Weekly policy update from London Chamber of Commerce and Industry - 15 Oct 2020
A round-up of key policy changes from the past seven days. Dated: 15 October 2020
London moved into ‘High Alert’ level of three-tier Covid-19 system
• Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivered a statement in the Commons today where he confirmed that, among other regions London and Essex would be moved to the High Alert Level. This means:
o People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting – this includes meeting people in indoor hospitality settings
o People must not meet in a group of 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
o People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible.
o The full list of COVID alert levels by area can be found here.
o The list of restrictions for areas in ‘High’ can be found here
• London Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a reactionary statement here
• The measures will be reviewed every 14 days
Support for businesses under new tier system outlined by Rishi Sunak
• Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an expansion to the Job Support Scheme (JSS) for firms required to close due to coronavirus restrictions.
• Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut due to local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.
• The Government will pay two thirds of each employees’ salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
• The employer will not have to contribute towards wages and will only be asked to cover national insurance contributions and pension contributions.
• The Labour Party has criticised the scheme, saying it makes it more expensive for employers in some of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis to bring back workers part time.
Changes to Local Restrictions Grant Scheme
• Furthermore, the Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme has been altered. Firms that are forced to close as a result of lockdown measures for two weeks or more can claim a grant of up to £3,000 per month. The criteria are:
• occupies property on which it pays business rates
• is in a local lockdown area and has been required to close because of the formal publication of local restrictions guidance that resulted in a first full day of closure on or after 9 September.
• For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks
• For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2000 per month, or £1000 per two weeks
• For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3000 per month, or £1500 per two weeks
• For businesses that do pay business rates, councils have been given funding to provide one-off £1,500 grants. The criteria are:
• your business is required to close but you do not pay business rates
• if your business is not required to close, but has been severely affected, for example as a result of customer businesses being closed
• These schemes are discretionary, councils are expected to lay out further details individually
Boris Johnson says he’s ‘disappointed’ with progress of EU trade deal talks
• The Prime Minister seems to have moved back from the deadline he set of 15th October for a deal with the EU.
• Boris Johnson will decide on the ‘next steps’ for the negotiations after the EU summit concludes on Friday
• According to Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, thousands of businesses are still not prepared for the end of the transition period