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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 18 May 2020

Government invests £35 million to protect critical freight routes
Vital freight routes into, out of and around the UK will continue to run, thanks to a multi-million-pound government scheme to help ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.

The government has signed agreements with six operators to provide up to £35 million to help ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.

The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine weeks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19. By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union.

“The Department for Transport is working closely with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme) in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.”

The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish governments’ recent pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries – click here to view.

Revolutionising the way we fly: apply for up to £30m business funding
Organisations can apply for a share of up to £30 million to develop ways to support the safe operation of novel modes of air transportation – minimising the environmental footprint and improving connectivity.

Flying taxis, drones delivering medical supplies, small electric aircraft, vertical take-off and landing vehicles and autonomous aircraft are some of the innovations that could transform aviation and broader transportation in the future.

The government has set aside £125 million as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Future Flight Challenge to make the UK a world leader in aviation systems, products and markets. The funding supports development of capabilities to enable safe operations of these new modes of air transportation.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £30 million from the fund to support projects that develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems for new electric and autonomous aircraft.

Find out more about the Future Flight Challenge here.

£300m Coronavirus Business Innovation support package
A range of continuity grants, loans and additional business advisory support services have been made available for organisations which are existing Innovate UK award holders.

Up to £90 million is available in continuity grants, paid upfront, to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19.

Up to £210 million is available in continuity loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they are have an award from Innovate UK.

More information and details on how to apply are here.

Daily briefing statements

Business Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 17 May 2020
Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave the 17 May 2020 daily press briefing on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – click here to view.

Education Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 16 May
Education Secretary  Gavin Williamson on the Government’s response to the outbreak of coronavirus and plans to begin returning to school safely – click here to view.

Additional updates and guidance

Business Support Helpline
The government’s dedicated business support helpline has switched to a new FREEPHONE number to provide further business support. It can now be accessed on: 0800 998 1098 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. You can also contact them by email: enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org

Deadline for May payments on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Business are advised that to receive a ‘furlough’ payment by the end of May, they need to apply by Wednesday 20 May.  Online guidance, available here, has recently been updated with:

  • more information for furloughed employees
  • the work furloughed company directors can undertake
  • what time periods you can claim for
  • more detail on non-discretionary payments, holiday pay and record keeping.

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses in providing advice about COVID-19
Click here
 to view COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

Homes England Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
This page
 has the latest information about Homes England’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Safe opening of Recycling Centres
The government has published new guidance, available here, on how recycling centres can be safely re-opened during the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do
Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak have been updated. This guidance applies in England. Click here to view.

SELEP Coronavirus Business Recovery survey

Take part in our Coronavirus Business Recovery Survey to let us know how you are preparing your business for the next phase in socially distanced and COVID-secure enterprise. Click here to take the survey.