offer support to each other. Now close to 4,000-strong, we'd love you to join in the conversation.
THE SMALL BIZ WEEK IN REVIEW
Director of External Affairs & Advocacy Craig Beaumont appeared on LBC over the weekend to discuss changes to insolvency regulation which will help struggling smaller firms to keep their heads above water during this national emergency.
Elsewhere, Head of Policy Sonali Parekh spoke to the Telegraph about the need for banks to ensure the emergency loans designed to help small businesses manage coronavirus-linked disruption are viable and attractive.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry looked forward to small firms beginning to receive cash grants ahead of the new business rates year starting on 1 April. These grants are available to those in receipt of small business rates relief and to those with rateable values below £51,000 in a range of sectors. If you’re based in England, your local authority should be in touch with more details.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma promised that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak would come forward with additional measures to help small firms trying to access support through the Coronavirus Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). FSB's response to the development was covered by the BBC, TALKRadio, Independent, Express, City AM and Sun.
FSB also responded to concerns about those not included in the UK Government's Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Mike Cherry stressed that FSB has "pushed the Government hard" for the scheme to be as generous as possible. He added: "We hope that ministers understand the many real-life examples of those left behind that we're highlighting."
Head of Media Alan Soady spoke to LBC's Julia Hartley-Brewer about improvements to the CBILS that FSB would like to see. Later in the day, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Government would be extending the CBILS so all smaller firms impacted by coronavirus-linked disruption are eligible to apply for it. Mike Cherry called it a "big step forward."
Mike Cherry appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme alongside two FSB members to discuss changes to the CBILS, calling the Chancellor's changes "necessary and timely." His reaction to the development was covered by the Guardian, FT, Times, Mail and Evening Standard.
FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
We continue discussions across Government and Parliament (behind the recess curtain) to secure extensions of economic support in response to the economic impact of coronavirus.
We've worked with the Cabinet Office and MHCLG to ensure the most up to date guidance is published for businesses that are allowed to operate, and if so, the social distancing guidelines they must adhere to.
Last Saturday, BEIS Secretary Alok Sharma, announced a package of measures designed to help directors of companies. He promised measures to improve insolvency system to help companies who are running into difficulties and need to undergo restructuring, to continue operating. This has been compared to an American style "Chapter 11" bankruptcy protection system.
Mike Cherry, held a telephone discussion with Minister of State for Trade, Greg Hands on Friday, to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on small business exports and wider supply chains.
We continue to take part in regular Department for Business 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 next leader of the Labour Party is expected to be announced tomorrow via video conference. We have been in touch with leadership teams about their policy agendas and our policy priorities; setting up a good working relationship for the weeks and months ahead.
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