COVID-19 update

3rd April 2020


Dear Member




Can I invite you to click here for a personal message to all our members.




  • STOP PRESS.  Overnight there have been some significant changes to the Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:

    • For loans up to £250k personal guarantees are no longer required at all.  Previously this was discretionary.
    • For loans over £250k where personal guarantees are required they can only be up to 20% value of the loan
    • The requirement to offer loans on normal credit and lending criteria first, has been removed.  You can go straight to a CBILS Loan.  If you have been turned down,  go back to your lender and ask again.  Please feedback to me how this is working for you.
    • For members over £45 million turnover and up to £500 million a CBILS lite scheme has been introduced.  Whilst not interest free, the finance will be there with 80% guaranteed by the Government.
    • More guidance will be published later.

We are now seeing the focus of Government response to this crisis shift from announcements of schemes to focusing on the detail and the implementation.  PLEASE KEEP THE FEEDBACK COMING SO WE CAN LOBBY ON YOUR BEHALF.  We can see how this works.  We have seen a number of details change in the existing schemes.  This is because we have been able to feed in concrete evidence.




The need for evidence for our remaining asks is pressing.  Can I please ask members in the relevant sectors to let me know:

  1. Seasonal Businesses.  How many seasonal workers do you employ?  We are trying to get the qualification date for the Job Retention Scheme moved forward from 28th February to when lockdown was announced.
  2. Single site operators, machine manufacturers and distributors.  Can you please let me know your annual rates bill.  We are still pressing for rates relief across the supply chain.  We have been asked to give some numbers of the cost.  We are now looking at a sliding scale if the 100% relief is too much of a stretch for Treasury.





We are now suggesting a sliding scale for grants for those businesses over the £51k cap as more likely to get a positive response from Government.


In Scotland we are pressing hard to get grants shifted to a per venue rather than per business basis and seeking clarification of the application of the 100% rates relief which Local Councils may say does not apply to AGCs.  We will be writing separately to Scottish members later today.


The CBI is now pressing for a total rates holiday for all business for three months – something bacta called for at the start of this crisis albeit for 12 months.




Our campaign continues to get licence fees to be rebated (very unlikely), or licence extended (more possible – Manchester and a number of Scottish Councils appear to have agreed to do this) or (most likely) to get Councils to adjust the fees for next year’s licence if we can get through to then.  We are awaiting a response from Ministry for Communities Housing and Local Government to respond to our request for Councils to be given guidance on what they can and can’t do.




Questions of the Job Retention Scheme continue to be the most common.  We are asking all the questions we get and can’t answer and we simply have to wait for an answer from Treasury.  We are not the only sector asking these questions.  A new problem that is urgently being addressed is the length of the scheme.  If it comes to an end as planned that means 18th April is the start date for any redundancy consultations if those redundancies are going to coincide with the end of the scheme.




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Can I conclude by again thanking members for all their support in the collective effort. We are getting things changed and we are helping members through this crisis. Please keep the feedback coming.  This is a great industry and we will get through this.


And as if to prove the point I have been getting to hear about some of the amazing things members have been doing to support their communities: a Webchat room for isolated older members, food deliveries for key workers, and using window video displays to run Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives posters.  These initiatives are just fantastic.  Well done.  You know who your are.


Stay well everyone and try to have a great weekend.


kind regards





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