Following the announcement of a second lockdown in England, the Government has released further information on how they will support businesses and their employees.
Here's a quick summary of all you need to know:
Local Business Grants
Businesses whose premises have been forced to close during lockdown will be able to apply via their Local Authority for a business grant ranging from £934 to £3,000 per month.
Local Authorities will also receive one-off funding to support businesses and local economies over the coming months. This is due to be distributed to the Local Authorities on the basis of c.£20/head of population.
This is expected to benefit 600,000 businesses across England. Backdated grants will be available for leisure, tourism and accommodation businesses in tier 2/3, again via local councils.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), aka furlough, has been extended to 2nd December 2020. Eligible employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. As the scheme was working in August, there will be no employer contributions for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
The extended CJRS is now open to employees on the October payroll, meaning that more employees are eligible. This also applies to employees who were made redundant after 23rd September, under the scheme you can re-employ and furlough them.
Extending the CJRS has delayed the launch of the less generous Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to begin on 1st November. The JSS scheme will be delayed until the withdrawal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which it is anticipated to be extended further into December and possibly January.
The application deadline for loan guarantee schemes has been extended to the end of January 2021. This includes the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme. This allows an extra two months to make loan applications.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme rules have been adjusted, allowing those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended but is only available for those who were previously eligible for the first and second grants. The grant has been increased to cover 80% of average trading profits for November, then 40% for December and January. Increasing the level of support for self employed individuals to 55% of average trading profits (capped at £5,160 in total for those months). Grants are taxable income and subject to National Insurance contributions. The online service for this grant has been brought forward to Monday 30th November.
Kickstart Job Scheme
The Government’s £2 billion Kickstart Job Scheme is open, creating hundreds of thousands of fully subsided jobs for young people. Placements are open to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
Employers will receive 100% funding of the relevant minimum wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
Kickstart Scheme applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If a single employer cannot provide this many job placements, they can find a Kickstart gateway, such as a local authority, charity or trade body for help applying.
This is a great opportunity to think about the long-term benefits this could bring to your business. With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in place to support those who may not be able to work, some businesses will be short of resource. The Kickstart scheme could provide you with an apprentice to cover resource, while being trained by those on flexible furlough.
Owner Managed Companies
As with the previous Winter Economy update, there is no support outlined for owner managed companies who pay themselves a basic wage and top-up with dividends. This comes as another blow to those who are excluded from Government support. Owners must think about how they can survive this, such as adapting costs and maximising revenues.
*Information credited to Portt & Co
Shepton Mallet’s popular annual Christmas lights switch on event, organised by Shepton Mallet Chamber of Commerce and supported by Shepton Mallet Town Council, has been cancelled this year. The decision to cancel the event, which would usually see a large number of local residents coming to enjoy the festive entertainment and browse the shops and community stalls before the official switch on, unfortunately had to be made due to the announcement of the second lockdown.
However, Shepton Mallet Town Council have worked for many weeks to get the Christmas Tree and Lights organised and these will be installed as usual. None of us would have wanted this dreadful pandemic but this town has worked amazingly well together, and it has brought us all closer together as a great team.
Whilst the cancellation of the switch on event will not come as a surprise to anyone, it is a shame that yet another of our much-loved annual events won’t be happening in 2020. However, the town will still look festive and bring Christmas cheer with the Christmas tree taking pride of place in the Market Place, thanks to the determined efforts of the Shepton Mallet Town Council who do such a great job organising the installation of the tree and lights year-after-year.
It is hoped the switch-on event will return next year in a "bigger and better" capacity.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC President Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith and Chamber CEOs from across the United Kingdom set five business tests that must be met to limit the impact of Coronavirus restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.
The letter from the Accredited Chamber Network - which collectively represents 75,000 firms of all sizes and sectors across the UK employing nearly six million people - comes following a week of increasing, regionally tiered restrictions, with more severe ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions under consideration, as the country battles a second wave of the pandemic.
