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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 4 June 2020

Face coverings to become compulsory on aircraft, trains, buses and ferries
Face coverings on public transport will be compulsory from June 15 to help stop the transmission of coronavirus as more people go back to work, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, announced at today’s Downing Street press conference.

The government will require people to wear face coverings on buses, trains, tubes and other modes of public transport on the same day non-essential shops re-open.

Grant Shapps said “every precaution” must be taken as passenger numbers are expected to increase when lockdown measures are further eased. 

The public will have to provide their own face coverings and fines may be imposed for anyone who flouts the new rules.

Coronavirus: Airlines among businesses given Bank of England support
Airlines, transport and travel companies are among the largest recipients of emergency funding under a Bank of England scheme to assist larger companies facing acute short-term cash flow problems as a result of the outbreak.

British Airways, easyjet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have all received hundreds of millions of pounds from the Bank’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

Under the CCFF the Bank buys commercial paper from the companies in exchange for a short-term loan repayable at rates of between 0.2 and 0.6%.

To be eligible, firms have to be investment-grade rated, make a “material contribution” to the UK, and in sound financial health prior to the outbreak.

The CCFF has paid £16.18bn to 53 companies to date and is in a position to lend £67.7bn in total if required.

Government steps in with £10m scheme to back trade credit insurance
The UK government is to guarantee trade credit insurance to ensure that the market does not seize up because of the coronavirus crisis.

Trade credit insurance safeguards companies against the risk that their customers go bust before paying for goods they have ordered, helping businesses to trade with confidence. It covers about £171bn of business activity in the UK, between 13,000 suppliers and 650,000 customers.

But insurers have warned they face huge claims because of the COVID-19 crisis as companies under stress fail to pay their bills.

The government has now said it will provide guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions. The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme will support supply chains and help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to trade with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment.

Business Secretary of State Alok Sharma said: “Trade Credit Insurance is a daily necessity for hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK – particularly those in non-service sectors such as the manufacturing and construction sectors.

“Our £10 billion guarantee gives peace of mind to businesses, allowing them to continue to trade and maintaining liquidity in supply chains. This reinsurance scheme is an important step as we carefully set about firing up our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required.

Dairy response fund set to open for applications
Eligible English dairy farmers will be able to apply for up to £10,000 to overcome the impact of coronavirus thanks to a new dairy response fund due to open for applications on June 18 (click here for more information).

With some dairy farmers facing financial difficulties and excess milk due to the coronavirus outbreak, the new fund will provide up to £10,000 each to help those dairy farmers most in need of support to sustain their business.

This funding, which will be paid out from 6 July, will help farmers maintain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare, following reduced demand for milk products as restaurants, bars and cafes have closed.

Qualifying farmers can apply for support to cover up to 70% of their losses due to coronavirus disruption across April and May, up to a total amount of £10,000 each.

Government advice webinars

Selling services overseas during and after COVID-19, 10 June 2:30pm: This Department for International Trade webinar will look at formulating your international plan, how to market your service, where in the world should you focus, developing effective relationships, and the top success factors. Register here.

HMRC Business support videos during COVID-19: Watch HMRC videos on running your business through coronavirus, coronavirus job retention scheme, self employment and income support scheme, statutory sick pay rebate scheme, helping employers support employees and other help available. Find videos here.

Working safely during coronavirus – find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure: Watch recordings of webinars covering 8 types of workplace settings here.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme: Providing an overview of the scheme, this webinar looks at who can claim, when to start paying SSP, employees you can claim for, making a claim, keeping records, and more. Choose a date and time here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim: This guides you through making a claim, including the essential information you need, what to do before you make your claim, calculating and processing your claim. Choose a date and time here.

Additional updates and guidance

Innovate UK: COVID-19 business support
An update on the support available to businesses from Innovate UK due to COVID-19 and advice for award holders is available here.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak
Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations has been updated with information on which apprentices should be prioritised in the offer of face-to-face training from 15 June, and details of the flexibility that enables apprentices to take end-point assessment ahead of receiving their calculated functional skills qualification results. Click here to view.

Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms
Advice for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to work on farms and their employers has been published. Find out more here.

Rural Payments Agency
Rural Payments Agency have rural payments, grants and services available including: Countryside Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship and the Basic Payment Scheme with a closing date of 15 June. Details on how to submit applications, claims and supporting documents during the coronavirus can be found here.

3D printing (additive manufacturing) of medical devices or component parts during the coronavirus pandemic
The requirements on manufacturing 3D printing will depend on whether the item is classed as a medical device or personal protective equipment (PPE). There has been an increased number of enquiries about the use of 3D printing to manufacture medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more here.

Final date for the furlough scheme
The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June 2020, in order for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June 2020.  Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June. Further details can be found here.