Sirius News Bulletin - 29th October 2020
This bulletin provides a summary of topical news, announcements and policy developments affecting business across the UK.
Plan for Jobs: Chancellor increases financial support
The Chancellor has increased the financial support available to businesses under the Plan for Jobs as follows:
• To be eligible for the Job Support Scheme, employees of businesses that are still open will be required to work at least 20% of their usual hours instead of 33%. Employers will only have to pay 5% of an employee’s wages for the hours not worked instead of one third. The
Government will now pay 61.67% of the wages for the hours not worked.
• The Self-employment Income Support Scheme grant available for November 2020 to January 2021 will be based on 40% of three-month average trading profits instead of 20%. This will mean the maximum grant available will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.
• Grants of up to £2,100 per month will be available for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector in England who have been adversely impacted by higher lockdown restrictions.
Councils gain COVID enforcement powers
Councils are to gain new powers to issue businesses with improvement notices and close premises if they breach coronavirus restrictions. Councils currently have to use general health and safety legislation in order to take action against businesses flouting COVID-19 restrictions.
Businesses reminded to display QR codes or face fines
Businesses including hospitality venues, beauticians and hairdressers, have been reminded that it is a legal requirement to display official NHS Track and Trace QR codes or log visitors’ details in some other way. The Government has warned that any venues not complying with the legislation could face fines of up to £4,000.
Store closures hit record levels as 11,000 shut in first half of 2020
A record number of stores closed during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus crises hammered high streets, shopping centres and retail parks across the UK. Overall, 11,200 shops operated by chains closed between January and June 2020, while just 5,119 shops opened.
Retailers to get access to new security toolkit
The British Retail Consortium has launched a new cybersecurity toolkit, developed alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, to help retailers take steps to reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyberattack.
Independent retailers will be hit hardest by new parcel pick-up service
The Federation of Independent Retailers has warned the new parcel collection service announced by Royal Mail will be a severe blow to many independent retailers that offer parcel delivery services to boost revenues. Royal Mail’s Collect Plus will pick up packages directly from customers at their doors for a fee of 72p per parcel, plus postage costs.
Food and drink
New rules to protect iconic food types post-Brexit
The UK Government has set out new rules to protect iconic food names such as Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pies after the end of the Brexit transition period. The new scheme will supersede existing EU rules that protect food names from 1 January 2021.
European Parliament decision sanctions use of veggie burger branding
The European Parliament has ruled terms that mimic traditional meat products, such as ‘burger’ or ‘steak’, can continue to be used to describe and market plant-based meat alternatives. However, it has banned dairy-related terms, such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’, from being used to describe plant-based dairy alternatives.
Charities and Social Enterprise
56% of charities expect to see demand for services rise
While 56% of charities in England expect demand to increase in November 2020, nearly half have been forced to reduce the services they provide during the coronavirus crisis. Eight in ten charities also expect the pandemic to have a moderate or significant negative impact on delivering their objectives in 2021.
Brexit assessment tool for charities
Charities and social enterprises can use a free online tool to help them prepare for any changes that will come into force after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Hospitality and food service
Tier 2 and 3 restrictions are proving catastrophic for hospitality businesses More than a third of hospitality operators in areas under Tier 2 and Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions have seen their bookings fall by between 80% and 100%, according to research from Lumia Intelligence.
UK Government promises new blueprint for better hospital food following review
Hospital food in the NHS could be ripe for innovation after an independent review called for tastier, healthier and better quality meals to be served to patients and staff. The Government has announced it will set up an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to decide a new blueprint for hospital food.
Northern Ireland to reopen farm machinery grants scheme
Farmers in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for grants covering 40% of the cost of various items of equipment and machinery ranging in value from £5,000 to £30,000. The grants are available under the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, which will open to applications on 2 November 2020.
Brexit operator checklist
The Road Haulage Association has updated its operator checklist document, which sets out the steps hauliers should take to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.
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