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Weekly policy update from London Chamber of Commerce and Industry - 15 Oct 2020

October 16, 2020
General News
Merton Chamber

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

• Business Secretary posted a statement on Monday calling for businesses to prepare, announcing a series of webinars. These webinars can be registered for here