The NHS announced that more than 8,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, with the global number of infected topping 400,000. With Europe the epicentre of the pandemic, we consider the impact on businesses across the UK and the support available to them.
Closure of non-essential shops
On Monday the government announced wider shutdown measures, with all non-essential shops ordered to close immediately for a period of 3 weeks. Initially the announcement indicated that the only shops which were permitted to remain open were supermarkets, food shops and pharmacies. However, the government has now issued a more extensive list.
The following non-food retailers are also permitted to stay open, petrol stations, garages, bicycle shops, DIY and hardware shops, car rentals, pet shops, post offices, banks, laundrettes and dry cleaners. However, any shops which choose to remain open will be required to implement strict social distancing measures.
Following the announcement that travel to and from work will only be permitted where absolutely necessary, there was confusion by many workers across the country. Yesterday Matt Hancock, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman led the daily Downing Street briefing, where he explained that workers who were unable to work from home would be able to continue travelling to their usual place of work.
Mr Hancock urged employers to use their common sense, to ensure employees would be able to practice safe social distancing in workplaces. An example where this could be considered difficult is the construction industry, with the London Mayor Sadiq Khan believing construction workers should only be required to work if it was for safety reasons.
Support for self-employed and freelance workers
Although Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised increased benefits to those who are self-employed, there was no wage guarantee. However, this quickly created a worrying gap, as those who are employed are eligible to receive an 80% wage guarantee. Mr Sunak has announced that work is happening behind the scenes to deliver a fair financial support package to self-employed workers, with an announcement expected imminently.
UK businesses trading internationally
The government has announced a combination of support for businesses in the UK which are trading internationally. This will be delivered through a combination of advice from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and financial assistance. If your supply chain has been affected, DIT can help you find alternative suppliers through their network of global relationships.
The government is also offering UK Export Finance (UKEF) through banks and insurance brokers, in an effort to help businesses continue their export contracts. If your business is facing delayed payments or restrictions on transiting goods, this finance can ease cash flow constraints. Alternatively, if you are concerned about being paid, UKEF also offer an export insurance policy.
This support is in addition to the package of temporary targeted measures which are designed to support businesses through this period of disruption. If you business is struggling there are a variety of financial packages available which could help, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, deferment of VAT and Income Tax payments, Statutory Sick Pay relief, business rates holidays, small business grants and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Although the government has announced a variety of measures to support businesses, if your business is not eligible or needs to increase cash flow urgently there are other options available. Here at BusinessComparison our aim is to help every business find the best deal for their financial products. Whether you are a startup looking for a new business bank account with an overdraft, or a large established business searching for a business loan, we can help. We can match you to the ideal lender for your business, so you secure the best deal possible. To find out more, please contact our team today.