30th June 2020
- General. Although re-opening dates for all the countries of the UK are different (see below), there is a need for all businesses in all countries to conduct risk assessments to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission. There is general over-arching guidance on the website of the English, Welsh and Scottish government websites. It is broadly the same but members should consult the relevant guidance. For example Scotland and Wales are still utilising a 2m rule for social distancing, England has gone for 2m or 1m+.
- Bacta’s sector specific guidance, which I have circulated previously, has gone back to government and I will issue version 3 to you just as soon as I can. It is a deeply frustrating process. I was was hoping for sign-off today but the Cabinet Office have come back with some more questions and comments. Principally they are looking to us to include some of the overarching guidance, or at least reference it. This includes reference to Track and Trace. We have told DCMS that we just cannot see how taking contact details of customers is going to work. When we have got sign off the guidance will be relevant for Scotland and Wales too, although we will have to change some of the links to advice.
- Kevin Williams of KWP has sent me a short guide for FEC operators that goes beyond hygiene and distancing. If you would like a copy please get in touch.
- Scotland. The Tourism Sector is set for re-opening on 15th July. We are confident that this will include FECs but we cannot be absolutely certain until announced by the First Minister. The expectation is that this will also cover AGCs. We have a meeting on Thursday which I hope will give us clarity.
- Wales. The approach in Wales is very cautious with some outdoor tourism sectors slated to open on 6th July, then 13th July. My current reading of the announcements is that the arcade sector will be after this but no dates are being provided. We are seeking urgent clarification of the Welsh Government’s approach. The Welsh Government yesterday published guidance for tourism sector businesses which can be accessed here. https://gov.wales/tourism-and-hospitality-businesses-guidance-phased-reopening
Rates and grants
- Supply Chain. None of the local councils in England, Scotland and Wales seem disposed to use their discretionary grant funds to help members of our supply chain despite the fact that they can. I would advise members to keep the pressure up. The Councils have been given money to help businesses that have fallen through the net of support.
- In Scotland the rates relief for High Street Arcades is now with Ministers.
- In Wales we are banging our heads against a brick wall with the Councils and Welsh Government who seem hell bent on not giving grants to AGCs. We have now managed to get to a senior Welsh Government Official whom we will try to explain why AGCs are not like casinos, betting offices or gambling clubs.
- The Covid-19 cluster outbreak in Leicester is clearly a worry. How Government handles this will be interesting for any future local lockdowns. What we do know is that any members with venues, or supplying venues in Leicester will not be open on July 4th. The Minister’s statement is here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/local-action-to-tackle-coronavirus
- HMRC have confirmed that after 1st July staff will not need to have completed three consecutive weeks on the scheme even if they were furloughed before the 1st July. This should help AGC operators who refurloughed staff after the Government’s U-Turn on June 15th opening date.
- The Government’s JRS website is being updated regularly with information about the new flexible arrangements. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Free Customs Training – Members involved in import or export are reminded that we have been able to secure some free training on the new customs regime that will begin as we exit the EU. The opportunity is on a first come first serve basis. Please contact Sarah Lovell at bacta if this is of interest. Sarah@bacta.org.uk.
Linnewebber/Rank/Done Bros – I today spoke to one of the lead lawyers on the case to seek clarification about the level of information HMRC would require before entertaining claims for a VAT refund. He was able to state that whilst it is preferable if members supplied the information listed in the HMRC business brief, if that wasn’t available HMRC would help applicants. He said that the HMRC were looking to pay refunds quickly and the better the information supplied the easier it would be to expedite this. The Business Brief page has been updated to reflect this. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revenue-and-customs-brief-5-2020-vat-treatment-on-fixed-odds-betting-terminals-and-gaming-machines/revenue-and-customs-brief-5-2020-vat-treatment-on-fixed-odds-betting-terminals-and-gaming-machines
As always please let me know of any issues you are encountering.