Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Readiness Bulletin
Issue 3 – 17 March 2020
This business readiness bulletin for trade associations, business representative bodies and business intermediaries provides important information for you and your business members and networks on Coronavirus (COVID-19). We suggest organisations providing advice to business continue to ensure that the latest GOV.UK guidance is available on their websites to support members and networks.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will provide further advice for business today, Tuesday 17 March. Further information and links to the Chancellor’s statement will be circulated in tomorrow’s bulletin.
NEW: Exceptional travel advisory notice
- The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. Please continue to check FCO travel advice on GOV.UK for the latest updates.
NEW: COVID:19 guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people
- New guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable people has been published. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Employees should work from home, where possible; avoid large gatherings; and avoid non-essential use of public transport. Everyone should try to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic. Those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, are strongly advised to follow the advice.
- New guidance has been published for households with possible infection. You can find more information
- Businesses should read and follow the online guidance for employees, employers and businesses.If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the Business Support Helpline on: 0300 456 3565
- The Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner are calling on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease COVID-19 related cash flow issues. You can find more information here
NEW and Updated COVID-19 industry guidance
- Following last week’s shift to the ‘delay’ phase of the action plan new updated industry guidance has been published for specific sectors.
NEW: Production and supply of ventilator components
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the government’s response to COVID-19. If your business can help with the Prime Minister’s call for ventilator production, please visit https://ventilator.herokuapp.com/to register your details
Issue 2 – 13 March 2020
NEW: Yesterday, the Prime Minister made a statement on coronavirus which you can find here.
NEW: Stay at home guidance. The guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus infection has been updated. If a person has symptoms of coronavirus infection however mild, the person should not leave home for 7 days from when the symptoms started. After 7 days, if the person feels better and no longer has a high temperature, the person can return to their normal routine. If the person has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, the person should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111. Cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean the person must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days. Find the updated guidance here
NEW: For individual businesses, the first port of call for advice and support is gov.uk. However, we are also scaling up our Business Support Helpline so businesses in England, of all sizes, can pick up the phone and speak directly to an advisor (Devolved Administrations have their own equivalent services in place). The number to call is: 0300 456 3565
NEW: HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Find all the information here. The number is 0800 0159 559.
NEW: Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here
NEW: Guidance for British people living or travelling overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Find the update guidance here
Special Business Readiness Bulletin – Important Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for businesses and employers
This is a special edition of the business readiness bulletin for trade associations, business representative bodies and business intermediaries providing important information for you and your business members and networks on Coronavirus (COVID-19). You have a role in keeping your members up to date on the latest Government guidance. It is recommended that you continue to ensure that the latest GOV.UK guidance regarding COVID-19 is available on your websites to support accessibility for both members and employees.
Business Support announced in the Budget
In today’s Budget the Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19.
The UK is extremely well prepared for these types of outbreaks and will continue to take all necessary precautions to protect the public, including engaging with key industry partners to discuss their preparedness planning. To ensure the impact on businesses is minimised, in today’s Budget the Chancellor outlined a comprehensive package of support.
A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41m to apply for a loan of up to £1.2m, with the Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses.
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.
There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, and worth a total of £2bn.
Finally, the Government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates.
Bank of England measures to respond to the economic shock from Covid-19
The Bank of England have also announced a comprehensive package of measures
to help UK businesses and households bridge across the economic disruption that is likely to be associated with COVID-19. Interest rates have been reduced from 0.75% to 0.25% and additional funding will be available for banks to increase lending, especially to SMEs.
Online resources for businesses and employers
For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employers and businesses. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts.
Government is also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity, developing an understanding on the potential impacts to their supply chains, customers or other factors critical to their operations.
Public Health Advice – Business Continuity
The Government currently advises businesses to continue to operate as usual. There is presently no reason businesses or individuals should stop carrying out their daily activities as they normally would.
- There is currently no need to close your workplace, cancel meetings or large-scale events or initiate working from home.
- There is no need to close your workplace or send other staff home if a suspected case has recently been in your workplace, unless you have been directed to do so by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team.
- Businesses are not being advised to cancel travel, except to at risk regions. FCO travel advice remains under constant review and the latest guidance can be found here
- Employees should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.
- Sector specific guidance for care professionals, workers in education and other affected sectors is available on GOV.UK and updated regularly.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, which we are monitoring carefully. The situation is kept under constant review and any change in guidance will be based on scientific evidence. The Governments approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England. Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.
Request for business intelligence: How is COVID-19 impacting businesses?
The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain and we are keen that businesses feed back any specific concerns.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks business intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting individual businesses and business sectors. We welcome information from you and your members on:
- The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
- Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
- Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective
Please send this information to firstname.lastname@example.org .We understand that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly.
You can find all updated information produced by the Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England here
The regular bulletin will be sent out next week containing transition information.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
11 March 2020