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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Business Continuity and Support

Update, 1 April 2020
We have now had clarification that company directors are eligible to be furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme. We would stress that further guidance and clarifications continue to be released and we will keep you updated. Please note that to qualify for the scheme directors must stop working for the company. We understand that statutory duties can be carried out but no services or revenue-generating work. If you continue to work, albeit with reduced hours/productivity you will not qualify.

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A message to all food and drink business owners from John Sheaves, CEO of Taste of the West Ltd, 31 March 2020

We are now well into the second week of almost total lockdown and there is a lot going on within our industry; it is good to see a great number of businesses being creative and innovative to keep their businesses going through this very difficult time. I know this is an extremely difficult and uncertain time for all businesses though, and if you are worried or concerned and want support or advice and would like to speak to us, or perhaps you are looking for ideas about how to just keep your business going in the coming weeks, then I urge you to please get in touch. In the meantime, the following advice from DEFRA has just come through and I wanted to make you aware of it. I know from talking to a number of you that inevitably your thoughts are turning to recovery from this situation, and how this will happen and what support there will be to aid this. I do think that as a sector we will need to get important messages to Government and these will have to be joined up, coherent and logical for them to understand the difficulties that all businesses, large and small, will face when recovery starts. I would be very interested in your thoughts at this time, and indeed what messages that you would like me to feed up the line back to Government, so please get in touch. I am in regular contact with Government representatives and, as ever, we are here working on your behalf.

John Sheaves: js@tasteofthewest.co.uk, call 07974 660804 or 01404 822012

 

COVID-19 Defra Update: the latest news from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, 30 March 2020

Latest guidance from Public Health England can be found here.

Responsible food shopping
We are continuing to encourage people to shop responsibly on social media. Our latest Twitter post can be found here.

Government partners with airlines to fly home British travellers
The government is working with airlines to fly home UK travellers who are stranded abroad. More details here.

Government working to crack down on misinformation
The government is working to tackle false and misleading information about coronavirus, including through engagement with social media companies. More details here.

Call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators
The government is looking for businesses which can support in the production and supply of ventilators and ventilator components, and support with existing stock.

Updated guidance on the destruction of spoilt beer
HMRC has introduced a temporary measure to help brewers and publicans in the destruction of spoilt beer.

Dangerous goods vehicle (ADR) annual inspections
The DVSA has suspended annual inspections of dangerous good vehicles. You can apply for a waiver to use your vehicle through gov.uk.

Business support outside of government
The Government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to coronavirus. This link lists organisations you can speak with to get advice.

Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK
As of 9am on 30 March 2020, a total of 134,946 people have been tested, of which 112,805 were confirmed negative and 22,141 were confirmed positive.
As of 5pm on 29 March 2020, 1,408 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.

Find out the risk level in the UK, what to do if you have symptoms, and what the government is doing about the virus here.

Coronavirus: Latest retailer activity
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is providing a daily update on the actions taken by retailers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
You can read today’s update on the BRC website.

COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses
Organisations should pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.

 

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A message to all food business owners from John Sheaves, CEO of Taste of the West Ltd, 18 March 2020

I know this is an extremely difficult and uncertain time for all businesses, but particularly so for hospitality businesses who were looking forward to a seasonal uplift in the coming weeks ahead. As a company ourselves that has been going for nearly 30 years, our ethos has always been built around supporting you through good times and not so good times. If you are worried or concerned and want support or advice and would like to speak to us, or perhaps you are looking for ideas about how to just keep your business going in the coming weeks, then I urge you to please get in touch. In the meantime, we have compiled the following advice portal which will be updated as and when we receive information from Government. In addition, if there are messages that you would like me to feed up the line back to Government, then please get in touch. I am in regular contact with Government representatives and as ever, we are here working on your behalf.

John Sheaves: js@tasteofthewest.co.uk, 07974 660804

Advice Factsheet:

  • I think we have to accept that profitability in this particular year is not the priority, but maintaining cash into the business most definitely is. Therefore, we suggest that all avenues are explored to fund the business in the coming weeks. These may include seeking out additional grants and/or bank loans to maintain the business or changing direction from a food premise to a takeaway food business, for example.
     
  • The Government have responded positively and speedily in the past few days at a strategic level and on 17 March released a series of measures designed to help small businesses. Understandably though, the detail is yet to come through. I have lobbied Government for these details to be finalised as soon as possible. In the meantime we have complied this list of help below:
    • Help with business rates: the Government have announced that all business rate payers will not have to pay rates for a 12 month period. More information can be obtained from your local authority.
    • Offering grants up to £10,000 per business for those businesses who are eligible for small business rate relief. More information can be obtained from your local authority.
    • Further grants for businesses up to £25,000 for those businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 - £51,000. More information can be obtained from your local authority.
    • Mortgage holidays: the Government have announced that you can take a 3 month mortgage holiday to help with cash-flow in the short term. This will have to be made up eventually. Talk to your lender as soon as possible.
    • Relaxing Planning Restrictions: if you have a food preparation business e.g. pub/restaurant or café, then you can turn this facility into a takeaway without the need for planning.
    • Encouraging flexibility with banks: the Government have liaised with the banking sector to gain some much needed flexibility over existing loans and repayment facilities. Talk to you bank now.
    • Further loans: the Government have announced a new loan which underwrites bank loans to business to the value of 80% of the loan amount. Turning a ‘no’ decision, into a ‘yes’. Talk to your bank now about how to access this money which will be administered through the British Business bank. More information can be found here.
    • HMRC: do talk to your accountant about paying tax, including VAT, to HMRC, whilst it is a statutory duty of businesses to fulfil their tax obligations to Government, your accountant can advise on the best way of filing returns and liaising with HMRC.
    • Business Insurance: it is imperative to contact your insurance broker for further advice on Business Interruption Insurance. You maybe eligible to claim under your policy so check with your Broker.
       
  • Please do call the Taste of the West office on 01404 822012 if you require further advice. If you would like to talk in person to me, then please do get in touch - I am here to help and support all South West food and drink businesses. Email js@tasteofthewest.co.uk or call 07974 660804.

    In the meantime, please do read through the UK Government’s recent announcements with regards to business support as listed below. For further advice please visit www.gov.uk.

 

7 April   Getting help if your business is in distress
3 April  

Cash support for food redistribution during coronavirus outbreak

27 March   Further details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme published
27 March  

UK Government COVID-19 Support for Businesses

26 March  

Letter from the Environment Secretary to the food and drink industry

26 March  

Chancellor outlines new coronavirus support measures for the self-employed

26 March  

COVID-19 Defra Update

26 March  

Chancellor gives support to millions of self-employed individuals

26 March   Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus
25 March   Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19
24 March   COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and business - updated 24 March
23 March   Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments
23 March   Coronavirus – Business support to launch from today
22 March   Government sets out plans to enforce closure of businesses and other venues
22 March   New regulations created by Secretary of State for business closure (COVID-19)
20 March   Chancellor announces workers’ support package
20 March   Government announces further measures on social distancing - entertainment and hospitality premises to close temporarily
20 March   The Chancellor Rishi Sunak provides an updated statement on coronavirus
20 March   COVID-19: CMA open letter to pharmaceutical and food and drink industries
19 March   Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses
18 March   Off-payroll working rules reforms postponed until 2021
18 March   Economic and business response committee meets to discuss COVID-19
18 March   Coronavirus: if your company cannot file accounts with Companies House on time
17 March   Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response
    Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses
    Launch of Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)
    Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak on COVID19 response
    COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and business
    Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses
16 March   COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people