14th April 2020
You will have been following the news as closely as I have over the long weekend. It was interesting to see that France, Italy and Spain have started to look at reopening their economies. I was particularly interested to see that President Macron identified the unique issues for the tourism sector namely that it will have lost a good chunk of its season at best by the time it reopens. We will need to ensure the UK governments acknowledge the same point. Any thoughts on what measures you would like to see carried through or introduced over the Autumn and Winter months would be welcome.
Job Retention Scheme – the scheme will open on 20th April. It will take 4 to 6 days to get the 80% wage rebate to your bank account. More details of how to treat certain employment situations e.g. around pensions is now published. It is worth keeping an eye on this page of the Government’s business support page. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#history.
Retail Leisure and Hospitality Grants – These seem to be flowing now. In England there are one or two councils that have said members don’t qualify. They do and if you find yourself in this position please let me know and we will put the Council straight. In Wales we are getting mixed behaviours from local councils. I have today written to the Welsh Finance Minister asking that matters are clarified, as they were in England, so there is no doubt about amusement arcades’ eligibility. I have also asked welsh members to write to their AMs on this. In Scotland we continue to lobby for a per venue approach as opposed to a per business one as well as clarity around rates relief. Again please let me know your experiences so we can feed in to DCMS.
Premises Licence Fees – The Local Government Association has issued guidance to local authorities (in England) suggesting that Local Authorities seek to be helpful on the issue of fees. There is nothing to stop LAs setting lower fees for licences next year. They should and members are advised to keep pressing this point. The guidance also suggest LAs should be understanding on payment. They do nevertheless make it clear that their guidance is not legal advice and there is no obligation on a local authority to follow it. The advice can be read here https://www.local.gov.uk/approaches-managing-licensing-and-related-issues-during-covid-19-pandemic.
Gambling Commission – In correspondence with bacta, the Gambling Commission has made it clear it cannot reduce its fees. It has advised that members who are closed may wish to surrender any relevant licences and reapply when businesses reopen. Alternatively members could inform the Commission that their GGY has reduced and therefore should pay fees in a lower category in advance of any invoices being issued. Submission of Annual Returns can be extended and the Commission will be letting you know about this when reminders are sent.
We continue our lobbying for rates relief for the supply chain and a sliding scale/tiered approach to grants over the £51k rateable value cap. Likewise on seasonal workers.
Please continue to send me feedback on how these schemes and CBILS loans are working in practice.