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Updated Guidance to Businesses

Updated Guidance to Businesses

The Government has updated the guidance to businesses in a number of issues.

The Chancellor has announced (24/09/2020) a package of measures that will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the uncertain months ahead as we continue to tackle the spread of the virus. The package includes a new Jobs Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.

Workplace Guidance for Pubs & Restaurants: The Government has updated the COVID-19 Secure workplace guidance for pubs and restaurants to reflect a tougher expectation of enforcement by the industry in a number of key areas – in particular ensuring that track and trace systems are maintained to ensure that information is gathered on customers to facilitate local control of infection.

Gatherings: Section 2.1 on multiple households has also been revised and now requires businesses to take steps not to “intentionally facilitate gatherings between a greater number of households than is permitted in their local area and should take steps to ensure customer compliance”. For most of the UK this is no more than 2 households indoors (no upper specified limit) and up to 6 people from different households outdoors.  Businesses are advised to inform customers through signage at the premises or at online booking platforms and ensure that staff ask whether the party is from no more than 2 households. There is a growing expectation of a verbal check on the arrival of both households and whether track and trace has been complied with. Members are advised to update their training and online messaging and reminded that, in areas of local restrictions or under special measures due to high infection, closure powers exist.

Enforcement measures and further easements: on 13 August the Government announced new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions. More information is available here: bit.ly/33YbGvL

Consulting with Employees: The Guidance on consulting with employees regarding returning to work has also been updated to state that the decision to return to the workplace should be made in meaningful consultation with workers (including through trade unions or employee representative groups where they exist). A meaningful consultation means engaging in an open conversation about returning to the workplace before any decision to return has been made.

Safer Working guidance: updated (13 August) safer working guidance is available here: bit.ly/3fDy2Gd

Face Coverings: The Government’s new Face Coverings Exemption Toolkit has been published and makes clear that frontline staff are exempt from the mandatory need for the use of face-covering in public areas of tourism business such as hotels, takeaway, and indoor leisure.

Self Employment: The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – to help those self-employed or a member of a partnership who has been affected by Coronavirus – is now open for its second round of applications. You can make a claim for the second grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Flexible Furlough: HMRC has updated its guidance on how businesses can claim for employees on flexible furlough by providing examples of how to calculate claims in September and October when businesses are required to make a contribution to the wage costs.

Business Risk Assessment: The Government’s online tool to help businesses to undertake risk assessments and make adjustments to the premises and work practices has been updated to reflect the reopening of some businesses and the relaxation of some rules over the weekend. Similarly, the online tool for finding out what support is available for your businesses has also been updated to reflect recent changes.

Dorset SME recovery grants: The Government recently announced a new grant support programme for SMEs. The grant funding will be used to help SME’s access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to get them back on track.  It will be administered through the Dorset Growth Hub locally and it is anticipated that the funding will be made available in September. If you are interested in this support, you are able to register your interest now. Register interest here

Fully funded Small Business Leadership Programme: A fully funded ten week learning programme has been established for senior small business leaders. This aims to provide you with the tools you need to enhance your business’s resilience and recover from the impact of COVID-19. Find out more

Protecting Vulnerable Staff: The guidance has been updated to state that while clinically vulnerable people can now return to work, if they cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). It may be appropriate for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to take up an alternative role or adjusted working patterns temporarily.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/restaurants-offering-takeaway-or-delivery

HMRC Webinars: HMRC has posted a new webinar regarding the recent changes to the SEISS scheme whereby some parents can now claim support (mainly around the issues of maternity/paternity leave). This and a range of other webinars are available on the following link.

They are also inviting people to attend future webinars on a range of subjects. Each webinar (except the Sick Pay Scheme) has a series of alternative dates. If you would like to attend you can register via the links below.

SEISS – https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/6004260784831494413?source=August-HMRC-GOV

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, Universal Credit and Child Benefit – https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/9110491084194159374?source=August-HMRC-GOV

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing – https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/8528021499696163331?source=June-HMRC-GOV

Eat Out to Help Out – https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/5193432531510711555?source=July-HMRC-GOV

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/3667545685723120643?source=Apr-HMRC-GOV

Transport Use: DFT have published the latest weekly data on transport use in the UK.

Test & Trace app trial phase: on 13 August, a new NHS Test & Trace app was launched, with trials commencing with residents on the Isle of Wight and, shortly, residents in the London Borough of Newham and involving NHS Volunteer Responders across England. More information is available here: bit.ly/33Xwsf4

Impact on the UK Economy:  GDP figures 

Eat out to Help Out claims portal: HMRC has opened the Eat Out to Help Out claims portal. Registered eligible businesses can now claim for any discounts offered on the scheme, using the new online claims portalGuidance on how to claim is available on GOV.UK. HMRC has also published a video explaining the claims process on their HMRC’s YouTube channel.

A range of free promotional materials that restaurants can continue to use to promote their participation in the scheme has also been published.

Trade credit insurance: The Government has been working hard to finalise the Trade Credit Reinsurance Scheme.

ABTA’s board has today confirmed that customers should be offered a full refund by their members when the FCO advice is against all but essential travel to a destination.

Covid Impact Assessment: DCMS has launched the second wave of the Coronavirus Impact Business Survey to understand the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on organisations in the culture, gambling, hospitality and tourism sectors and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts and future lobbying. The survey should take around 10-20 minutes and can be found here. The deadline for responses to the survey will be 8th September 2020.

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