The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that the UK is past its peak of the coronavirus outbreak. As of 30 April, the total deaths in the UK due to coronavirus had reached 26,722, a figure which highlights the severity of the outbreak. To help you understand the rapidly developing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, we take a look at the latest business information.
Plans expected imminently outlining approach to restarting the economy
Businesses across the country are eagerly awaiting news from the government, which is expected to outline the plans for easing lockdown restrictions. Businesses, unions, and trade bodies were asked to submit their thoughts on how to restart the economy by Thursday, however no confirmed date for easing restrictions has been given.
It is expected that businesses will be reopened based on their working environment, rather than sector. The government is currently dividing businesses into seven key areas:
- Outdoor work, such as construction, energy and agriculture
- High-street shops specialising in non-food retail
- Transport and logistics
- Manufacturing, such as engineering and food processing
- Indoor work, such as call centres, offices and laboratories
- Work within homes, such as carers, painters and decorators and plumbers
- Hospitality and leisure businesses, such as cinemas, theatres, pubs, clubs and restaurants
The government is currently preparing guidelines which are expected to offer some degree of flexibility, as the circumstances between businesses will naturally vary. It will be impossible to examine every business individually, so it is expected that companies will be able to self-certify that they are able to comply with the latest guidelines.
In situations where workers will need to be closer than 2 metres apart, workers may be required to wear protective clothing and masks. However, unions are calling for a technical approach, stating that PPE on its own is not a satisfactory reason for businesses to reopen. In particular, businesses operating in the hospitality and leisure sectors have voiced concerned over their ability to operate whilst following guidelines. The concerns are raising serious questions about the length of government support packages, such as the wage subsidy for furloughed workers.
New Bounce Bank Loan scheme announced by the government
One of the latest schemes to be announced by the government is the Bounce Back Loan scheme, which is designed to specifically assist small businesses. The scheme will provide loans up to a maximum of £50,000 and will run alongside other forms of coronavirus financial support. This loan scheme will launch on 4 May 2020, with no fees or interest payable for the first 12 months. To assist businesses with accessing these loans, the government will provide a guarantee for the full amount of the loan. The scheme aims to bolster the existing financial support packages and will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
The Bounce Back Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, via an online application form. However, the rollout of the similar CBILS scheme disappointed many businesses with its slow processing of applications. The government has pledged that cash will be distributed to businesses within 24 hours of applications being received, however banks have described how these claims could be unrealistic.
Here at BusinessComparison we understand the pressure which many businesses are facing. We are committed to helping businesses compare their financial options, whether they are looking to raise cash of decrease outgoings. As a broker, we have partnered with a wide variety of businesses so you can quickly compare everything from business loans and credit cards to utilities and business insurance. To find out more about how we can help your businesses during this crisis, please contact our team today.