New support for businesses impacted by lockdown restrictions

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced further financial support for businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Today (Thursday, October 22), the Chancellor said the Government would increase its contribution under the new Job Support Scheme so that businesses would only have to pay 5% of wage costs. He also said that business grants would be expanded to cover businesses in particularly affected sectors in high-alert level areas (Birmingham, London, Nottingham), helping them stay afloat and protecting jobs. Previously, much of the support was only

available for areas in Tier Three of the restrictions (Liverpool, Lancashire, Greater Manchester).

Rishi also said that grants for the self-

employed will be doubled to 40% of previous earnings.

Details of the announcement are as follows:

Job Support Scheme (JSS) When originally announced, the JSS – which will come into effect on November 1, 2020 – saw employers paying a third of their employees’ wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33% of their normal hours. The revision reduces the employer contribution to those unworked hours to just 5%, and reduces the minimum hours requirements to 20%, so those working just one day a week will be eligible. That means that if someone was being paid £587 for their unworked hours, the government would be contributing £543 and their employer only £44. Employers will continue to receive the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus.

Self-employed grant This announcement increases the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self- employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750. This is a potential further £3.1 billion of

support to the self-employed through November to January alone, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.

October 2020

Czech Republic a great export opportunity says BHETA

The Czech Republic could prove a lucrative export market for DIY, garden and housewares suppliers, according to senior trade advisors who spoke to BHETA members at a webinar on 8th October organised by The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA). Krystof Holub and Tereza

Vickover, who are both based at the British Embassy in Prague not only set out compelling reasons for pursuing business in the Czech Republic, but also outlined key

hints and tips for furthering successful commercial relationships. Krystof outlined the dynamics of the Czech market and the country’s role as a ‘gateway’ to business in East Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Russia. Pointing out that it was the fastest growing economy in Eastern Europe, he also said that household goods has remained the strongest sector even after the impact of Covid- 19. Alongside mainstream retailers like Hornbach and Obi,

household retailers also included discounters and premium outlets, as well as a very fast-growing online retail channel for DIY, garden and housewares, where household goods are the second biggest category. Some 40,000 E- shops are proving massively popular with Czechs as well as larger online players such as Bonami.

Brexit: How ready are you for January 1, 2021?

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has urged retailers to familiarise themselves with the actions they need to take ahead of 1 January 1 2021, when Britain leaves the EU. The Government has launched its tool checker to guide businesses through the transition here When the transition period ends on December 31, 2020, there will be a guaranteed set of changes and opportunities for which businesses need to prepare as the UK leaves the customs union and single

market, including changes to the way businesses import and export goods, the process for hiring people from the EU, and the way businesses provide services in EU markets.

Most of these actions will

need to be completed regardless of the outcome of our negotiations with the EU. These include ensuring staff register for residency rights and preparing for customs procedures when trading with the EU.

The Government has also

Welsh lockdown: No definitive ‘non-essential’ product list available

The country’s government has failed to provide a definitive list of what cannot by sold by retailers. Bira met with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and a host of major retail businesses to review and respond to new draft circuit breaker guidance – ahead of the lockdown starting at 6pm (Friday, October 23).

Under the two-week

lockdown, non-essential retailers – including homeware – will have to shut. The Welsh Government has said that of those shops allowed to open, ‘non-essential’ items will not be

allowed to be sold. While there is still no definitive list of what cannot be sold, the Welsh Government has at least agreed to take a more pragmatic approach, by reducing the burden for retailers to relocate non- essential products on mixed isles where otherwise it would cause unnecessary constraints and affect safe circulation of customers. Bira’s director of marketing John Halliday, who attended the discussions, said: “This does have the potential of some ambiguity, but is a marked improvement on the

previous binary approach. “Furthermore, retailers who

have a click and collect service no longer need to edit stock availability on existing click and collect services where it would be impractical to stop non-essential items being purchased. “There are further concessions being requested and we will feed back as we know more, but for now, it seems we have been listened to and the Welsh Government is trying to accommodate business as best it can under the circumstances.” | 5

organised a series of sector- specific webinars to remind them of the changes they will need to make. The webinars cover general

areas that businesses of any shape and size will need to understand and act on, such as visas, work permits, and tariffs.

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