New national COVID-19 measures: what they mean for City businesses and support available
The Government has announced that until at least 2 December 2020 the following measures will apply across England to control the spread of COVID-19 and save lives:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes including:
- for childcare or education;
- for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home;
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible;
- Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Closing certain businesses and venues. This includes:
- Non-essential retail– these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services;
- Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm, alcohol must be pre-ordered), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery.
More information on the new restrictions can be found at gov.uk/coronavirus.
A number of financial support schemes are available for businesses affected by these restrictions, including:
1. The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary COVID-19 local lockdown restrictions imposed by the government. Businesses that are forced to close could receive grants of up to £3,000 per month. The City of London Corporation is working closely with Government on both the level of grant funding available in the Square Mile and how these grants will be distributed. More details will be published on cityoflondon.gov.uk in due course but in the meantime visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant
2. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until the end of March 2020, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today. This means the extended furlough scheme is more generous for employers than it was in October. More information on the announcement is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/furlough-scheme-extended-and-further-economic-support-announced
3. Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended Job Retention Scheme, which will continue for a further month. Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, and will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for just 5% of total employment costs. More information of eligibility is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Please note the Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.
The City of London Corporation offers a wide range of support and advice for smaller businesses, from advice on accessing finance and helping firms to find suitable premises, to support for establishing responsible business practices, sustainable and local procurement, and contingency planning processes. More information is available here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/supporting-businesses/business-support-and-advice/supporting-small-businesses
A list of services to support the mental health and wellbeing of City workers can also be found here: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/releasethepressure and some other services can be found here: https://www.businesshealthy.org/providers/
City of London Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness said:
“England is facing a long and difficult winter. This second national lockdown will be a blow to households and businesses across the country.
“It is clear that the virus is not going to go away quickly. Households and businesses will need additional support through these tough times so it is welcome that the furlough scheme has been extended again.
“Let’s remember though there is no magic money tree, and to pay for this support we urgently need sectors such as hospitality and retail to reopen safely as well as office workers returning to COVID-secure workplaces as soon as possible.
“In the meantime I encourage all eligible businesses to apply for financial support where it is available during these difficult months.
“We urge policymakers to keep these national restrictions under close review based on the evidence and set out a pathway for how parts of the country, including London, can return to a semblance of normality. Business need to see a light at the end of this long tunnel."
Notes to editors
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk