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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 5 May 2020

Exiting lockdown ‘won’t be easy’ – Dominic Raab
Ahead of an update from the Prime Minister on the UK’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown later this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has reminded the public and businesses that the next stage ‘won’t be easy’.

Mr Raab led today’s Downing Street press conference and said that the second phase of the UK’s effort to beat coronavirus would be different as it considers the decisions to protect life as well as the UK’s way of life.

“We will need to adjust to a new normal, where we as a society adapt to safe ways to work, to travel, to interact and to go about our daily lives,” he said.

“We’ve never experienced anything like this first stage of COVID-19 in terms of the scale of lives lost but also the lockdown it has required. And as we go forward, we want to make sure the next phase is more comfortable, more sustainable and prevents lasting damage to jobs and livelihoods.

“But we need to be under no illusions. The next stage won’t be easy.”

Mr Raab also provided an update on cyber crime, with hackers targeting national and international organisations responding to the coronavirus pandemic through COVID-19-related scams and phishing emails.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre, along with the US Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, has published a joint warning about cyber criminal groups looking to exploit COVID-19 through ‘malicious cyber activity’.

Mr Raab said security agencies had identified campaigns targeting healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations and various arms of local government.
“We expect this kind of predatory criminal behaviour to continue and evolve over the coming weeks and months ahead and we’re taking a range of measures to tackle that threat.

The warning also provides advice to enable businesses, residents and partners across the world to better defend themselves against the full range of cyber attacks.

Finishing his briefing, Mr Raab said: “We are determined to defeat coronavirus and those who look to exploit it for their own nefarious ends.”

More information on the cyber attacks is available here.

Lockdown: Chambers call for ‘phased easing’
The British Chambers of Commerce have asked Ministers to set out plans immediately for a “carefully phased” lifting of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

“This is a time to be bold,” said the British Chambers of Commerce, adding high public spending should continue if needed to restart the economy.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, BCC president Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith said planning and communication of the government’s approach to leaving lockdown “must begin immediately if we are to harness the public health and economic benefits”.

Boris Johnson has said he will outline plans relating to schools, commuting and the workplace in the coming week. But the PM stressed the UK must not “risk a second spike” in infections.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said business groups and major employers expect to receive draft guidance from the government on Sunday about the safe return to work when the lockdown eases.

Latest information and updates

Additional guidance for self-employed to get ready to make their claims for COVID-19 support
You can check your eligibility for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) using the new online checker tool – click here. There is also further guidance available on:

  • ‘How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ – click here
  • ‘How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ – click here

Update on social distancing for working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny
Updated guidance is available here.

Eligibility for government childcare offers protected
Temporary measures ensure critical workers will still be eligible for childcare offers if their income has changed due to coronavirus – click here to find out more.

Ministers urge councils to plan for safe re-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.

Grant to support the coordination of the supply chain for retrofitting energy efficiency measures at the local level
Energy efficiency improvement rates: local supply chain demonstration projects – click here to view.

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.

Testing for all workers

Eligibility for COVID-19 testing has been expanded to all workers who have to leave their home in order to work. People can self-refer, or be referred by their employer. Details can be found here.

HMRC Webinars: online support for businesses

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
  • for small businesses, register here
  • for changes to reporting, regulation and tax, register here

Additional webinars to support your business
Government departments are hosting a series of free webinars to help businesses understand the support available including:

  • Wednesday 6 May – COVID-19: Impacts and changes to International Trade. Click here to register. 
  • Thursday 7 May – Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations and tax. Click here to register. 
  • Multiple dates – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim. Click here to register. 
  • Multiple dates – Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Click here to register.

Keep up to date with all the latest available webinars here.

Help shine a light on the stories of key workers

The government is asking businesses to tell them about key workers they know who are helping to keep the UK moving during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Please fill in this online form for key workers in the following sectors: manufacturing, construction, consumer goods, scientists and researchers, servicing, postal workers, oil, gas, electricity, water, sewage and chemical workers.

Resources to support your business

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.