Dr Marshall, Baroness McGregor-Smith and the Chamber Chief Executives challenge the Prime Minister to meet five business tests for current and prospective Coronavirus restrictions:
The letter reads: “While the recent announcement of an enhanced Job Support Scheme will assist some firms, Chamber members tell us it will not be enough to stave off mass redundancies and business failures.”
There is also a clear warning that improving the government’s ailing test and trace system is the only way to get a grip on the virus over the long term and prevent economic paralysis. The letter reads: “The need for additional restrictions cannot be blamed on a lack of care by hardworking people in businesses across the country. Instead it represents a failure of the Test and Trace system, which must be urgently improved and expanded.”
Chambers are clear about the consequences of not meeting the tests. The letter continues: “These tests must be met – to avoid serious damage to business and consumer confidence, and potentially catastrophic economic consequences. We must preserve our economy in the immediacy, while also laying the foundations of future growth. Failure to do so will undermine any broader efforts to ‘level up’ left-behind parts of the UK.”
The letter concludes: “The Coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. The government must waste no more time in setting out a clear strategy to keep the economy functioning, while protecting public health over the long term.”
*Information credited to British Chambers of Commerce
Shepton Mallet Chamber of Commerce is urging shoppers in Shepton Mallet to make the most of 'Shop Local Week' (10-16 August) to help local businesses in our town rebuild from the Coronavirus pandemic.
'Shop Local Week' is part of the government’s 'Enjoy Summer Safely' campaign, encouraging people to get back to the way of life they have missed, while following safety guidelines. From popping into our local family-run bakery for a loaf of bread, to buying a quirky gift from one of our many independent shops, or popping to the weekly market. By shopping locally, you can help our local businesses and community to get back up and running. Not forgetting the 'Eat Out to Help Out' campaign, which is running until 31st August on Monday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's, where you can get 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks when you eat or drink in.
Shepton Mallet is blessed with superb local independent businesses, which have had a tough time but we are delighted to see the vast majority now back open again - and now they all need our support. Even those businesses who haven’t been able to reopen, or members of the public who are continuing to shield, then shopping online is a great way to still do your bit.
Shopping at local businesses and using local trades brings money into the local economy, creates and may help save jobs. By spending money in a local shop, restaurant, café or pub, you can do your bit to aid their recovery. Business owners have done an incredible job so far to welcome you back safely, now is the time to show them some love.
Here are 8 reasons why customers should visit the high street this week:
1. Help the high street and support the local economy
Shopping at local businesses pumps money into the local economy, and by spending money in their local shop, restaurant, café or pub, shoppers can do their bit to aid our national recovery across the country.
2. Save jobs – and create even more
Supporting our high streets creates jobs in local communities, supporting often young and disadvantaged people to find employment. Helping to grow the number of jobs in our local areas makes for a better place to live and work, which then creates a healthy economy for the community.
3. Great deals
People might be surprised to see just how competitive the prices are in your local shops. Independent retailers often reward regular customers, while others often provide great deals that can’t be found in major outlets – meaning people save money as they spend. Consumers can also save money eating out - the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme is being provided by the government, saving diners up to £10 per head on eat-in meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in one of the 73,000 participating businesses.
4. A safe way to shop
Businesses across the country have been following government guidance and implementing a range of measures to ensure people are safe while they shop, such as customer limits inside the store, plastic partitions at tills and hand sanitizing stations.
5. Preserving the heart of the community
A thriving high street is key to boosting the potential of a village or town where people can socialise as well as shop. Local businesses also generate revenue to support council services such as libraries, parks and roads that benefit communities across the UK.
6. Spoilt for choice
Small and local businesses often stock items which are made locally and aren’t available elsewhere else, providing a great range of choice and unique products that bring much-needed originality and variety into communities – including rare finds and items that aren’t mass produced.
7. A better shopping experience
Small businesses are often run by people who live nearby. As the UK continues to recover from the pandemic, the experience of buying locally from a friendly face offers a dose of normality that many people may have missed.
8. Help the environment
Local shops often source their goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. When shopping local, people are also more likely to walk or cycle to get there – doing their bit to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic and improve the quality of the nation’s high streets.