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 is continuing to talk to the UK government and other authorities to ensure as much help and support as possible for 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.
Emergency loans media request
FSB has been contacted by a number of media outlets wishing to speak to small business owners who have tried to apply for emergency government-backed loans, ahead of the launch of the new micro loans scheme on Monday. If you have experience of this which you would be willing to speak to the media about please email [email protected] (Depending on the volume of messages we may not be able to respond to everyone, so please accept our thanks in advance).
Latest advice and opportunities
Beware of pension scammers
FSB has received reports that pension scammers are trying to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. For advice, see the Financial Conduct Authority’s guidance on how to avoid pension scams. You can also find further information from The Pensions Regulator.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is holding a webinar at 11am on 5 May for small businesses to find out how to access the coronavirus business support measures. Registration is essential.
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 4,000-strong, we'd love you to join in the conversation.
The Small Business week in review
The week began with External Affairs Director Craig Beaumont discussing what small businesses and the self-employed need to be able to kickstart the recovery with Clive Bull on LBC.
Monday also saw Policy & Advocacy Director Martin McTague co-host a Quick Books webinar with Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds and Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Shadow Secretary, Ed Miliband.
Later in the day, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new emergency loan system to support small firms through the Covid-19 pandemic with a 100 per cent guarantee for smaller loans up to £50,000. This means businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or a 25 per cent turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.
The news of the new Bounce Back Loans dominated the press today. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry responded to the news, saying “removing the need to provide forecasts marks an important step forward – small firms cannot be expected to predict the future in this climate.” This was covered by City AM, BBC News and others.
On Wednesday, Mike Cherry responded to the news that a large number of London councils are yet to give out between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the Covid-19 business grants. Mike Cherry told the Evening Standard that “for many small businesses, these grants are a desperate lifeline during these trying times.”
Elsewhere, Head of Media Alan Soady spoke to Mail Online political correspondent, Michael Crick, about how the Government could adapt the furlough scheme to allow more flexibility for employers and their staff.
Thursday saw Policy & Advocacy Chairman Martin McTague appear before the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to discuss the impact of coronavirus on the small business and retail sector. He highlighted how sole directors have been hit hard by this crisis as they have missed out on a number of the support packages so far. The appearance was covered by the Telegraph.
Speaking to The Times, Mike Cherry said that although we have seen the volume of lending almost double over the last week, many small businesses are continuing to find it tough to access loans.
The Telegraph also highlighted how FSB and The Institute of Directors are pushing hard for a flexible furlough scheme. FSB has also proposed an independent panel of health experts, bosses and workers to decide how to re-open the economy.
From the Corridors of Power
- 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.
- HMT has announced the new Bounce Back Loans Scheme for micro and small businesses – it should be up Monday, offering loans up to £50,000.
- We continue our weekly digest mailout to MPs every Thursday afternoon, driven by case studies brought to the team from members via field staff – helping inform the many conversations we have had by phone and email with MPs and Peers on what further support we can deliver for small businesses.
- Virtual select committee sessions have continued – this week in particular featured the BEIS Committee questioning FSB’s Martin McTague on issues ranging from loans to grants to rents to the road ahead. Do get in touch if you would like a detailed summary of topics discussed.
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