Each week it feels like there is so much to update you on and we are conscious of the vast amounts of information you need to digest. Based on this we have tried to keep this update brief, but please reach out if you have any specific questions.
1. Business Survey…
The results of the BID Business Survey that we undertook in the first week of April are now on our website. It was completed by 41 businesses and the results were sobering. The data was fed back to politicians and policy makers at the highest levels and we hope played some small role in decisions, such as the extension for the job retention scheme (furloughed employees). As announced on the 17th of April, this has been extended for 1 month, until June.
However, there is more work to do!
As a member of the BID Foundation National Council we have regular contact with executives from the UK Government High Street Task Force and the Institute of Place Management who are both in regular contact with treasury and other government departments. We are actively lobbying on issues important to you and supporting the lobbying efforts of other organisations. Together, this plays a big part informing important decisions about programmes of support. So we would like a little more of your time if possible …
There is a new survey out that we would be very grateful if you could compete also … This one has been created by Manchester Metropolitan University, on behalf of the Government’s High Street Task Force and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Please complete the survey here: https://mmu.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_e5aDvA8Ae5zosK1
It will take less than 15 minutes and results are needed by Monday 27th April. Please feel free to share with other business owners.
Why is this important? What are we asking for?
This data will go directly to government. In particular, MHCLG are in need of specific data relating to occupiers and landlords, in order to make important decisions about programmes of support. There are also are a number of big ‘asks’ being considered by government at the moment including:
- The ‘Raise the Bar’ campaign, which seeks to secure grant funding for retail, leisure and hospitality sector businesses with an rateable value of £51 to £150K
- A furlough scheme for rental space, promoted by the British Retail Consortium, British Property Federation and REVO. The full letter can be read by clicking here.
2. Raise the Bar Campaign – Calling Businesses with RV £51K up to £150K
We are supporting the ‘Raise the Bar’ campaign announced by The BID Foundation and partners today, and had a role composing the letter to the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP. It this is successful, it would benefit over 100 of our local businesses who were not eligible for existing grant funding.
This campaign aims to secure additional financial assistance in the form of a £25K grant to retail, leisure and hospitality sector businesses with a rateable value above £51K up to £150K. These businesses they are important employers and this funding would help them to sustain the current emergency measures and support them to adapt. More information, is available here: www.raisethebarcampaign.co.uk.
If you are a business that would benefit from this support and wants to help, please get in touch!
Please also get involved on social media if you support this – the hashtag is: #raisethebar
3. The Job Retention Scheme – the HMRC Portal
The HMRC Portal which you must use to reclaim the wages of furloughed staff went live on Monday 20 April and to date than 285,000 businesses have already applied. Feedback from our members has been mixed. Some have found the process to be very smooth, while others have had issues with the system ‘timing out’. We are keen to hear about your experiences of this …
Also, we are aware that some of you have quite specific questions. Please email them to us directly and we will endeavour to help.
Below are some helpful notes and links:
Accessing the system:
In order to make a claim you will need an active PAYE enrolment. This means you need to:
- Have a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply here or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
- Be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’.
Updated! Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Calculator:
The online calculator tool was updated by HMRC on Wednesday 22nd so that it covers more employment circumstances. The update will mean that you can use it to work out what you can claim for most employees who are paid variable amounts each pay period, as well as those who are paid fixed amounts.
If you have already made a claim:
Please remember to retain all records and calculations for your claims, in case HMRC need to contact you about them. Provided your claim is made in accordance with HMRC’s published guidance, you can expect to receive the funds six working days after your application.
Webinars – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: You can now view webinars via recordings on HMRC’s YouTube channel.
4. What Next?
As we go into another week of lockdown and digest the recent extension to emergency measures, we are well aware that for some the challenge gets harder. We also know that questions are beginning to be asked about what ‘life after lockdown’ will look like. In the coming days we will publish further thoughts on this, and we welcome your feedback.
However at this moment it is worth reiterating that we are still 100% focused on levering in additional support. We know this is needed both to fill gaps (those who missed out, are struggling with rent etc) and to ensure businesses can adapt to the challenges ahead. This ‘adaptive support’ is required in terms of ‘phasing out’ existing support such as the wage relief scheme, as well as providing funding for businesses to adapt and evolve.
Sitting above all this, we are also lobbying government for more information so we can all plan ahead. We are asking the government to be strategic and clear about the steps ahead – and perhaps take a leaf out of the New Zealand book, so we can begin to operate from a less reactive and emotive stance.
To catch up on other recent activity, including our FSB webinar live Q&A and information on business grants, please head to our website. We have created a dedicated COVID-19 page which is regularly updated and can be found by clicking here. Also, for those that are trading or considering it, don’t forget to keep us updated with your plans.
Please take care, stay safe and stay in touch,
Steph and Alison