Business News

Government pledges to offer financial reassurance

Virtual networking service launched

A new virtual networking hour to help businesses promote their products, services and expertise has been launched by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. The #GBChamberChat hour

on Twitter launched in response to disruption caused by Covid-19, which has left the business community unable to network face-to-face. The networking hour takes

place each day between 11am and 12pm. Businesses can network,

connect and promote goods, services and expertise using the hash tag #GBChamberChat Katrina Cooke, director of

marketing and communications at GBCC, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has changed the way many of us do business for the foreseeable future. “This new virtual

networking hour is part of our mission to keep business moving during these extraordinary and unprecedented times. “It is a daily opportunity for

businesses to log on and promote products, services and expertise that could help other firms and, in turn, their own during this uncertain period.”

Chamber dinner on hold until autumn

The Chamber’s annual dinner and awards was among the many events affected by Covid-19. The dinner has been

postponed until the autumn, having originally been due to take place on 19 March at the ICC in Birmingham. Chief executive Paul

Faulkner said: “Tickets will remain valid for the new date, which will be confirmed as soon as possible. “In the meantime, please

keep an eye on our communications channels for further updates.”

6 CHAMBERLINK April 2020 By Dan Harrison

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s drastic measures to cover wages of employees unable to work during the Covid- 19 pandemic will go someway to reassure businesses that “cash is coming”, business leaders have said. The Government has pledged to pick up 80 per cent

of the salary of workers who are kept on by their employer but are unable to work. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover

wages up to £2,500 a month. Other business support measures announced so far

include VAT payment deferral, support for the self- employed, statutory sick pay refunds, a Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Business Rates relief, grants and an extension of ‘Time to Pay’ arrangements. Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “These are unprecedented times and the Government does seem to be stepping up to offer unprecedented support. “The pledge to backdate the Coronavirus Job

Retention scheme payouts to 1 March will go some way to reassuring businesses with staff at serious risk of redundancy that cash is coming.”

Support measures the Government have made available for business include: • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: to cover up to 80 per cent (up to £2,500 per month) of employees salaries who would otherwise be made redundant, backdates to 1 March 2020.

• VAT Payment Deferral: next quarter’s VAT payment will be deferred with businesses given until the end of the financial year to repay. The next payment will not be due until June 2020.

• Support for the Self-Employed: self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021 and individuals will be able to access the equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay through Universal Credit

• Statutory Sick Pay Refunds: up to 14 days per employee affected in relation to COVID-19 for businesses with under 250 employees.

• Business Interruption Loan Scheme: offering British Business Bank-backed loans through high street banks and other lenders to cover up to 80 per cent of a business’ losses arising from Coronavirus

Paul Faulkner

(COVID-19), with no interest payments for 12 months. Contact your bank for more information.

• 100 per cent Business Rates Relief: for 12 months for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. Businesses do not need to apply for this support. It should be implemented automatically by your local authority.

• Up to £25,000 grant: for businesses with a rateable value of under £51,000 in the retail, leisure & hospitality sectors. Applicable businesses will be contacted by your local authority.

• Up to £10,000 grant: for businesses already receiving Small Business Rates Relief. Applicable businesses will be contacted by your local authority.

• Extension of Time to Pay: HMRC to consider Time to Pay arrangements for businesses experiencing cash- flow issues arising from Coronavirus (COVID-19) via a dedicated HMRC COVID-19 helpline (0800 0159 559).

The Chamber is providing a number of resources to

signpost businesses to the necessary guidance and support surrounding Covid-19. This includes an up-to-date summary of all

Government support measures, a business Q&A and support available from the Chamber and a COVID-19 resource hub.

These can be accessed at

Documentation team open for business

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s documentation team is ploughing ahead in the drive to keep business moving during the coronavirus pandemic. Although employees are working

remotely under Government guidelines, the documentation team has adapted its processes in order to carry on delivering services to exporters. Mandy Haque, the Chamber’s

international director, said: “In the spirit of the Chamber’s #KeepBusinessMoving mantra, we have been doing just that to ensure that important shipments can still be exported all over the world for exporters who are continuing to

Dave Harris, documentation manager, with Mandy Haque (right)

operate. The documentation team is open for business and we have adapted our processes so that we can deliver all services, while working to the Government guidelines. “The team have been amazing in adapting to home working in what is still a traditionally manual processed industry.

Although some countries only

accept wet-stamped documents, the Chamber is encouraging exporters to submit electronically where possible. Mandy Haque added: “Although

the British Chambers of Commerce are working hard with those countries that will only accept wet stamped documents, we would encourage all exporters that can move to electronic methods of submitting documents to us, to look at expediting this. Our team can talk you through how to do this.”

Contact the documentation team at documentation@birmingham-

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