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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 29 April 2020

COVID-19 testing now available to all workers who have to leave their home in order to work
Those who cannot work from home and have COVID-19 symptoms are now able to book coronavirus tests, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed at today’s Downing Street press conference.

The announcement follows Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement that all care home residents and staff in England would be able to access tests from today (Wednesday), regardless of whether they have symptoms.

The expansion of the scheme covers both those with symptoms unable to work at home (such as construction workers, shop workers, emergency tradespeople and delivery drivers), as well as anyone they live with. People can self-refer or be referred by their employer. Details can be found here. The link for self-referral is here.

The over-65s are also now able to get testing.

Mr Raab said more than 52,429 tests took place yesterday and that ministers were aware they had a 100,000 target to hit by Thursday.

And he re-confirmed that the lockdown will not be eased until ministers know a “second peak” can be avoided. He said a second peak remained a “real risk”, which could result in “many more deaths” and further “economic pain” with a second lockdown.
Ministers will wait for scientific advisers to report back in early May before making a decision.

New £1 million grant scheme opened today to increase supply of local seafood
The government has today opened for applications its new Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (click here to view), which will fund projects that will help seafood businesses in England increase the supply of local seafood to domestic markets.

The £1 million scheme, first announced by Defra and HM Treasury on 17 April, is part of a £10 million fund for England’s fishing and aquaculture sectors (click here to view) that have been adversely impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as this financial support, qualifying seafood businesses may also qualify for other Government support. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has produced a guide to what is available – click here to view.

Find free or discounted resources for students, schools, universities and training providers
The British Educational Suppliers Association, with the support of the UK Department for Education, has developed the LendED website to help schools get the most out of their existing resources, and provide teachers with easy-to-use home learning materials.

You can search resources from trusted suppliers, read teacher reviews and request free access during school closures. This site includes over 200 UK companies as well most of the UK’s major universities. More information is available here.

Cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure and small business grant funding
Since the launch of the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants Fund, over £7 billion in grants has been paid out to small businesses. Local Authorities in England have been working hard to reach out to eligible businesses directly to arrange payment. The grants are of £10,000 or £25,000 and do not need to be paid back. To ensure all eligible businesses can access these funds, please either reach out to your local council or use the checker tool.

  • Check whether you are entitled to the grant, using the GOV UK checker tool – click here.
  • Reach out to your council if you think you’re eligible, using the GOV UK find your council tool – click here.

For more information on the schemes, please click here.

Latest information and updates

Ask a question at a coronavirus press conference
Find out how you can ask the government a question at the daily coronavirus press conference here.

Extension to tax policy consultations
HM Treasury and HMRC have set out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Covid-19 crisis. Click here to view.

COVID-19 treatments could be fast-tracked through new national clinical trial initiative
This initiative (click here to view) will accelerate the development of new drugs for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, reducing the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from months to weeks.

Home Secretary announces visa extensions for frontline health and care workers
Free visa extensions will be automatically granted to more crucial overseas health and care workers. Click here for more information.

Latest information and actions for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers
Updates from the Education and Skills Funding Agency are available to view here.

Repatriation during the COVID-19 pandemic
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister Nigel Adams spoke in Parliament on FCO support for British people abroad and procuring personal protective equipment. Click here to find out more.

Veterinary practices: changes to support the distribution of veterinary medicines
A number of rules and regulations have been relaxed to support veterinary practice. They include:

  • SQPs temporarily allowed to prescribe and authorise supply of veterinary medicines remotely – click here
  • Veterinary practice premises: temporary change of premises – click here
  • Veterinary surgeons: temporary changes to the retail supply of veterinary medicines – click here

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) have issued guidance for veterinary professionals on how to continue to undertake veterinary work – click here to view.

BEIS Webinar: Financial support for small businesses during COVID-19

Register to join a free webinar hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at 11am on Monday May 4 to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses.

The webinar will cover:

  • Eligibility for small business grants
  • Applying for a loan
  • Tax
  • Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. Click here to sign up.

Resources to support your business

South East Creatives programme
Webinars and workshops: If you are a business or sole trader in the creative, cultural or digital sector, there are a number of webinars coming up to help your business during the COVID-19 crisis from the South East Creatives’ Workshop + Mentoring Online Programme – click here. Workshops are running until the end of September.

Grants: The programme is also still offering grants for creatives across the South East. If you are sole trader or company trading in the creative, cultural or digital sector you could consider applying for a Top-up Grant. If you’re looking to spend between £3k and £4k, South East Creatives could fund 35% of your costs. Click here to find out more.

DASA (Defence And Security Accelerator)
The Defence and Security Accelerator is part of the Ministry of Defence. We provide funding to help innovators develop solutions to Defence and Security problems. At present, we have a £1m fund to support innovation related to COVID19 and have accelerated our review processes to turn proposals around rapidly. If you have a potential innovation, you can submit an outline and request a discussion with your regional Innovation Partner through our website – click here.

DASA has a wide rage of competitions and offers of funding open to businesses including COVID-19 – click here to find out more.

Government Coronavirus Business Support Hub
You can go here to find out all the latest information about what funding and support is available for your business, managing your business during coronavirus and business closures. There is also a new ‘support finder’ tool (available here) to help businesses easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic through a quick and simple online questionnaire. You can find out more about the tool here.

Government Coronavirus Business Support Whatsapp
The government has also launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp which is now updated with business support advice. Text ‘hi’ to 07860064422 via Whatsapp and there are business support measures highlighted under option 5 with the relevant links to pages. Click here for more information.

Government Business support helpline
Contact the government’s business support helpline for free advice

Phone: 0300 456 3565
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

HMRC Helpline
HMRC have online help set up to help businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus.

The best way to get help from HMRC on any topic is to contact them online – click here. Alternatively, you can call them on 0800 0159 559

Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:

  • for topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinars here or watch recorded sessions here
  • for international trade, register here

Coronavirus Business Support blog
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. Click here to find out more.

Find a Job Service
If your business needs more workers as a result of COVID-19, such as those in food logistics, preparation and retail, post vacancies on Find a Job – click here.

Coronavirus support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations
Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations are providing coronavirus related  support for specific sectors. Click here to access the full list.